Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Samuhik Bhraman: A rapid and appropriate...
 Is farmer input into FSRE sustainable?...
 Sustaining soil fertility with...
 Composite watershed management:...
 Mountain agriculture: The search...
 Strengthening extension through...
 Human adaptation to a high-risk...
 A farm decision support system...
 Sustainability and productivity...
 The impact of farming systems research...
 Human resources development as...
 Instructions to authors

Group Title: Journal for farming systems research-extension.
Title: Journal of farming systems research-extension
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071921/00001
 Material Information
Title: Journal of farming systems research-extension
Alternate Title: Journal for farming systems research-extension
Abbreviated Title: J. farming syst. res.-ext.
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Association of Farming Systems Research-Extension
Publisher: Association of Farming Systems Research-Extension
Place of Publication: Tucson Ariz. USA
Publication Date: 1990-
Subject: Agricultural systems -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work -- Research -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Sustainable agriculture -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1-
General Note: Title varies slightly.
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: Vol. 1, no. 2, published in 1990.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071921
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 22044949
lccn - sn 90001812
issn - 1051-6786

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
    Samuhik Bhraman: A rapid and appropriate method of prioritizing and replanning agricultural research in Nepal, by Shyam Chand and David Gibbon
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    Is farmer input into FSRE sustainable? The ATIP experience in Botswana, by F. Worman, G. Heinrich, C. Tibone, and P. Ntseane
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    Sustaining soil fertility with alleycropping systems in the highlands of Rwanda, by Val J. Eylands and Charles F. Yamoah
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    Composite watershed management: A land and water use system for sustaining agriculture on Alfisols in the semiarid tropics, by M. von Oppen and Ch. Knobloch
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    Mountain agriculture: The search for sustainability, by N. S. Jodha
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    Strengthening extension through the concepts of farming systems research and extension (FSRE) and sustainability, by Lorna Michael Butler and Jack Waud
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    Human adaptation to a high-risk environment: Camellones or Waru Waru-traditional agricultural technology of the Peruvian Andes, by Mario E. Tapia N. and Mariano Banegas
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    A farm decision support system for sustainable farming systems, by John E. Ikerd
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    Sustainability and productivity of Mapuche farming systems, by Miguel Diaz, Octavio Sotomayor, and Julio Berdegue
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    The impact of farming systems research on agricultural productivity: The case of north Cameroon
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    Human resources development as a key to the success of farming systems research in India, by K. V. Raman and T. Balaguru
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    Instructions to authors
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Full Text

of Farming Systems


Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension

Editorial Board
Timothy R. Frankenberger, Editor Timothy J. Finan
Office of Arid Lands Studies Bureau of Applied Research in
The University of Arizona, Tucson Anthropology
Peter E. Hildebrand The University of Arizona, Tucson
Food and Resource Economics Donald E. Voth
Department Agricultural Experiment.Station
University of Florida, Gainesville University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Harold J. McArthur C. David McNeal, Jr.
Office of International Programs Extension Service, USDA
University of Hawaii, Honolulu

The Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension is published by the Association
for Farming Systems Research-Extension (AFSRE), an international society
organized to promote the development and dissemination of methods and results
of participatory on-farm systems research and extension. The objectives of such
research are the development and adoption through the participation by farm
household members of improved and appropriate technologies and management
strategies to meet the socioeconomic and nutritional needs of farm families; to
foster the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources; and to contribute
toward meeting global requirements for food, feed, and fiber.
The purpose of the journal is to present multidisciplinary reports of on-farm
research-extension work completed in the field, and discussions on methodology
and other issues of interest to farming systems practitioners, administrators, and
trainers. The journal serves as a proceedings for the annual international Farming
Systems Symposium from which selected and refereed papers are included. It also
welcomes contributed articles from members of the AFSRE who were unable to
attend the symposium. Contributed articles will be judged by the same review
process as invited articles.

Technical Editors: Conrad Shumaker and Emily E. Whitehead, Office of Arid
Lands Studies, The University of Arizona
Design: Melanie McBride and Paul M. Mirocha, Arid Lands Design, Office of
Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona
Computer production: Watson & Watson

At least one author from contributed papers must be a member of the AFSRE.
Contributed manuscripts should be sent for review to:
Timothy R. Frankenberger, Editor
Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension
845 North Park Avenue
The University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85719
Telephone: 602-621-1955
FAX: 602-621-3816

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension

Table of Contents

1 Samuhik Bhraman: a Rapid and Appropriate Method of Prioritizing and
Replanning Agricultural Research in Nepal
Shyam Chand and David Gibbon

17 Is Farmer Input into FSRE Sustainable?
The ATIP Experience in Botswana
F Worman, G. Heinrich, C. Tibone, and P. Ntseane

31 Sustaining Soil Fertility with Alleycropping Systems
in the Highlands of Rwanda
Val J. Eylands and Charles E Yamoah

37 Composite Watershed Management: a Land and Water Use System for
Sustaining Agriculture on Alfisols in the Semiarid Tropics
M. von Oppen and Ch. Knobloch

55 Mountain Agriculture: the Search for Sustainability
N.S. Jodha

77 Strengthening Extension through the Concepts of Farming Systems
Research and Extension (FSRE) and Sustainability
Lorna Michael Butler and Jack Waud

93 Human Adaptation to a High-risk Environment: Camellones or Waru
Waru-Traditional Agricultural Technology of the Peruvian Andes
Mario E. Tapia N. and Mariano Banegas

99 A Farm Decision Support System for Sustainable Farming Systems
John E. Ikerd

109 Sustainability and Productivity of Mapuche Farming Systems
Miguel Diaz, Octavio Sotomayor, and Julio Berdegue

125 The Impact of Farming Systems Research on Agricultural Productivity:
the Case of North Cameroon
D.S. Ngambeki, R.R. Deuson, and J. Lowenberg-DeBoer

153 Human Resources Development as a Key to the Success of Farming Systems
Research in India
K.V. Raman and T. Balaguru


Shyam Chand and David Gibbonl


Samuhik Bhraman, a Nepali name meaning group trek, is a method of
initiating, prioritizing and replanning research which has been developed in
response to the particular environment of the hills in Nepal. The method was
first developed by Lumle (LAC) and Pakhribas (PAC) Agricultural Centres
and has now been adopted by the National Agricultural Research System of
Nepal as a regular component of the annual research program. The basic
features, and some examples of early experience, have been described
elsewhere (Kayastha, Mathema, and Rood, 1989; Mathema and Gault, 1987).


Agricultural scientists representing different research centers and divisions
met at LAC in November 1986 and agreed to refer to all future
combined/joint treks as Samuhik Bhraman (SB). SB can be defined as an
informal, rapid, interdisciplinary procedure used to understand farmers'
environments, situations, and problems and to formulate research priorities
and design. It can further be a valuable device for monitoring, evaluating, and
replanning ongoing research activities.
One important feature of the Samuhik Bhraman is that intensive,
continuous interaction among technical specialists, extension agents, and
farmers is possible over the period of the trek. Most treks are undertaken
entirely on foot in terrain that ranges from 300 m to 3500 m altitude. The
group therefore shares physical hardship, which not only leads to a better
understanding of the environment in which farmers operate, but also promotes
close interaction between participants. This has benefits that go beyond the
immediate task and focus of the SB.
This paper focuses particularly on the work of PAC (with some reference
to the work of LAC) and the different types of SB that have been developed
by the Centre. Some differences between Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)
techniques and SB are discussed. The different stages of SB are outlined, and
the way in which each contributes to the prioritizing of PAC and national

1Pakhribas Agricultural Centre, P.O. Box 106, Kathmandu, Nepal; Department of Tropical Crop
Science, Wageningen Agricultural University, P.O. Box 342, 6700 Wageningen, The Netherlands.


agricultural research is discussed.
The paper will also identify areas that need improvement in the SB
technique and show how SB fits into the PAC methodology.


The Samuhik Bhraman employed in Nepal fall into two categories-topical
and systems studies.

The topical SB is designed to study a specific subject or topic and its
interaction with various related activities. For example, the production
system of a particular crop, e.g., wheat (PAC, 1988b), or the soil fertility issue
in a certain area (Sthapit, et al., 1988), or women's issues (PAC, 1989).
Most of the participants in this type of SB are specialists in a certain
aspect of the subject to be studied. For example, in a potato SB there will be
agronomists, socioeconomists, pathologists, etc. The participation from
totally different disciplines (e.g., a livestock specialist in this case, or a forester
in a wheat SB) is not common. Topical SBs are more usually organized or
requested by the National Agriculture Research Centre or specific commodity
programs, as they have more of a commodity focus than PAC and LAC.

General Systems Study
This type of SB is set up to study the whole farming system of an area.
The interdisciplinary team, invariably with a broader disciplinary base than
the topical team, studies the scope and nature of farming systems and develops
an understanding of intra- and inter-household aspects of the farm and the
community and how they interact with wider systems. This team will also
identify potential interventions, training needs, and short- and long-term
research needs (e.g., Gibbon, et al., 1988; Joshi, et al., 1989a).
Both types of Samuhik Bhraman can be further divided into initial and
follow-up SB.

Initial Samuhik Bhraman
This is a kind of exploratory survey the main objective of which is to
collect first-hand information about a new area. The methods followed
consist of a combination of the collection of secondary information, visual
observations, interviews of farm families and key informants, group interviews
with men and women, daily review and reporting during the SB, and final
recording, analysis, and reporting. This method is mostly followed by the


national Farming Systems Development Division (FSDD) to identify new FSR
sites. LAC also uses this approach and PAC will use it as the Centre takes on
responsibility for seven new districts in the Eastern Hills.

Follow-up Samuhik Bhraman
This kind of SB monitors and evaluates the research activities of an area
where research has been developing for some time. The activities being
undertaken are a direct result of previous recommendations made by the
initial SB, and the additional research developed as a result of subsequent
visits by subject-matter specialists and in reaction to problem areas arising
from ongoing on-farm experimentation. This SB approach includes meetings
with farmers and user groups to assist with reinforcement, realignment, or
revision of priorities of research if needed.


The basic concept of SB is similar to that of RRA, which is defined as "a semi-
structured activity carried out in the field by a multidisciplinary team and
designed to acquire quickly new information and new hypotheses about rural
life in a study area." There are five key features of a good RRA. It should be
iterative, innovative, informal, and interactive, and involve the community
(McCracken and Conway, 1988).
Beebe (1985), argues that "Rural appraisal can not and should not have a
single standardised methodology. Local conditions, available resources and
specific research objectives should always determine how rapid rural appraisal
is implemented."
Although SB shares some characteristics with RRA, SB differs in
methodology from some approaches of RRA. The collection, summary, and
interpretation of secondary data from the study area is one of the key aspects
of Conway's RRA, called agroecosystem analysis (1985). A reasonable time is
spent in processing the secondary information before starting the appraisal.
However, in SB very little time is allocated for collecting secondary data, as in
most cases either the information either does not exist or it is very difficult to
obtain relevant information (especially in the hills because of poor recording,
transport, and communication facilities). More time is therefore allocated for
the field visit, and most secondary information is collected during a visit to
district headquarters before, during, or after the trek.
SB differs from Hildebrand's "Sondeo" developed in the Instituto de
Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricola (ICTA) (Hildebrand, 1981) in that SB has
more representation of technical agricultural and livestock scientists


(agronomists, breeders, soil scientists, livestock specialists) than social
scientists. The pairing of agricultural scientists and social scientists for
interview is rarely possible since the numbers of social scientists in the
agricultural institutions are very few. However, the role of social scientists in
planning, conducting, and analyzing the information from the SB is crucial,
and they also may have an important training/advisory function in the
collection of relevant household information.
One of the important features of a topical SB that focuses on crop
problems in Nepal is that it should be conducted at a suitable moment during
the crop growing season. Often the most suitable time for such an SB is after
vegetative growth but before crop harvest. The main reason for selecting this
time is that the group can observe crop performance (diseases, insect pests,
fertility problems). Depending on the crop and the particular problem area,
secondary visits may be necessary at different times or in successive years to
confirm or verify initial findings.
Carrying out an SB at a specific time in the rains can present considerable
hazards and obstacles in addition to the difficulties encountered in dry
conditions. Landslides, impassable rivers, difficult trails, and leeches are just a
few of the problems to overcome. This seems to be a feature that is rarely
discussed in many ambitious RRA schemes, but it may make it impossible to
carry out a satisfactory study at the appropriate moment and means that SB by
itself cannot be the only way of achieving the objectives stated above.
Obviously, livestock SB studies on migratory animals can only be carried
out during a specific time period and in certain locations, and they are also
subject to particular constraints.


There are three main stages of SB: the preparation and planning phase
(before leaving for the field), the SB in the field, and discussion and report

Preparation and Planning
There are other important reasons for giving advanced thought to the
timing of SB in a country like Nepal where transport and communication are
major problems. The lead institution planning the SB informs other potential
participants well in advance. From experience, the most suitable time to
inform the participants is during regular semiannual National Crop and
Livestock Seminars and Farming Systems Seminars. The tentative dates of
the SBs to be carried out during the next six months are fixed at that time.


The selection of study area and/or topics depends upon many factors-the
identified needs of particular groups of farmers, the Annual Work Plan of the
center, national priorities or directives from the Ministry of Agriculture. For
example, PAC was asked to carry out a farming systems survey in the remote
village of Chheskam (about seven days' walk from PAC) by the Ministry of
Agriculture. The Ministry was instructed by His Majesty the King after his
last visit to that area. A similar request was made to study the potential for
aloe (Girardinia diversifolia), an important source of fiber for weaving in the
upper mid-hills and a potentially important source of income for women. The
potato SB, on the other hand, was organized to meet the farmers' expressed
wish for PAC to investigate ways of increasing potato production in the area,
as most of the varieties so far introduced were susceptible to hail damage
(PAC, 1987).
The original SB organizing institutions such as LAC, PAC, Farming
Systems Research and Development Division (FSRDD), and Socio-economics
Research and Extension Division (SERED) are usually able to organize the
acquisition of the secondary data on the study areas. However, the amount
and availability of the secondary data varies considerably depending on where
the study is going to be carried out. For example, there is plenty of secondary
data on Phumdi Bhumdi (which is near Kathmandu and has been the site of
much development work) and very little information on Chheskam (which is
in the upper hilly areas of the Sagarmatha zone and is about six days' walking
distance from the nearest driveable road). It follows that the amount of time
allocated to this task has to be flexible. In some cases, knowledge about the
sources of relevant data and information may come to light only some time
after the trek, and therefore some further flexibility is necessary in producing
reports and plans for the study area.
One member of the SB team acts as a coordinator of the group and
allocates responsibilities among the group. The team is briefed about the
study area; the agriculture, with particular reference to a certain crop or
system, is reviewed; the trekking/travelling route, arrangements about the
trekking gear, porters, and food (which must be carried into remote areas) are
all understood. A list of objectives of the SB is presented, discussed, and
agreed upon. At the same time the group splits, and the individuals make
checklists or short questionnaires reflecting their ideas about priorities.
Objectives and checklists are then discussed and agreed upon. The actual
time spent by the whole group in this final preparation and planning phase
may be only one day.


