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Evaluation of farming systems research and extension (FSR/E)
Policy and institutional implications
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION:
STATUS AND POTENTIAL IN LOW-RESOURCE AGRICULTURE
Report submitted to the Office of Technology
Assessment, Congress of the United States
June 4, 1986
The authors wish to express their appreciation to Lana Bayles,
Judy Meline and Margarita Rodriguez for their assistance
in the preparation of this report.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. INTRODUCTION: FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION AND
THE CONVENTIONAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION SYSTEM 1
1. Status of African Agriculture and Need for the FSR/E Approach 1
2. An Extended Definition of Farming Systems Research and Extension 2
3. Development of the FSR/E Approach 8
4. Clarification of Terminology 12
5. FSR/E and Conventional Research and Extension 18
B. EVALUATION OF FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION (FSR/E) 21
1. Assessment of Current Philosophical and Financial Status of FSR/E 21
2. Evaluating FSR/E Projects 46
3. Potentials and Limitations of FSR/E for Promoting OTA's Goals
of Low-Resource Agricultural Development 60
4. Future Directions for FSR/E 66
5. Relationship Between FSR/E and Single-Commodity Research Programs 77
C. POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS 81
1. Most Productive Mix of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches 81
2. Suggested Policies to Enhance the Mix of FSR/E and
Conventional Approaches 82
3. Qualitative and Wuantitative Comparisons of FSR/E and
Conventional Approaches 84
4. Institutional Levels Dealing With FSR/E: Potential for
APPENDIX 1 DEFINITIONS 106
APPENDIX 2 EXTENSION IN FARMING SYSTEMS 111
APPENDIX 3 COMMUNICATION BETWEEN RESEARCH AND EXTENSION IN THE GAMBIA 113
APPENDIX 4 THE FRENCH RECHERCHE-DEVELOPPEMENT APPROACH 114
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION:
STATUS AND POTENTIAL IN LOW-RESOURCE AGRICULTURE
A. INTRODUCTION: FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION AND
THE CONVENTIONAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION SYSTEM.
1. Status of African Agriculture and Need for the FSR/E Approach
Recent evaluations of African agricultural research and development have
revealed two important problems. First, yields of food crops per hectare have
stagnated or declined on a per capital basis in most Sub-Saharan countries.
Second, agricultural research has produced few, if any, results that can be
applied by low resource farmers especially those in communities where labor at
critical times is relatively scarce (World Bank, 1981; USDA, 1981; Fresco and
Poats, 1986). Breakthroughs in production have not been made in any of the
major African food crops such as maize, sorghum, millet and roots and tubers.
Current agricultural innovations are poorly adapted to the rainfed shifting
and fallow systems characteristic of most Sub-Saharan agriculture.
These problems point to the need for a reorientation of at least two
aspects of agricultural research. First is the need to identify the con-
straints facing Africa's low resource agriculturalists. This must account for
the great variability and location-specificity of African farming systems,
with a view to formulating more relevant research solutions. Second is the
need for adaptive research procedures to test and modify such innovative
solutions to the specific and localized needs of these farmers. Farming
Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) provides an approach for the reorien-
tation and redirection of agricultural research and extension to deal more
effectively with the problems of low resource agriculturalists in Africa.
FSR/E is an approach to agricultural research and extension that can
contribute toward the success of development programs in at least three ways.
First, implementing FSR/E benefits overall development efforts by helping
determine research priorities based on the real needs of a majority of far-
mers. Second, it assures appropriateness of technology development which, in
turn, increases the potential success of extending innovative technologies to
farmers. Third, it helps overcome many gender biases by working toward holism
in its diagnosis, design, experimentation, and disemmination stages (Fresco
and Poats, 1986).
Many terms are currently used to describe this approach. FSR/E is used
primarily in this report because it explicitly addresses the need for linkages
among researchers, extension workers and farming systems. Section A.4. pro-
vides further clarification of terminology and the rationale for using FSR/E.
2. An Extended Definition of Farming Systems Research and Extension
It must be emphasized that FSR/E is an approach to and not a substitute
for agricultural research and extension. It embodies certain conceptual and
'methodological tools to make existing research and extension systems more
efficient, not to replace them. The primary objective of FSR/E is to improve
the well-being of farm families and increase their productivity by facilita-
ting more efficient and effective generation of technology appropriate to the
needs of farmers. More specifically, FSR/E is an approach aimed at "genera-
ting technologies for particular groups of farmers and...developing greater
insight into which technologies fit where and why" (Shaner et al., 1982). The
FSR/E approach creates improvements in the research and extension system as
researchers and extension workers no longer work in isolation with individual
crop and livestock enterprises. Because FSR/E operates within existing agri-
cultural systems, works with farmers as cooperators, builds upon existing
opportunities in designing innovative solutions to farmer problems, tests
potential solutions against existing constraints and risks, and considers
farmer adoption of technology as the criteria for success, it is an especially
well-suited approach for working with low-resource agriculturalists as defined
by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).
There is now general consensus on the basic assumptions, methodologies and
objectives embodied in the FSR/E approach (Fresco and Poats 1986; Norman and
Collinson, 1985). Regarding assumptions on the nature of farmers, farms and
farm households, FSR/E holds that farmers are rational decision-makers, making
decisions based on their own farming system, their understanding of the con-
straints they face, and their knowledge of available alternatives and their
costs. Because a farm is a holistic system with interconnected subsystems, a
change in one subsystem initiates changes in the linkages within other sub-
systems and ultimately in the whole farming system.
Farm households are comprised of individuals of different ages and gender,
often related through kinship, most of whom live in close proximity. Farming
households have multiple objectives and goals in their productive and repro-
ductive activities. Household members share some goals, benefits and re-
sources; are independent on some; and in conflict on others (Feldstein and
Poats, 1985). Thus, a technological solution to the production problem of one
household member will impact on other household members; sometimes positively
and sometimes negatively. Farmers seldom seek the best technical solution nor
the optimal economic return from a single crop or livestock activity, aiming
instead for the most rational use of their resources for the entire system.
Thus, development by means of technology innovation requires location specific
research directed to multiple enterprises and activities. It also requires
efficient means of aiding the learning and dissemination of new and effective
technology. This is precisely what the FSR/E approach is designed to do.
The nature of farms requires that biological, technical and socioeconomic
scientists be organized into teams with frequent to constant interactions
between the disciplines, especially during times of planning and analysis.
FSR/E is flexible, iterative, interdisciplinary and practical. Its flexi-
bility is demonstrated by unique applications of FSR/E methods within differ-
ent countries, and between different regions within countries, which reflect
the varying socioeconomic, institutional, and biophysical realities of local
situations in each area. FSR/E is iterative in that it responds to, and
builds upon, the local realities and reactions during progress through its
successive stages. The approach is interdisciplinary because farm complexi-
ties are too great for any one disciplinary expert to handle alone. Finally,
FSR/E is practical in its use of two hands-on cost effective tools for tech-
nology development and knowledge generation: informal diagnostic surveys and
on-farm research (OFR).
The FSR/E approach has four distinct stages in the development of techni-
cal improvements and includes the progressive targeting of farms and farmers
into appropriate domains.
1) Diagnosis of the farming systems and identification of needs, problems,
constraints, and potential flexibility in the farming system;
2) Design of strategies to solve identified priority problems, ex-ante
analysis of proposed solutions, and the design (and redesign) of
experiments to test proposed solutions or to better define farmer
3) Experimentation, monitoring, modification, and verification of proposed
solutions at farm level under local farmer conditions; supportive
on-station research; and evaluation of farmer adoptability;
4) Dissemination of farmer-approved results to relevant groups of farmers.
Each stage in the FSR/E process may be identified by slightly different
names, depending on the country in which the process occurs. Some FSR/E
'stages may be subdivided, but the intent and content is generally the same.
Similarly, each stage may vary in length depending mainly upon the results of
the previous stage. They may also occur cyclically or simultaneously,
depending on the nature of the research program; in most cases they are
continuous activities (Galt, 1985b).
Diagnosis usually consists of two steps. The first is an inventory of
relevant secondary literature, agricultural production systems, existing
research results and recommendations, input delivery structures, and other
infrastructure in the project area. The second is the determination of needs
and production constraints or problems for defined groups or domains of
farmers. The process of defining groups of farms or domains (Harrington and
Tripp, 1984) is called targeting. "Although the concept of targeting might
seem contrary to the recognition of heterogeneity among farms, it is an es-
sential component of the FSR/E approach. It is not practical to conduct
research tailored specifically to a few individual farmers. On the other
hand, research carried out for farmers in general is unlikely to produce
technologies which are appropriate to all the varied types of farming systems
present" (Wotowiec et al., 1986).
Recently, it has been suggested that FSR/E practitioners target farmers
and farms progressively into three types of domains which differ functionally
(Wotowiec et al., 1986). Research domains target for variability and consist
of a problem focused environmental range where hypothesized solutions to a
defined problem could be applicable and should be tested (Wotowiec et al.,
1986). Recommendation domains are homogeneous groups of farmers within the
research domain who should be able to use a common technology. They are
defined according to the response of a specific technology to the real agro-
socioeconomic conditions found on farms in the research domain. Experiments
located on farms then serve the dual role of experiential and informational
learning (Hildebrand, 1985). These two aspects of the extension function are
carried out more efficiently when OFR is targeted into existing diffusion
domains. Diffusion domains are interpersonal communication networks through
which newly acquired knowledge of agricultural technologies naturally flows.
While farmers upon whose land the research is being conducted are benefiting
from experiential learning, others in the diffusion network benefit from
informational learning (Wotowiec et al., 1986).
In diagnosis, various methods of informal, formal, quantitative and
qualitative data collection are used. The procedure developed in Central
America known as the sondeo (Hildebrand, 1981), or the rapid rural appraisal
(Chambers, 1981) are effective diagnostic tools that may be used to define
domains and identify problems. In some areas, domains are not easily dis-
tinguished initially, and definitions are refined as OFR progresses.
Diagnosis has often included more formalized surveys for data gathering;
however, the trend is toward informal methods with complementary and focused
formal surveys to verify informal results or to explore in greater detail some
particular aspect of the farming system. Diagnosis does not take place only
at the start of FSR/E work, but is continuously carried out to monitor on-farm
experimentation, gather new information, conduct evaluations, assess impact,
or generate new research directions (Galt, 1985b).
In the design step, the problems identified in diagnosis are prioritized,
often using a process called "ex-ante analysis" (Mutsaers, 1984). Strategies
are then developed to overcome the priority problems, and an OFR program is
designed using farmer collaborators selected from the appropriate research
domain. Often on-station experiments are also designed in order to research
problems identified during diagnosis for which no immediate potential
solutions are available for testing on-farm. FSR/E, in principle, introduces
changes only at the farm level. Since food production is often constrained by
factors at other levels, such as transportation systems or pricing structures,
the design step can include referrals of identified problems to other research
or development agencies.
Following design, the testing, monitoring, verification and evaluation of
proposed innovations are conducted in farmers' fields with varying levels of
supervision from researchers or extension agents, or both, and under varying
levels of farmer management and evaluation. Farm-level trials can be classi-
fied in two distinct ways, by function, and management. The function of a
trial relates to its purpose in the FSR/E process. There are three types of
functional trials. (1) Exploratory trials, at the beginning of the process,
are "conducted when little is known about the domain or about possible treat-
ment effects in the domain" (Caldwell, 1986). (2) Refinement trials follow
exploratory trials and usually preceded validation trials. They may be either
'site-specific (similar to exploratory but including fewer treatments) or
regional (bringing together the best of the site-specific treatments across
the research domain). At the refinement stage, socioeconomic analysis is
added to agronomic analysis (Caldwell, 1986). (3) Validation trials follow
refinement trials and directly proceed demonstration trials. These trials
contain one or at most two interventions in large, unreplicated plots, com-
pared quite simply against the farmer's normal practices.
The management of a trial relates to researcher/extension/farmer inter-
actions with respect to control and management of the trial, from planting to
harvest. Again, there are three general types of management trials. (1)
Researcher-implemented, researcher-managed (RIRM) trials are arranged, plant-
ed, monitored, managed and harvested by researchers in farmer's fields. Such
trials represent the most risk to farm households of any trials during the
FSR/E process. Hence, most costs and risks are covered by the research organ-
ization. RIRM trials are most common during the exploratory stage, but may
occur during refinement (Caldwell, 1986). (2) Researcher-implemented, farmer-
managed (RIFM) trials are usually equivalent to superimposed trials. Resear-
chers impose treatments on crops (i.e., a top-dressing of nitrogen fertilizer)
already planted in farmer's fields. These types of trials are most common
during exploratory or refinement stages (Caldwell, 1986). (3) Farmer-
implemented, farmer-managed (FIFM) trials are common after an intervention
proves to be of low risk to the farm household. FIFM trials are planted,
monitored, managed and harvest by the farmer. Farmers are financially respon-
sible for the trial and any input cost. These types of trials are most common
during validation (Caldwell, 1986).
^. On-farm and on-station research are complementary in the FSR/E approach,
with success depending on the linkages of OFR with component and commodity
research. Through farmer participation, farmers provide resources to help
solve their problems and become resources in the evaluation and dissemination
of alternative solutions. Although all farmers normally experiment with
different ideas, they are not professional researchers. Thus, research
designs and technologies to be tested must be simple so that farmers will be
able to manage them in the OFR process. This complements the usual farmer
procedure of adopting components rather than complete (and complex) packages
. The fourth step is the dissemination of relevant results to a wider group
of households in the appropriate domain via extension and communication sys-
tems. Use of diffusion domains to help locate on-farm trials and involvement
of extension agents throughout the process means that there is no clear-cut
time when research ends and diffusion begins. Farmers learn how to use
potential solutions early in the process because research is conducted on
their farms. As refinements and verification proceed, the force of diffusion
increases, so when active dissemination begins to households not directly
involved in on-farm testing, there is usually already a base of knowledge
about the innovation among these farmers. Likewise, because extension agents
are involved in the research process, they themselves have contributed to the
development of the innovation and have learned how to use it. They are more
confident of its utility, having worked with farmers to determine its appli-
cation and success. Though many national agricultural research and extension
systems (NARES) are only in the initial stages of implementing an FSR/E ap-
proach, those further along in the process show that dissemination of innova-
tions occurs more rapidly with on-farm research due to the tested and con-
firmed applicability of the innovation under actual farmer conditions in the
diffusion domain (e.g., see ICTA, 1985).
S19. It is important to reiterate that the steps described above may occur
cyclicly or proceed in a slightly different order (Galt, 1985b). Rhoades
(1982) describes how the process can also begin with on-farm trials to facil-
itate the diagnosis of post-harvest problems. In other instances, a national
program may be doing diagnostic work in one area while completing on-farm
trials in another. Or, both may occur simultaneously in the same area when
different problems are being addressed among the same farmer group. In the
latter example, a farmer grouped into one domain for one identified problem,
may belong to another when a different problem is being addressed. Finally,
it must be emphasized that because both feedback and evaluation are emphasized
at each step in the FSR/E process, ineffective technological avenues can be
identified early before great amounts of money are spent, and the research
effort can be redirected. This is the essence of the flexibility and
iterative nature of the approach.
3. Development of the FSR/E Approach
As an approach, FSR/E is both old and new. It is old because many of its
individual concepts, principles and methods have been used for over a genera-
tion in a variety of locations. Yet it is new because of the way these compo-
nents are combined to provide a systematic approach to agricultural problem-
solving. A brief review of FSR/E history explains the circumstances of its
development, how it differs from conventional agricultural research and exten-
sion, and demonstrates why it is an effective tool for improving the produc-
tivity of low-resource farmers.
FSR/E did not develop in a linear fashion, but rather has roots in several
different centers of origin. In each case, it developed in response to a
recognition that conventional agricultural research and extension had not
benefited that area's low-resource farmers. Agricultural research and ex-
tension in its infancy was characterized by generalists who were likely to be
farmers themselves, who did research on crops or livestock and who
communicated their results directly to their relatives and/or neighbors.
Early agricultural colleges promoted the generalist approach. As agricultural
universities developed and agricultural research institutes were created, a
separation occurred between the research on a given topic and the communica-
tion of the results or teaching of new technology. Research and Extension
became separate functions. In some places (France for example), research
located itself entirely in institutes, relegated only the teaching function to
universities, and extension became part of separate development oriented
entities which then later became the locus for applied research, which was
separate from the "pure" research of the institutes. In the U.S.,
agricultural research remained largely within the University context and was
formalized with the land-grant concept, which mandated three simultaneous
functions: teaching, research and extension. Though this mandate is still in
effect, increasing separation into disciplines and the greater specialization
of research has caused an "institutional drift" away from the integrated per-
spective intended by the original land-grant concept.
Research concentrated its efforts through departments based on disciplin-
ary divisions, and began to develop specific commodity or crop research
thrusts. The goal was raising production and the solution was viewed as lying
mainly in varietal manipulation. At the same time, extension narrowed its
;focus to communication and relinquished its experimental role. Extension in
the U.S. divided along gender lines and conferred upon men the producer role
and assigned county agents (mostly men) to serve their needs, while women were
defined as homemakers and home economics was to serve their needs, with women
home economics extension agents.
The creation of the International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs)
beginning with IRRI in 1960 and CIMMYT in 1966, followed these same premises
and trends. Initially established to give greater thrust to the research on
key world crops, the IARCs provided good research conditions in tropical
regions in order for researchers to achieve "breakthroughs" in crop production
targeted for the developing countries. The justification was the perceived
food crisis of developing countries and the need to create self-sufficiency in
those countries with large populations to feed.
Subsequent breakthroughs, via high yielding varietal tech-packs, became
known as the "Green Revolution" and did lead to greatly increased food
production, primarily wheat and rice. Results with other food crops were less
spectacular. However, the wave of success was carried back into the
agricultural research system, and universities further specialized-their work
and training of new scientists to meet the demands for greater commodity
During the period roughly between 1968 and 1978, researchers from systems
ecology, social science-and especially agricultural economics began simul-
taneously to evaluate the miracle technologies and take a second look at the
results of the green revolution. What they all concluded was that lowresource
farmers (then called "small farmers") had not benefited from the new
technology. Rather than blaming farmers for their non-adoption, some field
scientists from the IARCs and national programs began to question the appro-
priateness of the technology itself. They found that the technology could not
stand alone but depended upon various inputs and infrastructural conditions,
both of which are still disproportionately available to larger or resource
rich farmers (Chambers and Jiggins, 1985). Without inputs and infrastructure
and under low resource farmer conditions, the technology performed the same as
or, in several cases, poorer than the farmer's own traditional technology.
This recognition lead to various explorations into methods to produce
technology more appropriate to the needs of low resource farmers. Depending
upon the background of the researchers spearheading these efforts, the
institutional sources for their work, their ecological environments, and the
farming systems they worked within, they began to put together different
methods for generating technology more appropriate to more limited conditions.
Isolation of these independent efforts meant that there were many new brands
of research being developed, each with its own leader and following. In
reality, these approaches were quite similar responses to the same problem.
Beginning in 1976, opportunities began to arise for researchers to come
together to exchange ideas. Because of personal vested interests and sponta-
neously differing terminology, less commonalities surfaced than disagreements
on definitions. Acronyms flourished and changed as rapidly as conferences
were held. Information exchange was very informal, with an occasional photo-
copy machine replacing journals as the medium of communication. Much of the
oral and written debate was never published. What was beginning to be called
"Farming Systems" or "Farming Systems Research" lived a life of its own, be-
coming more and more separated from the research and extension establishments.
Evidence that this separate life was sufficiently important came in 1977 when
Dillon et al., (1978) were asked by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of
the CGIAR to review FSR in four IARCs. This study became known as the FSR
Stripe Review and was the first to examine FSR on an international basis.
While the FSR debate heated up, many researchers, especially biological
scientists were repelled by the discussion. Their technology was being
denigrated and their research paradigm questioned. FSR was seen by many as a
soft science, dominated by social science thinking. OFR was disbelieved
because it was messy and uncontrollable. Researchers, no longer drawn largely
from the farming community itself but representing urban and suburban distance
from agricultural life, had little first hand experiences to use in making
research decisions, and were therefore basing the development of new techno-
logy on the demands and precision called for by the disciplinary professional
societies. Farmer input did exist, but in the form of powerful lobbies of
wealthy farmers whose farms corresponded quite well to conditions predominant
on experiment stations. Credit sources fueled their ability to continue to
meet the requirements needed to support new technological breakthroughs.
Another reaction to the FSR wave came from researchers who viewed FSR as
a new name for what extension should already be doing, and from extension
workers who did not see FSR as offering any improvement over what they were
already doing. Opposition also arose from farm management who saw many of
their methods being used under a new name. Many of them began to clammer that
they had been doing farming systems all along. For others, FSR became a
"catch-all" term for any research that did not fit a normal research and
extension framework (Sands, 1985).
Beginning about 1981, FSR began a phase of convergence. More exchanges
took place among FSR proponents and their similarities and differences became
more clarified. The earlier FSR field workers began to publish in legitimate
journals or high status publications. Kansas State University's annual FSR
symposium, started in 1981, became an international forum for the presentation
of theoretical and practical FSR results. National researchers from develop-
ing countries began to express the use of FSR from their own perspectives, and
funds were generated to enable them to attend international conferences.
