INSTITUTE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN GUATEMALA
Ing. Astolfo Fumagalli
Dr Robert K. Waugh
PRESENTED AT THE BELLAGIO CONFERENCE
OCTOBER 1977, BELLAGIO- ITALY
PUBLIC AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN GUATEMALA
Ing. Astolfo FUMAGALLI
Dr. Robert K. WAUGH
ICTA Agricultural Science and
Presented at the BELLAG10 Conference
October 1977, Bellagio Italia
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN GUATEMALA
Ing. Astolfo FUMAGALLI C.
Dr. Robert K. WAUGH
Early in the 1970's Guatemala took steps to reorganize the Public Agricultural
Sector (PAS) (ie. the Governmental Sector). The principal changes were the
unification of banking creditto; the establishment of a marketing institute, the
reorganization of the operating arm of general services of the Ministry of Agri-
culture which includes extension, promotion, supervised credit and other ac-
tivities, and then the establishment of a technological institute responsible for
research and promotion of the use of technology. This is mainly a report of the
latter mentioned institute The Strtitute of Agricultural Science and Technology
(Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologra Agrrcolas -ICTA), established in 1973, as it
operates today within the Agricultural Sector.
BRIEF BACK GROUND
Guatemala is a country with 5.5 to 6 million inhabitants within an area of
108,000 square kilometers, located at the upper (northern) end of the isthumus
connecting the continents of North and South America. It lies entirely within
the tropical belt. The country is mountainous, the terrain highly varied.
Rainfall is seasonal, limited mainly to the months of May through October. The
rainfall curve by months is bimodal with peaks in June and September. Between
these two peak periods there is a period of low rainfall ( "canrcula" ) which is
more prolonged in some areas than others. The maximum rainfall by area is
also highly variable with maximums of around 4000 mm. (There are exceptions
with higher amounts) and the minimum around 500 mm.
Land distribution is similar to many of the developing countries, with 87% of
the farms consisting of 18% of the land in farms, these perhaps; averaging 2
hectares in size. There are probably 400,000 to 500,000 rural families repre-
senting about one-half of the total population. Production by these small farms
is highly important for the food supply of the country, these producing a rela-
tively high percentage of the basic food grains.
Maize is the main staple of the diet, especially of the rural people. The other
basic foods are beans, sorghum, wheat and rice, but with the corn acreage being
10 times greater than the second largest crop (beans).
Other important agricultural products are coffee, sugar, cotton, cattle and
bananas. These are produced principally by large farms.
THE PUBLIC AGRICULTURAL SECTOR PAS
The Guatemalan Government has developed a sector concept, with the PAS being
structured by law. This is illustrated in the diagram following this page. This sector is
--- FOR ----
I GOVERNMENTAL SECTOR
headed by the Minister of Agriculture, with two Vice-Ministers, and consists
of the Ministry and decentralized, autonomous institutes
The Ministry of Agriculture
The Ministry of Agriculture consists of:
a) The offices of the Ministry;
b) Administrative Offices;
c) Sectorial Planning;
d) Special projects such as the cattle project; and
e) General Services (Development and Extension)
This latter is a large operating arm directly within the Ministry but with
activities at the same operational level as the decentralized insti utes. In
the diagram this is shown with a solid line. General Services includes the
1, Development (Desarrollo) (crops). This division includes the supervised
credit program, with funds furnished by the Agricultural Bank.
2. Training and Education (Capacitaci6n y Ensefianza). This division includes
the extension service and the "Perito" School, a secondary vocational
training program in agriculture.
3. Natural Resources (Recursos Naturales), Mainly irrigation Projects.
4. Livestock development
1/ Before the reorganization of the PAS, General Services also included research,
which has now been transferred to ICTA.
The Autonomous Institutes are:
1. The National Forestry Institute INAFOR
2. The Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology -ICTA
3. The Agricultural Development Bank BANDESA
4. The National Marketing Institute INDECA
5. A Milk Products Plant PROLAC
The Functioning of the Sector
The Head of the PAS, is the Minister of Agriculture as mentioned previously.
The country is regionalized and the Ministry and the autonomous institutes use
the common regional system. This allows Regional Committees to function as
a sector within a region as parts of the national PAS, in order to coordinate
regional activities. The reorganization of the PAS provided for these regional
committees but they only started to function in 1976. A committee is chaired
by the regional representative for General Services of the Ministry of Agri-
culture. This system promises to be effective and will be mentioned along
with the functioning of ICTA.