Samuhik Bhraman in the Field
The team proceeds to the field by a variety of means. Most proceed on
foot out of necessity, but this also provides a useful opportunity to adjust
physically and mentally to the task at hand. It also enables the team to
develop their thoughts about the problem area, observe related agricultural
systems, and talk to farmers on the way. Invited team members with different
agendas may fly to strategic points as appropriate, and mules, horses, and
porters may also be called upon to assist with the assembly of the team at the
right place and at the appropriate time.

Interviewing Key Informants in the District Headquarters
and at the Study Site
As it is often difficult to obtain secondary information about the area in
the preparation and planning phase, the SB team usually passes by the district
headquarters where many key informants such as bank officials, the
cooperative, and inputs-supplying agents are interviewed. It is also possible to
collect quantitative data from them which may be very useful for writing
reports. Such visits are also essential to confirm the arrival of the team with
district officials and ensure that the objectives are fully understood. The team
may be joined by middle-level and senior extension staff at this point.
On arrival at the study site, it is usual to contact key political figures in
the community and the representatives of all the agencies involved in
intervention activities and extension. At the same time, wherever possible, it
is essential to develop an understanding with other, less visible group
representatives, for instance, those responsible for managing group-exploited
resources such as a forest or grazing area (Gibbon and Schultz, 1988).

Panel Discussions with Farmers
This is one of the important features of the SB. Depending upon the
availability of time and interests of the farmers, several panel discussions are
held during the SB. The purpose of the initial panel discussion is to explain
the group's objectives, invite participation, and develop a plan of operation
which is flexible and sympathetic to the availability and interests of farmers.
It may be necessary to set up separate meetings with particular
groups-women or special resource-user groups, for example. Later group
meetings are designed to test ideas and receive confirmation or correction of
the information collected and synthesized from the individual farmer
interviews and observations. The panel discussions are very useful for
formulating and testing ideas for research.


Interaction with Individual Farming Families
In general, farmers are interviewed randomly, but care is initially taken to
develop a good knowledge of the distribution of wards and the farms within
them to ensure a satisfactory coverage by altitude and ecological zone. In the
topical SB the farmers are selected according to the topics to be studied (e.g.,
wheat growers). Usually two or three participants from different disciplines
form a subgroup for interviewing farmers. The composition of the interview
team may be changed daily. The interview can be taken anywhere: in a
farmer's house or field, on the trails, or in local tea shops, according to the
convenience of the farmers. It is obviously better in some cases to have spent
time with the farmer in the field area, but this can also be done as a separate
The interviewing approach and questions asked also depend upon the
person who is interviewed. For example, one will ask only a male farmer
about hours per day required to plow a certain piece of land, as plowing is
never done by women in Nepal. Similarly, women would be appropriate
persons to be interviewed about the taste or cooking quality of a certain
variety of crop or about weeding operations and small-stock feeding. Likewise,
information about the village-population, general agriculture, and
problems-is obtained from the village headman, the local leader, or
The time taken for the interview depends upon the interest and judgment
of the interviewer and the interest, patience, and convenience of the farmer.
Usually 1.0-1.5 hours are required to interview one farmer and a subgroup can
interview three to seven farmers per day depending on the area (fewer
interviews per day are possible in the hills where much more time is spent
walking and climbing than in the lowlands).

Review Process
Every evening the group meets and the members share their findings and
experience. During this group meeting, every participant in the group begins
to feel more comfortable as the gaps in individual knowledge bases are filled in
and supplemented by the findings of others (Mathema and Gault, 1987).
Then the group makes a program for the next day. On the basis of the day's
interviews, revised checklists are made which include any aspect of study
about which the group is not sure or needs some more confirmation. Some of
the questions which have been satisfactorily answered are dropped from the
checklists. The partners for the next day's interview are changed, but in a way
that maintains the possibilities for disciplinary complementarity. The same
process is repeated during the whole period of the SB.


After this routine review, and if the participants still have any residual
energy, valuable discussions can take place on development strategy and its
impact on agriculture in the area, or on other matters of importance. This
situation offers a unique opportunity for agricultural planners, district
agricultural officers, extension agents, research scientists, and farmers to
discuss matters of common interest in a farmer's environment. In almost any
other situation, e.g., district offices or the research station, farmers are at an
acute disadvantage. Here they are able to discuss their ideas and problems
freely. This is particularly important in Nepal for members of hill ethnic
groups who usually have little contact with formal agencies and Ministry
The situation also enables the group to discuss the problems of particularly
disadvantaged groups, e.g., women, in a less inhibited way than would be the
case at district offices.
The duration of SB in the field depends upon the area (hill or lowland).
In general, 7 days are enough in the lower areas where access is easy, but in the
upper hills, where the group has to walk several days to reach the target area,
the whole operation may take 15-21 days depending on the distance from the

Final Discussion and Report-Writing Phase
One of the main objectives of SB is to complete the draft report before
the participants break up and depart for their destinations. Before writing the
report it is important to discuss the findings and experience in the field with
other colleagues or experts who did not take part in the SB. In PAC or LAC,
a round-table meeting is usually held after the return from the field. In this
meeting, some of the findings can be confirmed with experts, who often have
valuable experience in the subject and/or study area.
The group makes the framework of the report, taking into account the
objectives of SB. There are two ways in which reports are written. First,
individuals may write on topics that interest them within the framework of
the report and circulate them to all other members for initial comments or
suggestions. It has been found that there is little time to produce a good-
quality report if this way is followed, since some participants must return to
their duty stations. This type of report contains individual ideas and
assessments rather than a group consensus. In the second way of writing
reports, individual participants are allocated or choose a broad topic and each
acts as a secretary and contributor for that topic. This method is found to be
better than the first since the time required for writing the report is generally
shorter. It is important, though, to have an experienced editor/coordinator to


provide linking material and a summary.
In general, two days are spent for the final discussion and first-draft
writing. Once the first draft is produced, some members of the group based at
the organizing institute polish the report and include some additional
quantitative information if appropriate. After review by an editorial board,
further comments may be made by participants or others. It may take several
weeks or months to produce the final copy, but the implementation of some of
the proposed research recommendations may start earlier depending on
urgency and the availability of resources.


The most important achievement of SB has been to bring scientists and
regional and district officials together in order to understand farmers'
environments and needs. According to Mathema and Gault (1987),
participation in an SB may literally be the first time professionals from
different divisions have ever worked together in any setting in Nepal.

Coordination Between District- and National-Level Scientists
An SB organized by PAC to study potato and wheat production in the
Koshi Hills brought together scientists from the national level to the district
level with farmers in their fields, in an intensive study of farmer practices and
problems. All participants benefited from the opportunity to learn farmers'
ideas and perceptions. It was a great opportunity for the national-level
scientists to understand the regional diversity of crop production and farming
The technicians benefited not only by sharing knowledge but also by
having working relations between them initiated and strengthened. This is a
most important factor in good program cooperation.

Influence on National Research Strategy
Most of the breeding research work conducted by the National
Commodity Programs for wheat, rice, maize, and potato is based on high
external inputs. The improved varieties of wheat demand high levels of
nutrients and perform better if irrigation and fertilizer are available. The
participation of a wheat breeder from the National Wheat Development
Program (NWDP) in the Wheat SB led the NWDP to change its strategy for
breeding hill wheats by looking for varieties that are drought tolerant and can
perform well under lower fertility. PAC, as one of the main collaborative
research centers of NWDP, had already adopted the same strategy previously


but had until then failed to convince the principal wheat breeder of the need
for such a strategy (PAC, 1988b).
The potato crop in the eastern hills is very susceptible to hail. All the
improved varieties tested in that region failed mainly because they could not
withstand hail and partly because the farmers did not like the taste. The
scientists from the National Potato Development Program (NPDP), who
visited these areas during a potato SB, realized the extent and importance of
the problem and put new emphasis on hail-tolerant varieties initially obtained
from outside sources, e.g., the International Potato Center (CIP), Bhutan, and
India. They also realized that one of the local varieties of potato is preferred
by farmers over "improved" varieties due to its better taste and hail tolerance.
The only problem with this variety is that it is susceptible to a virus. The
NPDP helped by facilitating a virus-resistant version of this variety through
tissue culture. NPDP also developed research strategy to screen hail-tolerant
varieties in the hail-prone areas of the country (PAC, 1987).

Practical Training for the Participants and an Increased Knowledge Base
One of the objectives of the topical SB is to visit an area during crop
season, so that participants study the performance of the standing crop. The
participants gain by being able to focus on a topic and to discuss and
demonstrate their knowledge (or lack of it) with other participants and
farmers. The participants are able to get practical training from fellow
participants. For example, during the potato SB the participants learned the
field method of identifying bacterial wilt in potato. Similarly, participants
learned to identify various types of rust on wheat during the wheat SB.
Besides this the group discussed the problem of crop cutting and yield
estimation and the problems of laying out on-farm trials on the small terraces
of the hills.
SB has also been successful in identifying many promising indigenous crop
varieties, green manuring plants, and farmer knowledge about soil fertility
maintenance (Sthapit, et al., 1988; Chand, 1988; Khadka and Chand, 1987).
An SB organized by LAC in the western hills of Nepal identified a cold-
tolerant variety of rice that can be grown at over 2,000 m altitude. The
variety then was sent to the National Rice Improvement Program (NRIP) to
be tested, and later it was sent to many parts of the country to be tested in
farmers' field trials. This variety has been distributed in mini-kits, and will be
released in 1990, the first variety to be released for above 1,500 m. Similarly,
an SB organized by LAC to identify potential local plants as green manures
identified 18 different green manuring plants, most of them better (higher
nutrient containing) and more easily adaptable than improved/imported


species such as Sesbania spp., which has germination problems (Sthapit, et al.,


Two recent studies were carried out in response to requests from the Ministry
of Agriculture. One was to look at the particular problems of a panchayat in
the upper Hongu Valley in Sagarmatha-Chheskam. This study highlighted
the acute problems of people living in areas remote from service centers, and
the difficulties there would be in developing sustainable research and
extension activities to tackle the very real problems that those people are
facing. A second important finding related to the need for the study team,
and any future support group, to interact with user groups based on clans, who
were responsible for managing forest and pasture resources (Gibbon, et al.,
A second study examined the potential for aloe production in Sankuasaba
(Joshi, et al., 1989b). This plant is the source of fiber that is woven into cloth
and offers some potential for income for women. This study also demonstrated
the need to work with user groups and to look at the long-term implications of
the exploitation of scarce natural resources.


Participation of Supporting Agricultural Organizations
There are many organizations involved in agricultural development in
Nepal. Some are responsible for providing technical support to farmers and
others provide inputs. Recommendations on alternative technology, e.g.,
improved seeds or timely application of fertilizer, can be received from
technicians such as agricultural extensionists, but such advice does not help if
the inputs are not available. Organizations such as Agricultural Inputs
Corporation (AIC) and agricultural and other commercial banks are
responsible for providing inputs and loans to the farmers. The participation of
representatives from these supporting agencies in SB could help to develop
and share ideas on acquisition, supply, marketing, and problems related to
obtaining loans by the farmers. Then these representatives might better
understand the feasibility of developing systems dependent upon inputs in the
The presence of such people would help the group to make more
acceptable recommendations which would fall within the capacity of the local


organizations to deliver. For example, during the wheat SB it was clearly seen
that the area under irrigated wheat was reduced if farmers did not get the type
of fertilizer they wanted. If an AIC official had participated in that SB he
could have understood the problem and perhaps taken appropriate action.

Giving to (and Not Just Taking from) the Farmers
The participants of an initial SB try to gather as much information as
possible from farming families within a short period. In most cases the farmers
are bombarded with many questions. Little is offered to them in return except
the usual assurance that this study will be very useful for later development of
suitable alternative technologies. One of the farmers during the Potato SB in
the LAC target area said, "You want to know everything from us and it is just
the opposite that we were expecting from you."
Therefore, it is important to help farmers by providing them with
demonstrations of good intentions and confidence-building activities. These
may take the form of small packets of vegetable seeds, a crop calendar, or
technical brochures written in simple language. Some farmers like the team to
inspect their farm, crops, or livestock and would like to get some advice. The
group should be able to accept such requests and even begin a simple
collaborative research activity during the following season.

Time Spent on Samuhik Bhraman
The time spent in SB depends on many factors, such as the time available
to participants, the area where the study is to be carried out, and logistics.
From experience in the hills, more than 50 percent of the day is spent on
arranging food and accommodations and travelling. The SB mode of
operation does not fit too well with local life-style and great sensitivity is
needed to balance the need to complete the work in a reasonable time and the
normal priorities and needs of farmers and porters. The group should therefore
arrange for light trekking gear, easily prepared food, and a plan with feasible
and realistic objectives for each day.

Avoiding Domination During Panel Discussions with Farmers
In the panel discussions, some farmers, especially those who are politically
or economically active, dominate. This again needs handling with care to
ensure that representative sets of ideas emerge. It may be necessary to arrange
a series of group meetings with particular groups to achieve this.

Group Dynamics
It is vital that the members of the team be open-minded and receptive to


new ideas. It should be understood that the main objective of the SB activity
is not only to produce a useful report that contains feasible recommendations,
but also to develop working relationships for the future. Members therefore
need to understand the process of group dynamics-how to work in the group.
Rhoades, et al. (1982) call it "an art." Failure to understand this art may affect
not only the future relationships of the team members but also the quality of
the outcome.