USAID's Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP/University of Florida),
created in 1982, began networking the FSR community. In so doing, it created
a newsletter and network paper series to foment exchange in three languages
across regional barriers and produced annotated bibliographies on FSR which
gave field practitioners access to the wealth of formal and fugitive litera-
ture. FSSP examined USAID FSR projects funded in the late 70's and early
80's, as well as the entire evaluation apparatus. Finally, the project began
collecting and organizing different methodological tools to formulate training
materials for the more organized teaching of the FSR/E approach to new practi-
tioners. Especially important at this time was the exchange of views between
anglophone and francophone practitioners, either through multi-lingual facili-
tators, simultaneous translation of dialogs at conferences where researchers
from both languages were invited, or the growing insistence on translations of
key documents. Fresco's.(1984) analysis of the two traditions was a landmark
piece which began an important process of understanding and beginning recon-
ciliation between these historically separate perspectives.
2Z By the end of 1984, methodological consensus was being reached among FSR/E
practitioners. Debates shifted from terminology and definitions to thoughtful
'discussions of content, results, implementation problems, evaluation criteria,
farmer participation and adoption, and institutionalization. Practitioners
viewed FSR as an approach for agricultural research and extension that dif-
fered significantly from the conventional or commodity driven strategy. A
profusion of acronyms still existed but practitioners were growing tolerant of
differences and were engaged in learning from the experiences of others.
33 However, for outsiders, donors, and especially members of the conventional
research extension establishment the profusion of acronyms and procedural
diagrams used to explain different users' views of FSR created confusion.
Rather than drawing more people into the approach, the apparent complexity
4. Clarification of Terminology
1i, Several recent publications have attempted to refine the various defini-
tions of FSR. TAC had been calling for such systematic clarification since
1978 (Dillon et al., 1978), but in the rush to describe field activities, FSR
practitioners spent little effort hammering out a definitive methodological
statement (Bremmer, 1983). In fact, such a stand early on would have contra-
dicted the open experiential process of FSR methodological development. How-
ever, confusion over definitions and the numerous types of activities to which
the term is applied was preventing systematic review and evaluation of its
positive results, and donors were beginning to have second thoughts about the
cost of the approach and their continued support.
Major efforts to clarify and reconcile the various definitions have been
made by Rhoades and Booth (1982), Shaner et al., (1982), Waugh and Hildebrand
(1983), Fresco (1984), Simmonds (1985), Sands (1985), Stoop (1985), Plucknett
et al., (1986), Norman and Collinson (1985), and Bawden et al., (1985). Each
of their proposed definitional frameworks is summarized briefly in Appendix 1.
Unfortunately, few of the proposed frameworks are equivalent, several
introduce latin terms (as if to clarify), and others propose large new sets of
acronyms. Some observers believe that these efforts have muddied the waters
This problem has been compounded by attempts to rewrite the
lexicon and bring order by suggesting whole new sets of
acronyms....If complete standardization cannot be achieved,
then at minimum, every effort should be made to establish
where equivalent terms or concepts exist (Plucknett et al.,
This presents a dilemma. While consistency is needed to foster continued
external acceptance of FSR (and continued donor support), there is a danger in
cutting off internal creativity as evidenced by the terminological diversity
which drives FSR as a young, dynamic and flexible approach to problem-solving.
In addition, though Plucknett et al., (1986) called for simplification and
standard terms, none of the acronyms they proposed have appeared with any
great frequency in the growing literature now available on FSR.
Aside from the acronym soup, there are three important problems with most
of the proposed definition sets presented in Appendix 1. First, only a few
of the revisions propose an over-arching generic term for the various appli-
cations of the approach (Sands, 1985; Stoop 1985). It is also unclear whether
there are linkages between these applications in terms of setting priorities,
providing additional information, or conducting analysis. Second, several
revisions indicate a distinct separation between research conducted on-farm
and that conducted on-station (Sands, 1985; Plucknett et al., 1986). As
emphasized earlier, OFR does not replace commodity or station-based research.
The objective is complementarity. OFR can play a major role in setting prio-
rities for station-based research and determining parameters for evaluating
potential technologies.- The linkages between the two must be explicit.
Third, none of the sets of definitions deal clearly with the linkages between
research and extension. This problem raises two important questions. If
there is no mechanism to disseminate the results of FSR, then how can the
approach be evaluated in terms of farmer adoption? Will the natural diffusion
of a "good technology" be enough to satisfy the demands of rigorous evalua-
tion, not to mention the demands of agricultural development as a whole?
"Incorporating the [FSR] research results into the extension program has
received lip service, but little real consideration" (Bremmer, 1983).
There are several reasons why extension has not been well-integrated into
FSR. First, with no field-level results forthcoming from FSR, it was easy to
adopt the attitude of worrying about integration when it became a constraint
'(Bremmer, 1983). Second, a major push behind FSR during the past decade has
come from the IARCs, which explicitly do not work directly with extension.
The focus of all IARCs is research, and their primary clients are the national
agricultural research services (NARS). Some IARCs view their role as "one of
providing research procedures and training, not in developing technologies
themselves ...clients in this work are the national agricultural research
services (NARS)" (CIMMYT, 1986). If the IARCs view their role as one of
training practitioners to use the FSR approach, and yet ignore the national
location of the approach within research and extension systems, then training
is incomplete. Additionally, if FSR calls for a reorientation in how
researchers program their research activities, then it should also call for
reorientation of extension's role. Bremmer (1983) states that regardless of
the FSR style, "it clearly requires that the the extension agent play a more
active role....in other words, it requires them to think...[and]...reverses
the current direction of extension programs in developing countries."
The addition of extension to FSR is strengthened by a review of national
agricultural research systems of 17 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin
America conducted by ISNAR (Stoop, 1985). One of the conclusions common to
nearly all reviewed countries was that more direct and stronger linkages were
required between research, farmers and extension services. Involving exten-
sion workers in the OFR process eliminates the need to teach them new techno-
logies, encourages them to critically review new technology while it is being
developed, and because they follow the on-farm trials under local conditions,
"their confidence in making recommendations to growers is greatly enhanced"
(Swisher, 1986). (See Appendix 2).
Based on the issues and concerns raised above, and synthesizing many of
the positive aspects of the various classification schemes proposed, a revised
definition framework is proposed in Figure 1. Both definitional and func-
tional relationships are presented in the diagram. In agreement with Sands
(1985) and Stoop (1985), the term "Farming Systems.Perspective" (FSP) is used
as the generic cover for all applications. This term is particularly useful
because it does not distinguish between research and extension or crops and
livestock, and accurately underlines the fact that the approach is a perspec-
tive for conducting research and extension, not a substitution for either.
All of the various activities conducted with a Farming Systems Perspective are
*assembled under three categories: Farming Systems Research and Extension
(FSR/E), Research on Farming Systems (RFS), and New Farming Systems Develop-
ment and Farming Systems Research and Development (NFSD/FSRAD). Each of these
can be considered as approaches using a farming systems perspective.
FSR/E improves upon the original term, FSR, by clearly stating the need
for explicit linkages among and involvement of farming, farmers, researchers
and extension workers in the approach. FSR/E includes all of the previously-
mentioned definitions for FSR conducted in a step-wise, iterative, farmer-
oriented, farmer-involved fashion, based on the existing system and designed
to generate technology appropriate and adaptable to a specific farmer group.
It is also the category singled out by the authors to have the greatest imme-
diate potential for improving the agricultural livelihood of low-resource
farmers, particularly in Africa, whether applied at the level of IARCs, NARES,
or both. FSR/E can operate "in the small" by deriving the focus of activity
from within the system in the course of diagnosis, or "with a predetermined
focus" by moving into the system to research and improve a specific aspect
that was determined before the work was initiated (Norman and Collinson,
1985). Each of the two operating mechanisms have different implications for
gaining leverage in the system and for institutionalization, as will be dis-
cussed later. Whether operated "in the small" or "with a pre-determined
focus," FSR/E can be characterized by the phrase "building upon the system."
Research on Farming Systems (RFS) includes the large body of existing
descriptive and analytical research on farming systems conducted by anthro-
pologists, geographers, and agronomists around the world (such as Ruthenberg,
1980). It also includes current research being done on problem areas which
have been identified through on-farm research. A good example of this is the
research on the consumption linkages within FSR/E (Frankenberger, 1984) and
recent work to clarify and analyze inter- and intra-household dynamics and
gender issues in FSR/E (Poats and Schmink, forthcoming). Simmonds (1985)
gives RFS short shrift, stating that it is "essentially an academic activity
good for generating Ph.D.'s, but not much use to agricultural research."
Simmonds is partially correct in that RFS could be (and often is) construed as
research for research's sake. However, it is precisely the persistent efforts
of the researchers on farming systems who have provided practitioners with
much basic knowledge of the intricacies, complexity, and science of tradi-
'tional farming practices. Sondeos, rapid rural appraisals and diagnostic
surveys are feasible primarily because they are built upon the knowledge
gained from RFS. Were it not for the persistent application (applied often
necessarily with a large hammer) of the results from research on gender in
farming systems, this concept would still be one of the serious omissions from
FSR/E. Within the FSP, RFS provides basic information and analysis. RFS can
be characterized by the phrase "studying the system". With better linkages to
applied activities, RFS can be more focused on priority problems.
NFSD and FSRAD are linked as activities which necessitate a large, macro-
level analysis, seek innovations and interventions which will impact on farm-
ing systems as a whole, or explicitly consider policy implications. Norman
and Collinson (1985) have referred to these as "in the large" because in it
they treat "all system parameters as potentially variable in a wide-ranging
search for improvement." Many practitioners discredit this approach saying
that it is "top-down," or impractical because the focus is not step-wise
generation of technology. However, for low-resource farmers in Africa, relo-
cated to new agricultural areas, and facing severe policy constraints prohi-
biting the most effective and efficient use of their resources, or for others
confronting ecological changes beyond their capabilities for adaptation within
any reasonable length of time, NFSD may represent the most appropriate appli-
cation of the FSP approach. In the real world, not all changes should or can
be step-wise; many farmers' circumstances cry out for radical alterations,
however difficult they may be to achieve in practice; and there must surely
sometimes be room in agricultural research for something wider and more imagi-
native than the step-wise process, even if the last, is, in real life, the
norm." (Simmonds, 1985). In other respects, until changes are made in the
policy environment to overcome inequities, the most appropriately generated
technology may be of little use. NFSD and FSRAD can be characterized by
"replacing the system--technically or politically."
U Some brief comments about OFR/FSP (Collinson, 1982) and Farmer-back-to-
farmer or FBF (Rhoades, 1982) provide insight into two important aspects of
FSR/E. The process of OFR/FSP, shown in Figure 2, exhibits the circularity
and linkages now considered as hallmarks of FSR. OFR/FSP also shows the
necessary and dynamic linkages between on-farm and on-station research.
Station-based research programs need to draw more and more priorities from the
,unsolved problems identified by the on-farm part of the research process.
Researchers should be involved in both aspects simultaneously. Hildebrand and
Poey (1985) have demonstrated, using modified stability analysis of on-farm
trials, that it is important to consider station results as one of the many
environments under which a technology is tested. Disciplinary and commodity
or component research are also explicitly linked to on-farm adaptive research
in the diagrammatic representation of OFR/FSP.
L The FBF model for generating acceptable technology (Rhoades and Booth,
1982) in Figure 3 also shows circularity, interdisciplinarity, basic and
applied research, and on-station/on-farm linkages. More importantly, the
model makes explicit the need to begin and end with the farmer, and involve
farmers in the identification of problems. Explicit also in this model is the
farmer's adoption or rejection of the solution as the criteria for evaluating
technology. Evaluation in FSR/E often stops short of farmer adoption, using
instead criteria of technological performance under tests of location specifi-
city and farmer management. However, to truly determine the adaptability of a
technology, the approach must be carried forward to determine if and why (or
why not) technical solution were (or were not) adopted. The process neces-
sarily starts all over again in the event of non-adoption.and builds upon the
previous experience, even if it is negative, toward another resolution of the
problem. Learning from what does and doesn't work from the farmer perspective
is a crucial dimension of FBF and FSR/E in general.
i* Conceptually similar to FBF and OFR/FSP, the diagram in Figure 4 also
shows the iterative circularily of FSR/E, with the on-going use of diagnosis
throughout the various types of trials. Analysis and evaluation of trials
must consistently involve the farm household as well as the experimental
5. FSR/E and Conventional Research and Extension
IT, The discussion in this section has shown that the conventional agricul-
tural research and extension strategy, which is commodity, component and
discipline driven, has not benefitted low resource farmers. The strategy
assumes the availability of a suitable resource base in terms of land, cli-
mate, infrastructure and takes commodity choice for production as predeter-
'mined. In essence, it is directed to non-marginal lands (Plucknett et al.,
1986). It becomes quite clear from this description that low-resource
farmers, usually farming more marginal lands under low input, risk-averse
systems, and producing a wide variety of subsistence crops, could be easily
overlooked and ignored within the traditional strategy. A brief re-examina-
tion of who benefitted from the green revolution confirms this view.
UL The true green revolution, based on the conventional strategy, has reached
perhaps 10% of the Third World's farming population, affecting yields posi-
tively on approximately 30% of their hectarage. The gains made have been
mainly in wheat and rice (two highly self-pollinating basic grains) and, to a
much lesser degree, maize (a cross pollinating basic grain). However, not
only has about 70% of the Third World's crops been by-passed by the complete
technological package approach, but, more importantly, approximately 90% of
these farmers, almost all of which have few resources, have not benefitted
from any of this technology. Logic dictates that FSR/E will have to comple-
ment conventional agricultural research to help fill this technological void.
Some observers and donors have decided (based on little solid evidence) that
FSR/E is more expensive than the conventional strategy. However, such an
approach to development cannot be inexpensive: the numbers of farmers yet to
be reached is of a staggering magnitude. Reaching them will require the
combined perspectives and resources from both strategies. In essence, this
means modification of the conventional strategy; a shift in paradigm to ac-
comodate a farming systems perspective, and in particular, a FSR/E approach.
(Refer to the chart in Figure 5 for a comparison of the conventional strategy
with the farming systems perspective and the implementation of FSR/E).
Partly for these reasons, donors, practitioners and others are examining
ways in which to reach these limited-resource farmers at lower cost (Chambers
and Jiggins, 1985; USAID, 1985a). This report will later address some methods
to expand the coverage of the FSR/E approach by utilizing non-traditional
resources, both financial and human. An examination of the status of FSR/E
in donor institutions, multilateral and bilateral entities, and NARES will
demonstrate the extent to which FSR/E and conventional research and extension
have come together and are beginning to operate within this new paradigm.
50- Other efforts are also in progress to improve different aspects of the
'conventional strategy. In particular, biotechnology and the Training and
Visit System (Benor and Harrison, 1977) or T & V are often posed as
equivalents to FSR/E in terms of goal and purpose. However, neither of these
proposes significant changes in the conventional strategy, merely refinements
of specific aspects. Biotechnology represents a new tool to use in the
improvement of single commodities, either crop or animal. Since it will rely
heavily on private sector support for the development of usable technology,
there is some question whether the benefits will be accessible, much less
appropriate for low resource farmers since they, as a whole, do not represent
a clientele with large technology buying power. Others such as Galt (personal
communication, 1986) believe that successful biotechnology will depend on an
increase in application of the FSR/E approach. The way in which this can be
accomplished most efficiently is for laboratory-based research results
(including biotechnology innovations) to pass as quickly as possible to the
experiment station, and for station-based research results to pass as quickly
as possible to samples of farmers which are representative of some larger, but
generally homogeneous, group of farmers. The only approach which currently
addresses the latter link is FSR/E.
57 ^T & V, on the other hand, represents a refinement in the tools of
information dissemination. In fact, it represents a management system for
information delivery, and therefore, lacking any research or technology-
generating focus at all, it is not truely comparable to FSR/E. Without
appropriate technology to transmit, T & V does not have a base from which to
operate. Recognition of this on behalf of the World bank is evidenced by
their current efforts to initiate farming systems "style" projects to
complement T & V projects already in place.
The farming systems perspective, and the FSR/E approach in particular, are
viewed as revolutionary when compared with the traditional agricultural
research and extension strategy. However, the approach is definitely
evolutionary, and in keeping with its mandate as a more efficient and
effective way to do research and extension, the future goal is for the FSP,
and more specifically, FSR/E, to become simply a normal, necessary part of
good agricultural research and extension. Active involvement of farmers -
male and female as colleagues and partners in the development process, and
an explicit effort to learn from farmers, will ensure success from "good"
'agricultural research and extension.
B. EVALUATION OF FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION (FSR/E)
In this section we will evaluate FSR/E in five ways. First, the extent to
which FSR/E exists in major donor organizations, international and regional
research centers and national programs is evaluated. FSR/E practitioners
agree that it is too soon to apply cost benefit analysis to FSR/E, however, a
measure of the success of the approach is the extent to which it is being
institutionalized. Second, evaluations conducted on existing FSR/E projects
are reviewed to determine their quality and fairness. In the third section,
FSR/E is evaluated against the goals of OTA to promote low-resource agricul-
tural development. This is followed by the specific evaluation of the
relationship between FSR/E and single commodity research programs, drawing
upon material presented in Section A. Finally, the last section gives a
prescriptive evaluation of FSR/E's future.
1. Assessment Of Current Philosophical And Financial Status Of FSR/E
a. Multilateral Donors
1) WORLD BANK. The World Bank has been utilizing the T&V extension
system for a decade in attempting to deliver technological innovations to the
poor farmers of the third world more efficiently (Benor and Harrison, 1977).
So far, the results have been disappointing. This is basically due to the
fact that adapted technology to fuel the T&V system has existed in very few
countries. For this reason, in 1983 the Bank commissioned an exhaustive study
to evaluate the farming systems approach (Simmonds, 1985), and has initiated
or planned farming systems projects in Senegal, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia and
Today, the World Bank devotes XX% of its agricultural research project
budget to projects which have a FSR/E focus. Such a financial commitment is
reflected in XX projects, approximately XX% of the Bank's total agricultural
projects. (The authors have requested these and other figures and hope to
include them in the final draft.)
2) FAO. The FAO labels its approach towards farming systems as
Farming Systems Development. While their basic procedures are similar to
those of other FSR/E programs, FAO considers multiple changes throughout the
entire farm system as the most appropriate means of improving the lot of
farmers. They tend to concentrate their efforts on a limited number of case
farms on the underlying assumption that
"if multidisciplinary development specialists working intensively
with a few selected smallholders cannot develop these farms to a
viable level, there-will be little hope of developing a region
composed of similar types." (FAO, 1984:7)
In direct opposition to the T&V extension system, this approach gives little
or no consideration to extension of results. But like T&V, it makes the
assumption that appropriate technology is available and needs only to be put
'together in an improved system:
"Most countries have research results, practices of 'better farmers'
and experience knowledge (sic) which if collated into an improved
enterprise system would substantially increase production and in-
come." (FAO, 1984:6)
As can be seen, the FAO approach to FSR/E is most similar to a NFSD,
top-down FSP approach (Figure 1). This is because it depends on complete
"tech packs" (as opposed to step-wise improvements), and it does not explicit-
ly integrate extension into the process. Currently, FAO devotes XX% of its
agricultural research project budget to projects which have a FSR/E focus.
Such a financial commitment is reflected in XX projects, approximately XX% of
FAO's total agricultural projects. (The authors requested these and other
figures and hope to include them in the final draft).
b. Bilateral Donors
1) USAID. In contrast to the deemphasis promoted by the S&T Bureau,
the Africa Bureau and Missions within USAID continue to support and plan
projects incorporating the FSR/E approach. Recent examples of projects incor-
porating the FSR/E approach are in The Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, and Malawi.
159. USAID was one of the first bilateral donors (along with IDRC in Colombia)
to invest significantly in FSR/E projects. In 1972, AID, with The Rockefeller
Foundation, supported the initial studies that resulted in the formation of
ICTA, the Guatemalan Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology. AID
has provided support for this institution, which offers an excellent farming
systems model to the world. Several other projects were funded by AID in the
late 1970's (i.e., in Indonesia, Honduras, the Eastern Caribbean and Lesotho
during the period 1978-1980).
00. In December, 1980, USAID convened a group of former and current FSR/E
practitioners in Washington to discuss implementation of FSR/E projects and
their future. While a great deal of discussion centered around differing
definitions and concepts of FSR/E during this meeting, the general consensus
was that FSR/E, as an approach, was going to expand significantly in the
future and, furthermore, that USAID was committed to such an expansion. In
1985, a worldwide inventory of farming systems projects (FSSP Newsletter,
1985) identified 256 different projects with 95 of these in Africa. In Asia,
the Pacific, and the Near East, USAID supports FSR/E projects, or projects
with FSR/E components, in India, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Philippines, Sri
Lanka, Thailand, and Western Samoa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, similar USAID-
supported projects are in Botswana, Burundi (forthcoming), Cameroon, The
Gambia, Lesotho (completed and forthcoming), Kenya, Liberia, Malawi (completed
and forthcoming), Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone,
Somalia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zaire, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Latin America,
similar USAID-supported projects are in Bolivia (completed), Dominican
Republic, Eastern Caribbean (CARDI), Ecuador, Guatemala (completed), Haiti,
Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Paraguay.