The Board of Directors of the Institutes. The Minister of Agriculture is the -
chairman of the board of all the autonomous institutes. There are also other
interlocking with the boards, which will be mentioned in the discussions of
The Planning System. The Sector Planning Unit is directly related to
the National Planning Council. In turn each Institute has a programing Office
which relates to the planning system.
The Coordinating Advisory Committee, is a committee of the
Directors of the autonomous institutes, as well as the Director of General ser-
vices of the Ministry which functions as an advisory committee to the Ministry.
The degree of autonopj of the Institutes, whilenota com-
plete autonomy does allow considerable leeway for the Institutes to develop
programs, hire and fire personnel and make contractual arrangements. Also the
relations with such national control bodies as the budget bureau and civil ser-
vice are direct. Some controls normally applied to ministries do not apply to
the Institutes and authority is given directly to the Director General of the
Institute or to him and his Board of Directors, While controls are strict, re-
sulting in cumbersome procedures, the degree of autonomy does allow more
initiative to be exercised by the Institutes than by Ministerial organizations
such as the General Services.
ICTA: ORGANIZATION AND FUNCTION WITHIN THE SECTOR
With the establishment of ICTA research was moved from General Services of
the Ministry to this decentralized Institute. However, ICTA is not viewed as
a strictly research organization as will be explained more in detail later.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF ICTA
A summary of the responsibilities of ICTA might be stated "to develop technol-
ogy and promote its use for the wellbeing of the population".
More specifically the objectives, policy and philosophy of ICTA are set forth
in Congressional Law (Decreto 68-72) which established the Institute. A sum-
mary of the objectives as stated in Article 3 and Article 19 of the law are as
1 ICTA is the Governmental Institution responsible for generating and
promoting the use of science and technology within the agricultural
2. Therefore, it is ICTA's concern to conduct research focused on the so-
lution of problems of the agriculture of the country in order to improve
the wellbeing of the population.
3, It falls to ICTA to produce material and determine methods to increase
4. ICTA should promote the use of technology.
5, ICTA should promote regional rural development,
ARTICLE 1 9, Implies further responsibilities:
1. Research and studies related to agriculture.
2, Programs of training and promotion directed toward the application of
results obtained from research.
3. Formulate and propose academic programs for the formation of scientific
4o Interchange of information and materials related to research, and
5. In addition those necessary for the proper function of the Institute al-
lowed within the spirit of the law establishing ICTA.
STRUCTURE OF ICTA
Based on the law of ICTA's establishment, it was given a relatively simple
structure, as shown in the diagram following page 7
The Board of Directors
In addition to the Minister of Agriculture, other members of the Board of
Directors are the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Economics, the Secre-
tary for National Planning, the Dean of Agriculture of San Carlos University
and one citizen at large named by the other members of the board. This
gives broad and powerful governmental representation to this board.
In addition, the head of the other decentralized institutes of the Sector and
the head of INTA (agrarian reform institute, which is not a part of the PAS),
are permanent advisers to the board, and are usually invited to the sessions of
the board, which meets about once a month. Thus the board is not only
heavily governmental, but a strong PAS voice is present.
The Management Office. 1/
The programs and functions of the Institute are directed by a General Manager
along with an Associate Manager and Adjunct Director. There are three Units:
1. Unit for Administrative and Financial Services 2
2, Unit for Programming
3. Technical Unit for Production 2/
1/ The Spanish term is "Gerencia General".
2/ The terminology was specifically selected believing that the Administrative
Unit should be a service unit to help programs and not run the Institute, and that
the Technical Unit should give emphasis to impact upon production and productivity
and that research results should not be considered the end product.
QOfGANIZATION OF C T A
REGION II AND I
REGION II AND III
AND "SAN JERONIMO"
"EL OASIS" AND
[IL CENTRALIZED ACTIVITIES
J REGIONAL EXECUTION
The Technical Unit for Production .
This Unit is headed by a Technical Director. The groups within this Unit are:
1. National Commodity Programs which are principally research programs
responsible for the identification, generation, adaptation and initial
testing and technical evaluation of technologies.
These National Commodity Programs are:
2. National Discipline or support groups with Coordinators. / These are:
b) Validation of Technology (groups work as- area teams within
a regional team, since a Region is too large to be covered by
one group. The National Coordinator is the Technical Director)
c) Soil Management
d) In Service Training
/ Most technical discipline personnel are assigned directly to Commodity Programs
or to Regional Teams. It is recognized that not all in this list are technical
3. Technical Service Groups
a. Production Centers (Experiment Station)
bo Communications (Publications and documentation)
co Laboratory Analysis
4. Regional Teams, headed by Regional Directors. These are integrated
multidisciplinary groups of personnel; all personnel assigned to a region
whether from Commodity Programs, support disciplines or service groups
make up 'he Regional Teams. Personnel may be assigned to a Regional
Team and at the same time continue to be a part of a Commodity Team
or a Discipline.