Subject Bias
Subject bias also has to be handled sensitively, as it may result in
inadequate conclusions and outcomes. The position and contribution of the
social scientist in the group is particularly important in planning and
conducting interviews and in arriving at conclusions that are practical and

Group Meetings
The handling of group meetings also calls for great interpersonal skills to
deal with differences in culture, status, discipline, experience, and values of
participants. One way of avoiding major problems is to rotate the
management of such meetings between members.
Separate group meetings with women have been found to be very effective
in most recent SBs.

The Place of SB in the Research System
SB has to be seen as one component of a research system. At PAC,
related activities are baseline surveys, site descriptions, farmers' meetings,
farmers' field days, farmers' tours, farmer training, and research field visits.
These activities are carried out by a range of junior and senior staff who are
involved in the on-station and on-farm programs. The on-farm program
involves permanently based field staff in the districts, farmers field trials,
farmer experimenter/collaborators, and long-term field-based studies.
PAC originally established a series of disciplinary sections with each
section carrying out some on-farm research (PAC, 1988a). Outreach work is
now coordinated in a multisection group. Recently, a series of
interdisciplinary working groups have been set up. These cut across the
sections and form the basis of problem-centered activities (Gibbon and Thapa,
1988). PAC will now develop a series of problem-centered SBs. The
Women's Participation Group has recently conducted an SB in Tankhuwa
panchayat on women's roles in household and production systems (PAC,
1989). The on-farm research program in Nepal is reviewed more


comprehensively as one of the studies conducted by the International Service
for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), On-Farm Client-Oriented
Research (OFCOR) studies (Kayastha, Mathema, and Rood, 1989).


Beebe, J. 1985. Rapid appraisal: The evaluation of the concept and
definition of the issue. In the Proceedings of the 1985 International
Conference on Rapid Rural Appraisal, Khon Kaen University, Thailand.
Chand, S.P. 1988. The experience of Pakhribas Agricultural Center with
local germplasm evaluation. Paper presented in the first national working
group meeting on exploration of local resources, Kathmandu, Dec. 1988.
Conway, G.R. 1985. Rapid rural appraisal and agroecosystem analysis: A
case study from northern Pakistan. In the Proceedings of the 1985
International Conference on Rapid Rural Appraisal, Khon Kaen
University, Thailand.
Gibbon, D., Y.R. Joshi, K.C. Sharan Kumar, M. Schultz, M.B. Thapa, and
M.P. Ipadhay. 1988. A study of the agricultural potential of Chheskam
panchayat. PAC Technical Paper 95. Nepal: PAC.
Gibbon, D., and M. Schultz. 1988. Agricultural systems in the eastern hills of
Nepal: Present situation and opportunities for innovative research and
extension. 8th Annual FSR/E Symposium, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Gibbon, D., and H.B. Thapa. 1988. The development of farming systems
research in Nepal: The working group as a focus of interdisciplinary
activity. Paper presented at the Annual Farming Systems Research
Workshop, Kathmandu, June 1988.
Hildebrand, P.E. 1981. Combining disciplines in rapid appraisal: The
"sondeo" approach. Agricultural Admininstration 8(6):423-432.
Joshi, Y.R., et al. 1989a. Farming systems in the high altitude areas of
Sankuwasabha district. PAC Technical Paper No. 104. Nepal: PAC.
Joshi, Y.R., et al. 1989b. Feasibility of aloe production in Bala and
Sisuwakhola panchayats of Sankhuwasabha district. PAC Technical Paper
No. 100. Nepal: PAC.
Kayastha, B.N., S.B. Mathema, and P. Rood. 1989. Organization and
management of on-farm research in the national agricultural research
system. Nepal case study No. 4. The Hague: ISNAR OFCOR Project.
Khadka, R.J., and S.P. Chand. 1987. Organic materials: The valuable source
of soil nutrients in the hills of eastern Nepal. Paper presented at the first
National Seminar on Bio-Fertilizers, Kathmandu, Nov. 1987.
Mathema, S.B., and D. Galt. 1988. Samuhik Bhraman: A multidisciplinary


group activity to approach farmers. Paper presented for the training
course on socio-economic survey methods, Kathmandu, Feb. 1988.
McCracken, J.P., and G.R. Conway. 1988. An introduction to RRA for
agricultural development. London: International Institute for
Environment and Development.
Pakhribas Agricultural Centre. 1987. Report of a potato Samuhik Bhraman
in the Koshi Hills, May 10-21, 1987. Paper presented at the first Potato
National Working Group Meeting, Kathmandu, Nov. 1987.
Pakhribas Agricultural Centre. 1988a. Review of achievements: 1972-87.
PAC. Occasional Paper.
Pakhribas Agricultural Centre. 1988b. Report of a wheat Samuhik Bhraman
in the Koshi Hills, April 3-17, 1988. Report presented in the National
Winter Crops Working Group Meeting, Bhairahwa, Nepal, Sept. 1988.
Rhoades, R.R., R. Booth, R. Shaw, and R. Werge. 1982. Interdisciplinary
development and transfer of postharvest technology at the International
Potato Center. Workshop on the role of anthropologists and other social
scientists in interdisciplinary teams developing improved food production
technology. Los Banos, Philippines: IRRI.
Sthapit, B., et al. 1988. Traditional methods of sustaining crop productivity
in the lower hills: Problems and potential. LAC Technical Paper No. 19.
Nepal: LAC.

NB. Papers from PAC and LAC can be obtained by writing to: The Director,
PAC or LAC, c/o BTCO, P.O. Box 106, Kathmandu, Nepal.


F. Worman, G. Heinrich, C. Tibone, and P. Ntseanel


The quest for sustainable agriculture has received much deserved attention in
the last few years. Numerous definitions of sustainability have been offered
(for examples see the Committee on Agricultural Sustainability for
Developing Countries, 1988; York, 1988). The dialogue on sustainability
recognizes that current practices in developed countries are not sustainable
because they rely too heavily on nonrenewable resources and tend to
contaminate the environment. Additionally, agricultural systems in many
parts of the Third World, which Chambers (1988) characterizes as complex,
diverse, risk-prone (CDR), are under tremendous population and other
pressures to increase present production at the expense of long-term
sustainability (Mellor, 1988). The debate on sustainable agriculture may well
lead to a working concept of "more sustainable agriculture" which Francis and
Hildebrand (1989) suggest "would be more in tune with the local resource
base, make maximum use of internal production inputs, and have potential for
sustained production and profits further into the future."
Much of the debate on sustainability has been based on societal
considerations. While sustainable agriculture may be a societal goal, the
practices that will provide sustainability can only be implemented at the farm
level, where they must form a sustainable farming system. To insure relevancy
at the farm level, it seems logical that the implementers of a sustainable
farming system-the farmers-must be involved in the research leading to
appropriate technologies.
An International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR)
review of nine national agricultural research systems (Merrill-Sands, et al.,
1989) found that "strengthening the involvement of farmers, particularly
resource-poor farmers, in the research process has been a central objective and
responsibility of on-farm, client-oriented, research programs." In Botswana,
the Agricultural Technology Improvement Project2 (ATIP) is one such

1Agricultural Economist, Agronomist, and Agricultural Economist, Agricultural Technology
Improvement Project (ATIP), Department of Agricultural Research, and Rural Sociologist, Rural
Sociology Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, respectively. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of
the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Agricultural Research, Ministry
of Agriculture, or USAID/Botswana.
21n 1982 the Government of Botswana and USAID initiated the Agricultural Technology
Improvement Project to conduct on-farm research, primarily in crop production technologies. ATIP is


farming systems research program working with limited-resource farmers. In
the ATIP-Francistown team, we have based our work with farmer groups
partly on the assumption that the creation of sustainable farming systems
requires the continued active participation of farmers in the formal research
process. This paper describes the mechanism ATIP-Francistown has used to
include farmer participation in research, and examines some of the factors
affecting the sustainability of this type of farmer input into the research


The "transfer-of-technology" approach to agricultural research taken by many
research organizations after World War II excluded farmer involvement almost
totally (Rhoades and Booth, 1982). For developing countries this approach
was a top-down diffusion approach based on the transfer of technology from
more developed, temperate-zone countries. Problems with this approach led
to the high-payoff input model which was based on more locally appropriate
research aimed at exploiting areas of good agricultural potential. This
approach produced the "Green Revolution." Again farmer involvement in
the research leading to the "Green Revolution" was minimal. In the 1970s
there was an increasing recognition that the high-input model did not apply
to limited-resource farmers working in CDR agriculture. The farming systems
research-extension (FSRE) approach was developed to attempt to address the
agricultural development needs of resource-poor farmers. Among the basic
tenets of the FSRE approach were building on the good points of the existing
farming system and taking into account the indigenous technical knowledge
of farmers. The FSRE approach took the view that farmers were primary
clients of agricultural research and development programs, and that on-farm
research should incorporate the client's perspective when defining the
research agenda (Baker and Norman, 1989; Merrill-Sands, et al., 1989).
In the mid-1980s a concern for the level and type of farmer involvement
in agricultural research became evident. Some researchers argued that the
farmer had always been doing his or her own research and should be afforded
the central role in the research process (Rhoades and Booth, 1982; Chambers
and Ghildyal, 1985). The debate about how best to integrate farmers into the

funded by USAID and the Government of Botswana. The on-farm research program of ATIP has had
two primary goals: (1) to identify and test relevant, improved arable production technologies; and (2)
to develop appropriate, low-cost methods for on-farm research and extension. ATIP took as its point
of departure the farming systems approach to research.


research process continues (Farrington and Martin, 1988; Sagar and
Farrington, 1988; Haverkort, et al., 1988). Increasing recognition of the
central role of the farmer in implementing a sustainable agriculture has
produced a changing view of the farmer's role in agricultural research, from
client to partner. The overall term being used to describe the process of
bringing researchers, extensionists, and farmers together as partners in the
effort to improve agricultural technology is Participative Technology
Development (PTD). PTD has been described as "the practical process for
bringing together the knowledge and research capacities of the local farming
communities with that of the commercial and scientific institutions in an
interactive way." Thus in PTD, participation implies that "people can, to a
large extent, identify and modify their own solutions to their needs; it means
that researchers and development workers support farmers to increase their
capacity to manage changes in their farming systems" (Haverkort, et al.,
These trends toward increased farmer involvement support our
contention that, if research is to be relevant in the quest for sustainable
agriculture, the farmer and farm family must play a continuing, active role in
agricultural research.


Baker and Norman (1989) have produced a set of diagrams (Figure 1) which
outline the agricultural development process. As was discussed above, under
the "traditional" transfer-of-technology approach to agricultural development
(diagram "A"), the farmer had little or no involvement in the research
process. In Botswana, as well as in most other countries, on-station research
has traditionally had little farmer participation. Research agendas were set by
the researchers, and field days were conducted for researchers and
administrators. Under this system, on-farm trials were few in number and
followed researcher agendas. This is still the situation to some extent in
Botswana, but it is changing.
With the arrival of farming systems projects in Botswana, participation by
limited-resource farmers in research moved toward the client stage, as depicted
in Figure 1, "C." Most of the FSRE projects had researcher-managed, farmer-
implemented (RMFI) trials, as well as researcher-managed, researcher-
implemented (RMRI) trials. The former took place on farmers' fields, with
farmers generally providing the labor and sometimes participating in the
evaluation of the trials. However, the research topics and procedures were










chosen by researchers and extension agents. Farmers did not have major input
into the process and often tended to lose interest in participating in the
research. Despite the lack of direct farmer input into the decision-making
process, the FSRE projects did have a clear focus on farmers as the clients of
research, and they emphasized the diagnosis of constraints and setting research
priorities in the context of the whole farm system. As Merrill-Sands, et al.,
(1989) point out, "on-farm, client-oriented research can help to provide these
clients a voice-a means to influence agricultural research in order to keep it
focused on their priorities and relevant to their farming conditions." The
FSRE projects also had varying effectiveness in feeding farm-level information
back to experiment-station research.
The FSRE approach led to more extension involvement in the research
process. Extensionists continued to look on farmers as clients in the
development process, and extension activities tended to be limited to
extension-managed demonstrations, with field days to encourage farmers to
visit the demonstrations. While some village-level agricultural demonstrators
(ADs) had farmer-extension committees to work with and advise them, there
was no farmer representation at district, regional, or national levels where, in a
traditional hierarchical structure, decisions on the extension program were
made. Hence, there was little farmer input into, or feedback through,
extension to research.
In Botswana, with the recent completion of an agricultural sector analysis
(Edwards, et al., 1989), a reorganization in the Ministry of Agriculture, and a
pending ISNAR study of the Department of Agricultural Research, the whole
structure of agricultural research, and hence farmer involvement, is being re-
examined. Whether there will be a move towards Baker and Norman's "ideal"
system (Figure 1, "B") remains unclear.


Like most farming systems programs, ATIP initially focused on the farmer as
the client for its research efforts and attempted to concentrate on problems
directly relevant to farmers in the project area. Thus, ATIP began its research
work by on-farm investigation of the then-recommended package of practices
for cereal production and by conducting an in-depth diagnosis of the farming
system through a multi-year, multiple-visit study. Limitations in the
effectiveness of existing technologies meant that most trials work was aimed at
answering technical questions and so was carried on in a researcher-managed
and implemented (RMRI) and researcher-managed, farmer-implemented
(RMFI) mode. Trials were conducted on-farm but the agenda was set by the


researchers and trials were generally managed by the researchers.
By 1985 there was a realization in the project that more farmer
involvement in the research activities was needed. Beginning in the 1985-86
season, ATIP began working with several types of farmer groups. As described
elsewhere (Norman, et al., 1988) work was begun with three groups; design
groups, focused-testing groups, and researcher-managed options-testing groups.
The next year extension-managed options-testing groups were added. The
characteristics of these groups are summarized in Table 1. The ATIP-
Francistown team has worked with the latter two groups.
The researcher-managed options-testing groups originated from a felt need
to improve the research program in several ways (Worman, Merafe, and
Norman, 1988).
1. To increase researcher efficiency in order to test a broad range of
innovations (technologies), under farmer-managed and -implemented (FMFI)
conditions for increased productivity and grain-yield dependability.
2. To involve farmers and local extension staff more actively in the
technology development process, particularly in the evaluation of
3. To allow farmers to work with technologies of their choice, in order to
determine what types of innovations are most appealing to farmers with
different resource situations (recommendation domains).
4. To further refine the use of the group process for including farmers'
input into farming systems research.
The extension-managed options testing groups were formed with the
extension service taking the lead and had several purposes (Worman, Merafe,
and Norman,1988).
1. To provide a method for ADs to increase their efficiency by addressing
a large number of farmers (on technical issues) at once, rather than having to
make numerous individual visits to households and fields. (The group format
allows the AD to perform a teaching function at the beginning of the year,
and a backup function throughout the cropping season, through monthly
2. To allow farmers to field-test recommendations they choose, under
extension guidance, and to provide a basis for local field days.
3. To provide a forum for researcher backup in extension activities.
4. To provide a test to see if farmers groups are practical under extension
In both types of groups the innovations presented to farmers to select from
are proposed by researchers, extensionists, and farmers.
The inclusion of farmer testing groups in the ATIP research structure has


increased ATIP's ability to respond to requests for on-farm testing made by on-
station researchers, thus facilitating the linkages between on-station and on-
farm researchers and farmers.
The actual operation of the researcher- and extension-managed options
testing groups was described by Masikara, Worman, and Heinrich (1989) last
year at this symposium. Some of the important elements of this operation are
the following:
1. Farmers choose to participate in the groups.
2. Farmers select trials from a wide range of technologies.
3. Trials are implemented on small plots following an agreed-upon
procedure involving a comparison with traditional methods.
4. Monthly group meetings are held where farmers report on their trials
and discuss problems, outcomes, and other topics with each other and with
researchers and extensionists.
5. Field days are held where farmers can show their trials and explain
them to other farmers from their village and from other villages.
6. Researchers record basic information on trials and weigh final harvests.
Farmer assessment of technologies is obtained informally during monthly
meetings and formally through an end-of-season survey.