During 1982 ahd 1983, several of AID's early FSR/E projects were evaluated
(Central America: Hobgood et al., 1980; Guatemala: McDermott and Bathrick,
1982; Korea: Steinberg et al., 1982; Nepal: Simmons et al., 1982; Eastern
Caribbean: Everson et al., 1982; Lesotho: USAID 1983a; Malawi: USAID 1983b).
During implementation and evaluations of several of these first round
USAID-funded FSR/E projects, four consistent problems appeared:
most of these projects were poorly conceived and designed,
very few of the projects were staffed by experienced FSR/E
U.S. bilateral contractors were seldom able to field the originally-
proposed team members, and
seldom did expatriate researchers in the field interact and work
together with host country counterparts as a multidisciplinary team.
(p2. Currently, USAID devotes XX% of its agricultural research project budget
to projects which have a FSR/E focus. This financial commitment is reflected
in XX projects, approximately XX% of USAID's total agricultural projects.
(The authors requested these and other figures and hope to include them in the
Z 53. In partial response to some of the above problems, USAID conceived of and
designed a centrally-funded project, located in the Bureau of Science and
Technology, to backstop and support USAID projects on a world-wide basis. The
University of Florida was chosen to implement this project, known as the
Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP) in September, 1982. As a cooperative
agreement, FSSP, among other tasks, was to assist bilateral contractors locate
and help train the best possible technical assistance teams for future FSR/E
projects, as well as assist in the replacement staffing of on-going projects.
However, bilateral contractors and USAID Missions are free to use (or not use)
the services of the FSSP.
6L During the past four years, a continuous attempt has been made by USAID to
train professionals in technical aspects of implementing FSR/E. However, ex-
pected improvements in USAID-funded FSR/E projects has been slower than anti-
cipated and USAID-Washington is much less tolerant of investing in future
FSR/E projects. While 1985-1986 have produced several new USAID-funded agri-
cultural researcif-and development projects with FSR/E perspectives or compo-
nents, larger percentages are currently being dedicated to biotechnological
research and to more traditional commodity research (USAID, S&T 1986 Budget).
4 i- It is not known if the FSSP will be renewed after its first five years.
However, all of the FSSP support entities (21 U.S. universities and four
private consulting firms), and many USAID Missions, are convinced of the
validity of, and necessity for, some type of FSR/E approach (FSSP On-
Networking, 1986; Mission cables in response to evaluation of FSSP, June,
1985). The University of Florida and the FSSP support entities are interested
in continuing the project, based on direct contracts with missions, with
support to consist mainly of training, orientation and technical assistance.
Several of the USAID-funded Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSP)
have FSR/E components. The Bean/Cowpea CRSP has had projects with farming
systems components in Ecuador, Guatemala, Tanzania and Malawi. The Soils
Management CRSP has had a farming systems component in Indonesia and the
Sorghum/Millet CRSP has had projects with farming systems components in
Mexico, Honduras and Sudan. The Small Ruminants CRSP had farming systems
components in their Kenya and Peru projects. Most of these efforts would not
be classed as full FSR/E projects, but they utilize many of the elements that
are common to FSR/E programs. In general, the FSR/E components of the CRSPs
are viewed favorably by their implementing universities.
s7 2) IDRC.
"IDRC has been very strongly committed to FSR for the past 15 years
....it will stay committed for the next 50."
Andrew Ker, IDRC, March 11, 1986
It is important to note the role that the International Development
Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, has played in promoting the implementation of
FSR/E approaches in national programs. Though they use the term "cropping
systems" to identify most of the activities they support, the concepts and
philosophy embraced are in keeping with the definition given for FSR/E.
IDRC's position on the role of FSR/E in Africa is strongly tied to their
"bottom-up" philosophy. Rather than attributing Africa's poor adoption of
existing agricultural recommendations solely to infrastructural or extension-
related deficiencies, IDRC points to the need for technology to first fit the
farmers' needs and situation.
. o At IDRC, cropping systems research resides within the Agriculture, Food
and Nutrition Sciences Division (AFNS), which encourages a systems approach in
all projects in order to ensure that research results benefit intended
beneficiaries (IDRC, 1981). The AFNS systematic approach is intended to
"short circuit" conventional top-down research and requires research to be
undertaken cooperatively with recipients (IDRC, 1981).
The approach advocated by IDRC is based on the division's early experience
in Colombia during the Caqueza Project, the first farming systems research
project supported by AFNS (Zandstra et al, 1979). These experiences were then
carried to Asia and benefited the development of the Asian Cropping Systems
Network (now the Asian Farming Systems Network). Coming full circle, the
methodologies and experiences refined in Asia are now guiding the definition
and implementation of a steadily increasing number of cropping and farming
systems projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. More recently, this
experience is being shared with national researchers in West Africa.
f0O. At a conference in Nairobi, sponsored by IDRC in 1983 (Kirkby, 1984), the
development of programs for cropping systems research or farming systems
research was identified as one of five major trends in food-crop research
during the past decade in the region. The major result of this trend is the
convergence in views and actions between technical scientists and agricultural
economists. Conference participants agreed that the introduction of FSR/E in
the region "represents an attempt to institutionalize a set of procedures for
developing useful new technology that should be more rational and realistic
than if each commodity research program were to continue pursuing, in isola-
tion, a strategy for increasing the production of a particular commodity"
At the conference, participants resolved that better definition of the
roles between commodity teams and FSR/E could come about through the
establishment of cropping improvement coordinating committees (CICC) which
would coordinate, -monitor, and evaluate agricultural research. Specifically,
the CICCs would assist in creating and coordinating commodity team cooperation
with farming systems research teams. This model, or variations of it, is
being implemented in several African countries, including Zambia and Malawi.
_7 In keeping with their philosophy, and in contrast to the IARCs and most
other bilateral donor projects, IDRC has placed its emphasis on funding
national researchers to conduct projects. The funding level is considerably
lower than most donor projects in agriculture, primarily because there is
little or no reliance on expatriate teams. IDRC supported activities are
sometimes linked with IARC FSR initiatives, but most of the planning and
implementation of the projects is done with national researchers and a
regional project officer. Occasionally, IDRC has funded an expatriate adviser;
yet national leadership is being developed and the projects retain a strong
national identity, rather than a donor identity. Among over 250 projects
identified in the FSSP inventory of FSR/E projects worldwide, close to 50%
reported some form of support from IDRC (FSSP 1984). The crops and cropping
systems group of AFNS has administered more than 44% of the 400 projects
approved and slightly more than 50% of the total AFNS budget appropriated
during the past decade. The average project cost has been close to $250,000
(Canadian dollars), with an average project duration of 35 months. In the past
decade, projects were supported in 46 countries, 27% in Africa, 25% in Asia,
21% in Latin America, 14% in the Near East and 13% in Canada. Examples of
IDRC-supported projects in Africa with a FSR/E perspective include the
highland maize project in Burundi, the Tanzanian projects based out of
Morogoro University, the efforts in southern Mali in support of the Institut
d'Economie Rurale, on-farm research in Uganda, and the Njala University's
farming systems efforts in Sierra Leone.
3) French Bilateral Initiatives. Billaz and Dufumier (1980) defined
the French approach, generally called recherche-developpement (R-D) as the
study of the application, on the basis of tests conducted under real physical
and socioeconomic conditions, of technical and social changes, in particular
the intensification of production and the creation of producer organization
and delivery or extension systems. Fresco (1984) and Fresco and Poats (1986)
have pointed out major contributions to FSR/E from the French, and compared
Francophone and Anglophone efforts. Bellon et al. (1985) have reviewed, at a
conceptual level, 4 FSR and 4 R-D projects. However, the former group is
composed of all IARC's (IRRI, CIMMYT-Nairobi, ICARDA and ICRISAT-Burkina Faso)
while the latter is all national programs supported by bilateral assistance
programs (IDESSA-Ivory Coast, Nepal, DRSPR in Southern Mali and Madian-
Salagnac in Haiti). The two groups serve two different primary clientele:
the clientele of the former is largely national researchers, while the clien-
tele of the latter is farmers. As a result, differences between the ap-
proaches advocated within each group are probably due more to their different
respective mandates than to the particular name of the approach.
Though there is growing convergence between the two approaches (see
Section B.1.e. and Appendices 1 and 4), there are two key differences between
the two groups (Bellon et al., 1985). The first relates to the time spent on
diagnosis. R-D generally calls for a lengthy, detailed diagnostic phase,
often coupled with extensive mapping, surveys, observations and historical
research. FSR/E is viewed as having only a very rapid diagnosis, after which
decisions are made and experiments designed. Closer study reveals that those
in FSR/E spend less time on diagnosis as a single activity, but move into
on-farm experimentation as a way of continuing diagnosis through monitoring,
involving farmers in trials, and involving researchers and extension agents in
farmers' fields. It should be highlighted that there is little or no explicit
attention given to gender issues in R-D, neither as a diagnostic nor an
analytical tool, while FSR/E is beginning to make headway in this area.
The second key difference is whether the objective is to promote techno-
logy or to promote farmers (peasants). Bellon et al. (1985) argue that FSR/E
is oriented to the former while the R-D is guided by the latter. Again, the
apparent difference may not be inherent in the approach, but in the institu-
tion operating it, particularly if the institution has a mandate to produce
technology. In R-D, heavier emphasis is placed on the diagnostic phase than
on testing (experimental) activities.
Other experiences in Mali, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Ivory Coast,
Niger and Cameroon, plus project work outside Africa in Nicaragua and Nepal,
have contributed to the current philosophy, methods and concepts embodied in
the R-D approach. R-D is usually viewed as taking a broader perspective
involving both micro and macro issues, rather than being limited to innova-
tions only at farm level. Concommittantly with identifying production con-
straints at farm level, the approach embodies the development of policies and
methods to improve the socioeconomic conditions of production. The approach
links research and development, but often proposes bypassing traditional
extension systems in favor of the development of farmer groups or collectives
for the purpose of information and technology exchange. 'Traditional extension
is often viewed as being too hierarchal (GRET, no date).
4) GTZ. Though a GTZ (Germany) philosophy toward FSR/E is still
evolving, they seem to view the approach as one of step-wise improvements,
greater farmer participation in on-farm adaptive research, emphasis on train-
ing of nationals, and implementation by extension officers "who are convinced
of the importance of traditional cropping systems." (Steiner, 1985). However,
up to now, FSR/E per se has not been a specific area of funding by GTZ.
Several GTZ-supported projects have FSR/E-like components and their philosophy
with respect to FSR/E also appears to be based on intercropping activities.
One of the major activities of the GTZ Project on Intercropping was to create
an information system on intercropping. Both traditional farming systems and
farming systems research were included in the system. Clients for the infor-
mation were GTZ and other interested institutions.
Steiner (1982) prepared a state of knowledge report on intercropping to
set the framework for the GTZ project. This report focused primarily on West
Africa, and became the basis for a computerized documentation service which
supplied field projects with abstracts for the life of the project. In the
fourth and last volume of the GTZ bibliography (Steiner 1985), 52 citations
are abstracted in a section entitled, "Farming Systems Research and
Recent GTZ-supported FSR/E activities include projects in Northern Ghana,
Malawi, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. GTZ is beginning to conduct training courses
in FSR/E for its field and headquarters staff, drawing upon outside expertise
for their delivery. GTZ is highlighting the need to combine training with
purposive networking (facilitating face-to-face exchanges of information
between projects supported in different countries), improve the linkage be-
tween research and extension, and explore the question of sustainability.
"Standortgerechte Landwirtschaft," or "ecological adapted agriculture", is
defined as farming systems producing increased, sustained yields without use
of commercial inputs, simultaneously maintaining or even restoring a balanced
ecosystem. (Kotschi and Adelhelm, 1984). GTZ provided substantial support to
the recent WAFSRN meeting and intends to support on-going activities of the
WAFSRN secretariat (Steiner, personal communication, 1986).
c. International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs)
The growing recognition of the value of the FSR/E approach was also
discussed in a conference attended by representatives to the IARCs Workshop on
Farming Systems Research:
"A farming systems approach is now being adopted and incorporated
by many research systems. This is reflected in increased contact
between scientists and farmers, a greater sensitivity of scientist
to the complexities of small farmer systems and changes in atti-
tudes of scientist toward addressing farmer problems. Results of
on-farm research have been particularly valuable in feeding back
information to on-station research and changing priorities accor-
dingly. At the same time, as the farming systems approach matures
in many programs, there is growing evidence of acceptance of tech-
nologies being generated." (Andrew, unpublished notes from ICRISAT
Workshop, February, 1986).
Concensus is emerging within the IARC community about research with a
farming systems perspective (FSP). Direct attention is not given to the
research/extension linkage but recognition of the important role of national
institutions in extension is quite common. At the recent meeting of Interna-
tional Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs) representatives at ICRISAT in
February of 1986 (FSSP, 1986a) it was agreed that the essential underlying
concept of research with a farming systems perspective is that it is an
approach to agricultural research, ultimately serving extension, which
embodies the following concepts:
Problem-solving research which explicitly recognizes farmer and other
agents in the food system as the primary client of agricultural
Research which recognized interactions between different sub-systems in
the farming system and which may often require a multi-commodity
Research with an inter-disciplinary approach that requires close
collaboration among technical scientists (physical and biological) and
632 The financial status of the IARCs relative to other agricultural research
groups has been good. Investments in FSR vary by center and region for each
center but have increased over time in the aggregate and as a complement
within both commodity and constraint oriented programs. Currently FSR
accounts for up to 10% of the budgets of various IARCs, or a total of US$10-15
million per year for the CGIAR centers as a whole (Anderson and Dillon, 1985).
Forty percent of IITA's budget is related to FSR activities(Hildebrand,
personal communication, 1986).
Specific activities of the IARCs in Africa which carry a farming systems
perspective have been detailed elsewhere (Norman and Collinson, 1985; Fresco
and Poats, 1986; Anderson and Dillon, 1985; Simmonds 1985; Sands, 1985;
Rhoades and Potts, 1985). As a group, it is possible to see common methodo-
logical threads among the IARCs active in Africa. All centers identify the
same or almost the same procedural stages, but implementation differs. Little
consensus exists on the appropriate methods of diagnosis and each center
-promotes differently the usage of informal and formal diagnostic tools. Most
IARC activity is "with a pre-determined focus" (Figure 1). Though not a major
initial problem, this poses a challenge to national agricultural research and
extension systems if each commodity has a different IARC backstop or colla-
borator with a different set of jargon and specific methods to be followed.
Institutionalization of FSR/E within any national systems requires an
agreement on FSR/E among the different commodity programs and a national
approach shaped to fit national needs. Better inter-center collaboration
(such as the Inter-Center Consultation, CIMMYT, 1984) held among the IARCs
will help this process.
1) Domestic Programs. The philosophy of those U.S. universities
which have begun domestic, state-level FSR/E approaches, has been to once
again make agricultural research responsive to their limited-resource farming
clientele. With few exceptions, these approaches can be characterized as
being incremental, or OFR/FSP, in nature. The known exception is at Sam
Houston University (Texas), where a "model farm" approach is being followed.
This approach would follow that of the main effort at IITA, or NFSD (Figure
. Since 1980 when the University of Florida began the first U.S.-based FSR/E
project in northern Florida with USDA funding, nine other universities have
followed this lead. There are now university programs located at Alabama A &
M, Colorado State, Cornell, Fort Valley (Georgia), Hawaii, Minnesota, North
Carolina State, Southern Illinois, and Virginia Polytechnic and State Univer-
Courses in FSR/E methods were first offered by the University of Florida
and Cornell University (ca. 1980). From this beginning, at least eight addi-
tional universities in the U.S. offer FSR/E courses, or courses incorporating
the FSR/E approach. These eight include California (at Davis), Colorado
State, Hawaii, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University. In addition, the University of
Florida now offers a minor in farming systems to both M.S. and Ph.D. level
students and four assistantships annually for the specific study of FSR/E.
The philosophical and financial commitment of these institutions is
substantial. It is never easy to introduce a change into a system (in this
case, that of the land-grant) which is over 100 years old. However, the fact
that so many major U.S. universities have either undertaken the effort of
introducing FSR/E at their respective state levels, or have altered curricula
to include teaching and training students in the methods of FSR/E, qualitat-
ively proves their commitment. Finally, some of the USAID strengthening
grant monies has gone into supporting many of these approaches.
2) Programs In Other Countries. Based on the similar philosophy of
making research more efficient by focusing it more directly on their limited-
resource farming clientele, other countries have begun to incorporate FSR/E
concepts and approaches into their university curricula. In Europe, at least
the following universities have incorporated FSR/E into their curricula:
IDS-Sussex and the Imperial College of Science and Technology-London (Great
Britain), and Wageningen (The Netherlands). In Central America, CATIE
(Turrialba, Costa Rica) incorporates the FSR/E approach into the curriculum.
In Southeast Asia and the Pacific, the six universities of the Southeast Asian
Universities Agroecosystems Network (SUAN) all offer instruction in the
philosophy of FSR/E (Bogor and Padjadjaran in Indonesia; Baguio and Los Banos
in the Philippines; Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen in Thailand), as does Hawkesbury
Though not part of the main pattern for national FSR/E institutionaliza-
tion, African universities are playing a growing role in the operation of
FSR/E projects, and increasingly, in teaching FSR/E methods. Four Nigerian
universities, operating from their own adaptations of the U.S. Land Grant
Model, have on-going FSR/E projects with formal linkages to their national
FSR/E program. The University of Zimbabwe has a FSR project with informal
linkages to the national FSR unit, and also operates an annual training pro-
gram with support from CIMMYT's East African Programme. Sokoine University in
Tanzania, Egerton College in Kenya, the University of Swaziland, Njala Univer-
sity in Sierra Leone and the University Centre Dschang in Cameroon all have
on-going FSR/E projects, and Makerere University in Uganda is starting a
similar effort. Njala offers courses in FSR/E methods and students gain
hands-on experience in the field project, supported by IDRC. Cameroon's
effort is quite new, but has the same objective as the Njala program.
e. National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES)
The acid test for FSR/E is "the extent to which these procedures are
permanently institutionalized in national programmes with adequate policy and
financial backing" (Chiduza and Rukuni, 1985). While donor project evalua-
tions are one measure of the status of the methodology, there is danger in
assuming that the donor position is the only evaluation criterion. Donors can
be insensitive to national feeling and ruled by fads and fashions:
"The fact that a single major donor can catalyse a dozen FSR pro-
jects in the Eastern and Southern African region over a 5-year
period bears witness to fashionability and brow-beating" (Norman
and Collinsori, 1985).
Many long-time field researchers in FSR/E, including Norman and Collinson,
worry that donors have moved too fast, too soon and with too much money in
FSR/E. Large projects were designed before local expertise was developed to
handle them. Expatriates with little FSR/E experience were brought in to
implement them. Little thought was given to institutionalization. Donors
have sometimes equated the building of an experiment station or dam with
developing an FSR/E program. Unfortunately, bricks and mortar are more easily
set into place than are new paradigms for solving difficult problems. Donors
are now evaluating young FSR/E projects (most of which have yet to become
programs), expecting to find solid institutionalization where concrete has
barely begun to set.
"There is great danger, if evaluation is done from an academic
perspective, without due regard to the slow process of developing
national and indeed international capacity, and to the pitfalls of
implementation, that the baby will be thrown out with the bath-
water" (Norman and Collinson, 1985).
1.- The progress of FSR/E is examined from the point of view of national
programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. More attention and space is given
to Africa. However, many valuable lessons for Africa can be drawn from Latin
American and Asian FSR/E experiences. Material for this section is drawn
largely from conferences and workshops held over the past two years (many of
which were attended by FSSP core staff) which brought together national
researchers, extension workers, and program leaders to discuss the state of
FSR/E in their respective countries.
C(3 FSR/E is rapidly gaining a place in agricultural research and extension
programs in Africa, with thirty-five out of forty-one Sub-Saharan countries
reporting some level of FSR/E activity. FSR/E is not new to the region.
Eicher and Baker describe an "invisible literature on FSR in Africa which can
provide a perspective on current FSR programs" (1982). They cited the experi-
ences of the Cotton Research Corporation in Uganda during the 1950's, the
Uboma study in eastern Nigeria during the 1960's, and the Experimental Units
in Senegal's groundnut basin of the early 1970's as predating contemporary
FSR/E programs. As Eicher and Baker point out, these early experiences
demonstrated that on-farm research is not a luxury but a necessity in shaping
national research programs; multidisciplinary teams incorporating social
scientists are essential to agricultural research; and farmer testing of
technological innovations is needed prior to dissemination through extension.
There is no one correct structure for FSR/E in African countries. Each
national setting has unique peculiarities and twists, with institutional
structures to reflect these. However, much can be gained from further com-
munication among projects concerning organization and implementation of FSR/E.
75. FSR/E Networking takes place among African countries. However, it occurs
mostly on a regional basis: eastern and southern countries are linked through
the CIMMYT program, while West and Central countries are linked more recently
through the West African Farming Systems Research Network (WAFSRN). Zaire,
Rwanda and Burundi have-begun sharing results through the great lakes regional
organization and its research institute, IRAZ. Networking across East-West
boundaries began recently through joint efforts of CIMMYT and FSSP at the
Egerton Workshop (August, 1985). SAFGRAD OAU/STRC offers another vehicle for
networking and exchanges among those African countries in the Sahelian belt.