All of these groups of the Technical Unit must work in a coordinated manner,
and are focused upon a common technological system in which each group has
a direct function within a production system.
A TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEM FOR PRODUCTION
ICTA has developed a strategy or a group of strategies which might well be
designated a Technological System for Production. The diagram following page
10 is presented to illustrate this system.
In discussing this system by Phases, or by showing these phases in blocks in the
diagram, there is no intention to indicate that these are separate steps, In fact,
TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEM FOR AGRICULTURE
FEEDBACK OF INFORMATION
to the contrary, the concept is that the technological system should be a
continuum. Neither does the process necessarily start on the left and p'o-
ceed to the right. If nothing existed a logical place to start might be with
Phase 6, starting by obtaining agronomic and socioeconomic information to be
used in guiding (or influencing) the other phases. However if no experience
has been gained about all phases it is extremely difficult to start by collect-
ing pertinent information from the farmers.
Phase 1, Use of Available Information and Materials:
Phase 1, might be called Use of Available Information and Materials. Much
of this information and materials is extrainstitutional. Such sources are:
1 o The International Centers
3o Governments and other national programs
4. Industry (fertilizers, seed, herbicides, etc.)
5. Foundations, Regional Organizations, etc,
Phase 2, Research ( The National Commodity Programs).
The information from Phase 1 is used largely in Phase 2, by Research Program
which generate additional technology. Herein Phase 2 is called the Experi-
ment Station and is what is usually visualized as traditional research. ICTA
relies heavily upon outside sources, and emphasizes research that should pay
off in a relatively short term. Scientific proceedure is basic to the process.
We have found no way to short-cut it. The process can be speeded up by
investing more money and the results made more relevant by understanding the
interphase between technology and production (technical and socioeconomic
information). For this the validation process at the farm level, along with
economic and sociological information, can be effective in reorienting Phase
Phase 3, Farm Trials
Phase 3 is a continuation of the research (Phase 2), conducted on private farms
mainly small ones in the case of ICTA, in specific areas by Regional Teams
and covers a wide range of different kinds of experimentation, from generation
of technology to validation of previously tested technologies, through plots
seeded to give a better base for evaluation of the economics of technology,
before presenting it to farmers. The design of the trials, the kinds of studies,
depend on the level of the technology being advanced, the technology level of
the farmers, the conditions of the area one might say it depends on the status
of the art.
However, it is conceptualized that phase 3 should always include some trials
based on two principals; (a) new technology should always be revalidated by
competent scientisisso that they will be acquainted first hand with the
technology when managed under form conditions and (b) the validation should
be done in comparison with the farmer's technology (farmer practices). This is
the time to _,. :ine technology into associated cropping systems, This should be
done in such a manner so that the introduced practice can be evaluated technol-
ogically, as well as giving a measure of its adequacy for farmers of the region.
At this time the technicians have the opportunity and the obligation to learn local
This work should be conducted with experimental design and statistical analyses,
It must not be sloppy, careless work. It takes good farming to impress a farmer.
If not enough is known about local farming practices, which is frequently the case
for new areas, incorporate the farmer into the technological system and learn
It is in ths phase that the feed-back system should begin to function. Commodity
Programs should know what is happening to their materials at the farm level. The
teams doing the validation work may need help from Commodity Programs in
understanding or improving the technology, Some general idea of what farmers
think of the technology should be obtained in this Phase.
If there is adequate confidence in the technology, both. from the viewpoint of
production and economics, if it is possible to answer in the affirmative the question,
"Is this technology valuable for immediate use by the farmer?', the technology is
ready to be tested in Phase 4 by the farmer himself. If the answer is "no" or
"doubtful", it is information for the feedback system, must be improved or
Phase 4, Farmer's Tests
The farmer's test, is further continuation of the research process, where the
opinion of the farmer is key to the evaluation of the technology.
This is a means of getting technology in the hands of farmers without exposing
him to much risk, since the technology has been validated in the farmer's area.
The success of this Phase depends upon cooperation of farmers, but finding
cooperators has not been a problem either for the farm trials or for farmer's tests.