Researcher Managed Extension Managed
Characteristic Design Focused-Testing Options-Testing Options-Testing

Objectives Farmer involvement Discuss farmer's own Increased farmer Local farmer and
in technology problems. Measure and extension extension testing
design. economic benefits. involvement. Large- for local adap-
Farmer assessment, scale assessment, ability & demon-
stration purpose.
Numbers of Trial Types 1-3 4-6 10-12 4-6
Trial: Proposal Researcher Researcher Researcher/Extn. Extension/Res.
Selection Researcher Researcher/Farmer Farmer Farmer
Management Researcher Farmer Farmer Farmer
Implementation Researcher/Farmer Farmer Farmer Farmer
Measurementa Most Middle Least Minimal
Assessment: Researcher Most Middle Least Minimal
Farmer Least Middle Most Most
Group: Size 2-3 farmers. 10-15 farmers. 25-40 farmers. 25-35 farmers.
Nature Homogeneous. Homogeneous. Heterogeneous. Heterogeneous
Selection Technical situation Socioeconomic Volunteers from Volunteers from
appropriate for situation for village meeting. village meeting.
design work. targeted technology.
Frequency of Meeting 2-3 times a season Monthly in season Monthly in season Monthly in season

a Relative to the other types of groups.
Modified from: Norman, D., D. Baker, G. Heinrich, and E Worman. 1988. "Technology Development Farmer Groups:
Experiences From Botswana" Experimental Agriculture, 24(3): 321-331.



One of the problems encountered when farmers' are viewed only as clients in
research and the technology development process is that they do not play an
active role in the process and so tend to lose interest. There are several ways
that the farmer testing groups serve to maintain farmer interest and hence
longer-term participation:
1. The farmer testing groups serve farmers' interests as well as researchers'
interests. Farmers' interests are kept in the forefront of group activity because
farmers can propose trials, because they can choose topics for discussion at
farmer group meetings, and primarily because they can choose the trials that
they will conduct. Thus, farmers have a partnership role in determining the
course of farmer group activities, which ensures that they can work on topics
in which they are interested and which can be accommodated within their
resource structures. Because individuals can address their own particular
constraints, each individual in the group has a vested interest in participating.
2. Groups serve as a source of new information as farmers share their
experiences with new technologies among themselves and researchers present
new technologies for consideration. During monthly meetings farmers show a
great deal of interest in reports by others on the technologies being tested.
Ways of dealing with problems are proposed by farmers as well as by
researchers and extensionists.
3. Groups have a very flexible format. They can change with changing
farmer interests and circumstances and can respond quickly to new problems
or to new research developments. Because groups can tap resources in both
extension and research, they are often able to obtain information to resolve
problems in a timely manner.
4. Groups are relatively simple to operate. For example, research input
can be handled by experienced technical officers with assistance and advice
from on-farm or on-station research specialists. A high level of education is
not required. Groups can reduce the demands on highly trained staff, thus
avoiding problems of manpower shortages, so the approach is resource
5. The groups have the potential to evolve into more formal production-
oriented groups, such as some form of cooperative which could serve as a
centralized purchasing agent for agricultural supplies, provide a basis for
tractor-purchase schemes, or promote plant protection or animal health.



ATIP's approach appears to have been effective in obtaining farmer
participation in the research process. The approach has involved farmers with
researchers and extensionists in more of a partnership rather than in the
previous technician-client format. There are several indications of the
effectiveness of the approach:
1. Group participation: In 1985-86 the farmer group work began with 12
farmers in one village who tested one technology. The second year groups
were formed in two additional villages and participation rose to 97. In 1987-
88 researcher-managed farmer groups included 130 members while the first
extension-managed farmer group had 25 members. During the most recent
cropping season researcher-managed farmer groups remained at approximately
the same level, 128, while a second extension-managed farmer group was
added, bringing the total participants in extension-managed groups to 40.
Membership in the farmer groups is voluntary, with farmers choosing to join.
Members of the groups have decided that, even though larger groups may
cause problems in sharing equipment and may restrict somewhat the amount
of discussion that can occur at monthly meetings, it would not be fair to the
rest of the community to limit participation to fixed numbers. Based on an
analysis of household characteristics, members in the researcher-managed
farmer groups appear to be representative of the villages where they reside.
2. Trials: The number and variety of trials have increased from 12 trials
of one technology in 1985-86 to over 150 trials of more than a dozen
technologies in 1987-88. During the most recent year a total of 250 trials
were attempted, involving five major and several minor technologies. In
addition, five different pieces of equipment were tested.
3. Adoption: The ATIP-Francistown approach to researcher-managed
options testing groups has been to integrate them into the overall ATIP
research program. There has been no attempt to encourage farmers to adopt
any of the technologies being tested, nor is there a specific extension
component in the researcher-managed testing activities. Despite this lack of
effort to promote adoption, cases of spontaneous adoption were noted in all
villages. It was observed that farmers not only adopted the individual
technologies that were tested, but also combined technologies into their own
packages. During June and July 1989 a survey was made of farmers who had
participated in the researcher-managed groups at some point during the last
four years, in an effort to measure the amount of spontaneous adoption which
was taking place. Ninety-six percent of the 165 farmers who had participated


were interviewed. Of this group 25.9 percent (41) indicated that they had
used a "new technology" (i.e., one they had not been using four years ago) this
year. This "new technology" was used outside of the area they had allocated
for ATIP trials. Spontaneous adopters ranged from 17 to 42 percent of the
respondents in each village. The average area planted in new technologies by
adopters was 3.4 ha, representing 35 percent of the total lands planted.
Overall the average area planted to new technologies was 0.87 ha per
respondent-14 percent of all lands planted by respondents. Double plowing
(a second plowing to break up the soil for improved water infiltration and
storage) was the most popular new technology, chosen by 39 percent of
adopters, followed by double plowing plus row planting, chosen by 34 percent
of adopters. Seventy-eight percent of those using a new technology used
double plowing alone or in combination, and 41 percent used row planting (a
technology actively promoted by the extension service) alone or in
4. Influence on on-station research: In the second year only one of the
technologies tested was tested in collaboration with on-station researchers.
This past year the testing of over 80 percent of new technologies
(approximately 75 percent of all trials) was undertaken in collaboration with
on-station researchers and came directly out of commodity-research programs.
These included crop variety tests, tests of seed-protection measures for
groundnuts, and equipment tests.
5. Influence on extension: The number of extension-led farmer testing
groups has increased. The extension service has assigned one technical officer
to work with ATIP and back up the local extension staff in farmer group
activities. During the coming year two NGOs are planning to participate in
the extension-managed farmer group activities to gain experience for forming
their own farmer testing groups in the future.


Given that active farmer participation is necessary in developing and
implementing sustainable farming systems, there is a need to assure effective
avenues of farmer participation in formal agricultural research structures. The
primary emphasis of the ATIP-Francistown group activity has been to develop
a methodology with potential for including active participation by limited-
resource farmers in agricultural research on an ongoing basis. Because the
ATIP program is within the Ministry of Agriculture, the emphasis has been on
making farmer groups an integral part of the ATIP research program, and
thereby including their input in the on-farm component of the overall


agricultural research program in Botswana.
The farmer groups have been organized by the researchers as an integral
part of the research program and are in essence new groups every cropping
year.3 Whether these groups will continue to provide an avenue for effective
farmer participation within the research structure will depend to a great extent
on the future direction of on-farm research in Botswana. ISNAR, in its study
of nine FSRE institutionalization efforts, found that the programs faced many
problems in "developing sustainable mechanisms for involving farmers
actively throughout the research process" (Merrill-Sands, et al., 1989). Many
of the factors that will favor or discourage the continuation of farmer testing
groups are common to agricultural research in other developing countries.
Some of the factors that will affect, either favorably or unfavorably, the
continuation of the groups are:
1. Institutionalization of on-farm research: Many on-farm research
efforts have been based on specific research projects of limited duration with
no apparent commitment to their incorporation into any institutional
framework (Farrington and Martin, 1988). In the case of Botswana, the
Department of Agricultural Research has indicated a commitment to
continued on-farm research. The form of this research is currently being
decided. Some form of decentralized research structure could have a positive
impact on the on-farm research program and direct farmer participation.
Assuming that an on-farm team continues in the Francistown area, there is a
strong commitment on the part of national staff currently associated with the
project to continue the farmer testing groups. Despite commitments at all
levels, a lack of resources within the research organization could severely limit
the amount of on-farm research undertaken, and thus limit the ability of
farmers to participate through the on-farm program.
2. New approach and linkages: Merrill-Sands, et al. (1989) found that
institutionalizing on-farm research focused on resource-poor farmers required
developing a new set of research activities, establishing new communications
channels, and ensuring cooperative efforts among researchers, field staff,
extension agents, and farmers. To be successful this institutionalization also
requires changes in research planning and programming and depends on the
systematic incorporation of farm-level information into the research process
(the role of on-farm research in feeding farm-level information back to
experiment-station research). The farmer testing groups have served as a
mechanism to facilitate communications among researchers, extensionists,

3ATIP-Mahalapye has worked with farmer groups that have their own organization independent of the
research program (Norman, et al., 1988).


and farmers. The formalization of the linkages through the
institutionalization of the approach might lend stability to the groups over the
long term. However, the continued interest of researchers, extensionists, and
farmers is probably more vital to viable communications than is a formalized
set of linkages. Perhaps the lack of formal linkages between extension and
research at the field level will present the greatest challenge to continued
involvement of all three sets of actors in the group process.
3. Professional elitism: Haverkort, et al. (1988) point out that
"prejudices exist amongst professional agronomists and development workers
against the assumption that rural populations may have something to
contribute." This is often a problem within research and extension
organizations. Although this has not been a major problem in the past, if
farmer groups are formally included in the research structure, working with
group-identified problems may be an obstacle for some senior research staff,
particularly in accommodating feedback from farmers and field staff into the
design of research plans.
4. Cost-effectiveness: Because groups are fairly simple and inexpensive
to operate, because they can be operated by technical officers, with back-up by
senior researchers, and because they can increase the number of technologies
being tested, they appear to be cost- and manpower-effective. In this regard,
Farrington and Martin (1988) conclude that greater participation by farmers
in the research process and their exercising a demand-pull on station-based
work stands to enhance the cost-effectiveness of research.4
5. "Empowerment": Sagar and Farrington (1988) report that in several of
the participatory approaches they studied one of the underlying objectives was
"that of 'empowerment' in the sense of increasing the capacity of farmers to
identify the types of external technology that might be appropriate to their
circumstances, to conduct experimentation and to combine usable components
of external knowledge with their own indigenous knowledge systems." The
group approach within the formal research structure offers one avenue to
"empowerment." However, if there is no institutional framework available for
the groups (due, for example, to lack of funding for on-farm research), it may be
viable for non-governmental organizations or other organizations to help farmers
start their own formally organized groups to carry on local adaptive research, and
to put pressure on the research structure to produce relevant technologies.
Despite uncertainty as to the future of research- and extension-managed

4One cautionary note is in order at this point. Much of the work with farmer groups is at the FMFI
level. As Norman (1989) has pointed out, information at this level tends to be more qualitative and
sometimes subjective in nature, in contrast to more quantitative and objective data that have greater
appeal for experiment station-based researchers.


farmer groups in Botswana, there appears to be a commitment at all levels to
continue the on-farm component of agricultural research, which will provide
an institutional home for continued active farmer participation in the research


In Botswana, ATIP has shown that limited-resource farmers are willing and
eager to take an active part in the agricultural research process. Farmer testing
groups offer one approach to improving communications among researchers,
extensionists, and farmers, to the advantage of all concerned. Whether this
approach to including farmers in the agricultural research process will
continue is unclear.
Whatever the approach taken in organizing agricultural research (in
Botswana or elsewhere), to assure that research will be able to adequately
address sustainability, research institutions will need "to find better ways to get
meaningful inputs from farmers themselves, from the outset of research
planning to the adaptation of this research to various ecological situations in
which farmers must be involved" (Committee on Agricultural Sustainability
for Developing Countries, 1987).
We conclude that research for sustainable farming requires active
continuing farmer participation. Farmer groups, such as the farmer testing
groups, provide one possible avenue to obtain this requisite farmer
participation and integrate it into the formal agricultural research structure.