(p The current status of farming systems programs, projects, and pilot
efforts in African national programs are reviewed using the categories esta-
blished in the previous section (Figure 1). In Africa, the categories of (1)
Research on Farming Systems (RFS), (2) New Farming Systems Development (NFSD),
and (3) Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) can be viewed as pro-
gressive stages in the development of the Farming Systems Perspective (FSP).
\I The earliest efforts were essentially RFS. Geographers, anthropologists,
and agriculturalists gathered a base of descriptive information on how tradi-
tional farming was being conducted in the various ecological regions of the
continent and among different ethnic groups (i.e., Ruthenberg, 1980). Some
self-identified FSR/E projects are still using such a descriptive perspective,
and should be called RFS. Other development-oriented projects did not
progress beyond a descriptive stage, especially those which began with large
formal surveys and did not provide timely and useful results. Many of these
projects have been replaced or re-designed.
Subsequent efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa can be characterized as (1)
projects aimed at designing new farming systems (NFSD) to replace traditional
farming systems or (2) projects attempting to integrate 'technological and
institutional change for specific target regions (FSRAD). Implementation
difficulties with both types have precluded any measurable success of either
type of project. In both types, the unit of analysis is an entire farming
system (NFSD) or an entire region encompassing one or more farming systems
(FSRAD), resulting in insufficient disaggregation of data. NFSD is expensive
both in terms of budget and personnel and must be conducted on a very large
scale, placing it beyond the financial capabilities of most national programs.
The most prominent NFSD effort in Africa today is at IITA. There, the
objective is to replace shifting cultivation with a more stable and productive
agricultural system. This effort is a top-down exercise in modeling "what
could be done in a particular situation with existing know-how" (Norman and
Collinson, 1986). The approach gives little consideration to the economic or
social setting of the farmers within the target region. Few national programs
have attempted to conduct NFSD to any great extent.
Some practitioners have rejected NFSD because it is "playing house with
the farming system," and is "devoid of any connection to reality" (Bremmer,
1983). However, in those areas affected by ecological catastrophes (i.e.,
prolonged drought) new farming systems may be needed if farming is to continue
at all. Step-wise FSR/E improvements may not be enough to bring production
back up to even subsistence levels. Similarily, areas undergoing intensive
repopulation or in-migration may also need new farming systems to meet the
needs of a farming population unfamiliar with the new ecological zone.
Nonetheless, given the resources needed, efforts in NFSD are likely to remain
possible only at the IARCs.
FSRAD is typified by the French R-D (see Section B.l.b.) and has been
implemented at varying levels in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Tunisia,
Mali, Niger, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast. The objective of FSRAD is long-term
development of a region through technological and institutional development.
Leverage points for intervention can be technical, socioeconomic, political,
or may focus on linkages between these three areas. FSRAD addresses the fact
that solutions to farmer production problems may not always be in the
technical realm, but instead may be in alterations in infrastructure or
policy. In practice, however, FSRAD has been extremely difficult for national
programs to manage because of its complexity. FSRAD also requires significant
outside donor support over a long period of time. There are very few pure
FSRAD projects or programs in operation in Africa today.
The large majority of the current efforts to incorporate a farming systems
perspective in national agricultural research and extension systems fall
within the Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) category. Most
national programs do not call their activities "FSR/E", however, most are
grappling with the linkages between research and extension. Table 1 contains
a classification of Sub-Saharan countries according to the degree to which
FSR/E has been, is, or is being considered for institutionalization.
AFRICAN COUNTRIES CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO RELATIVE
GROUP 1 COUNTRIES:
GROUP 2 COUNTRIES:
In Process of Re-
GROUP 3 COUNTRIES:
Some Pilot FSR/E
GROUP 4 COUNTRIES:
|i,,. In the first category, each country has made changes within the institu-
tional organization of research and extension to accommodate FSR/E. External
funding, often substantial, is still present, but national commitment to
FSR/E is strongly evident, both in terms of funding and allocation of person-
nel. All countries listed have reorganized, but the form, shape and process
used differed country by country. (refer to Section C.2.). The second cate-
gory contains the largest number of countries (Table 2). There are signifi-
cant differences among them in regard to level and years of experience with
FSR/E and relative strengths of linkages between research and extension.
IoH While FSR/E exists in the countries listed in the third category, it has
often occurred in fits and starts without any sustained effort. Political
problems in some have precluded sustained donor support for FSR/E (i.e.,
Uganda, Somalia, and Mozambique), while the others have had little outside
contact with FSR/E. The paucity of FSR/E materials written in or translated
to Portuguese hampers expansion of the approach in Mozambique and Guinea-
Bissau. The Ford Foundation Office in Kenya is exploring possibilities of
translating basic FSR/E materials into Portuguese (Bill Saint, personal
correspondence, 1986). However, all are implementing or plan to implement
pilot projects in the near future. Guinea-Bissau and Guinea are currently
supported by the French from CIRAD (Montpellier, France) for initial training
and diagnostic activities, while Mauritania is receiving support from USAID
through a contract with the University of Arizona.
I 0($. The institutional structure for FSR/E differs considerably from country to
country. Among those countries which have undergone some reorganization,
three patterns of institutionalization have emerged. The first is the creation
of some sort of coordinator, coordinating body, or coordinating program to
operate at the national level, usually from within a research organization.
The second is the creation of a department for FSR/E in the national research
organization. The third is incorporation of FSR/E through existing research
and extension structures. These patterns become clearer when seen in their
I C 1) National Level Coordination for FSR/E. Several countries have
created a position or body at the national level to coordinate the overall
FSR/E effort and to liase between the various other programs and institutions.
In Zambia, a single individual is designated as coordinator of the Adaptive
Research Planning Team (ARPT) and provides leadership for coordinating on-farm
research between the seven regional ARPTS (each supported by a different
donor) and the commodity research teams (Kean and Chibasa, n.d.). Although
similar to Zambia in many ways, Malawi has a national adaptive research
program from which adaptive research teams operate in several Agricultural
Development Districts (ADDs). Coordination is provided by a national
coordinating unit based .at the Chitedze research station (Nyirenda, 1985).
\n. In Burkina Faso, a coordinating entity for all research, IBRAZ, was estab-
lished. Within IBRAZ is a "horizontal program", RSP (Recherche sur les Sys-
temes de Production), with the mandate to coordinate and direct Burkina FSR/E
activities. This type of institutional arrangement is found elsewhere (i.e.,
Bangladesh), and creates linkages "from above" between research programs
following commodities and regional development programs, including extension.
RSP also coordinates donor FSR/E activity to ensure that donor objectives are
in close harmony with national objectives and priorities (Sawadogo, 1986).
IO. Tanzania established a national coordinator position for its FSR/E project
funded by USAID starting in 1982. This coordinator is supported by a FSR
working committee which includes representatives from research, extension, the
university community, and the Ministry of Agriculture. The FSR/E national
coordinator is under the Tanzania Agricultural Research Organization (TARO),
formed in 1980 to integrate and manage the diverse, autonomous and
commodity-focused parastatal Agricultural Research Institutes (Chiduza and
Rukuni, 1985; Shao, 1985; CID/OSU/USAID, 1983).
I0 q In Nigeria, all food production research institutes were instructed to
evolve a Farming Systems Research Program. In 1983, a National Coordinator
for Farming Systems Research was appointed, and FSR became one of nine Na-
tionally Coordinated Research Projects (NCRP). The program currently operates
within four national agricultural research institutes, several agricultural
development projects financed by the World Bank, and IITA, forming one of the
largest national peer groups for FSR in Africa. The Nigerian National Farming
Systems Research Network was created to facilitate exchange of information,
and is now coordinated by the National FSR Coordinator (Olununga, 1985; Abalu,
1986; Baker and Norman, 1986). The Nigeria case represents two patterns:
coordination at the national level and incorporation at regional levels
through specific regional research entities.
In Zimbabwe, the Directorate of the National Department for Research and
Specialist Services formed one FSR unit to conduct research on both crop and
livestock production, following individual FSR projects on crops and livestock
funded by separate donors. In 1984, FSR became an autonomous unit with a core
team in Harare guiding and supporting two small regional teams (Chiduza and
Institutionalization in these countries has weighed heavily in favor of
research organizations. Relatively little effective linkage with development
or extension entities has occurred.
2) Creation of FSR (FSR/E) Departments. Both Senegal and Mali have
created departments or divisions for RSP (Recherche sur les Systemes de Pro-
duction) within institutes responsible for national agronomic research. In
Senegal, the Production Systems Research and Rural Technology Transfer Depart-
ment within the Senegal Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA) is supported by
the Macro-Economic Analysis Bureau (BAME) and coordinates the activities of
three regional FSR teams based at regional research stations. Coordination
from the department is done by a Central Systems Analysis group of senior
researchers, composed along lines similar to the regional teams (Faye et al,
1986). In Mali, FSR is in a separate division within the Institute of Rural
Economy (IER). The Division of Rural Production Systems Research (DRSPR) was
created in 1979. The division has operated two projects in the southern
region funded by separate donors.
In both Mali and Senegal, the FSR department or division is located at the
same level, but separate from, traditional disciplinary departments within the
research institute. Although this arrangement could foster better linkages
between station-based and farm-based research, it could also result in
inter-departmental competition for scarce personnel and resources. In both
cases, there was initially considerable distance between the FSR research
department and extension (or development) agencies, particularly at the
coordination level. However, informal linkages have been made at the regional
level between the FSR projects and regional development agencies. In Senegal,
these involve annual planning meetings to determine priorities for on-farm
research. In southern Mali, excellent relations have been established with
the regional development agency, CMDT. Of the other FSR/E projects in West
Africa which are institutionally housed in research, this one has made the
most progress in establishing the critical research-extension linkages
(Lichte, personal communication, 1986).
I Rwanda also has an FSR department within its national agricultural
research institute, ISAR. However, it does not as yet play any effective
coordinating role among the various other regional FSR or commodity OFR
Sc. 3) Generalized Institutionalization of FSR/E. In 1979, Lesotho, with
support from USAID, created an FSR unit within the Agricultural Research
Division of the Ministry of Agriculture. Following an external evaluation in
1981, the idea of a separate unit was abolished in favor of a more generalized
strengthening of the entire research division's capacity to conduct research
on smallholder agricultural production constraints, as well as its ability to
transfer relevant technologies to farming communities (USAID, 1983a). All
research in Lesotho is mandated as systems-oriented, and three prototype pilot
areas representative of distinct agroecological zones have been established
for on-farm testing. Though largely focused on research, considerable
linkage, coordination, and involvement of extension has been achieved.
1 Kenya has taken a similar position to Lesotho on FSR/E and, in 1984, FSR
teams were established at 10 research stations. These teams work with
extension staff from adjacent districts. The Kenyan approach is currently
enhancing the FSR/E capacity within teams through short-term training courses
sponsored by CIMMYT. No other countries demonstrate this form of institution-
alization, although several appear to be leaning in this direction (i.e.,
Gambia and Swaziland).
7L 4) Projects But No Program. The rest of the countries listed in the
first three categories of Table 1 can be characterized as having FSR/E pro-
jects which lack institutionalization at the national level. Many, like
Botswana, have had a relatively long history of FSR/E, but "its development
has been on a project orientated ad-hoc basis and only now is serious thought
being given to how these various projects can be integrated into a cohesive
national programme" (Chiduza and Rukuni, 1985). Projects in some of these
countries are commodity-specific, FSR/E "with a pre-determined focus", and
often have strong connections to IARC program efforts. Examples include the
cassava-based PRONAM project in Zaire (supported by IITA), the potato programs
in Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire (supported by CIP), the bean project in Rwanda
(supported by CIAT), the maize projects in Burundi and Ghana (supported by
IDRC and CIMMYT), and the rice project in Madagascar (supported by IRRI).
Other countries have pilot projects or semi-autonomous, externally financed
projects which are in varying stages of development. Most of these receive
extensive external financing. There are virtually no examples of national
pilot projects that are totally internally financed.
I(UI, 5) Summary. Recent reviews and analyses (Fresco, 1984; Fresco and
Poats 1986; and Bellon et al., 1985) have used the Francophone-Anglophone
dichotomy as a tool for classifying the various FSR/E approaches in Africa.
However, the above analysis has shown that as more information is available
documenting these efforts, and a greater number of national programs demon-
strate combinations of perspectives gained from both Anglophone and Franco-
phone literature, this tool has become less useful for categorizing and ana-
lyzing the progress of FSR/E development in Africa. There has been consider-
able convergence between the two, and it appears that FSR/E is moving "towards
a middle ground in West Africa which will exploit the strengths of both
Francophone and Anglophone research and development experiences and minimize
the weaknesses of each approach" (Baker and Norman, 1986).
SFSR/E in Asia began in the late 1960's. Today, two major systems networks
operate there: (1) the Asian Farming Systems Network (AFSN), formerly the
Asian Cropping Systems Network, began in 1975 (Hoque, 1984), and (2) the
Southeast Asian Unversities Agroecosystem Network (SUAN). The former is 11
years old (containing 11 member nations, including both India and China),
while the latter is four years old (containing six agricultural universities,
two each from Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand [Mendoza, 1985]). The
focus of AFSN has been on flooded rice-based cropping systems research but,
during the past three years, efforts have been made to expand the network's
approach to consider both secondary (i.e., non-rice) crops and upland (i.e.,
non-paddy) crops (Hoque, 1984). AFSN has facilitated annual monitoring tours
of member nation's programs and has formed numerous topical working groups.
SUAN focuses on human ecology/agroecosystems analysis. Gibbs (1985) provides
a good comparison of the subtle variations between farming systems research,
cropping systems research, and human ecology/agroecosystems analysis. The key
ingredient is that the agroecosystems approach brings to other types of sys-
tems-based research the-explicit consideration of the longer run:
sustainability. With its focus on immediate farmer-identified problems and
constraints, most FSR/E approaches have overlooked issues of sustainability.
I ZO. Agricultural research in Asia continues to move more toward addressing the
problems and needs of secondary and upland crops and non-rice subsystems,
including agroforestry and livestock. There is a growing realization that
refinements of IRRI's traditional cropping systems methodology are needed.
Asian national research programs are searching for best way to approach
research for there rainfed crops, livestock and agroforestry systems, all of
which are subject to much greater variability and risk than is the traditional
paddy rice crop. There is some movement for the two major Asian approaches -
farming systems research and agroecosystems analysis to come together and
utilize some of the comparative strengths of each other's methods (FSR/E-
Agroecosystems Workshop, Honolulu, Hawaii, August, 1985; Rapid Rural Appraisal
Workshop, Khon Kaen, Thailand, September, 1985). Finally, Australia has
considerable expertise in introducing, and working with, FSR/E in Asia, both
within ministries and at the university level (Australian Centre for
International Agricultural Research, 1985). In addition, Hawksbury College,
N.S.W., (Australia) offers an approach to FSR/E in their curriculum.
2 J While a few methodological results may be transferable directly from Asia
to Africa, more important are the institutional lessons which can be learned
from the two networks. Just as AFSN found it necessary to have both a perma-
nent base (at IRRI) and a network coordinator, so too should WAFSRN strive for
a permanent headquarters and coordinator. Some of the sustainability issues
being examined by the SUAN network may be of considerable methodological
importance to Africa, while the experience of the six Asian universities who
started this network are of obvious importance to African universities facing
similar start-up issues. If African universities are once again brought
together to discuss FSR/E, some of the Asian university programs should pro-
vide human resource backstops. More specifically, the experiences of Khon Kaen
University (Thailand) and the University of the Philippines, Los Banos (UPLB)
are particularly relevant.
h. Latin America
\ 2__ FSR/E in Latin America traces its roots from early cropping systems
research projects in Caqueza, Colombia, in 1971 (Zandstra et al., 1979), Rio
Negro, Colombia, in 1971 (Tobon C., 1985), El Salvador, in 1973 (Hildebrand
and French, 1974, and CATIE, Costa Rica, in 1973 (Burgos and Navarro, 1985).
The first national effort, built in part on the experience being gained in the
other projects, was with the establishment of ICTA, the Guatemalan Institute
of Agricultural Science and Technology, in 1973. Because it was one of the
first national programs to develop and utilize farming systems methodology,
the experience in Guatemala has served as a model throughout the world:
"Around the world, ICTA has come to represent a new approach for
agricultural research with agricultural planners and researchers
studying ICTA as a model for possible replication" (McDermott and
2-. In the formative years of the mid-1970's, personnel from ICTA were
instrumental in creating a cropping systems group in the regional network
meetings of the Central American Cooperative Program for the Improvement of
Food Crops (PCCMCA). The PCCMCA was originally established with funding from
the Rockefeller Foundation for exchange of information on food crop research,
primarily plant breeding data. This, along with the USAID-funded CATIE
project, helped create interest in the farming systems approach throughout
Central America and the Caribbean, where it is now widespread. All Central
American nations utilize some type of FSR/E approach. South American coun-
tries have begun to participate in the PCCMCA network and about half of those
countries have farming systems projects at the present time.
I 2-01. Because FSR/E has usually been associated with research and has been
criticized for not integrating with extension, it is worth noting that in
Paraguay, the farming systems project, supported by training from the FSSP, is
institutionally located in the extension service rather than in research
(Poey, 1985). This project is also noteworthy because in only two years'
time, it has flourished after beginning with an initial investment of only
U.S. $100,000 from the USAID Mission. The project now has several FSR/E teams
located throughout Paraguay. Research is collaborating with the effort,
supported by the CIMMYT maize program. This example shows the importance of
integrating research with extension through orientation to the FSR/E process,
training in the approach, and follow-on farm-level research.
I Z-. Both the Guatemalan and Paraguayan experiences are appropriate to African
national programs, especially as some of the newer approaches continue to
explore alternative institutional possibilities for incorporating the FSR/E
approach into their national structures.
2. Evaluating FSR/E Projects
a. Fairness of the Evaluations: Sufficient Time?
FSR/E is an approach which makes traditional agricultural commodity re-
search more efficient and builds better competence into extension, while in-
creasing rapport between research, extension, and farmers. Widespread criti-
cism and negative evaluations of preformance of conventional research and the
failure of the Green Revolution technologies to fit all third world farming
situations prompted the development of FSR/E. Conventional research, as it
evolved when transplanted from either Europe or North America, paid scant
attention to the research-extension links in third-world settings.
The key to real progress in the rural sector is making sure that potential
improvements are actual improvements when placed in farmers' fields by farmers
under their sets of real household constraints. The FSR/E approach has been
applied, and asked to produce quick miracles, in some of the most harsh, least
hospitable climates, and under some of the most restrictive working conditions
found anywhere in the world (i.e., Botswana, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Mauritan-
ia, Mali, and the hillsides and mountains of Nepal). Often under such condi-
tions, the justification for using FSR/E has been because nothing else has
worked (or even been attempted). In the future, the need for FSR/E will
continue to be greater, not less, whether the predominant agricultural
research method used emphasizes traditional commodities (as advocated by
Eicher, 1985; and the Africa Bureau, USAID, 1985a), or biotechnology (as
advocated by the S&T Bureau of AID, USAID, 1985b).
The FSR/E approach and its application in Africa varies between 20 years
of age (Nigeria) and three months (Mauritania). Given the political, econo-
mic, biologic and edaphic variability existing in Africa (Brown and Wolf,
1985) most FSR/E approaches are still too young to receive formal quantitative
(conventional) evaluations. The conclusion that FSR/E is not as efficient an
approach to agricultural research and extension as it should be often stems
from the fact that it has been considered by many to be a research methodology
complete in itself, a science which should yield quick, quantifiable results.
Instead, FSR/E is an approach which complements all types of agricultural
research and development.
USAID created a significant portfolio of FSR/E projects in the late 1970's
and early 1980's. Many of the early USAID projects which attempted to utilize
an FSR/E approach were
poorly designed or mis-designed;
too quick to use quantifiable indicators in project log frames;
implemented before there was a large cadre of trained, competent U.S.
FSR/E researchers; and
implemented by technical assistance teams with few or none of the
members originally recruited by the bilateral contractor.
ilO These early FSR/E projects do not enjoy a high reputation in AID because
they rushed into FSR/E too quickly, and threw too many financial resources and
not nearly enough trained human resources at extremely complex agricultural
problem areas. These reasons also help explain why the FSR/E approach is not
highly reputed in USAID today. Conventional quantitative evaluations leave
out many of the important improvements introduced by FSR/E projects. Three
important factors which contributed toward omission of non-traditional
evaluative parameters include: 1) links between project design and evaluation,
2) continuity between successive evaluations of a given FSR/E project, and 3)
evaluation team composition and preparation.
13 \ 1) Links between project design and evaluation. It is impossible to
discuss or even consider the evaluation of FSR/E projects without going back
to project design (Evaluation Task Force Meeting, June, 1985). Many of the
improvements proposed for project evaluations are items which necessarily must
be incorporated into project redesign, and which should have been included in
the initial Project Paper. As long as bilateral donors take the project
approach toward introducing or supporting the FSR/E approach in a given coun-
try, many improvements are needed at the time of project design.