The few year's experience in Guatemala with his kind of farmer participation
1. The technology should be relatively simple. Observations indicate that
modification of the farmer's traditional method is preferable to introducing
a completely new set of ideas, In other words the technology should be
designed to be managed by the farmers, andshould not involve excessive
time, cost or risk.
2. The farmer should understand the new technology and the number of com-
parisons that are to be made should be limited, to perhaps one introduced
technology to be compared with his usual practice, and differencesshou Id
be clearly evident.
3o This test belongs to the farmer and he should pay for the inputs. When
a farmer does not have the needed inputs to test a new technology,
these are furnished by ICTA, but with the understanding that the farmer
will pay at harvest time. (The institute should never furnish the land
nor the labor).
4. In each zone it is important that the technology be developed for the
kind of agriculturist that is testing it. In some cases two or more
alternatives may be offered to the farmer. For a farmer with limited
resources it may be best for him to test technology designed to maximize
the return per dollar spent, while for another farmer it may be better
to introduce technology planned to maximize total net return, though the
cost may be greater,
5. Hopefully yield data can be obtained from the farmer's test. If this is
not possible, the farmers has already seen the results. The principal
objective is farmer evaluation.
6. There is an indication that the size of plot is important, If it is to small,
even though the differences be great, the farmer is not impressed, gives
it little observation. The size of plot will depend upon availability of
land. In one area in Guatemala farmers have seeded tests as large as one
manzana (7,000 sq, meters), while in other areas the common size is a
cuerda ( a cuerda varies from region to region from 1/6 to 1/16 of a
7, A measure of the evaluation by the farmer in addition to his yields
and his opinion, is his use of the practice the following year which
is being used to estimate the accep-ability of the technology.
8, The feedback of information to the commodity p-ograms starts with
the farm trials and should be continued through the farmer's tests.
This is a critical evaluation of varieties and practices and all tech-
niciansshould be informed.
9. While the principal purpose of both the farm trials and the farmer's
tests is critical evaluation, these do have an important transfer or
extension function both to extension workers and to farmers.
10, Wide and intensive testing, of the kind mentioned under both farm
trials (Phase 3) and Farmer's tests (Phase 4) develop expertise and
confidence in agronomists, allowing them to speak with authority
Phases 5 and 6 Production and Promotion
Phases 5 and 6 are visualized as generalized promotion (Extension or transfer)
and production phases. The prior phases are considered research, although
they do have a transfer function. There is some indication that farm trials along
with farmer's tests, can effect transfer on a large scale. However they were not
visualized as generalizing the transfer to large production groups, but only to
start the process and establish a solid technological base.
The farmers with which ICTA works in conducting farm trials and farmer's test are
considered ICTA's clients. These may represent an appreciable number of the
farmers of the area in which the testing is done, but it in no way represents an
The General Services of the Ministry has the responsibility of the extension of
technology to the farmers. Therefore ICTA must consider the credit and extension
programsof General Services of the Ministry of Agriculture as direct clients, and
the farmers who work with them as indirect recip3nts of the technology.
This transfer to General Services has not been considered adequate. However,
since the Regional Committees (See Page 4) have begun to function this transfer
should now improve.
This year (1977), on a pilot basis in one region, ICTA and General Services are
working together with farmers who have seeded farmer's trails, the strategy being
to put ICTA and General Services personnel together at the field level.
ICTA has also worked with two private groups, where the private organization is
responsible for the farmer's tests. In other words ICTA has made the technology
available and the p-ivate groups have done the testing under farmer conditions,
while ICTA only serves to furnish technological backstopping. This system seems
to have merit and ICTA is studying the possibility of extending this arrangement
to other private groups, such as cooperatives.
In any event, with the p-esent structure and strategy ICTA must find intermediates
to receive the technology and transfer it to farmers, If this is possible, transfer
would not be limited to what is accomplished by General Services or what ICTA
can do directly.
Other Strategies within the Technological System
1. With the large amount of work on private farms the controlled, but
sometimes artificial, conditions of the experiment stations is much less a
limiting factor in developing relevant technology.
2. The National Commodity Programs are learning that the Regional Teams
can be a highly effective means of expanding their efforts and increasing
their efficiency. With the collaboration of these Regional Teams ad-
vance breeding materials can be much more throughly tested, and earlier
within the selection process.
3, 1 The Regional Teams now do most of the field work on soil fertility,
associated cropping systems, plant density, time of planting etc. on pri-
4. The Regional Team, working within the Technological System is a
mechanism for socioeconomic studies, conducted with the participa-
tion of both agronomists and social scientists in addition to the
agronomic studies. The agronomist is learning the value of economic
evaluation and is becoming aware of the social aspects of technology.