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Hecht, eds., Agroecology and small farm development. Boca Raton,
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Chambers, R. 1988. Farmer first. International Agricultural Development.
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poor farmers: The farmer-first-and-last model. Agricultural Adminis-
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sector assessment: A strategy for the future development of agriculture in
Botswana. Prepared for the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of
Francis, C., and P. Hildebrand. 1989. Farming systems research and extension
(FSRE/E) in support of sustainable agriculture. Farming Systems Research-
Extension Newsletter 2:4-5.
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research: A review of concepts and practices. Overseas Development
Institute, Agricultural Administration Unit, Occasional Paper 9. London:
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farmers' capacity for technology development. ILEIA Newsletter 4(3):3-7.
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Environment 30(9):8-13, 28-30.
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institutionalizing on-farm client-oriented research: A review of
experiences from nine national agricultural research systems. Staff Notes
No. 89-57. The Hague: ISNAR.
Norman, D., 1989. Accountability: A dilemma in farming systems research.
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Agriculture 24(3):321-331.
Rhoades, R., and R. Booth. 1982. Farmer-back-to-farmer: A model for
generating acceptable agricultural technology. Agricultural
Administration 11:127-137.
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generation: From the development of methodology to wider-scale
implementation. Overseas Development Institute, Agricultural Adminis-
tration Unit, Network Paper 2. London: Overseas Development Institute.
Worman, E, Y. Merafe, and D. Norman. 1988. Increasing farmer
participation in FSRE/E: The ATIP experience with farmer groups. In
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Workshop, ViSCA, Baybay, Leyte, June 9-14, 1988.
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Environment 30(9):18-20, 36-40.


ValJ. Eylands and Charles F. Yamoahl


The Farming Systems Research Project (FSRP) in Rwanda is implemented by
the University of Arkansas and is now in its fifth year. The FSRP work area
covers four communes in northern Rwanda. The topography is mountainous,
with field slopes ranging between 10 and 100 percent. As Africa's most
densely populated country, Rwanda experiences extreme land pressure, and
hills are cultivated from valleys to hillcrest. The highland region receives
1200 mm of rainfall each year, distributed in two rainy seasons. Due to the
severe slopes and lack of erosion control, topsoil losses can approach 300
MT/ha/yr. The layer of productive topsoil is very thin, and it is underlain by
an extremely acidic subsoil. At present rates of erosion, most of Rwanda's
topsoil could disappear within the next 10 to 20 years, leaving only the
unproductive subsoil or bedrock exposed.
Early diagnostic surveys identified declining soil fertility due to erosion as
the primary constraint to sustained production. Following alleycropping and
terracing strategies developed by the International Institute for Tropical
Agriculture (IITA) and the International Council for Research in Agro-
Forestry (ICRAF), early project work focused on on-station and on-farm
screening of leguminous trees suitable for an alleycropping system that would
slow erosional losses and provide nitrogen-rich biomass for incorporation into
the soil.
Three species were identified as appropriate for the Rwandan highland
conditions. Sesbania, leucaena, and caliandra all met the criteria of being easy
to establish, coppicing well after pruning, and producing substantial amounts
of biomass for use as green manure or forage. Farmer feedback indicated that
in addition to erosion control, the ability to produce poles for growing the
higher-yielding climbing beans was also a priority.
The objective of the alleycropping research was to close the nutrient cycle
so as to attain a low-input system that would sustain soil fertility. Because soils
of the region are highly-weathered Oxisols, soil acidity is a problem, and most
soils are deficient in Ca and Mg, and often P and K are low as well.

IAdjunct Assistant Professors of Agronomy at the University of Illinois and University of Arkansas,



Foreign exchange for the purpose of purchasing agricultural inputs such as
fertilizers and pesticides is severely limited in Rwanda, necessitating the
development of a soil-fertility sustaining technology that relies on inputs
available locally. Fortunately, such low-input systems have been developed
and refined through centuries of farmer experiences in the mountainous
regions of Asia. There, erosion has been largely controlled by the
construction of radical terraces (Figure 1). The leaching of cations is reduced
by puddled soils and continuous cropping. Nitrogen is added by N-fixing algae
or green manure crops, and the nutrient cycling through crop residue
management is enhanced by efficient methods of composting.

Crop residues and
S-- manure returned
to soils

Leaching reduced by Erosion reduced by
puddled soils flat terraces

N added to system by
algae and green manure I

In order to devise a system appropriate for the central African highlands,
the Rwanda FSRP team has attempted to borrow the basic concepts of the
closed-loop nutrient cycle from Asia and marry them to alleycropping
technologies currently being developed throughout the world. The nutrient
loop in present Rwandan farming systems is very open-ended, with nutrients
exiting the system through erosion, leaching, and crop-residue removal. No
chemical fertilizers are used in the area, nutrient inputs to the loop being
confined to small quantities of manure added to priority crops such as beans.
The currently proposed system includes the planting of one or two rows of
the recommended shrubs on terraces 6 m apart for slopes common to the area
(Figure 2). Such a spacing allows the gradual formation of a radical terrace
over the period of 4-8 years and provides enough biomass to contribute
significantly to the maintenance of soil fertility (Figure 3). Pruning the shrubs



N fixed by trees
added to system

Erosion reduced as
terraces form

Organic matter added by tree
biomass green manure, composting,
and returning crop residues |

Leaching nutrients
recycled by tree roots



Trees planted in
rows 6 m apart


Vertical bank formed
at back of terrace


Cutbanks heighten, soil '
fertility builds near tree curb


twice a year provides the maximum amount of biomass and the least amount
of shrub-crop competition. Acceptance of the treed terraces by farmers has
been high; however the recommended terrace widths and pruning
management practices are not closely followed.
Although the farmers of the region comprehend the deleterious effects of
erosion on soil fertility, they do not understand the concepts of nutrient
cycling or the role of the trees in fixing atmospheric nitrogen. They are
hesitant to allot sufficient land to the trees for 6-m terraces, but instead plant
them at the edges of the natural 10- or 12-m terraces that are already in
existence. At this spacing, erosion control is greatly reduced and the
incorporated biomass from the trees has only a negligible effect on improving
soil fertility. Two other farmer-identified constraints, however, are being
alleviated by the farmers' modifications of the system. When pruned only
once a year, each tree produces 5-6 bean poles, allowing the farmer to grow
climbing beans instead of dwarf beans. The tree leaves are not incorporated as
a green manure, but instead are fed to goats, whose manure is then collected
and placed back on the field. If this is accomplished in an efficient manner,
the nutrient-cycling benefits of the trees are still realized.
Even when trees are planted on 6-m terraces, erosional losses in some
areas remain high, as fields are without crops for several months of the year.
As a result, a relay crop of vetch has been tried as a cover and green manure
crop to be used in addition to the tree biomass.
Once established, sesbania on-farm was yielding an average of 5 MT/ha/yr
biomass with one pruning. When combined with a 2 MT/ha yield of relay
cropped vetch, the two legumes were adding 182 kg N/ha annually, as well as
recycling 32, 70, 121, and 15 kg/ha/yr of P, K, Ca, and Mg, respectively (Table


Additions of established sesbania kg/ha
Biomass N P K Ca Mg
5000 130 11 40 86 11
Additions of relay-cropped vetch kg/ha
Biomass N P K Ca Mg
5000 62 4 30 35 4
When sesbania and vetch are used together
N P K Ca Mg
192 15 70 121 15



As there were no prior proven technologies "on the shelf" for the FSRP team
to immediately take on-farm, much of the early work of the team consisted of
researcher-managed, on-station and on-farm trials to identify appropriate tree
species and management techniques. As stated above, when the system was
exposed to local farmers through on-farm field days and moved to a farmer-
managed stage, it was learned that farmers preferred the utilization of tree
stems as bean poles and the biomass as animal forage rather than as a green
manure. Consequently, the agroforestry component of the project has
refocused its strategy somewhat to examine tree-management strategies for
maximum bean pole production and to determine feed quality of the three
species currently recommended.
Initially, all trees produced for trials and farmer distribution were raised in
several large nurseries managed by the FSRP team. Distribution of the trees to
remote fields high in the hills proved a difficult and expensive proposition,
however. Subsequently, a large nursery was established in each of the project's
four communes, with local labor trained in nursery management. When these
proved insufficient for supplying the growing demand for trees, farmers who
were interested in establishing their own on-farm nurseries were identified and
trained in nursery management. Twenty-six on-farm nurseries have now been
established, and stands of more mature trees have been established in each
commune for the production of seed to supply both these and the large
communal nurseries.
Sustaining soil fertility is not quite as easy to accomplish as tree
production and distribution. A workable system involves trees planted on 6-m
terraces, the initial application of lime to the soil, and the use of green manure
crops such as vetch to add nitrogen to the system and act as a cover crop
between seasons. As has been noted, however, farmers are reluctant to plant
trees on such narrow terraces and are skeptical of incorporating leguminous
crops that could be otherwise used as animal feed. Additionally, the lime
industry in Rwanda is still undeveloped, and its use as a soil amendment is not
well-known to farmers. Current farmer-managed trials are seeking to
introduce farmers in the region to the use of lime.


Rwanda is in a critical situation from an agricultural standpoint. At current
rates, the population will double every 19 years, and the thin topsoil that


supports this population is rapidly disappearing through erosional losses. Soil
fertility is declining as the topsoil is removed and the acidic subsoils are
exposed. The nutrient cycle of the mountain farming systems is very open-
ended, with far more essential plant nutrients being lost than are being added.
A proposed alleycropping system which includes the planting of
leguminous shrubs on terraces is helping to close the nutrient loop by reducing
slopes and thus erosion and recycling leached cations through a deep rooting
system; in addition the system provides poles for bean production. When lime
and a green manure/cover crop such as vetch are added to the system,
acceptable crop yields can be attained while soil fertility is maintained.
The use of a farming systems approach throughout the experimental
process has resulted in a large degree of farmer involvement and a high
acceptability index for the technologies thus far produced. A good deal of
effort has gone into developing not only a system that will work for Rwandan
farmers, but one that relies on locally-purchased goods. Training of extension
agents, farmers, and nursery managers to carry on the production and
distribution of trees and alleycropping management practices should ensure
the continued success of the program after the current FSRP project ends.


M. von Oppen and Ch. Knoblochl


Agricultural research basically follows two strategies:
1. The commodity strategy, which selects a crop or a livestock enterprise,
and then moves along with the efforts required to maintain or expand
production of that commodity.
2. The resource-base oriented strategy, which is determined by the
resource endowment, and aims at finding a production system that can best
use the available resource base.
The resource-base oriented strategy entails a broader and by far more
challenging research task than that taken up by the commodity approach; it
calls for an integration of ideas from several disciplines, and it tends to aim at
dealing with marginal land situations, because the more difficult the resource
base, the greater the need for a resource-base strategy in research (Plucknett,
Dillion, and Vallaeys, 1987).
Under the resource-base strategy of agricultural research, the most
common approach is to follow farming systems research-extension (FSRE) or
research with a farming systems perspective (Merrill-Sands, 1985) which takes
the farmer as a decision unit and aims at developing systems for and often in
cooperation with representatives of target groups of farmers.
Another approach, resource management research (RMR), addresses
resource-oriented problems and strategies with a focus on wider dimensions to
ensure sustainability of the resource base. This type of research aims at
characterizing the resource base, developing improved production systems, and
evaluating the impact of those systems with a view to improving the
productivity of the most limiting resources not only at the farm level but also
at the level of larger geographic or administrative entities; the decision units
taken into consideration are both the policymakers/administrators responsible
for the region or sector and the individual farmers.
Applied RMR takes into consideration the interaction of various systems,
including farming systems, ecological systems, and institutional systems. The
approach of RMR has been adopted by a number of international centers in recent
years as a means of pursuing more effectively the sustainability of resource use.

Professor, Institute of Agricultural Economics and Social Scientist in the Tropics and Subtropics,
University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, and Research Assistant, Institute of Agricultural
Politics, Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany, respectively.


This paper presents the development of the concept of composite
watershed management (CWM) on Alfisols in the semiarid tropics (SAT) as
an example of a research approach combining FSR and RMR. The genesis of
the concept is described, and first research results are presented; further, the
needs for future research are derived on the basis of an analysis of the
physical/technical and social/economic systems interacting in a watershed.


Background and Genesis of the Concept
Essential components of composite watershed management are presently
being exploited by farmers in Alfisol areas in the Deccan Plateau of south-
central India. After observing this development and realizing the danger of
degradation of resources, researchers formulated a concept integrating major
components to ensure sustainability (Engelhardt, 1984). Here for hundreds or
thousands of years farmers had been using surface-water reservoirs (tanks) for
the storage of runoff water to irrigate paddy fields. Even though it is millennia
old, this technology of tank irrigation is beginning to fall into disuse today
because tank irrigation-initially a means for supporting growing population
densities-is decaying today, when densities in the populations of man and his
animals exceed certain limits (von Oppen and Subba Rao, 1987). There are
three factors exerting their detrimental forces on tank irrigation (1) Physical
degradation of vegetative cover in the watershed leads to flash run-off, soil
erosion, siltation, and breaches of tanks. (2) Technological means for digging
wells and operating water pumps provides the individual farmer with
privately-owned well water as a welcome substitute to commonly-owned tank
water. (3) Social pressures lead to encroachment on the normally submerged,
highly fertile tank bottom land, to inefficient water control, and to insufficient
tank management. All of these factors contribute to the deterioration of tank
irrigation, making what was formerly an asset for increasing and stabilizing
productivity into a liability and a source of instability (Center for Science and
Environment, 1985).
From an ever-increasing number of private wells, farmers irrigate their
terraced paddy fields in the lower-lying areas inside or outside former tankbed
or command areas. During the rainy season, the runoff from higher-lying
fields is channeled into the paddy fields; however, excessive rainfall is being
drained off. As groundwater is increasingly being drawn, and as irrigation
tanks with their large amounts of percolation and groundwater recharge
vanish, groundwater tends to be depleted.
Though this resource mining of the watershed involves the major


components of runoff retention (tanks/paddy fields) and groundwater
utilization systems (wells), it lacks the optimal composition and management
to sustain water supplies in the long run (ICRISAT, 1986).