3 While donors want to see easily quantifiable criteria written into project
log frames, incorporating relevant evaluation criteria is more important. A
move toward relevant evaluation criteria means a move from quantitative to
qualitative criteria. Applications of the FSR/E approach influence attitudes
of research and extension personnel by sharpening their focus on the client
and broadening their perspective to include appreciation of the holistic
nature of farming. Measuring either quantitative or qualitative impact on
attitudes is difficult. A list of criteria which begin to address concrete
evaluative issues in FSR/E is suggested below. Evaluation teams currently
range between using a strict interpretation of a given log frame to totally
ignoring a given log frame. While an irrelevant log frame may or should be
ignored, development of a more relevant one should be the goal of all project
design and evaluation teams.
Several innovative non-traditional log frame evaluation criteria have been
used successfully in the log frames of projects containing the FSR/E approach
or components (Farming Systems Support Project, 1985; WAFSRN Evaluation
Criteria Meeting, March, 1986). Informal Evaluation Criteria meeting, WAFSRN
workshop, Dakar, March, 1986). The following criteria, identified as general-
ly applicable and specifically adaptable, are recommended in designing, evalu-
ating and re-designing FSR/E projects:
Generally Applicable Criteria
a) Project impact on farmers. Farmers targeted by the Project should be
3 asked about their perceptions of the project by evaluators. Determining how
better to involve farmers in FSR/E project evaluations should be emphasized.
How can farmers be accessed on an interactive basis during evaluations? Do
farmers believe the researchers know what they are doing? Do the farmers feel
that the researchers know what they (the farmers) are doing, and what their
real needs are? Have farmers been willing to accept, use, and adopt project-
developed technologies or interventions? Which farmers, if any, have reverted
back to use of their own pre-project technology? Why? Did project-sponsored
innovations implemented by farmers solve a problem or remove a constraint
identified in diagnosis? How, or why not? Do farmers believe that they were
involved in project decision-making processes, especially design of trials?
How were they involved, or why weren't they?
b) Project impact on intermediate clients. Evaluators must identify the
3- 5 intermediate clients in both research and extension. What catalytic roles are
these clients to have? The evaluators must speak with these individuals.
What is their perception of the project?
c) Institutionalization of the FSR/E approach. How successful has the
project been in institutionalizing the FSR/E approach in-country?
d) Dialog between research and extension. How much has the project
34 contributed toward increasing meaningful communication between the research
and the extension departments or divisions? Specify the necessity of having
joint yearly planning meetings between the research and extension departments
or divisions. For specific country case refer to Appendix 3.
e) Dialog between FSR/E practitioners and national policy-makers. Has
1 3T the approach established a mechanism for feeding field results, and their
implications given stated national policy, to those responsible for setting
f) FSR/E team-researcher linkages. How much feedback is coming into
I conventional research from the FSR/E approach (assessing the backward link-
age)? Have regular channels of communication been improved between commodity
researchers and the FSR/E practitioners, and are these channels open? Have
any problems or constraints identified by the FSR/E approach been addressed
and/or resolved by involving commodity researchers and/or subject matter
I yO g) Research priorities. How has the project assisted the research de-
partment (or division) to increasingly set more rational research priorities?
Are such priorities more oriented toward relieving the constraints of limi-
ted-resource farmers than they were before the project?
/ h) Absorptive capacity of the host country research-extension structures.
Has the project overcome the great difficulties involved in identifying, and
obtaining releases from work for good candidates for long-term training? Has
the project considered the capacity of the host country research and extension
development structures to absorb trained individuals back into the system
without raising salary costs substantially? If such costs will rise substan-
tially, has the project considered how the host country's treasury will pay
them after the project is complete?
Specific Criteria Adaptable for a Project Log Frame
a) Projects should include a simple mechanism to allow for internal,
b) By year y, x technical innovations will be used by extension in area z.
c) Since the project began, the proportion of trials conducted by
researchers on-farm has increased from x% to y%.
d) Since the beginning of the project at the farm level in area z, 1) the
proportion of researcher-implemented, researcher-managed (RIRM) trials has
decreased from a% to b%; 2) the proportion of researcher-implemented, farmer-
-managed (RIFM) trials has changed from c% to d%; and 3) the proportion of
farmer-implemented, farmer-managed (FIFM) trials has increased from e% to f%.
e) X (number of) students in the appropriate disciplines of a, b, c, ...
n, have been trained, using project funds, over y years since the project
began. By year (y+n), x (number of) trainees will return and 1) replace
expatriate technical advisors and/or 2) be reintegrated into the research (or
extension) systems of the host country.
f) Project should be linked to the successful negotiation of FSR stages by
the contractor team and host country counterparts: By year y, x diagnostic
surveys will have been completed. By year (y+l), z on-farm trials will have
been conducted (at this point, the log frame may distinguish between RIRM,
RIFM and FIFM trials). By year (y+n) (where n is the final year of the
project), two to three appropriate technologies will be available for exten-
sion to a broader region than the project pilot area. (Such Log Frame state-
ments should be buffered by not excluding diagnostic follow-up surveys and
unanticipated RIRM (or RIFM) trials throughout the lifetime of the project).
2) Continuity Between Successive Evaluations. Continuity between
successive evaluations of a given project can be ensured by including one of
the evaluators from the first evaluation in subsequent evaluations of the
project. While this has occurred in the past in Zambia and Lesotho (between
evaluations one and two), and will occur soon in Botswana, often such a simple
guarantee of continuity is often overlooked (CARDI Phased., Malawi, Lesotho
(between evaluations two and three), and Honduras).
I^^q Each evaluation team must consider where a given project is in terms of
total project lifespan. Is the project doing relevant work in the field yet,
or is it too early in project life for a field-based evaluation? If a project
has been in-country for three years, and no trials have been systematically
replicated across the research domain in farmer's fields, the evaluators must
ask why this is so. The following suggested features will encourage
continuity in the evaluation process for projects using an FSR/E approach.
Roll-over designs, (i.e., the process of reassessing the appropriateness
of the project log frame every one to two years and modifying it as
necessary), must be incorporated into the design of FSR/E projects. FSR/E is
a process and not an end in itself. In an FSR/E project, any ex ante Log
Frame may turn out to be inappropriate if the approach taken is not pre-
determined, does not have a pre-selected crop focus, and has not pre-selected
a given farmer clientele group or area. In such situations, the project
design team is usually in the impossible situation of developing appropriate
quantitative log frame criteria against which to measure project success,
while none of the appropriate evaluation parameters against which to evaluate
the approach can be known in advance.
For this reason, the project log frame should be viewed by all major
stake-holders as a guide to be changed as needed. Design teams must resist
the temptation to include evaluation criteria to which the project cannot be
directly tied. Examples of evaluation criteria which are inappropriate be-
cause they cannot be directly related to the project include yield increases
(which are always greatly influenced by weather and other non-project factors)
and, farm family income increases (which are greatly determined by fluctuating
yields, internal family distribution issues, and changing macro-economic
A USAID Project Paper must contain provisions for continuous stakeholder
dialog, an internal process to allow for continuous dialog and negotiation
between the FSR/E team, the MOA/DQA of the host country,-and USAID. All
project stakeholders would use this dialog process to assess the progress of
the FSR/E approach and to reach consensus on fine-tuned modifications
necessary before of external project evaluations.
q f The requirements of and scopes of work for an external evaluation panel
to come in periodically- from outside the project and AID for evaluative pur-
pose~s should be included in the project paper. A case in point is the Mali
USAID FSR/E project, for which an external evaluation panel was conceived of
by the Mission, written into the Project Paper, and given broad evaluative
outlines over the 10-year project life. The advantages to such a panel are
that its cyclic presence for project review will reduce the potential bias of
each evaluation, provide for vital continuity between evaluations, and allow
rolling re-design of the-project throughout its perceived life.
3) Evaluation Team Composition and Preparation. Team composition has
always been of greater importance to the outcome of a given evaluation than
has the specific evaluation mandate given to the team, or the criteria used to
conduct the evaluation itself (WAFSRN Evaluation Criteria Meeting, March,
'1986). It has been difficult to reconcile the world-wide enthusiasm of FSR/E
practitioners deep in project implementation with evaluations conducted by
FSR/E "camp followers" and/or sceptics. This reinforces the need for a
systematic evaluation protocol document for USAID-funded FSR/E projects (FSSP
Evaluation Task Force Report, forthcoming).
Project evaluation cannot be separated from project design. The lack of
practicing FSR/E professionals on many USAID project design teams has meant a
lack of both meaningfully-designed projects, and meaningfully-developed log
frames containing relevant end of project success indicators.
Project stakeholders, in addition to the USAID mission and USAID/W, should
15 f be polled in the process of selecting evaluation team members. More effort to
make evaluation criteria less vague and to eliminate incompetent evaluators is
needed. Developing the terms of reference for the overall evaluation and the
assignment of each evaluation team member needs greater thought.
15-( To make FSR/E project evaluations more responsive to the range of stake-
holders greater involvement of senior level host country nationals in evalua-
tions should be encouraged. Such a practice is fairly common in Latin Ameri-
can and Asian FSR/E project evaluations, Philippines and Thailand having used
this approach during project evaluations in 1985 and 1986. Another way to
lessen donor stakeholder dominance in external evaluations is to encourage
inter-agency evaluations of projects. For example, USAID might evaluate some
World Bank projects, IDRC might evaluate some USAID projects, ISNAR might
evaluate some IDRC projects, etc.
-- 3 Size of an evaluation team is also an issue. If the team is too large,
there will be problems of coordination and relevance of findings. If it is
too small, the team will not be able to understand enough of the project
details to permit a meaningful evaluation to occur. The time contracted for a
given evaluation is of necessity a trade-off with team size.
During the period 1981-83, few FSR/E project evaluation teams received
orientation briefings (of four evaluations participated in by one of the
authors, one evaluation team received a briefing). While one of the technical
assistance functions of the FSSP has been to redress this gap, some FSR/E
project evaluations today are still conducted with no systematic team briefing
or orientation. This is mainly because the decision of conducting a systema-
tic briefing is left up to each USAID mission. If a mission does not see the
necessity for spending the money to hold such a briefing, one will not be
held. In addition, a mission may sub-contract with an institution to evaluate
the FSR/E project in their country. In negotiating such a contract, an orien-
tation briefing may be overlooked. If it is, neither the USAID bilateral
contracting system nor the mandate of the FSSP include a way to insist that
one be included.
/I Evaluation team briefings should be held in all circumstances. In compar-
ison to three years ago, there is much relevant literature available, through
the FSSP and others, to support such briefings. USAID is an excellent source
of information on written AID instruments. Briefings can be tailored to the
needs of the team. Such briefings may include the project paper trail se-
quence (from country CDSS (or ABS) to the PID to the PP (including the log
frame) to the contract and the different types of evaluations) to covering AID
jargon. The FSSP can be contracted to provide briefings on the FSR/E process
in the project context. Support materials available from either USAID or the
FSSP include copies of PPs and/or previous evaluations, both of which are
especially helpful to evaluators. Additional support materials available
include (1) the USAID FSR/E Project Handbook (Farming Systems Support Project,
1985), (2) a series of detailed and very complete country briefing books for
selected West and Central African countries (the series currently contains
books for Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Burundi,
Zaire, and Mali), available from the Center for African Studies, University of
Florida, and (3) various briefing and orientation guides and helps (available
from various sources, such as the University of Hawaii, "Pre-departure
Orientation and Project Support", and Washington State University, Office of
b. Fairness of Evaluations: Sufficient Resources?
It is always difficult to assess the costs associated with an approach
without considering the benefits which have resulted from it. Recently the
argument that FSR/E is too expensive was made during the first annual meeting
of WAFSRN (WAFSRN Meeting, March, 1986). However, numerous participants were
quick to point out that FSR/E has high recurrent, but low initial, costs; may
be credited with several successes which are extremely difficult to quantify
(such as influencing a research staff to focus more efforts on real research
needs of limited-resource farmers); and has often been asked to "quickly
transform" large areas of low agricultural potential which have been ignored
by both traditional research and by-passed by Green Revolution innovations.
Before conceding that FSR/E has received too many financial resources, one
must ask what the alternatives are. If the costs of FSR/E seem too high, the
question to ask then is, "Compared to what?".
75-1 Few FSR/E proponents claimed that FSR/E would be inexpensive. As an
approach, it is not. What is hoped for is that real return per dollar invest-
ed in FSR/E will eventually be higher than return per dollar invested in more
conventional research such as that conducted during the decade of the 1970's
by many national programs. However, since FSR/E depends on good, well-focused
commodity (conventional) research as well as meaningful collaboration with
extension, it is really an approach to improve the overall efficiency of the
/ CFSR/E came to be in the first place as a response to a felt need:
something was missing in most traditional agricultural research efforts.
FSR/E centered its efforts precisely where other approaches achieved limited
or no success: in rainfed areas dominated by complex mixes of crops, live-
stock and/or agroforestry systems. In such situations, which are dominated by
unpredictable, rainfed agriculture and livestock raising or nomadic herding,
no one seriously believes that another Green Revolution of a magnitude similar
to that of the late 1960's (in rainfed rice and wheat) is possible or even
likely. Such ecologically fragile and trying situations call instead for very
long-term research and extension strategies, backed up by donor and host
country commitments of sufficient financial and human resources necessary to
see them carried through to fruition. Partly to reinforce this latter reason,
USAID's recent Africa Strategy Paper calls for continued U.S. commitment to
the nations of Africa for at least the next 25 to 50 years (USAID, 1985a).
Likewise, the FSR/E approach, based upon logical and affordable incre-
mental increases in production and/or family welfare and not upon revolution-
ary yield jumps which require the presence of totally different physical,
cultural, and institutional settings and priorities, requires a long time to
generate quantifiable results. The 1) human, 2) institutional, and 3)
financial, resource commitments to FSR/E are considered here in more detail.
1) Human Resource Commitments. The U.S. research network has tended
to move away from a systematic approach to agricultural research in the last
several decades (Andrew, 1985a). Partly for this reason, it has been diffi-
cult to find an abundance of expertise in FSR/E in Americans based in private
consulting firms or at Title-XII universities. Thus, domestic human resources
with sufficient training in, and commitment to, FSR/E, have been, and continue
to be, in short supply.
The situation has both similar and different aspects overseas. One simi-
larity is that, while many FSR/E projects contained specific training man-
dates, and many host country nationals were trained under such contracts at
the B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. levels, such training seldom contained more than a
conventional commodity or discipline focus. The concept of systematic team
work to address farmer-identified agricultural problems was seldom addressed
in the curricula of these students. In addition, in many African nations,
taking several researchers away from the national program for further studies
left large holes in research programs. Given these gaps, it seems a shame
that many of these host country contracts were evaluated on the very holes
such training made in research programs, rather than at a later date when a
full complement of better-trained researchers were present in the research
6. The human resource situation is also different overseas, because there has
been greater acceptance by third world policy-makers in MOAs and DQAs that the
FSR/E approach must form a significant part of their long-term strategy to
relieving many of the impediments to agricultural development in their na-
tions. Many agricultural research and extension programs in Africa, Asia and
Latin America are adopting the FSR/E approach to complement their own tradi-
tional research and extension. Thus, the demand for both formal (degree) and
informal (short-course) training in teamwork and FSR/E concepts to support
these indigeneous host country efforts is much greater today than it ever has
been. For this reason, the U.S. should look forward to assisting in much of
the training required to upgrade these human resources. Fortunately, the last
'five years has seen a great increase in the number of U.S. universities offer-
ing relevant courses based upon FSR/E concepts, or implementing the FSR/E
approach itself at the state level.
2) Institutional Resource Commitments. The commitment of third world
institutional resources to FSR/E has been highly variable. Commitment has
varied from complete acceptance of the approach (i.e., Guatemala) to political
opposition (many countries initially). Part of the reason for this
variability in acceptance of the approach is because each institutional home
of agricultural research and extension is unique to a given country. Some of
the variability is due to a nation's unique colonial heritage. Some of it is
due to the different ways in which the triangular U.S. Title-XII university-
research-cooperative extension model has actually been implemented outside the
U.S. Finally, another portion of the variability can be explained by those
countries which have rejected parts or all of the colonial model they inher-
Secondly, institutionalization of FSR/E is always country-specific. Many
believe that only host country nationals should be involved with active change
in their macropolitical institutions, which includes theMOA. Many FSR/E
practitioners take the institutional setting as a given and not as a variable
in introducing FSR/E. Others believe that FSR/E can only be introduced
successfully if introduction follows a major reorganization of the underlying
structure of research and extension. In fact, the truth lies between these
two polar positions. How the approach can be institutionalized in a given
country depends upon several factors, two of which are how high the probabil-
ity is that the country will modify its research and extension structure, and
how hard the proponents for reorganization to accommodate FSR/E introduction
push their point of view.
While the FSR/E concept seems revolutionary, implementing it does not have
to involve revolutionary-changes in the traditional institutions which manage
agricultural research and extension. In addressing the longer run, it would
be ideal to have all agricultural research and extension complemented by the
FSR/E approach, but not necessarily having to be accompanied by reorganization
so that FSR/E is seen as the only approach, isolated in an autonomous FSR/E
unit. The main requirement of any research-extension organization is to allow
sufficient continuity for the FSR/E approach to become established to comple-
ment and strengthen conventional commodity-based research and extension.
3) Financial Resource Commitments. Much of the cost of FSR/E in the
late 1970's and early 1980's went into USAID projects which were nominal FSR/E
projects. Several of these projects were, in fact, designed to be traditional
agricultural research projects, but used the FSR/E bandwagon for initial
funding (i.e., CARDI Phase I, Malawi, and Lesotho). It is a mistake to lump
such projects together with true FSR/E projects for the purpose of evaluating
FSR/E as an approach. In addition there has been a considerable lag between
design and implementation of FSR/E projects.
Of greater concern are the issues of how to evaluate second and third
generation FSR/E projects, and reduced levels of funding for future FSR/E
projects or programs. Sufficient financial support must be forthcoming for
both USAID-funded FSR/E projects and for direct support to FSR/E approaches in
third-world nations to ensure the long-term institutionalization of the ap-
proach. Whether a project approach or direct support such as that provided by
IDRC is best depends on the individual human resource and political position
of each particular nation.
Long-term institutionalization of the FSR/E approach contains many com-
ponents of differing importance, depending once again on the particular na-
tion. Four of the more universal components are (1) changes in attitudes of
researchers and extension agents toward their farmer clients, (2) giving
greater attention to farmers' needs and priorities, (3) developing meaningful
working relationships with both male and female farmers, and (4) using the
approach to provide a meaningful backward linkage to both traditional and
biotechnology-incorporating research systems.
i CHowever, since FSR/E complements conventional research, the resulting
combination, (conventional research + FSR/E), is bound to be more expensive
than either alone. What is important is not the relative cost of either
conventional research or FSR/E alone, but the cost effectiveness of the two
complementary approaches over time.
c. Representativeness of the Evaluations
(-7) In terms of sheer numbers, enough USAID projects with the FSR/E focus have
been evaluated so that a judgement about their cost effectiveness should be
made. However, the population of projects evaluated so far is skewed by the
inclusion of many first-round project evaluations from the late 1970's and
early 1980's. Many of the projects which were evaluated during this time
period (i.e., CARDI phase I [Eastern Caribbean], HARP [Honduras], NERAD [Thai-
land], MFP [The Gambia], and projects in Lesotho, Malawi, and Sudan) should
not count in the evaluation process as FSR/E projects. A first attempt to
classify USAID projects in Africa, according to the classes "is FSR/E" or "is
not FSR/E" was recently completed by Karen Weise. The interested reader is
urged to consult this source for more details of the process used and the
results thereof (Weise, 1985).
-i4 Because of the confusion in the initial group of USAID-funded FSR/E
projects, current and future evaluations of FSR/E projects during the next
five years are much more important than those completed on these earlier FSR/E
projects. Much more care has gone into design of the current USAID projects
which contain FSR/E components. In the first place, many projects today are
referred to as integrated agricultural research projects'(i.e., ARP [Nepal],
GARD [The Gambia] and the forthcoming projects in Malawi and Lesotho). These
projects acknowledge the vital roles of both conventional research and FSR/E,
and view the latter as assisting the former in improving the efficiency of
relevant technology generation and dissemination. Secondly, many of the
current set of USAID projects have been designed better, with greater input
and cooperation from host country counterparts, professionals and administra-
tors (i.e., GARD [The Gambia], and the projects in Senegal, Mali) Thirdly,
USAID, the host country governments, and contractors are being more careful to
staff their FSR/E project components with more appropriate staff. Many U.S.
professionals trained and experienced in implementing the FSR/E approach are
returning to projects in the field (i.e., FSDP-EV [Philippines], ARP [Nepal],
ATIP [Botswana] and GARD.[The Gambia]).
3. Potentials and Limitations of FSR/E for Promoting OTA's Goals of Low-
Resource Agricultural Development
IT 2 While the FSR/E approach is primarily oriented toward addressing the
described needs of any relatively homogeneous group of farmers, FSR/E began
with, and continues to place the greatest emphasis upon, those groups of
small, limited-resource farmers and households. There should be no conflict
between OTA's goals for this group and the FSR/E approach. There are,
however, different potentials and limitations for the FSR/E approach in
helping national agricultural research and extension systems play a lead role
in individual goal achievement.
a. OTA Goals:
1) "To Increase People's Quality of Life."