It seems to be important that agronomists and social scientists participa-
te together conducting studies, Otherwise there is lack of communication
and respect between the two groups.
5, Socioeconomic studies within the Technological System have been
largely the following kind:
a, Surveys to collect agro-socioeconomic information to guide
agronomic field work
b. Farm records, to document costs of farming systems. So far this
has been on an individual crop basis,
c, Evaluation of the acceptability of technology following farmer's
6. Imp-ovement of production through modification of the traditional
systems as practiced by farmers, seems to be more effective than
introducing new systems. Therefore studies on associated cropping start
at the farm I evel, not on the experiment stations,
7, With little objective data to confirm the belief, farmer's tests seem to
be more effective than demonstrations. A demonstration is something
done by the government agronomist. The governmental has unlimited
resources. Demonstrations have the inherent defect of being always
planned and designed to be successful, and as a result do not face up
to the realities of small scale forming. Also demonstrational failures
is embarrassing to the agronomist and point of derision on the part of
farmers. Farmers understand both success and failure better when they
do the work, especially when their traditional p-actices fail at the
8. Technological packages do not fit well in an area of highly varied
conditions, nor with the vagrancies of farmer practices. If a package
approach is used, the value or contribution of each component should
be well understood.
9. The area being studied should be delimited, and the work well dis-
tributed within the area. It is more efficient to select and delimit areas
which can later be expanded with a minimum of cost and effort, than
a ttemp* to cover too large and area at the start.
10. Soil and water management, particularly conservation has been
neglected within the ICTA system, and must now be given attention,
Empirical data indicate that this can yield high dividends within
relatively short periods.
International Dialog and Backstopping
International support, technological backstopping and training, can be offirst
order of importance, But this international "dialog" must be made more rele-
vant, more effective than normally ocurrs,
The first point of good international dialog is that it should be two way, and
should not be an imposition. The national program can only be an equal part-
ner in international dialog when it knows what is needed, what can be helpful
to it. This clearly means that the national program must have a good degree of
capability to define its own technological problems.
ICTA has taken several measures to improve this dialog and international help
has contributed favorably, in a major fashion, mostly froyn the International
Centers, CIAT and CIMMYT.
ICTA has developed a pragmatic in-service training program, based largely on
experiences at CIAT, and with the direct aid of CIAT, molded to the pattern of
operation in ICTA. As contrasted to the usual in-service training where a person
is supposedly given special opportunities to learn while on assignment to a given
position, in ICTA a course was structured, based upon the Technological
System already discussed, and trainees assigned to the course. The course
is assigned a major responsibility For conducting a plan of work. The
course replaces the Area Team within a Regional Team.
This training program is in addition to short course training, principally
at the International Centers and graduate training at universities.
TECHNOLOGY IS NOT EVERYTHING
ICTA recognizes that technology carried through the Technological System
as conceptualized and practiced within ICTA is not everything. Credit,
marketing, infrastructure, availability fof inputs are necessary. Thus there
must be other "systems" operating along with the Technological System, and
requires the coordination of other institutions of the public and p-ivate
The national governments are the prime factors in food production and rural
development. Population and food supply must be brought into balance, not
just on a year to year basis, but over a long span of years. Latin America is
presently in an enviable position when present food production and potential
production is viewed in relation totfhe food demand, but is not taking
advantage of this favorable position to assure the-----------
continuation of this position over a long span of years. How to mount
rational demographic and food production programs is a political problem
because the time span necessary for p-ograms to be effective is longer than the
short term interests of politicians.
The continuity of programs, managed by personnel whose training period is
also long, has not been given high priority. It is incumbent upon the scientists
themselves, and those responsible for national programs, to help those making
political decisions to rationalize demographic and food production programs in
order to assure continuity of action, of personnel and agility with objectivity.
ICTA is not just a research organization, nor research results its end product.
ICTA is a technological organization, using research as a tool to develop
technology, which is thoroughly tested and validated,by scientists and farmers,
before being promoted for general use.
ICTA has the responsibility to generate technology and promote its use. As to
the generation and validation of technology, the First few year's experience
indicate that the system is a good one. Promotion of the use of technology, as
a major responsibility, is not interpreted as operating all or even the major
transfer mechanism, but in finding means to back-stop *he transfer mechanisms,
and to help them to effectively transfer technology to the producers, and
within the limited experience of ICTA the strategies discussed herein show
promise of being effective,