The Technical Concept
The concept of CWM is based on an optimally defined composition of
the different components of watershed management of Alfisols. It aims at
improving the currently available system by adding runoff retention structures
and percolation systems recharging sufficient quantities of groundwater to
maintain and stabilize the water table in the shallow aquifers, so that a
sustained supply of irrigation water from shallow wells can economically be
provided. This concept is a further development of an earlier concept of
"integrated watershed management for conjunctive water use" (Kanwar,
1983). In practice CWM differs from the earlier concept insofar as the unit of
planning is altered from a micro-watershed to a major watershed. It thus
comes closer to the concept of command-area development of the Indian
government, but has a greater specific relevance in the context of the Deccan
Plateau (Aurora, 1986).
The peculiar characteristic of the topography of the Deccan Plateau is the
large, gently undulating land mass sharply broken by dispersed series of cup-
like formations, often ringed by rocky or arid hillocks. This kind of formation
has implications for the pattern of surface water runoff and its percolation,
subsoil water accumulation, and flow patterns.
The approach aims at incorporating the entire watershed, i.e., the
traditional catchment of a tank plus its submerged and command areas (see
Figure 1). For such an area a management system is envisaged which
combines erosion and runoff-controlling land management (i.e., through
vegetative cover, bunds, check dams, small percolation tanks, percolating
paddy fields, etc.) with irrigation wells for lifting groundwater from shallow
water tables. The well water is being drawn on to the extent of the annual
recharge of groundwater so that groundwater levels are sustained. Preferably,
solar-powered pumps will be employed for lifting the water. Solar-powered
pumps are particularly efficient at low left-heads from shallow aquifers; this
will be advantageous for resource-poor farmers who lack access to and means
to pay for electricity. This incorporates into the CWM concept a farmer
interest in the maintenance of shallow water tables.



SRocky OutcropsOO

Dryland Area

SPaddy Area


Tank Command Area

First Results of CWM Research
For an effective manipulation of surface and groundwater in an Alfisol
watershed, as envisaged in CWM, basic knowledge was initially required in
the following fields:
1. Hydrology and engineering
behavior of water in its alternative forms: rainfall, surface flows, and
Possibilities and costs of engineering structures for water control;
2. Agronomic practices and socioeconomic constraints at farm level
agronomic and economic effects of water management for rainfed
agriculture with supplementary irrigation;
sociological aspects of riparian rights, distribution of land ownership,
equity effects of CWM;
3. Economics at the national level
overall economic effects of CWM if executed on a large scale.


Initial research in these fields was carried out at ICRISAT (1987) from
1983 to 1987 by an interdisciplinary research team of scientists and
practitioners from a range of disciplines including surface and groundwater
hydrology, water-engineering agronomy, agricultural economics, rural
sociology, and development economics. The team studied two areas with
watersheds representative of two rainfall zones in the Alfisol areas of southern
India. One, "Aurepalle," is semiarid (600-800 mm) and the other, "Manilla-
Kandakuru," is arid (2500 mm).
Because of limits in time, resources, and experience, the research work
could not cover the entire breadth and depth of the issues involved. Often
methodologies for taking measurements and observations were not available
and had to be developed. Nevertheless, several results have emerged, which
are summarized below.

Hydrology of the Watershed and Alternatives for Engineering
Runoff Control
In order to understand the behavior of water in its different forms in the
watershed, measurements were taken for a period of 30 months, and records
from secondary data were prepared on
rainfall and its distribution over time and space,
surface water and its flows as a function of rainfall and other
groundwater, including the depth and location of aquifers and water
movements in response to discharge from wells and recharge from the
meteorological and other data for the calculation of evaporation and
These data provide the basis for modeling the water movement in a watershed,
and thus for extrapolating findings during the observed 30 months in one
particular watershed to other time periods and other watersheds. Figure 2
presents the structure of the model, taking into account the different zones in
the watershed (Theune, 1987).
In essence, the hydrological research shows that surface runoff from the
watershed increases at increasing rates as overall rainfall and rainfall intensity
increase, while natural groundwater recharge increases at a linear rate with
rainfall. Consequently, losses of water from a watershed due to runoff increase
with growing variability of rainfall. The more erratic the rainfall distribution,
the larger the runoff losses.




BASE FLOW ------

Traditional irrigation tanks are the most commonly used technique in
SAT India for retaining the runoff water in the watershed. However, even
though this technique is still widely in use, there are indications that it is
declining under the pressure of population increase. Alternative runoff
controlling and groundwater augmenting systems are required.
There are several alternatives, for instance, for the control of sheet runoff,
ranging from contour bunding to terraced fields. For the control of runoff in a
waterway, methods include simple gully-plugging devices and outright
percolation reservoirs. In the design of composite watershed management all
of these can play an important role at different places within the watershed.
Control of sheet runoff is more important on gently sloping terrain, mostly in
the upper reaches, while waterway control is required in the middle reaches
where erosion has formed gullies (El-Swaify, Walker, and Virmani, 1984).
Of special interest, however, are terraced fields in the lower reaches or
within the valley bottom; these are planted to paddy and consequently require
well irrigation to supplement rainwater whenever rainfall is not sufficient to
maintain the required water level in the paddy. Research is showing that this
type of runoff retention system, even though it is water consuming and
depends upon groundwater for the production of the paddy, is technically and
economically efficient in augmenting groundwater-at least for average
rainfall events with medium runoff (Theune, 1987).


In the case of very high rainfall and extreme runoff losses, larger reservoirs
or percolation tanks are required for storing and transferring the water to the
aquifers. In its optimal design the depth-to-surface ratio and location of a
percolation tank will minimize evaporation losses and maximize percolation.
Moreover, to ensure economic feasibility the discounted annual cost of
construction of this optimal percolation tank must be less than the value of
the water annually recharged by it.
Another technique experimentally studied aims to augment groundwater
recharge by siphoning surface water from a storage reservoir into an open well
nearby. This experiment lasted for more than six months and indicated that
large-scale transfer of tank water to wells in areas suffering from groundwater
overdraft is feasible (Athavale and Muralidharan, 1987).

Agronomic Practices and Socioeconomic Constraints
Simultaneously with the hydrological studies, socioeconomic surveys of
the villages in the Aurepalle watershed were undertaken. The effect of
augmented water availability on farmers' decisions regarding the utilization of
resources and the resulting returns and cash surplus were studied, using a
discrete stochastic linear programming model. It was run on actual
hydrological data and on parameters such as dependence of recharge on
rainfall and the additional irrigation potential generated by additional
recharge. The model incorporates the costs of production as well as of
consumption and construction of wells, and of other inputs (Wightman,
Table 1 shows the distribution of Aurepalle watershed farms and farming


Distribution of Distribution of
Farm farms among farm Mean operable farming population
size class size classes Percentage area (in ha) among farm size Percentage

(0.21-2.51 ha) 1080 61 1.40 5,888 56
(2.52-5.26 ha) 444 25 3.73 2,772 26
(35.26 ha) 252 14 11.93 1,955 18

Source: Wightman, 1989.


population among farm-size classes. The categories were chosen in accordance
with ICRISAT's classification.
Analysis of the data shows that the level of resource availability, the land
use and cropping intensity, the labor utilization, the consumption and,
therefore, the income and liquidity, depend, to a large degree, on farm size
(Table 2.)

(Variant: Initial well water level 2 m.)

Farm New Cash Utilization of resources (%)
size well dug Returns surplus Ground- Labor
class (units) (Rs) (Rs) Area water Male Female

Smalla 0.00 2,584 292 120.91 74.67 9.25 9.15
Medium 0.08 11,958 4,586 150.58 100.00 17.72 23.96
Large 0.00 28,393 11,853 159.56 99.94 58.08 83.19

Source: Wightman, 1989.

Income and liquidity, mainly resulting from the resources available to
farmers, determine the optimal investment in wells and, therefore, the use of
groundwater. Running different models for representative farms in the three
farm size classes takes this into account.
In the models, wells are the only source of irrigation water. The number
of wells owned and their respective capacity give the quantity of water
available to farmers in each month. This amount can be increased by digging
new wells.
The small farmers cannot subsist on their farm produce alone. The model
became feasible only when subsistence demands were cut to 56 percent of the
original values. Less than 10 percent of the family labor is needed to meet the
crops' requirements. Only 75 percent of the recharged water is exploited.
This is because cropping activities do not generate sufficient cash to meet the
cost of the overhead involved in running a well. Thus, the major factor
limiting increased returns is the lack of cash to fulfill subsistence requirements.
The medium farmers possess enough resources to meet their subsistence
requirements. All of the recharged groundwater is used for irrigation. Even
with an investment in wells, the total well capacity is exhausted in some
months. Despite the high cropping intensity of 151 percent, the family labor
resources are underutilized. Operable land is a limiting factor to increased


profits, as all of it is used when sowing or transplanting is allowed.
The large farmers receive respectable returns of about Rs 28,4002. This is
achieved by cultivating most fields twice and some even three times during an
agricultural year and by exploiting almost all the recharged groundwater
available to them. The high utilization of family labor is striking. This is
partly because of the lower participation of family members in agricultural
labor markets, but also due to the extension of labor-intensive crops.
It is clearly necessary to restrict the withdrawal of groundwater to the
amount recharged to avoid unwanted externality effects. However, the
groundwater recharge from current land- and water-management practices is
insufficient to supply the quantity of water for irrigation which farmers would
like to have. At the watershed level, recharge could be improved, for
example, by constructing field and contour bunds or percolation tanks.
This possibility is simulated by introducing parametric changes to the
basic solution with the effect that the groundwater recharge was increased in
5-percent steps, up to 40 percent.
Comparing the results for the three farm-size classes, it can be stated that
the small farmers would gain the most from additional recharge; most
importantly, the surplus of cash available at the end of the year increases
substantially (Figure 3). Yet, even with a 40-percent increase in recharge, the
cash in hand is extremely low in absolute terms (Rs 655). Even in this case,
only 64 percent of the family's cash and food requirements can be met. With
40 percent higher recharge, only 21 percent more female and 13 percent
more male labor are needed, compared to the basic solution. Again, these
values must be seen in relative terms: For the average year, the utilization of
female labor would increase from 9.2 percent to 11.1 percent and, of male
labor, from 9.3 percent to 10.4 percent.
The medium farmers' gains are less pronounced, except for the cash
surplus, which would rise by 23 percent or Rs 1,100 should the groundwater
recharge be augmented by 40 percent (Figure 4). The large farmers' benefits
are even smaller (Figure 5).
It is interesting to note that increased groundwater recharge benefits small
farmers relatively more than medium and large farmers. However, we have to
emphasize that the model used here treats small, medium, and large farmers as
separate entities, while in reality they are linked via constraints in the total
availability of inputs such as water or labor, or in markets for outputs such as
cash crops groundnutss) or food crops (pigeon peas, rice). It is not clear how
farm-size groups would behave under competition for these resources or if it

2US $1=17.32 RS.


=100%) % increase

cash surplus

a female labour


/ income
male labour

* area

100 110 120 130
increased groundwater recharge


% increase


Sash surplus



140 %


=100%) % increase




15 cash surplus

10 income

5 Sarea
S a ^male labour
R 2 A A & Afemale labour

100 110 120 130 140 %
increased groundwater recharge

turns out that markets are not elastic enough to absorb larger quantities of
commercial production. More research is required on this issue.
Another consideration in the assessment of equity effects of CWM is the
status of the landholding classes in terms of type of land owned and castes to
which they belong. The landholding class status can be related to the
ownership of two major categories of land type, namely wetlands and drylands.
Since the returns from the wetlands have been shown to be nearly seven
times more than the returns from the drylands, the large landholding class
tends to concentrate its attention on the wetlands, and, consequently, a
relatively small portion of their resources goes to the drylands. On the other
hand, the smallest landholders often do not have any wetlands at all or have
such small portions of dryland that it is uneconomic for them to devote much
attention to farming at the cost of laboring. The only group crucially
committed to dryland agriculture is the medium farmers. The medium farmers
in the majority of cases (70 percent) have only drylands to fall back upon.
Their average holdings (3.70 ha) also are just sufficient to produce required
grains for their families' self-sufficiency in food (Aurora, 1986).
Another major social-structural factor with which the type of landholding
is correlated is caste. The ranking of caste is based on the classification of


castes into the following groups: upper (farming), middle (farming), middle
(artisan), middle (servicing) and lower (scheduled castes). This system of
caste categorization takes into consideration the fact that in the traditional
system the caste is essentially a specialized occupational group which also has
a certain ritual status attached to it. Generally, the caste and class categories
are largely, though not wholly, overlapping. To the extent that the four upper
castes (15 percent of the households) own most of the wetlands (61 percent),
their investment is likely to be in the wetlands rather than in the drylands.
The middle farming and artisan castes, on the other hand, are more crucially
affected by the conditions of dryland farming. These two caste groups own, on
an average, only very small portions of wetlands (0.32 and 0.06 ha per
household respectively) but considerable portions of drylands (2.12 and 2.11
ha per household). To quote Aurora (1986):
The implications of the above findings are that any improvement of the middle reach
dryland areas will mean that all those who own land in this eco-zone can take
advantage of it, but the major segment of population benefitting is likely to be the
middle group of castes and classes, who overwhelmingly depend on dryland farming for
their family self-sufficiency.

Economics at the National Level
A cost-benefit analysis of the water-management package, involving
excavating percolation tanks, drilling additional wells recommended by
hydrologists, and estimating the additional income to be generated by thus
augmenting water availability, was also attempted. Even though this exercise
was probably premature because the information available at that time was
rather limited, it does indicate that "there are enormous employment and
income distribution benefits from new irrigation technologies in the


In the CWM concept, water is considered to be the most important limiting
resource for the Alfisol regions of the Indian SAT, and an increase and
stabilization of water availability is seen as the key to improved agricultural
production on a sustained basis. The concept therefore takes the watershed as
the relevant unit for research and development.
However, technical solutions are necessary but not sufficient to overcome
the water problem. In order to be able to effectively manage surface and
groundwater in a watershed, simultaneous interventions in the following four
systems are required.


hydrological systems of rainfall, natural surface water and groundwater
movements, and artificial discharge and recharge of water, which are
subsystems of the ecological systems;
ecological systems of interdependent zones in the watershed: rocky
outcrops, grazing lands, dry land, wet land;
social systems comprising socially (caste) and economically
(landholding class) heterogeneous groups;
institutional systems at different levels: village (traditions, practices),
district (rules, regulations, institutional infrastructure), and nation
(laws, political decisions); moreover, normally a watershed is not a
social, political or institutional unit.
All four systems are interactive and thus influence CWM directly or
indirectly. In order to be able to create a functional concept of CWM which
is adjustable to and applicable for the variety of watersheds as they exist in
SAT India, research on the components of hydrological, social, ecological, and
institutional systems is required.