Potentials. FSR/E operates from the premise that increasing productivity
by generating technology appropriate to the needs of farmers will contribute
towards improving the general welfare of farmers and farm families. Because
technology generated in the FSR/E approach involves farmers, their concerns
regarding the potential impact of the technology on their quality of life can
be incorporated into the design and testing of technology. In FSR/E, economic
analysis to evaluate the potential of technology to increase income is includ-
ed from the beginning of the process. Overall evaluation of technological
solutions considers the whole system and its interactions with subsystems, and
thus offers a better potential than conventional commodity research for
generating technology that will enhance the quality of farmers life rather
than just the productivity of a single crop.
1 Limitations. FSR/E cannot solve all problems associated with people's
quality of life. It can contribute, but it is not a panacea. Linkages of
FSR/E with other efforts to improve rural life must be made. FSR/E is not
incompatible with general rural development, and must be viewed as a part of
it, not a replacement. FSR/E has, within the past threeyears, greatly
enhanced its capability to deal with household and gender issues. Efforts are
being made to disaggregate data and to look more closely at who is doing the
work, who has access to technology and who receives the benefits of better
technology. This methodological improvement is not complete, and not
practiced yet by the majority of practitioners. Training of practitioners in
how to collect and use data on household dynamics and gender in the design,
testing and evaluation of technology is needed. The training case studies
developed by FSSP and the Population Council (Feldstein and Poats, 1985) will
help improve this area. In particular, FSR/E needs this methodological
improvement to better evaluate the potential of new technology to impact
positively on one member of the household and negatively on the other.
FSR/E has not focused much attention on increasing rural employment,
however, practitioners are beginning to measure productivity in terms of
returns to labor and returns to capital, instead of just returns to land in
order to assess what impacts new technology might have for situations of labor
scarcity and labor excess. FSR/E has only begun to conceive of the linkages
'within diagnosis, design and evaluation of technology to consumption and
nutrition issues. Frankenberger (1985) outlines how this can be improved, and
practitioners are experimenting with procedures. Of greater necessity is the
improvement of the general linkages between all agricultural development
(FSR/E included) with efforts to improve rural health and nutrition.
2) "To Reduce Vulnerability."
-C Potentials. FSR/E can reduce the vulnerability farmers face when
adopting new technologies or considering changes in their farming system
because farmers are involved themselves in the process of developing the
technology. Because technology is tested and evaluated on farms under farmer
management and by farmers before it is recommended for dessimination, the
potential vulnerability is considered in the development process and the
technology can be altered in order to reduce vulnerability.
Limitations. There are no guarantees in reducing vulnerability. Other
factors and changing ecological, social and political conditions can alter the
potential of a technology to increase (or decrease) farmer vulnerability.
Continued monitoring of new technology through its dissemination to other
farmers will help to evaluate vulnerability. Problems identified, even as
dissemination is underway can be addressed in subsequent stages of diagnosis
and design. Better understanding of gender issues among practitioners will
allow them to better evaluate vulnerability of women farmers in their ability
and willingness to adopt new technology.
3) "To Maintain, Build Upon, and Improve Indigenous Resources and
Potentials. The holistic premise of FSR/E is its greatest potential for
being able to achieve this goal. The interdisciplinarity of FSR/E and strong
inclusion of social scientists in the technology-generating process means that
questions and issues of maintenance and improvement of indigenous systems are
more likely to be addressed than within strict commodity improvement schemes.
Limitations. FSR/E to date, has still largely been based in research
entities focused on crop production. There has been little attention to and
'involvement of natural resource conservation and livestock or pastoral
systems, thus questions involving the linkages to and impact at regional and
macro levels has been limited. The French R-D (theme lourd) model does
address these issues and increasing exchange of information between
practitioners will hopefully improve this area. FSR/E practioners are
increasingly addressing the livestock issues and focussing attention on the
linkages between crop and animal production in the diagnosis of problems and
the design of potential solutions. FSSP has sponsored several efforts to
improve the methodology of on-farm experimentation with livestock and is
collaborating closely with ILCA on this topic. Increased attention of FSR/E
practitioners to technologies such as animal traction is also improving the
understanding of relationships between crop production, crop residue use,
labor involved in the care of traction animals, and the management of traction
4) "To Ensure Economic and Environmental Sustainability."
Potentials. The potential of FSR/E to address this goal is the same as
for the previous goal. This potential is enhanced through the linkage of
FSR/E with efforts to look at the larger system (French R-D) or the
development of new farming systems (NFSD).
Limitations. However, the issue of sustainability in the generation of
new technology has not been a strong feature of FSR/E as practiced. Many
FSR/E practitioners do not include the natural system in their analysis of the
impact of new technology, assuming that the new technology impacts only on the
portion of the natural environment which is already used for agricultural
production. Perspectives, concepts and tools from agroforestry and natural
resource conservation are being adopted by some practitioners. Further
communication of these experiences and then training in the necessary skills
will improve the ability of FSR/E to address this goal.
A second area of limitation lies within the diagnostic process itself.
FSR/E "with a pre-determined focus" on specific crops has little likelihood of
addressing larger questions of economic and environmental sustainability.
More emphasis on FSR/E "in the small," especially in national programs, will
improve the ability of FSR/E practitioners to ask questions addressing these
Finally, many FSR/E practitioners have not fully engaged the farmer in
the diagnosis of problems, and therefore indigeneous practices to ensure
economic and environmental sustainability have not been explored. The fact
that farmers themselves may have rational means of addressing these issues,
and that researchers and extension workers can learn these for use in the
improvement of the system as a whole is an area that needs far greater
5) "To Improve the Quantity and Quality of Agricultural Production."
iey Potentials. This is the overall goal of FSR/E. Because FSR/E specifi-
cally addresses the problems of low-resource farmers, and such farmers in many
countries, especially in Africa, comprise up to 90% of all farmers, FSR/E does
have the potential to contribute substantially to the general improvement of
the quantity and quality of agricultural production.
Limitations. The limitations of FSR/E in terms of this goal are the same
I e5 as the limitations and needs for improvement listed under previous goals.
6) "To remove or reduce production, marketing, storage, and
Potentials. FSR/E is currently applied primarily to the reduction or
elimination of production bottlenecks, and most of the efforts reported to
date deal with this aspect. However, some practitioners are successfully
working with a "food systems" perspective (Rhoades and Potts, 1985) and using
FSR/E methods to improve storage systems, food processing and marketing.
Expansion of the perspective to include the food systems has great potential
for addressing many of the activities that are often the responsibility of
women (food processing, storage, marketing and preparation).
Limitations. More practitioners need to expand their view beyond food
production per se and include accounting and review of technological adjust-
ments for processing, storage, marketing and preparation of food. This expan-
sion will benefit the incorporation of gender issues into FSR/E methodology,
however caution will have to be taken not to assume that these areas are only
'the domain of women, nor that women are only involved in these activities.
b. General Statement.
The Green Revolution has often been viewed as a panacea to the world's
food problems. In addition, given the general adequacy of the world food
supply right now (excepting Ethiopia and many Sahelian and sub-Sahelian
African nations), it is not easy for policy-makers representing major donors
to realize the continued necessity of committing more resources to long-run
agricultural research and extension approaches. Nevertheless, such a
long-term commitment must occur now.
Many interpreters of agricultural research methods set up needless com-
petition between different approaches, without pausing to realize that the
differences in emphasis are all necessary in the overall process of agricul-
tural development. What varies, and what must vary in the future, is the
relative emphasis to be placed on the mix of different approaches used in
agricultural research and extension. For example, the question is not, "What
should the U.S. do, commit its limited bilateral funds to renewed commodity
research, to FSR/E, or to innovative biotechnology research"? Instead, the
question is: "In each distinctly different agroclimatic sub-region of Africa,
on a country-by-country basis, what is the relative emphasis the U.S. should
place on (1) commodity research, (2) FSR/E, and (3) biotechnology"?
One of the major limitations on FSR/E in the recent past has acquired
a reputation for leading policy-makers into thinking that it offers a quick-
fix to agricultural research problems. The truth is that FSR/E, strictly
interpreted, will accomplish very little if it is not fully integrated into
both conventional research programs and extension efforts. What is needed is
client-oriented, adaptive research and extension. To facilitate this, all
bilateral donors funding agricultural development projects must assess the
local situation in each country -- including the categories of financial and
human resource commitment to agricultural research and extension, the level
and amount of trained manpower available to these two areas, and the institu-
tional structure which is responsible for research and extension, as well as
an informal analysis of the flexibility of such institutions to decide how
a project might best support such national institutions to increase the quan-
tity, and fairness of the distribution of those agricultural products which
'comprise the basic components of the diet of the majority of citizens.
4. Future Directions For FSR/E
a. In What General Directions Is FSR/E Going?
I I 1) As the Mode of Conducting Research and Extension. While FSR/E is
not currently the most favored approach in USAID-Washington, there continues
to be a strong demand by African, Asian and Latin American countries for new
projects which incorporate, or are based on, the FSR/E approach. This demand
was reflected at a recent conference held in the Ivory Coast and sponsored by
the World Bank, to discuss research and extension linkages. All countries
represented affirmed that brief pre/diagnostic farmer studies are essential
and that FSR/E must become a mode of research and extension integration. All
agreed that each country must adapt from all FSR/E methodologies and from all
extension approaches to fit their specific needs, just as technology must be
'adapted to fit farmer needs (Andrew, 1985). Similar statements have been made
at other recent workshop such as the Lesotho Workshop for Research and Exten-
sion Leaders (sponsored by CIMMYT, November, 1985), the Egerton College
Regional Workshop on Farming Systems Research "Methodologies, Practical
Approaches and Potential Contribution of FSR for Rural Development" (August
1984, Njoro, Kenya), and the West African Farming Systems Research Network
Symposium (Dakar, Senegal, March 1986).
2) From Project to Program. Past USAID FSR/E emphasis in Africa has
been based predominantly upon projects. This is partly due to the high rela-
tive importance donor support plays in African research and extension pro-
grams. In both Asia and Latin America, where a proportionately smaller amount
of the research budget is supported by donors, the trend has been more
program-oriented. While some would argue that part of the reason for a
project emphasis in Africa is because use of the approach in the region is
younger than it is in the other two regions, such an argument ignores the fact
that FSR/E has a longer history of application in parts of Africa than it does
in Asia (i.e. Nigeria, Senegal, Mali). To optimize the long range benefits of
FSR/E, incorporation of the approach should be through national programs
supported by International Research Centers, and not soley tied to specific or
pilot projects. On-farm research should be implemented largely through
national systems with effective feedback mechanisms to on-station research in
national and international research institutes (ICRISAT, 1986).
9 3? 3) National Coordination. Concommitant with the move from project to
program is the development of national coordinating entities for FSR/E acti-
vities. Though no two countries handle this in exactly the same fashion, many
are opting for either a coordination unit that cuts across departments and
commodity programs, or a department of equivalent status to other departments.
Continued exchange of information and evaluation will allow national programs
to determine which route serves their purposes best.
4) National Program Networking. Networking has become a significant
term in donor parlance, and some might argue justifiably that too much
networking has taken place with too little planning of objectives. Simply
moving people (often the same people) from one international workshop to
another is not networking. Much of the early networking in FSR/E served as
the vehicle for "constructive conflict" (Rhoades and Booth, 1982) and
,successful consensus-building. Now networking is serving more as a mechanism
for the exchange of experiences in institutionalization of the approach in
national systems and the exchange of results of on-farm experimentation.
Networking has been primarily among researchers, however, there is increasing
involvement of extension workers, development agents, administrators and
university faculty. This is indicative also of the move from project to
program, as a broader base of involvement is created.
b. What Direction Should FSR/E Take?
Qc- 1) Farmers + researchers + extension workers + policymakers. In
response to a question asked about the future of FSR/E as an approach to
agricultural research and extension, Dr. E.T. York (Chancellor Emeritus, State
University System of Florida and Chair of BIFAD) replied that, although it was
likely in the future that the name of the approach may not remain the same,
there is no doubt the methodology will carry on (York, Gamma Sigma Delta
Seminar Series, University of Florida, 1985). Whether or not the approach
goes by the name FSR/E in the future is unimportant. What is vital is that
continual contact between research, extension and the actual farmers of all
given crop/livestock situations be guaranteed by any future research
approaches. Such intimate contact is not to be confined to only the diagnosis
and testing phases, but should continue throughout the entire research
process, including trial design and redesign (Chambers and Ghildyal, 1985;
Chambers and Jiggins, 1986; Galt, 1985b; Rhoades and Booth, 1982).
For the future of FSR/E it will be important to see the scope of various
on-farm programs, not only in relation to the needs and capabilities of the
research system to utilize the resulting feedback information, but also in
relation to the capabilities of the extension system to transfer and to fine
tune the recommendations for improved technologies (ICRISAT Summary Statement,
1986). FSR/E should be moving also to incorporate more planners and policy-
makers into the farmer-researcher-extension worker relationship. This will
provide the needed linkages between farm-level activities and the larger
macro-level where policy changes can be made to facilitate the on-farm
2) Greater Farmer Participation. More national scientists of
,different disciplines should be encouraged to take joint interest in farmer
conditions and conducting experiments with farmer participation, rather than
be asked to adhere to specific, sometime even very costly, approaches (ICRISAT
Summary Statement, 1986; CIMMYT, 1984). There is no other practical way in
which to test the interventions which will be forthcoming from any research
effort but to call upon the actual farmers of the relevant crops in order to
discover their problems, needs, constraints and opinions during the whole
process of adaptive research. In many parts of Africa, this means working
more often than not with the females) and/or older children of households and
families, a change both researchers and extension workers are beginning to
realize must be made and incorporated into their research priorities (Poats
and Schmink, forthcoming).
3) Documentation of Results. While much has been written about FSR/E
philosophy, concepts, definitions, and there is growing attention being given
to methodological improvement and the process of institutionalization, rela-
tively little systematic reporting of FSR/E results has been accomplished. For
many policymakers and planners, the lack of organized results makes FSR/E
implementation an article of faith rather than reality. Yet, there are
results, and good examples of the impact that the approach is having on the
process of generating acceptable farmer technology. These need to be synthe-
sized at regional and national levels so they can be shared and discussed.
Though publications on FSR/E are more frequent today, the publication of the
results of FSR/E in mainstream journals still lags behind. Concerted efforts
need to be made in compiling the results of FSR/E work and making them
available to the wider community of practitioners.
4) Internal Networking. Though recent years have seen great efforts
in networking from country to country and region to region, relatively little
has actually been done within countries. In many African countries, extension
workers and researchers do not meet on a regular or even irregular basis to
exchange results of FSR/E activities. Projects in different regions of a
country are not aware of each other's efforts and common problem-solving
occurs infrequently. Some countries, such as Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and
Rwanda have made recent efforts to network among projects and institutions
engaged in FSR/E. These have been highly successful in terms of stimulating
further exchanges, setting priorities for regional or national level efforts,
'and problem-solving. Such internal networking should become a part of the
move from project to program.
2 OO 5) Methodological Development. Better reporting of FSR/E results
will also yield improvements in methodological development as practitioners
will want to know how these results were obtained. In particular,
methodological improvements are needed in the design and analysis of on-farm
experiments particularly dealing with livestock or equipment such as animal
traction, skills and techniques in monitoring especially in areas relating to
the impact of new technology on households, nutritional status and the larger
2 o 6) Institutionalization. In the future, it is quite likely that Dr.
York's prediction will come true, that the name FSR/E will be lost, but that
the concepts and methods become routine. Though the processes will differ,
the goal for institutionalization should be larger than FSR/E, for it is the
farming systems perspective which needs to be captured within the institu-
tions. A client participatory adaptive research and extension mode is the
framework for the future incorporation of this perspective.
c. Specific Recommendations for Projects with FSR/E Components
1) Training of professionals in FSR/E and team-building is essential
(both in general, as provided by IARC headquarters, and tailored to national
needs, as provided by CIMMYT, IITA and IRRI outreach and the FSSP) at all
levels. Existing efforts to provide short course training, training mater-
ials, as well as university courses should be expanded.
2-3 2) Methodological innovation, in (1) FSR/E, (2) FSR/E-conventional
research linkages, and (3) in conventional research, are all essential.
20 ( 3) Systematic farm-level records must be kept.
4) Documentation of the FSR/E and team-building processes themselves
2.0-o is necessary.
5) Program information must be shared with other programs and
'projects within the country as well as with other countries facing similar
problems. Information exchange should be formalized, take place on a regular
basis, and open to the practitioner community at large.
2o0 6) Facilitate more interchange of information between programs, going
beyond the KSU FSR/E annual Symposium to consider short paper series, news-
letters, and training materials based on input and feedback from field
2o e 7) Improved collaboration among IARCs must continue, especially in
the areas of (1) sharing information on methods, (2) coordinating work with
national programs, and (3) joint training programs.
209 8) FSR/E programs or projects must encourage explicit participation
of other potential collaborative groups, including, but not limited to, (1)
U.S. Peace Corps volunteers (and other similar bilateral donor voluntary youth
groups), (2) host country or interested expatriate graduate students ready to
undertake field research for their theses at the M.S. and/or Ph.D. levels, and
(3) Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) with bases of operations in or near
areas being served by the FSR/E effort.
d) Critical issues for FSR/E in Africa
2/o Drawing largely upon the thinking of Norman, Collinson, Baker, Abalu,
Chiduza, Rukuni, Zandstra, Chambers and Jiggins, the following issues are
proposed as critical for the future of FSR/E in Africa.
1) Donor-funded FSR/E programs must have institution-building as a
2l1 primary objective. Countries should only accept the funding if a plan for the
institutionalization from project to program is included in the agreement.
Vice-versa, donors should only fund projects on this basis.
2) Human resource development through practical training to comple-
ment a national training strategy is essential to further FSR/E development.
Such training should focus on field-level, in-service training, hands-on
learning, and short-courses/workshops. Donors must also support institution-
alization of training within local training institutions, particularly within
-the nation's universities, through training of trainers, development of sup-
port materials, and network communication. A national training strategy needs
to include periodic training for new FSR/E workers to compensate for attri-
tion, and should also provide for periodic upgrading of existing
3) Many donors must reassess their interpretation of FSR/E as a
"quick fix" for problems areas where nothing else has ever worked before.
This is not to say that the FSR/E approach cannot offer anything to these
areas, but that the evaluation criteria of FSR/E activities applied to such
areas must be revised. Every effort needs some early results. Defining what
counts as a good result is needed. In this case, good diagnosis is a good
result and may lead to redirection of research priorities which will in turn
have positive results. Acceptable minor or marginal changes for farmers are
good results, especially when nothing else has worked for them before.
a2 y 4) A key to the successful application of FSR/E is the creation of a
national coordination mechanism and delineation of a national FSR/E strategy.
These will provide the means for unified national control of donor financing,
and help force convergence of donor objectives with national goals. National
agricultural research and extension organizations must plan institutionali-
zation with a view towards eventual coverage of the recurrent costs of utili-
zing FSR/E methods.
2/5- 5) FSR/E in national settings must add a macro-perspective to the
predominant micro-orientation common today. Planners must be more involved in
the process to reduce the isolation of FSR/E from key national policy-makers.
In addition, policy-makers must learn to work with and depend on FSR/E (or
adaptive research) teams to monitor particular policy stimuli at the farm
level. Anglophone FSR/E teams have by and large accepted the institutional
environment as given, rather than viewing it as a variable for change. FSR/E
teams must become more aggressive in citing results from on-farm testing of
technologies to further the case for particular policy changes or modifica-
tions in support systems (Baker and Norman, 1986).
2/ 1 6) In many cases, linkages between research and extension are still
largely informal. There is often resentment that FSR/E operates on the turf
of one or the other. Coordination of research and extension in FSR/E is often
-viewed only from the institutional context. This linkage, however, must also
occur at the farm level, with researchers and regional extension workers being
linked through farmer groups in villages (Baker and Norman, 1986).
7) Ways must be found to improve farmer participation in FSR/E.
Farmers should be involved in the review of research designs. Farmer-designed
trials should evolve. Farmers must be encouraged to monitor and evaluate the
results of trials. They must be given a voice in setting research priorities.
In particular, researchers must acknowledge farmers as colleagues and
collaborators, as well as clients for improved technology. Practitioners need
to view FSR/E as a two-way process to problem-solving.
21g 8) FSR/E must clarify its collective role with conventional and
particularly with commodity research (see Section B.5.).
e. Should FSR/E Move Towards Greater Inclusion of Inter- and Intra-
Household Issues, Gender Issues and Non-Farm Income-Generating Activities?
c2/9 It already has. A number of FSR/E projects including those based in
Botswana, the Eastern Caribbean, parts of Indonesia, the Philippines, Burkina
Faso, Kenya (ICRAF), Colombia (CIAT/IFDC) and Zambia -- have incorporated
various measures of inter- and intrahousehold production, labor distribution,
and income systems into their framework and analyses for several years
(FSSP/Population Council FSR/E Case Studies, forthcoming). The intrahousehold
effort in Lesotho has been going on for seven years. The WIADP project in
Malawi demonstrated the effectiveness of conducting on-farm experiments with
women cooperators and training male extension agents to better work with women
farmers. The FSSP has developed a roster of over 90 projects using a FSR/E or
farming systems perspective that have incorporated to some extent intra-
-household production and income measures and gender analysis. Two-thirds of
these have incorporated these measures and analysis into diagnostic efforts.