Research on Components of the Hydrological System
Long-term and multi-locational tests: The large variability of rainfall
distributions across the various horizons of both space and time and the fact
that runoff increases with rainfall at an increasing rate render the planning of
improved water management on Alfisols an extremely difficult task.
Fully reliable measures of the risks involved can never be obtained, and
there will always be uncertainties. However, to reduce these, long-term
monitoring and multi-locational testing of watershed-management techniques
will be required, including monitoring of areas with rainfall amounts and
intensities higher and lower than those in the Aurepalle watershed to test the
climatic boundaries of the concept.
New technologies for solar-powered water-lifting devices: Solar pumps
for water lifting are required. If water management in Alfisols is to be made a
truly self-sustaining technology, farmers should see an economic advantage
(such as "keeping the storehouse full") in creating and maintaining the
groundwater table at relatively shallow levels. Well irrigation through open
wells at depths of 3-7 m is possible in the majority of Alfisol watersheds on
granite substrata.
If water-lifting devices based on solar-powered engines were available at
sufficiently low costs to compete successfully with conventional electric or
diesel motors, and if these were introduced on a large scale, then such devices,
which operate best at heads of up to 10 m, would automatically provide an
incentive for farmers to pay attention to the groundwater table and to ensure


its maintenance at the desirable shallow levels. Solar power is ideal for lifting
irrigation water in the semiarid tropics: its availability coincides perfectly with
the water demand for crop production; its energy can be exploited for water
lifting, provided that the water is available at sufficiently shallow levels.
Research on the development and improvement of solar-powered pumps
should be high on the agenda. The prototype of a Rankine-Cycle-Based Small
Solar Pump developed at ICRISAT should be improved further.
Improved technologies for surface-water management: While surface-
water management on common property resources is primarily an institutional
problem involving social and economic aspects, there are a number of
technical issues arising especially for privately owned land. The possibilities
and effects of controlled grazing, growing grasses and trees along waterways, and
constructing contour bunds need to be assessed ecologically and economically
for their potential in controlling surface water and at the same time increasing
production (fodder, fuel, fruits, green manure). The hydrological system is a
subsystem of the watershed ecology, and its development can be seen only in
relation to the different ecological systems of the watershed.

Ecological Systems
On nearly all Alfisol watersheds in India's SAT, erosion affects the grazing
and dryland areas, causing soil degradation and loss of fertility in these upper
reaches while at the same time contributing to the fertility of the wetland
regions within the command area under the traditional tank irrigation system.
The system of grazing in the uplands and cultivation in the lowlands is
relatively stable as long as sufficient vegetative cover protects the upper
reaches, but overuse of the common property of the grazing land in recent
years is causing negative effects on the productivity of the entire watershed
(Center for Science and Environment, 1985).
Ecological implications are:
reduced infiltration of rainfall and groundwater recharge, endangering
the sustainability of CWM
subsequent gully erosion on drylands
flooding of lower-lying areas
reduced fodder availability, when soil erosion turns grazing lands into
rock areas.
Several questions will have to be considered:
What are the dimensions of erosion and degradation of the pastoral
zone and how can these be prevented?
How can erosion on dryland fields be prevented and fertility of the
fields be sustained or even improved in the long run without
endangering food production in the short run?


How can fertility of the wetland fields be maintained if traditional
tanks are given up and the fields are irrigated with well water
that contains no fertile sediments?
Agroforestry, new cropping patterns for more efficient water use, and
nitrogen-fixing, adapted varieties, are technologies that might provide answers
to those questions. Their adaptability to the relevant ecological situation will
have to be assessed. The ecological and technological questions mentioned
above have social and economic implications that will require action to be
taken by individual farmers, but that will also need supportive political
measures at the village, district and national level.

Research on Socioeconomic Aspects
Long-term monitoring and multi-locational testing of watershed-
management techniques will also require an analysis of the economic impacts
of these tests. In addition, there is the need to address equity issues and
externality effects, such as equity across farm-size groups, equity across
different interest groups, regional equity across different watersheds,
externality effects of changes in cropping patterns, etc.
There is a need for a multi-objective-function programming model which
simultaneously assesses strategies for the different landholding classes in a
watershed, who are competing for limited resources such as water, labor, and
land in different zones.

Research on Institutional, Political and Infrastructural Instruments
The requirements for institutional, political, and infrastructural support
for the implementation of a concept that exceeds the limits of the farm level
for decision-making are high (Axinn and Axinn, 1987).
As was mentioned above, the institutional environment influences vital
parts of the CWM concept and also determines the economic viability and
feasibility of technological options for efficient water use and soil conservation
practices on individual farms and on the common property of the grazing
Political instruments are a vital part of a technology for avoiding negative
consequences on equity issues and for determining the direction in which
benefits from research are to go.
Some instruments that require consideration for practical implementation
include the following:
1. Restricting the use of common grazing land and/or prescribing erosion-
control measures; offering the needed inputs (seeds, plants, fertilizer) for
implementing prescriptions.


2. Avoiding negative social effects by offering and identifying alternative
sources of income for the groups depending on the use of the common grazing
lands for their living. Such additional income might be provided by the
CWM technology directly through the implementation of new cropping
patterns requiring higher inputs of paid labor or indirectly through an
increased production of cash crops (e.g., groundnuts) and subsequent
development of processing industries. Another possibility would be
transforming community land (common grazing grounds and government-
owned tank bottomland) into private property and at the same time providing
incentives and technologies for an economically and ecologically sound use of
such land. A combination of land reforms, alternative labor sources, and
restrictive laws on the use of grazing lands would probably offer the solution.
3. Training representatives of extension and information services to
develop farmers' farm-management skills. Improving information about
technological options for individual farmers will be essential, if adaptability of
the concept of CWM to variable environmental conditions is to be achieved.
Information on the necessity of erosion-control measures is needed to assure
farmers' understanding and voluntary participation, and therefore the
maintenance of measures taken. Participation and personal interest are
preferable to dictated solutions and will have to play a vital role in providing
feedback to decision-makers on other institutional requirements.
4. Markets for an expected surplus production of food crops and
commercial crops need to be assured. This implies that adequate price
policies, as well as infrastructural facilities, be implemented (ICRISAT, 1985).
The externality effects of a regional development concept such as CWM
should not be underestimated.


The concept of CWM starts with the perception that water is the most
limiting resource in certain areas of the SAT and that falling groundwater
tables will be a serious problem as regards increasing and sustaining
agricultural production in the long run; it concludes that agricultural
production can be increased and sustained if water management is improved.
Therefore, it chooses the watershed as a logical and manageable unit of the
water system for its development efforts. The expectation is that a better
management of water resources is possible and that it will lead to higher
productivity of land and labor; this justifies research in this direction.
However, besides the technical system that can be studied by researchers in
the fields of hydrology, engineering, and agronomy, there are other systems


that determine the implementation of a technical package that can increase
water availability. These systems involve social, ecological, and institutional
dimensions, and an adjustable concept is required to meet the problems in
their location specificity, especially where socioeconomic and institutional
conditions vary and are subject to further changes with implementation of the
concept of CWM.


Athavale, R.N., and D. Muralidharan. 1987. A siphon recharge experiment
for augmenting groundwater reserves of a drought prone alfisol watershed
in Anantapur District, Andhra Pradesh. Patancheru: ICRISAT.
Aurora, G.S. 1986. The sociological dimension of the composite watershed
management. Patancheru: ICRISAT.
Axinn, G.H., and N.W. Axinn. 1987. FSR in its macropolicy dimensions.
Pages 461-471 in Proceedings of FSR Symposium 1987: How systems
work, University of Arkansas, Winvoek Institute for Agricultural
Center for Science and Environment. 1985. The state of India's environment
1984-85. The second citizen's report. New Delhi: Center for Science
and Environment.
El-Swaify, S.A., T.S. Walker, and S.M. Virmani. 1984. Dryland management
and research needs for alfisols in the semiarid tropics. An interpretive
summary of the consultants' workshop on the state of the art and
management alternatives for optimizing the productivity of SAT alfisols
and related soils, ICRISAT Center, India, December 1-3, 1983.
Patancheru: ICRISAT.
Engelhardt, T. 1984. Economics of traditional smallholder irrigation systems
in the semiarid tropics of South India, Ph.D. Dissertation. Hohenheim:
Universitat. (Arbeit aus dem Institut fur Agrar- und Sozialokomonie in
dem Tropen und Subtropen, Fachgebiet Okonomik der
landwirtschaftlichen Produktion.)
ICRISAT. 1985. Agricultural markets in the semiarid tropics. Proceedings of
the International Workshop held at ICRISAT Center, India, October 24-
28, 1983.
ICRISAT. 1986. Composite watershed management on alfisol watersheds.
An interim project summary. Patancheru: ICRISAT.
ICRISAT. 1987. Resource management program. Proceedings of the in-
house review. Patancheru: ICRISAT.
Kanwar, J.S. 1983. Red soils of the semiarid tropics: Problems, potentials and


management. Presented at the Symposium on Red Soils, Institute of Soil
Science, Academia Sinica, Naning, China, November 15-19, 1983.
Merrill-Sands, D. 1985. A review of farming systems research. Paper prepared
for Dr. A. von der Osten. Technical Advisory Committee/CGIAR.
Plucknett, D.L., J.L. Dillon, and G.J. Vallaeys. 1987. Review of concepts of
farming systems research: The what, why and how. In Proceedings of the
Workshop on Farming Systems Research/International Agricultural
Research Centers. Patancheru: ICRISAT.
Theune, C. 1987. Composite watershed management on alfisols in South
India. Part hydrology. Darmstadt: Technische Hochschule.
Von Oppen, M., and K.V. Subba Rao. 1987. Tank irrigation in semiarid
tropical India. Economic evaluation and alternatives for improvement.
Patancheru: ICRISAT.
Wightman, W. 1989. Farming systems and water management in the semiarid
tropics: The case of Alfisol areas in Southern India. Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart.


N.S. Jodha1


An operational meaning of sustainability, as inferred from definitions or
descriptions provided by ecologists, environmentalists, economists, and
futurologists of different genre (Myers, 1986; Tisdell, 1987; Chambers, 1987;
Ruttan, 1988; Lynam and Herdt, 1988; Food 2,000, 1987), and which becomes
clearer when related to specific situations, could be stated as follows:
Sustainability is the ability of a system (or subsystem) to maintain a well-
defined level of performance (output, etc.) over time, and to enhance the
same if required. Because of both the involvement of the time factor and the
system's responsiveness to changing requirements, sustainability is a dynamic
(as against static) phenomenon.
In the more concrete context of mountain agriculture, this "dynamism"
translates into the capacities of production factors, mainly bio-physical
resources, to respond to changing requirements without damaging what Tisdell
(1987) calls the essential ecological integrity of the system. The
socioeconomic factors (including man-made institutional and technological
developments) contribute to sustainability or unsustainability, largely through
influencing and changing the use patterns of the system's natural resource
base. Moreover, due to conditions such as inaccessibility, fragility, and
marginality, which characterize mountain regions, the sustainability of use
patterns and production flows is inseparable from the sustainability of the
resource base itself. The health of the resource base and its long-term
productivity are affected by how and for what purposes it is utilized. In
essence, then, sustainability/unsustainability is the outcome of an interaction
between the characteristics of the resource base and the pattern and methods
of its utilization. Given its inherent characteristics, the resource base of a
system (e.g., mountain agriculture), suits only some uses. Any other usage
systems (unless the resource base itself is modified) cannot be productively
maintained on it, without either a high degree of artificial support (e.g.,
subsidy) or damage to the inherent capacities of the resource base itself. In
either case, inappropriate use of the resource base is a definite step toward
long-term unsustainability. This problem is more serious in regions with
relatively fragile and marginal resources, such as mountains and deserts. In

1Head, Mountain Farming Systems Division, International Center for Integrated Mountain
Development (ICIMOD), Jawalakhel, Kathmandu, Nepal, G.P.O. Box 3226.


such habitats unsustainability scenarios emerge more quickly and in a more
pronounced manner. In the natural state of things in mountains, the range of
options ensuring a proper match between resource specificities and resource
use has been very narrow. However, through efforts over the generations, the
people have widened the range of such options. The features of traditional
farming systems in mountain regions will corroborate this (Forman, 1988;
Whiteman, 1988). But these options, having been evolved in the context of
low-pressure demand on mountain resources, are becoming increasingly
unfeasible or ineffective in the changed context of new pressures generated by
population growth, market forces, and public interventions in mountain areas
(Rieger, 1981). The consequent measures adopted to meet the situation, such
as the extension of cultivation to more fragile hill slopes, or the push toward
monoculture induced by promotion of selected HYV crops, or the
deforestation of hillsides to collect revenue, etc., often fail to match well with
the constraints and potential of the mountain resources (Sanwal, 1989). The
not very unexpected result is the emergence of unsustainability scenarios. In
such situations reestablishment of a "match" between resource characteristics
and their use pattern is an important step for enhancing the sustainability of
mountain resources and activities, including agriculture, based on them.