A third have carried them through their design, experimentation or interven-
tion activities. Many have developed innovative methods of data collection,
analysis and monitoring on these issues. At a recent conference held at the
University of Florida on "Gender Issues and FSR/E" over sixty papers were
presented on the topic, from countries representing every world region (Poats
and Schmink, forthcoming).
Q. 20 From review of the efforts listed above and others, one can conclude that
there is general agreement on the two basic arguments underlying the need to
include and analyse information on households and gender in FSR/E. First, is
that the intra- and inter-household relations are embedded in farming systems
and will have an effect on and be affected by changes in these systems.
Second is that FSR/E is an iterative and collaborative process, one which
explicitly calls for continuous assessment and redesign. Because it is not
linear, but overlapping and all activities occur simultaneously, there must be
a continuous flow of knowledge, including, most importantly, the views of the
farmers (men and women) whose systems) will be affected (Feldstein, 1986).
The dilemma facing practitioners and research/extension managers is how to
2 :l expand FSR/E approaches more systematically to include intra-household data
collection and analysis and thereby address the arguments delineated above.
The need for such data collection has existed from the very beginning of FSR/E
and is now well-perceived in most quarters. However, action and implementa-
tion are often hampered due to a perception of high cost. High cost is most
often associated with the belief that methods to collect such data and its
analysis are expensive and time-consuming, and that only highly trained
professional social scientists can handle these needs. Recent examples have
shown that neither of these are necessarily true.
2-22- First of all, it is not necessary to have a social scientist on every
FSR/E field team. In Zambia, locating a social scientist within the coordi-
nating entity of the adaptive research program has facilitated the inclusion
of social science methods by certain field teams in order to more fully ex-
plore household and gender issues in adaptive research. In other countries
(Guatemala for example), agricultural technicians have been taught social
science skills to enable them to collect and analyse household as well as
other socioeconomic data. Their efforts are supported by a central department
which provides further analysis and interpretation of results. Greater net-
working and exchange of information between projects such as these has re-
sulted in better knowledge of appropriate methods. For example, as a result
of the case studies project by the FSSP and Population Council a guidebook of
methods which have proven effective in the field is being assembled and should
assist other practitioners who are requesting help in dealing with this area
"(Feldstein and Jiggins, forthcoming).
223 High cost or insufficient budget is still often given as the reason not to
include better household understanding and analysis in FSR/E approaches. A
short run view may lead administrators and managers to see the professional
salary of a social scientist as too high when taken out of context. But when
placed in the context of the potential for new technology to be acceptable or
not, the potential benefit of social science incorporation in general, and the
household realm in particular, far exceeds the cost.
During the early years of FSR/E, it was extremely difficult to obtain the
services of a trained applied anthropologist or rural sociologist to work with
an FSR/E project or approach. Few of these social scientists, though
interested in this aspect of the rural population, had adequate training in
agricultural sciences to enable them to work effectively with teams composed
largely of agricultural scientists. Few of the national agricultural research
and extension systems saw the need to create mainline positions for non-
agriculturists and often host country governments were wary of social
scientists working with the poorer peoples in their countries. Perhaps more
importantly, there were very few international centers or other agricultural
research and development organizations that had already made this move to
serve as role models. Fortunately, this situation has changed greatly, and it
is almost commonplace for interdisciplinary teams to include a social
scientists, very often, an anthropologist. Good guidelines are being written
to assist projects in incorporating these and other dimensions into projects
(Rogers, 1985). The IARCs, especially those that "broke new ground" in
incorporating anthropologists within their programs (Rhoades, 1985), are now
changing their previous positions and considering the difference that gender-
sensitive agricultural technology development might make to their work
(Jiggins, 1985). Likewise, the IARC's are beginning to realize that
productivity can be improved by looking outside of farming techniques per se,
and that FSR/E has the capacity to facilitate this view. This could extend to
non-farm income generating activities.
227 A crop becomes a food only after it is cleaned, prepared and in most
cases, cooked. The returns to improvement in these activities,
commonly performed by women, might often exceed returns from efforts
directed to improving crop yields. In addition, research on minor
crops and small animals could also yield important benefits
(Plucknett et al., 1986).
A general broadening of the disciplinary perspectives that can be brought
to bear upon the use of FSR/E has also created the need for the development,
dissemination and training in the use of, simplified social science methodo-
logies for field FSR/E teams sensitized to working with resource-limited
farmers, but with little or no specialized knowledge of how to go about doing
it. A similar situation exists in the growing realization that consumption
and nutrition linkages need to be considered in the use of a FSR/E approach,
and there is growing interest in developing simplified nutritional tools which
can also be used by field teams without exceptional nutritional expertise.
(Cohen, 1986; Frankenberger, 1985). Unfortunately once again, these necessi-
ties, even when demonstratably simplified and cost-efficient, appear to be
costly additions to FSR/E in the eyes of administrators and donors in terms of
both scarce funds and human resources. The growing realization of these needs
also coincides with a time when bilateral donors face budgetary crises of
their own, and are less likely to fund FSR/E projects at a level necessary to
allow for the more efficient gathering of such necessary data (USAID, 1985b).
! 2 As noted in the previous sub-section, what is needed today and in the
future is greater stress upon coordinated innovation. This should take the
form of host country governments coordinating any bilateral project of any
donor so as to take the utmost advantage of secondary financial and human
resources. Such secondary resources -- such as the U.S. Peace Corps and its
equivalent among other bilateral donors, both expatriate and host country
graduate students in the disciplines of social science, agriculture and
agroforestry, and various PVOs will evolve into primary sources of support
contributing more directly to the advance of agricultural development through-
out the third world. While the approach which unites these groups together
with bilateral donors through the mediation of host country governments may be
FSR/E in the beginning, the force which will unite them all in the longer run
will be the overriding necessity for sustained agricultural progress and the
complexities of the problems which still must be resolved to avoid wide-spread
5. Relationship Between FSR/E and Single-Commodity Research Programs
a. What are the linkages?
22^ ZThe vital complementary relationship between FSR/E and commodity programs
has been emphasized throughout this report and will only be summarized here.
Currently within USAID, there is a move to return to more intensive research
on commodities especially those of greatest dietary import to Africans (the
foodgrains of maize, millet, sorghum, certain beans, and the tuber crop
cassava). This will, by the sheer size of the effort required, demand more,
not less, tailored, farm-level testing of technologies and interventions.
Such testing will most assuredly not involve too many simple diamond trials,
with and without fertilizer, in sole crops. Instead, such farm-level trials
will have to take into account such real constraints as traditional and/or
-low-cost innovative types of land preparation, low- or no-cost inputs,
predominant cropping combinations, systematic nutrient recycling, and gender
and familial support of the primary cultivator of major target crops/livestock
combinations, all as integral parts of up-front trial design efforts. For
this reason, it is essential that FSR/E be the approach used to improve speci-
fic commodity production.
Norman and Collinson (1985) differentiated between FSR/E "in the small"
and "with a pre-determined focus" (see Section A.4.). The latter is most
frequently "with a pre-determined commodity focus." The majority of the
efforts by most IARCs fall into this category due to their major crop focus.
There seem to be some natural linkages between single commodity research and
FSR/E. First, both involve multiple disciplines, often engaged in team
efforts. Commodity research, however, rarely includes social sciences unless
it is conducted with a farming systems perspective and a FSR/E approach.
Because commodity research is often already doing multi-locational trials, the
incorporation of on-farm experiments with varying levels of farmer management
can often occur with less difficulty than in agricultural research programs
that are strictly discipline-based. Adding the farming systems perspective to
a single commodity program can often be accomplished more easily than trying
to make vast institutional changes across all programs at once. Adding one or
two people to the program is less disruptive than creating whole new programs.
Norman and Collinson (1986) refer to the introduction of FSR or FSR/E through
a commodity program as "driving a narrow wedge into agricultural bureaucra-
cies" from which to build up to capacity to apply a systems perspective and
then "open the wedge" to forge necessary linkages across commodities, compo-
nents and other programs. Though this strategy has been highly successful in
getting a systems perspective introduced in various regions, it is criticized
because progress in opening the wedge has been slow, and in particular, in-
volvement of extension, attention to livestock and mixed enterprises, and
consideration of secondary and horticultural crops or post-harvest problems
has been poor.
b. How effective are these linkages?
c230 In light of the above, it is easy to see that the vertical linkages for
commodity programs are rather good. The qualified exception is that though
'specific recommendations are made for extension to transfer, there is little
integration of these recommendations or technologies with the other activities
of farmers. In particular, low-resource agriculturalists do not practice
single commodity production, but rather integrated production, and therefore
need recommendations for integrated systems. Even when operating in a farming
systems perspective, too often there has been little linkage across various
commodities, and the onus of integration is left by default to extension.
' 31 Frequently, there is also conflict between commodity programs, especially
if there is a donor or outside agencies involved, each providing methodologi-
cal approach to the systems perspective. Resolution of this conflict among
donors, especially the IARCs is crucial if their support to FSR/E and the
systems perspective in general is to be functional. Recent efforts
demonstrate that this is possible (CIMMYT, 1984; ICRISAT, 1986).
Norman and Collinson (1986) state that the "predetermined focus" approach
has several disadvantages and provide specific examples:
Predetermines the objective and may focus attention away from more
crucial farmers problems;
Cannot rank problems across commodities in order to appropriately
There is great potential for overlap between commodity programs;
Linkage with extension is difficult to achieve;
Systems perspective conflicts with peer-group recognition among
specialized researchers in commodity programs.
c. How can they be improved?
21 33 Though the "with a predetermined focus" can help national programs to
rapidly get moving with on-farm research, as Norman and Collinson (1986) point
out, the disadvantages listed above suggest that opting for a "in the small"
approach might have greater benefits in the long run. This choice will facil-
itate a holistic view of priority problems in the system and allow better
allocation of resources towards their solution. Overlapping activities of
several commodity teams doing on-farm research in a single area can be avoided
and greater linkages with extension will be achieved more naturally. This
'route can also diffuse some of the destructive results of disciplinary-based
peer group pressure.
23, Many countries, such as Zambia and Malawi, are integrating adaptive
research teams to conduct FSR/E in specific regions or areas and linking these
to commodity research teams through the coordination unit or body. This model
seems to be effective in integrating the two needs in complementary fashion.
Greater difficulties seem to arise when FSR/E is housed in a department
parallel and competitive with disciplinary or commodity based departments, and
often competition for scarce resources, including human resources, results in
little collaboration. One specific measures to enhance collaboration and
linkages within any model is the joint elaboration and review of annual work-
plans and explicit delineation of responsibilities and supporting budget. It
is very important that FSR/E and commodity programs are viewed as collabora-
tive and not hierarchical with one providing service to the other.
2 35- Concerning specific benefits to be gained through collaboration between
the two, commodity research teams can improve FSR/E teams by providing
expertise on specifics in the diagnosis of problems, advise on appropriate
designs for on-farm trials, and assist with the biological interpretation of
results. Baker and Norman (1986) provide five functions with which FSR/E can
support conventional research and thus improve the linkages between the two:
(1) Define the environmental situation of farms and how this differs
from that of the experiment station, and how to assess the
differences in terms of the different underlying variability.
(2) Advise on appropriate experimental levels, such as fertilizer or
seed, or even endogenous variables, such as household labor
(3) Define experimental and non-experimental variables.
(4) Define the evaluation criteria for trials ("yield per what" is
critical to farmers).
(5) Conduct the "incrementalization" of packages to allow for
step-wise learning and ultimately, adoption.
Concerning the last function, FSR/E can help commodity programs to more
fully exploit the flexibility of a system, rather than striving only to break
constraints. Since long-term success, however, will still depend on breaking
constraints, FSR/E provides commodity programs with a "step by step approach
evolving away from the present system towards a new one--each step being one
that is acceptable to farmers" (Norman and Collinson, 1985).
C. POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL IMPLICATIONS
1. Most Productive Mix of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches
Providing improved technology which is acceptable to and used by the
farmers is the most effective way to improve farmers' conditions, and is the
ultimate goal of good agricultural research and extension. Conventional
research and extension has not been successful in providing technology inno-
vation that reaches limited resource agriculturalists. Current attempts to
improve on conventional research and extension have spawned other techniques
and methodologies. Two which have received a great deal of attention recently
are biotechnology and the training and visit (T&V) system.
Biotechnology is a major new research technique which utilizes genetic
engineering of plant and animal species with a goal of producing genetically
superior plant and animal species. Access to existing germ plasm that con-
tains many valuable traits further depends upon contacts within the broad
based research and extension community. The research capability available
through biotechnology demands better integration of adaptive research and
extension efforts than heretofore experienced even in the most developed
agricultural systems. While expanding basic to fundamental research capabili-
ty, the new techniques of biotechnology are heavily dependent upon an adaptive
research system to help transform the scientific results to farmer accepted
technology. New material must be screened for environmental impact and for
survival under laboratory, experiment station, and finally "real" farm condi-
tions before being considered as an adoptable technology.
The Training and Visit (T&V) system was introduced in the 1970s by the
World Bank in an attempt to make the extension portion of technology innova-
tion more efficient (Benor et al., 1984). One of the initial assumptions of
T&V is that on-shelf agricultural technology exists for immediate extension to
receptive farmers. In exceptional cases, such as India, where a tremendous
backlog of relevant agricultural technology could be extended immediately to
farmers, T&V has tended to work out well. West African nations, which are
more representative of the third world countries' situations, often have
little on-shelf technology to extend to their farm populations.
Biotechnology and T&V are sometimes posed as new models for agricultural
210 research and extension. -Neither propose significant changes in the conven-
tional strategy, merely refinements of specific aspects. Biotechnology
addresses research in terms of speeding up the conventional process of crop or
animal improvement while T&V addresses inefficiencies in extension. Because
the farming systems perspective, and FSR/E in particular, address the linkage
of farmers, researchers, and extension workers, and thus propose a shift in
the conventional paradigm for identifying research priorities and handling
research and extension methods, it presents a contrast to the conventional
approach. However, it is a complementary paradigm and represents an evolu-
tionary shift in the conventional approach, one which promises to enhance both
its efficiency and effectiveness.
Conventional agricultural research and extension is commodity-centered and
2c/ discipline driven. Conventional research is often carried out in isolation
from extension, and the farmers themselves, leading to often irrelevant and
unuseable research results. FSR/E is interdisciplinary and based on
farmer-participatory adaptive research and extension. It is built on the
basic premise that research must be based on the needs of the farmers and
technology must be tested under farmer conditions. The assumption that
on-shelf technology exists for immediate extension contradicts the adoptive
concern of the FSR/E approach. FSR/E emerged precisely because few, if any
technological advances developed by conventional research in many third world
nations were relevant for limited resource food producers.
FSR/E can assist conventional agricultural research and extension and
increase its impact on limited resource agriculturalists in two basic areas:
identifying problems considered to be most important by relatively homogeneous
group of farmer clientele, and providing a mechanism to accelerate the devel-
opment and release of appropriate technology to these groups. By integrating
the FSR/E approach, conventional research and extension will be more relevant
for low resource agriculturalists.
2. Suggested Policies to Enhance the Mix of FSR/E and Conventional Approaches
2 L13 yThe question that faces policy makers today is how to optimize the bene-
fits of agricultural research and extension for low resource agriculturalists?
Policies and institutions together must address the interdependencies of the
approaches to ensure maximum benefits to limited resource agriculturalists and
achievement of agricultural sector goals. Optimal blending of approaches to
agricultural research and extension will result in minimizing seperateness of
the research and extension functions, and will be based on client-participa-
tory adaptive research. Policies influence and are influenced by institutions
and both have an impact on the approaches utilized in implementation of pro-
grams to achieve goals. Consistency among agricultural policies, institu-
tions, approaches, and goals, while essential for agricultural development may
be difficult to achieve and maintain. Policies that are conducive to suc-
cessful technology innovation, and which help institutions to deliver farmer
acceptable and useful technologies in a timely manner are put forth here and
should be promoted.
qc a. Research priorities must be based on identified needs of the farmer
b. Research and extension institutions must allow internal reorganization
29"5- which would be conducive to the development of field teams, setting
priorities, national coordination, and building prescriptive linkages
at various levels. This reorganization does not have to proceed any
FSR/E activity, and in fact may result as a demand for FSR/E grows
among convinced practitioners.
c. The role of extension has to be redefined giving extension the right
to play a more active role in determining research priorities,
engaging in on-farm experimentation, and monitoring impact of new
d. Social and economic sciences need to be brought into research and
SI extension at the coordination level, and mechanisms must be developed
to extend their respective methodological input to field teams even
where trained social scientists are not available.
2-?- e. Entities engaged in FSR/E must have adequate mobility in terms of
f. Institutions must have flexibility in funds and decentralized sources
Q2L t of funding to accommodate activities.
g. In order that the above policies can be implemented and FSR/E can be
2<-p institutionalized, FSR/E practitioners must begin to modify and adjust
FSR/E methods to fit both national program needs and their logistical
and management parameters.
In general, FSR/E practitioners must be collectively more innovative in
the entire technology development and delivery process. More is needed than
reports to commodity researchers of problems identified by farmers, and call-
ing for researcher assistance in designing trails to address these problems.
The various farmer-back-to-farmer approaches suggest new research and linkage
opportunities (Chambers and Ghildyal, 1985; Chambers and Jiggins, 1985;
Rhoades and Potts, 1985; Richards, 1985). FSR/E practitioners must assist
component researchers with adaptation of programs toward responsiveness to
more direct farmer linkages. In this way obvious advantages for both the
farmer or clientele, and the commodity and subject matter specialty researcher
can emerge from the FSR/E approach to make agricultural research more
efficient and effective.
3. Qualitative and Quantitative Comparisons of FSR/E and Conventional
25z Given that the majority of the FSR/E projects worldwide are only now
reaching enough maturity to evaluate new technology adoption, it is too soon
to conduct accurate analyses of costs and benefits of the approach compared to
the conventional strategy. Since FSR/E is never introduced in isolation, but
as part of the conventional system, the lines between the two become blurred.
This section will address some of the quantitative and qualitative issues and
suggest areas where future quantitative analysis can be conducted.
a. How Much Money and Time Will It Take to Make the Model Operational?
$$-3 During the Green Revolution years of the early and mid 1960s, conventional
agricultural wisdom held that for an improvement to be accepted by farmers it
should result in a 50-100% increase in farmers production (Mosher, 1966).
Others argued that the absolute increase in potential yield was more important
than the percentage increase (Schultz, 1964). Today it is widely accepted
that farmers, as rational decision-makers, will accept and adopt technologies
which (1) improve their system under their particular agro-climatical, biolo-
gical and socio-cultural conditions, (2) do not significantly alter the risk
balance of the particular component (crop or animal) and the system, and (3)
are either cost-free or of very low-cost. A technology that increases yields
by 10%, if such a 10% increase is considered crucial to the household by the
farmer, will be adopted before an improvement that increases yields by 50-100%
at the provincial experiment station, but cannot be shown to do likewise under
typical farmer conditions, or, alternatively increases price and/or production
risk to an unacceptable level in the eyes of the farmers.
While quantitative indicators are troublesome in measuring research impact
'because of time, base and imputation constraints, another alternative approach
to evaluating a technology development process is by evaluating farmer
acceptance. This provides both a measure of success for a technology and for
the institutional configuration that generates that technology. Acceptance
ratios can be applied to both technology as it is adapted for extension and to
all technologies evolving from the basic research arena that ultimately become
acceptable. Higher use and acceptance ratios can be achieved when client
needs are best understood within their bio-physical and socio-cultural envi-
ronments. Imposition of acceptance ratios to the exclusion of all other
considerations, however, can be detrimental. Basic exploratory research
directed toward major farm level constraints is essential and is always accom-
panied by certain failures in laboratories and on experiment stations. This
is an important purpose of research, and reduces adaptive on-farm research
costs. Thus, the balance is between basic and adaptive research needs both in
terms of technology development costs and technology acceptance ratios.
Success can be specified in specific constraint and commodity cases. Not
all applications of FSR/E methodology will appreciably influence national
production. Some, for example, will help small groups of people which in
turn, and in the long run, may improve the health of the.agricultural sector.
Measuring returns to research and extension through technological interven-
tions for small and widely diverse farm household applications is more complex
than for large farms where package technologies are more readily adopted.
While it is much easier to measure 50-100% increases in a "tech-pack" approach
applied to fields of few large landholders, or on plantations, where condi-
tions are quite similar to those encountered on an experiment station, it is
much more difficult to identify and measure increases on numerous small farms
when the agronomic or livestock increase may be limited to 10-15% over a three
to five year period.
25%- Since FSR/E usually is applied to existing research and extension systems,
the approach is not an alternative to the system but a complement and its
value is determined at the margin where the overall research impact is
measured. Quantitative measurement of returns to agricultural research
investments is difficult at best. Where a research and extension system is
completely reorganized or initially established around an FSR/E approach,
measurement is more direct but even then comparisons with conventional
'approaches have major time and location limitations. Two examples of such
reorganization include ICTA in Guatemala (ICTA, 1985), and Lesotho in 1980.
b. What is the Time Frame for Evaluating Returns?
While most agree that successful agricultural technology development
requires major time investments, fewer agree on what is an acceptable amount
of time to wait for significant results and what constitutes significant
results. Donors and host country policy-makers of the late 1970s and early
1980s rushed to establish the FSR/E approach. Some acknowledged that even
though the FSR/E approach appeared to be efficient, it would nevertheless take
many years to produce tangible results. Biological and institutional reality
suggest that the impact of FSR/E on research and extension performance is a
10-25 year phenomenon, yet political reality reveals impatience because major
breakthroughs have not resulted from 4-6 year investments.
25Y Acceptable time for development and application of agricultural technology
also depends upon the client. Donors consider time and monetary trade-offs,
while farmers deal primarily with time, risk and family welfare. Time, as a
substitute for, or complement to, other resources, is considered differently
along the client spectrum from donor to farmer. For the farm family at the
edge of starvation time interacts closely with risk. While no improved tech-
nology may mean death in the medium or long-run, the risk of technological
failure can mean death in the short-run also. Relatively minor, but risk
free, technological changes at the margin are more acceptable to most
resource-limited farm families while major high yielding breakthroughs that
overlook occasional complete but complete failures, have had greater
2<- The time required to achieve either the immediate term goals of a farm
family or the long term goals of donor agencies depends on the knowledge base
upon which the research system rests. This base varies greatly by agro-
climatic zone, country or political unit, socio-cultural system and crop.
Ownership of this knowledge is shared by nature, farmers and research insti-
tutions. Any rule of thumb for cost and time evaluation of technology
development must be complex and site specific. However, both research and
development resources and time are limited for limited-resource farm families,
'so every attempt must be made to evaluate and refine research and extension
systems to make acceptable best use of time and resources.
Evidence of past experience is interesting, and testifies to the value of
research, but helps little with finite investment decisions. This experience
reveals that many years are required for agricultural research to produce
sustained agricultural development. Since the classical measurement of re-
turns to agricultural research was carried out several decades ago (Griliches,
1957; Griliches, 1958), many others have measured or attempted to measure such
returns (Evenson, et al., 1979; Ruttan, 1982). One reference lists an annual
rate of return to research of between 74-102% (Evenson and Flores, 1978).
Most of these estimates are due to improvements in Asian rice production.
Between the years of 1958 and 1980, there were 33 studies of the productivity
of agricultural research efforts based on the internal rate of return model,
and three more based on benefit-cost analyses (Ruttan, 1982). Some 63 sepa-
rate analyses were conducted. With the exceptions of research on cotton in
Colombia and wheat in Bolivia, all the remaining analyses gave annual internal
rates of return for research dollars spent of between 11-110% (Ruttan, 1982).
The time frame for most of these time series analyses have varied but general-
ly have covered many years. Given the relative youth of the FSR/E approach,
it may be 10-15 years too early for analyses of the approach in given national
c. How Would It Be Introduced Into the Field?
As described in Sections A and B, the process of introducing FSR/E has
taken many forms and shapes ranging from the addition of one person to the
reorganization of whole organizations and addition of large expatriate teams
(at substantial cost). While the former may seem to require a long slow
process, the latter is a shock to any system and may actually hinder the
process in the long run. Some feel that the more rational approach to the
introduction of FSR/E is .to start small and build up within the system,
allowing for substantial training and enhancing the national capabilities to
manage FSR/E from the start (Stoop, 1985). This approach is more similar to
the philosophy of IDRC than to other donors. For many national programs,
particularly in Africa, the lack of a large cadre of trained professionals
sometimes make a large, externally funded and externally staffed project seem
'the optimal route. However, we support Stoop's opinion that national research
adopt a policy which gradually introduces on-farm research and a
systems perspective, rather than to create large and separate,
externally-funded, "Farming Systems" units, which are not
integrated into the existing research structures, and which
generally rely on short-term, external funding...such projects
often lead to further "fragmentation" of the national research
effort, while, when foreign funding is exhausted, the projects
are often discontinued because of a lack of local funds (Stoop,
A major constraint in attempting to follow the "start small" approach is
Id- ^ that in most cases, donor funding is needed, and not all donors have the
capacity to start small, and build as needed. Large, expensive, 3-5 year
projects are more popular among several major donors and this preference then
influences the desires of the national program in its planning. Donors need
to re-assess the manner in which FSR/E is funded in national programs, and how
they can best support national development of the systems, perspective. It is
obvious that the thrust behind FSR/E in many parts of the world and particu-
larly in Africa comes from outside donors. It is difficult to say whether
national programs have no interest in or knowledge of FSR/E until the donors
get involved, or whether the cost of getting started and maintaining FSR/E is
too high for national research and extension systems to undertake on their
own. Given that for most national agricultural research and extension sys-
tems, 90% of their budget goes to salary (Anderson and Dillon, 1985), there is
not a lot of room for fexible funding for programs requiring high recurrent
costs and considerable mobility. However, "despite strong external support,
FSR/E will not become institutionalized within national agricultural research
and extension systems without strong national commitment and management of the
FSR/E activities" (FrescQ and Poats, 1986).
d. What Are the Attendant Costs?
2 o3b While specific benefit/cost ratios cannot be calculated for FSR/E projects
or for the approach in general, there are certain items and research/extension
functions which will be affected financially any time FSR/E complements
conventional research. The following list is drawn mainly from experiences of
the FSSP core staff, but also depends on Galt (1985b).
LIST OF RELATIVE IMPACTS OF ADDING FSR/E TO CONVENTIONAL RESEARCH
UPON RESEARCH/EXTENSION BUDGET LINE ITEMS
BUDGET SOURCE IMPACT: INCREASES
(RESEARCH OR (+), DECREASES (-),
EXTENSION BUDGET LINE ITEM OR NO CHANGE (0)
Both Training +
Research Non-recurrent costs (infrastructure)
Recurrent costs +
Both Transportation (vehicles/fuel/maintenance) +
Research Supplies (inputs, implements, tools,
paper, photocopying, etc.) +
Temporary assistance enumeratorss, field
trial monitors, research assistants) +
Both Increased research-extension contact (in-
cludes additional meetings, trips to farms,
Research or Human resources (permanent, line personnel) +
Research-extension liason officer +
FSR/E practitioners +
on-farm diagnosis and trials +
station back-up trials +
2~ y While these costs do not represent the actual costs nor even all of the
budget categories to be considered in implementing FSR/E activities, they do
give an idea of the relative costs compared to a strictly conventional
strategy. The important to factor into the equation, however, is that if
FSR/E can facilitate better generation of technology appropriate to farmers
needs, and the conventional system is incapable of achieving this, then the
cost becomes simply the cost of success, and an indispensable item.
e. What Are the Benefits to Farmers?
2 -- ^To summarize this section, there are three major benefits for farmers from
the incorporation of an FSR/E approach. First, because priorities are based
on farmer needs, more relevant technologies are developed. Because FSR/E is
designed to specifically address the needs of low-resource farmers, the
resultant technologies are more likely to be acceptable to these farmers.
Second, because the research to generate technology is done on-farms with
farmers as cooperators, inappropriate solutions are deleted early in the
process and resources are focused on appropriate ventures. Involvement of
farmers in development of the technology means they will have quicker access
to its use. Finally, because FSR/E is meant to be a holistic approach, and it
is moving towards better incorporation of gender and household issues and
methods, it offers the promise of being able to overcome many of the gender
biases inherent in most other agricultural development strategies, and offers
hope that all farmers, male and female, will be considered in the generation
of truely appropriate technology.
4. Institutional Levels Dealing With FSR/E: Potential For Complementarity
Several institutional levels may employ an FSR/E approach: (1) national
agricultural research program (NARP) of a given nation, (2) an agricultural
university (or universities) of that nation, (3) regional agricultural re-
search centers (RARCs), (4) the international agricultural research centers
(IARCs), (5) USAID funded collaborative research support programs (CRSPs), (6)
'national agricultural extension and development programs, and (7) private
sector firms including farmers, supplier and marketing groups.
Each group has a different mandate or function, a different political
base, different sources of funding, different degrees of autonomy, and differ-
ent levels of access to and identity with the ultimate clientele, the farmers.
While their contribution is necessary their respective roles in FSR/E are
quite different. What is needed is to define each group's contribution to and
benefits from FSR/E, discuss how such advantages can be better supported or
encouraged, and recommend improved interrelationships to assist one another in
efficiently serving the third world farmers and their food production
challenge. The role of farmers as participants and clients is essential to
FSR/E and successful agricultural research.
An organizational chart which shows the relationship of each institutional
participant to the others is included as Figure 5. The RARCs, IARCs and CRSPs
all gain access to the farmers only through the given national agricultural
research and extension programs or, occasionally an agricultural university.
The key to all processes of making agricultural research more efficient lies
with the national instititutions involved in the FSR/E approach. Access of a
given NARP to farmers is through the provincial and local extension services.
Thus, for an innovation from any source outside of a NARP to receive wide-
spread testing and acceptance by farmers, it must pass to the farmers through
both the NARP and the national, provincial and local extension administration.
Likewise, for feedback to accumulate relative to an innovation, it must return
through extension to research and the initial source of the innovation.
a. Comparative Advantages of Various Institutions In Conducting FSR/E
2 1) National Agricultural Research Programs (NARPs). As the corner-
stone to increasing agricultural production in the long run, the NARPs have
been receiving increased-attention from the CGIAR since 1978 when the Techni-
cal Advisory Committee (TAC) issued a report critical of the way some IARCs
were "using" the staff of some NARPs for their own ends, and not vice-versa.
The issue would appear to be insufficient resources for agricultural research
generally and not balance around a least common denominator. An optimal mix
of responsibility and resource allocations among entities in the research and
'extension process reveals some possible efficiencies through an FSR/E approach
but generally insufficient funds on either a global or systems basis both
nationally for most countries and internationally for all.
27-0 NARPs are in a pivotal position of drawing from international research on
their own and then working with and through extension to reach farmers. Such
issues as how technology will be moved to the farm after its development have
not been addressed traditionally by the IARCs, RARCs or CRSPs. FSR/E, by
utilizing the concept of research domains across national boundaries, can give
direction to these linkages. International groups can help to coordinate
activities in the research domains within national boundaries and in this way
provide for the possibility of wider ranges of environment. Examples where
such a potential exists are in Central America or the Sahelian region. Appli-
cation of research domain methodologies such as modified stability analysis
and further specification of recommendation and diffusion domains follow from
international research support to country specific fundamental research (where
necessary and feasible) and adaptive research. From this bio-physical and
socio-cultural base institutional concerns also place the NARP in a pivotal
/ All institutions working with FSR/E approaches might bring their research
resources to bear within the NARP to farm level system. IARC or RARC outreach
staff can be given NARP appointments, so more international experts will be
responsible to NARPs for the duration of their assignments. The role of the
NARP in such a situation will evolve from one of providing scarce office
space, equipment, and collaboration of junior and senior staff to the IARC
outreacher, to one of directing the interaction of the IARC outreacher toward
solutions of specific problems of the host country's farmers. Results of this
collaboration can feed into international networks that focus on specific
constraints defined by the broad research domain.
This is a radical proposal from the point of view of most of the CGIAR
IARCs. Up to now, their major mandate has been one of global agricultural
intervention. But most successful IARC outreach staff members operating today
do so in a single country setting and often at a provincial level. Such a
proposal demands additional funds for staffing more IARC outreach personnel
positions and funds for national collaborators. Over the past decade, the
'largest proportional increase in professional staff employed by the IARCs has
been in outreach staff, but the need far exceeds response ability.
273 2) National Agricultural University(ies). Several nations (i.e.,
Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand in Asia; Cameroun, Ethiopia, Nigeria and
Zimbabwe in Africa) have significant FSR/E thrusts being carried out by one or
more agricultural universities at the present time. Such groups may or may
not have significant contact with the relevant NARP. They may or may not have
linkages with either provincial or local extension (see Figure 5, broken
lines). However, where such efforts exist, the NARP of the nation, as well as
the RARCs and IARCs active in that nation, should make every effort to colla-
borate with and support them. The need for agricultural research and training
results is so pervasive that opportunities for complementarity must be ex-
ploited. If a university has an on-going program of FSR/E, it should work
with the rest of the FSR/E stakeholders: research and extension in their own
country, and any relevant RARC or IARC. The university, besides a source for
research, also provides for methodological support through state of the art
synthesis and through initial training and continuing education program
Z LI There are several cases around the world -- Thailand providing a good
example for Asia; Nigeria providing an equally good example for Africa --
where the university-led FSR/E program is several years older and more experi-
enced than the national approach through the NARP. In such cases, the univer-
sity based programs should be used for training and orientation of indigenous
human resources necessary to extend the approach to make research and exten-
sion more efficient at the NARP level. Keys to this process are: (1) timing
so that participants for training learn the maximum amount possible in the
least amount of time, and (2) sensitivity to on-going university programs and
calendars, so that faculty are not overwhelmed with trainees at the worst
2 76- 3) Regional Agricultural Research Centers (RARCs). The purpose for
establishment of both international and regional research centers was to
provide support to national programs where research results either provide a
basis for addressing research domains of regional proportions or more basic
science support where national programs have research resource limitatations.
'For both IARC and RARC involvements the question is one of how well this
support function is covered and the degree to which each institutional struc-
ture is necessary, complementary or duplicative. The answer to this question
will differ by region and subregion and possibly by crops or cropping systems.
- G, Where they exist (CATIE in Central America and WARDA in West Africa),
RARCs are usually quite sensitive to the needs of each host country of their
region. This is partly due to their small size relative to IARCs, and to the
fact that they recruit staff largely from within the region. In addition,
continued presence of RARC outreach personnel in a given country is more
tenuous than is that of IARC outreach staff, since RARCs usually have fewer
political entres than IARCs. In addition, the funding of RARCs is not as
diverse stable and secure as that of the IARCs.
If RARCs have a role to play more emphasis is needed on: (1)continuity in
farmer-based approaches to FSR/E while supporting NARPs and (2) drawing sup-
port from the relevant IARCs in the region. IARC-generated plant or animal
materials, now being tested on a country-by-country basis with each NARP could
undergo intermediate screening at the home base ofthe RARC and/or be placed
under the guidance of their outreach staff. Such a shift in the initial
screening of materials would lessen some of the load on the NARPs while, at
the same time, would increase the regional liaison/communication role of each
RARC. The NARPs, IARCs and RARC of the region should all be better off for
following such a policy change.
2 7-, 4) International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs). Relatively
speaking, the IARCs are the best-endowed organizations of the five groups with
respect to both financial and human resources. IARCs are traditionally funded
by a much broader base of donors than are RARCs. In addition, IARCs attract
not only highly professional and competent scientific staffs, but also are
usually one of the most desirable places of employment for the nationals of
the host country in which.they are located. Further investments at national
levels are necessary to strengthen the research and extension pool in quantity
and quality with renumeration commensurate with the important task before
them. IARC employees are not overpaid relative to peers in other world sci-
ences and certainly food and agricultural scientists in third world countries
who are stimulated more by the food security challenge than by their low
L The IARC network provides a vital service in international agricultural
development with a mandate of means to a common end. IARCs must balance time
and resource allocation between support to research priorities of given NARPs,
and to improved germplasm. The precedent for greater support to NARPs exists
where some IARC outreach staff members work as "employees" of NARPs because of
their dedication to a mutually shared priority research problem.
Some believe that the IARCs, as guardians of international germplasm,
should become more sensitive to the needs of NARPs for the use of such germ-
plasm (Witt, 1985). Genetic needs for crops x and y to serve a client concern
must dictate research needs where joint ownership of results can strengthen
applicability within the research resource capabilities of NARPs and IARCs.
Sensitivity to the value and use of germ plasm contributions is essential.
The actual owners of all international germ plasm are those host countries
which contributed to the collections in the first place when their farmer's
traditional land races were sampled and gathered into one central location for
ease of management and for economies of scale (Witt, 1985). Several have
written on this subject (see Witt, 1985), indicating that,NARPs are anxious to
achieve greater benefit from these international germplasm collections through
stronger institutional linkages and improved constraint identification and
5) Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSPs). Establishment of
the CRSPs and related research policies evolved from a concern for addressing
several commodity and program research support areas not covered by the IARCs.
Furthermore, the CRSPs as a creation of Title XII, provide a method for tap-
ping the research support base within the U.S. university community. As the
CRSPs mature commodity and functional networks of scientists are emerging in
collaboration with IARCs and other USAID projects. The farming systems pro-
gram area has become one point of interface among CRSPs, IARCs and USAID
bilateral contracts to serve as a general support base for the NARPs. Further
maturity and coordination through farming systems methodologies will lead to
stronger linkages along the basic to adaptive research spectrum.
CRSPs like IARCs and RARCs must be closely linked to national programs for
both adaptive work in technology development and feedback linkages from
farmers concerning acceptability of the technology. Also the CRSP work must
address regional research domains which suggest a basis for collaborative
research and mutual support where recommendation domains overlap or interact.
When coordination emerges based upon common methodologies of diagnosis,
regionalization and localization of research results, national research and
extension programs can draw heavily on CRSP results in developing technologies
for specific diffusion domains. Emerging CRSP, IARC, university and NARP
linkages are best serviced at present by the various farming systems methodo-
logies extending from diagnosis and characterization through farmer partici-
patory on-farm research and extension.
6) National Agricultural Extension Programs. Extension programs in
Africa differ greatly in quality and structure from country to country.
Effectiveness relative to technology transfer depends on quality of the link-
age between the extension program and research. In some instances, particu-
larly where an FSR/E approach is applied as in Malawi, the research and exten-
sion linkage is emerging on a potentially sound base.
Of greatest concern to many third world agricultural sector leaders with
extension programs are:
Issues of continuing education for extension personnel which often
suggests personnel reductions coupled with better on-going training
Extension methods and structures that apply key communication
principles such as those addressed by T&V;
Message deficiencies, a problem for T&V, again demanding improved
linkages with research programs for development of appropriate
Capabilities to work with both generation and gender needs through
extension of technologies and information in support of women,
children and the elderly who have the greatest impact on food
production in Africa and much of the third world.
5-c Often policy issues related to extension institutions are not conducive to
effective technology transfer because extension serves as a political arm of
the government or simply an employment agency. Furthermore extension may be
'so burdened with sometimes worthwhile support activities that the technology
development and transfer role is not served.
7) Private Sector Firms: Farmer, Supplier and Marketing Groups.
Farmers are both participants and clients in the technology development pro-
cess. They are relied upon at least for the ultimate test to use or not to
use the technology. But in a farmer participatory FSR/E program, active in-
volvement comes both at diagnosis and in on-farm testing. Farm level institu-
tions such as input supply groups and marketing entities round out the infra-
structural base that influences the farmer as a manager of new technology.
Differentiation of the farmer on-farm research participant from the farmer
client, while subtle is critical. Utilization of the farm level expertise in
both testing and diffusion is essential to successful work by research and
extension institutions. Until the institutional dimension of farming is given
equal birth with the other institutions discussed herein, many will continue
to consider the farmer as a passive client. We are only now learning how to
tap the full farmer participant capability through various FSR/E activities.
b. Ensuring Complementarity Between Approaches
LF8 1) Inter-institutional complementarity: NARP, RARC, IARC, CRSP.
Complementarity might be assured between approaches of the NARPs, RARCs, IARCs
and CRSPs by fostering a simple, common and agreeable clientele hierarchy upon
which agricultural research and extension may focus. If donors, researchers
and extension service personnel were to agree upon such a hierarchy and the
relative roles for each group composing it, this might allow common priorities
to become more widely accepted. For their part, IARC representatives have
advanced collaboration with common definition of FSR recently-completed at a
meeting in ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India (ICRISAT, 1986). As this agreement
operationalized the amount of appropriate technology generated for the benefit
and use of the resource-poor farmers of the third world should be augmented.
Recall once again Figure 5. Here, the farmers were intentionally placed
on top as the ultimate (i.e., most important) clients of both agricultural
research and extension activities. Now notice which clientele are between the
farmers and the international donors, regional and international research
centers: they are local extension, provincial research and extension, and the
national research and extension programs. Access to farmers of any nation is
first through local extension, then through provincial research and extension
to which national research and extension have immediate access. The role of
RARCs, IARCs, and CRSPs is best in support of NARP.
2) Complementarity Between Approaches: Conventional, FSR/E and
Biotechnology. Again, to assure complementarity between these three major
approaches, overall direction should originate around NARP needs, with RARCs,
IARCs, and CRSPs serving those needs. Representatives of the various
approaches should understand the financial and human resource constraints
under which each NARP operates. Practitioners of FSR/E would obviously wish
to see a bigger part of the research fund pie devoted to FSR/E activities.
But, if such a move cuts out an essential part of conventional commodity re-
search, another alternative should be considered unless the commodity research
is totally ineffective. Likewise, if there is no budget to allow the addition
of a significant biotechnology component to a NARP without diverting monies
from pilot, or initial, FSR/E areas, or by cutting out necessary conventional
research, serious thought should be given to accessing new sources of germ-
plasm elsewhere using a different method. Examples of other locations for new
germplasm include RARCs, IARCs, and CRSPs and neighboring countries.
Another key to complementarity is for the relevant, involved RARCs, IARCs
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