Approaching Sustainability through Unsustainability
At a conceptual level, the above reasoning implies a change in
perspective on the sustainability question. Accordingly, to identify and
operationalize the components of sustainability in a given system, one needs
to examine the unsustainability phenomenon first, and then proceed
backward to understand factors and processes contributing to it. This can help
to identify practical measures which will reverse the process of
unsustainability. A practical first step in the above approach is to prepare an
inventory of indicators of unsustainability of a system, and then look into the
"why and how" behind them. This approach has some merits. It can help to
better operationalize the issues involved in the sustainability debate and more
easily relate the involved issues to the land itself where causes and
consequences of unsustainability are felt. It can also help identify concrete
steps to modify current approaches to development and to the resource use
systems. The steps may relate to macro- and micro-level policies and programs
as well as to farm-level decisions and actions. The above approach forms the
basis of current work on farming systems at the International Center for
Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). It is focused on the
identification of sustainability elements for incorporation into strategies for
agricultural development in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HK-H) region in


Nepal. This paper reports some dimensions of the framework developed for
the above purpose. The following discussion first identifies indicators of
unsustainability found in mountain areas. This is followed by a description of
"mountain specificities," or the specific characteristics of mountain
environments, disregard of which at different agency levels is primarily
responsible for emerging unsustainability scenarios in mountains. Finally, we
argue that sensitization of development interventions to mountain specificities
can help reverse the unsustainability trends. The rationale behind people's
traditional adaptations to mountain specificities can serve as a guide toward
this end.
In the following discussion, though, our focus is on mountain agriculture,
frequent reference to general development problems of mountain areas is


The dominant scenario characterizing most of the mountain regions in the
developing countries, particularly in the HK-H region, is the widening gap
between development efforts (indicated by investment and public
interventions) and corresponding achievements in terms of measurable
economic gains and qualitative changes such as the health and production
potential of the natural resources base, environmental consequences, etc.
Even in the relatively short period of the last 40 to 50 years, several
alarming trends have emerged. There are, in this region, clearly visible and
persistent negative changes in crop yields, availability of mountain products,
economic well-being of the mountain people, and the overall condition of the
environment and natural resources (Rieger, 1981). For instance, as compared
to the situation, say, 50 years ago, at present the extent and severity of
landslides are higher; the water flows in traditional community irrigation
systems are lower, the yield of major crops in the mountain areas (except in
highly patronized pockets) is lower; the diversity of mountain agriculture is
reduced; the inter-seasonal hunger gap (food deficit period) is longer; the time
spent by villagers for collection of fodder and fuel from neighboring
uncultivated areas or common property lands is longer; the botanical
composition of species in forests and pastures has changed for the worse; and,
finally, poverty, unemployment, and out-migration of people from hills is
higher. Ives and Messerli (1989) have pointed out some of these trends in the
Himalayan context, and, as a part of the studies on sustainable mountain
agriculture under the farming systems program at ICIMOD, work is in progress
to prepare an inventory of such measurable, verifiable, or objectively


assessable changes, initially for mountain areas of Nepal, India, Pakistan, and
China. The methodological details for information gathering, such as
benchmark period to see change (e.g., number of years/decades, etc.); unit of
observation (e.g., a mountain valley, a cluster of villages, farm, plot, etc.); unit
of measurement (e.g., frequency of landslides, crop yield per hectare, time
spent and distance covered for fodder and fuel collection, duration of seasonal
migration, etc.); relevant sources of information (e.g., records, material from
air photographic surveys, oral history, etc.), do vary according to the nature of
indicator chosen and the required degree of precision in information. The
information is subjected to a number of cross-checks, to establish that it
represents only negative change. These persistent negative changes are
considered as indicators of unsustainability. Study of the factors and processes
contributing to them is considered a first step in the search for measures to
reverse the above trends. Inquiring into these factors and processes can also
help in the identification of relevant elements for use as policy and program
variables in sustainable development of mountain agriculture and mountain
areas in general.

Indicators of Unsustainability
The negative changes treated as indicators of unsustainability may relate
to (1) resource base (e.g., land degradation, (2) production flows (e.g.,
persistent decline in crop yields), and (3) resource management/usage systems
(e.g., increased unfeasibility of annual-perennial intercropping or specific crop
rotation). More importantly, for operational and analytical purposes, the
indicators can be grouped in the following three categories on the basis of
their actual or potential visibility. Table 1 illustrates them.
1. Directly visible negative changes: These include increased extent of
landslides or mudslides, drying of traditional irrigation channels (kools),
increased idle period of grinding mills or sawmills operated through natural
water flows, prolonged fall in yields of mountain crops, reduced diversity of
mountain agriculture, abandoning of traditionally productive hill terraces,
increased extent of seasonal out-migration of hill people, etc.
2. Negative changes made invisible: People's adjustments to negative
changes often tend to hide these changes. Included are substitution of
shallow-rooted crops for deep-rooted crops following erosion of topsoil on
mountain slopes; substitution of cattle by small ruminants due to permanent
degradation or reduced carrying capacity of grazing lands; introduction of a
public food-distribution system due to an increased inter-season hunger gap
(local food production deficits); leasing of land by small farmers who must
concentrate on wage earning, etc.



Changes related to:1
Visibility Resource use/management
of change Resource base Production flows practices

Directly Increased landslides and Prolonged negative trend in Reduced extent of
visible other forms of land yields of crop, livestock, fallowing, crop rotation,
degradation; abandoned etc.; increased input need intercropping, diversified
changes terraces; per capital per unit production; resource-management
reduced availability and increased time and distance practices; extension of plow
fragmentation of land; involved in food, fodder, to submarginal lands;
changed botanical com- fuel gathering; reduced replacement of social
position of forest/ capacity and period of sanctions for resource use
pasture; reduced water- grinding/saw mills operated by legal measures;
flows for irrigation, on water flow; lower per unbalanced and high
domestic uses, and capital availability of intensity of input use etc.
grinding mills, agricultural products, etc.

Changes Substitution for cattle by Increased seasonal Shifts in cropping pattern
concealed by sheep/goats; deep-rooted migration; introduction and composition of
crops by shallow-rooted of externally supported livestock; reduced diversity,
responses to ones; shift to non-local public distribution increased specialization in
changes inputs; substitution for systems (food, inputs);2 monocropping; promotion
water flow by fossil fuel intensive cash cropping of policies/programs with
for grinding mills; on limited areas.2 successful record outside,
manure by chemical without evaluation.2

Development New systems without Agricultural measures Indifference of programs
initiatives, linkages to other directed to short-term and policies to mountain
diversified activities; results; primarily product- specificities, focus on
etc. generating excessive versus resource-centered short-term gains, high
potentially dependence on outside approaches to centralization, excessive,
negative resources (fertilizer/ agricultural development, crucial dependence on
changes3 pesticide-based techno- etc. external advice ignoring
logies); ignoring folk wisdom.
traditional adaptation
experiences (new
irrigation structure)

1 Most of the changes are interelated and they could fit into more than one block.
2 Since a number of changes could be for reasons other than unsustainability, a fuller understanding of the underlying circumstances of a
change will be necessary.
3 Changes under this category differ from the ones under the above two categories, in the sense that they are yet to take place, and their
potential emergence could be understood by examining the involved resource-use practices in relation to specific mountain


3. Development initiatives with potentially negative consequences: A
number of measures are adopted for meeting present or perceived future
shortages of products at current or increased levels of demand. Some of the
measures (changes), while enhancing productivity of agriculture in the short
run, might jeopardize the ability of the system to meet the increasing demands
in the long run. The probability that measures will have negative long-term
effects is directly linked to the interventions' insensitivity to specific
conditions in the mountains.
To illustrate the above, any farm technology that increases mountain
agriculture's crucial dependence on external inputs (e.g., fertilizer) or adds to
mass production of high-weight, low-value products with a largely external
market, and ignores the inaccessibility and related problems, may eventually
make agriculture unsustainable. Similarly, any measure that disregards the
fragility of mountain slopes and ignores linkages between diverse activities at
different elevations in the same valley (e.g., farming-forestry linkages) to
promote monocropping may not prove sustainable.
Under categories 2 and 3 above, there are several changes which might
bring positive results in the long run and enhance sustainability of mountain
agriculture. To separate them from the negative changes, one needs a fairly
disaggregated analysis of the involved components. The approach involves
examining the implications of interventions in terms of their compatibility
with the relevant characteristics and conditions of mountain areas-the
"mountain specificities" which are identified and discussed at length below.
As a part of farming systems work at ICIMOD, efforts are in progress, through
knowledge reviews and field studies in the selected mountain areas of Nepal,
India, Pakistan, and China, to assess the sustainability implications of a
number of interventions by examining their sensitivity to mountain
Identification, quantification, and documentation of the indicators of
unsustainability is only a first step in the process of understanding the
problem. The operational utility of the effort will depend on the ability to
identify and manipulate the factors and processes contributing to persistent
negative trends. While talking of the factors and processes causing
unsustainability, it is not uncommon to refer only to symptoms of the problem.
Such statements as "farmers' planting of crops on hill slopes is causing
landslides and rapid soil erosion," "non-application of chemical fertilizers and
reduced use of manure is causing decline in yields of hill crops," "overgrazing
of pastures is causing their degradation," etc., frequently appear in descriptions
of the current mountain situation.
At a slightly deeper level of understanding, population pressure, the


increased role of market forces, and side effects of public interventions in the
recent decades are identified as basic factors causing and accentuating the
negative trends mentioned earlier (ERL, 1989; Repetto, 1986; Banskota,
1989). However, without questioning the negative role of the above factors,
two points need emphasis. First, in today's context neither markets nor public
intervention (and even population growth in the near future) can be wished
away. Second, it is not so much their presence but their interaction-patterns
with mountain resources and environment that matter. Understanding of the
latter calls for identification of the operationally relevant major characteristics
and conditions of the mountains and examination of how they are affected by
the exogenous factors and pressures, causing changes in the use patterns of
mountain resources.


The important conditions which, for operational purposes, separate mountain
habitats from other areas are referred to here as "mountain specificities." The
six most important mountain specificities (some of which might be shared by
other areas such as deserts in plains) are considered here. The first four,
namely inaccessibility, fragility, marginality, and diversity or heterogeneity
may be called first-order specificities. The availability of "niches," or areas
which naturally suit, or have been adapted by people to suit, particular
products or activities, and "human adaptation mechanisms" in mountain
habitats are two second-order specificities. The latter are different from the
former in that they are responses or adaptations to the first-order specificities.
But they are specific to mountains nevertheless (Jodha, 1989).
Before describing the major mountain specificities, it should be noted that
these characteristics are not only interrelated in several ways, but within the
mountains they show considerable variability. For instance, all locations in
mountain areas are not equally inaccessible or fragile or marginal. Nor do
human adaptation mechanisms follow uniform patterns in all mountain
habitats. With full recognition of such realities we may briefly introduce the
mountain specificities.
Inaccessibility: Due to slope, altitude, overall terrain conditions, and
periodic seasonal hazards (e.g., landslides, snow storms, etc.), inaccessibility is
the most obvious feature of mountain areas (Price, 1981; Allan, 1986; Hewitt,
1988). Its concrete manifestations are isolation, distance, poor
communications, and limited mobility. Besides the dominant physical
dimension, it has sociocultural and economic dimensions (Jodha, 1989). The
sustainability implications of the relatively "closed" system created by


inaccessibility will be discussed later.
Fragility: Mountain areas, due to altitude and steep slopes, in association
with geologic, adaphic, and biotic factors which limit the former's capacity to
withstand even small degrees of disturbance, are known for their fragility
(DESFIL, 1988). Their vulnerability to irreversible damages due to overuse or
rapid changes extends to the physical land surface, the vegetative resources,
and even the delicate economic life-support systems of mountain
communities. Consequently, when mountain resources and environment start
deteriorating due to any disturbance, it happens at a fast rate. In most cases
the damage is irreversible or reversible only over a long period (Eckholm,
1975; Hewitt, 1988). The sustainability implications of this mountain
characteristic, to be discussed later, are not difficult to perceive.
Marginality: A "marginal" entity (in any context) is one which counts
the least with reference to the "mainstream" situation. This may apply to
physical and biological resources or conditions as well as to people and their
sustenance systems. The basic factors which contribute to an area or a
community's receiving such status are remoteness and physical isolation,
fragile and relatively unproductive resources, and several man-made handicaps
which prevent participation in the "mainstream" patterns of activities
(Chambers, 1987; Lipton, 1983). Mountain regions, being marginal areas as
opposed to prime areas in most cases, share the above attributes of marginal
entities and suffer the consequences of such status in different ways (Jodha,
1989). Marginality shares with fragility a number of sustainability
implications, as will be discussed later.
Diversity or heterogeneity: In mountain areas one finds immense
variations among and within eco-zones, even at short distances. This extreme
degree of heterogeneity in mountains is a function of interactions of such
different factors as elevation, altitude, geologic and adaphic conditions,
steepness and orientation of slopes, wind and precipitation, mountain mass,
and relief of terrain (Troll, 1988). The biological adaptations (Dahlberg,
1987) and socioeconomic responses to the above diversities also add a measure
of heterogeneity of their own (Price, 1981; Jochim, 1981). This diversity or
heterogeneity applies to all characteristics of mountains being discussed here.
Diversity acts as a positive attribute for interlinked activity patterns which can
enhance sustainability in mountains.
"Niche" availability or comparative advantage: Owing to their specific
environmental and resource-related features, mountains provide a "niche" for
specific activities or products. At the operational level, mountains may have
comparative advantages over plains in these activities. Examples may include
a specific valley serving as habitat for special medicinal plants, mountains


acting as a source of unique products (e.g., some fruits, flowers, etc.) and
mountains serving as most known sources of hydropower production. In
practice, however, a niche and the comparative advantage it offers may remain
dormant unless circumstances are created to harness it. However, mountains,
owing to their heterogeneity, have several often narrow but specific niches
which are used by local communities, through their diversified activities
(Whiteman, 1988; Brush, 1988). Proper harnessing of niches can support
sustainability, while their reckless exploitation can result in the elimination of
Human adaptation mechanisms: Mountains, with their heterogeneity
and diversity even at micro-level, offer a complex of constraints and
opportunities. Mountain communities, through trial and error over the
generations, have evolved their own adaptation mechanisms to handle them
(Pant, 1935; Guillet, 1983; Jochim, 1981). Accordingly, either the mountain
characteristics are modified (e.g., through terracing and irrigation) to suit their
needs, or activities are designed to fit the requirements of mountain
conditions (e.g., by zone-specific combinations of activities, crops, etc.).
Adaptation mechanisms or experiences are reflected through formal and
informal arrangements for management of resources, diversified and
interlinked activities to harness micro-niches in specific eco-zones, and
effective use of upland-lowland links (Allan, 1986; Forman, 1988; Brush,
1988; Whiteman, 1988). These adaptation mechanisms helped in sustainable
use of mountain resources in the past. However, with the already indicated
changes related to population, market, and state intervention, a number of
adaptation mechanisms are losing their feasibility and efficacy. As will be
elaborated later, understanding the rationale behind adaptation mechanisms
can help in the search for sustainability.

Operational Implications of Mountain Specificities
There is a rich body of literature in which students of mountain ecology,
mountain ethnosciences, and mountain geography in particular have
described the above features for different mountain systems (Price, 1981; Ives
and Messerli, 1989; Allan, Knapp, and Stadel, 1988). However, to enhance
the direct usability of this literature in the search for sustainable development
in mountain areas, one needs to spell out its operational implications. This is
essential to influence the decision processes affecting agriculture and other
activities in mountains. The operational implications in turn could be
described as objective circumstances which could be easily understood and
incorporated into policy and program designs.


Objective circumstances imply a set of constraints and potentialities
which influence the choice and pattern of activities in mountains. Distance,
physical isolation, high transport cost, poor mobility, difficulties of logistics
and infrastructure, vulnerability to risks due to human action and natural
hazards, limited input absorption capacities, limited production opportunities,
limited exposure to and limited replicability of experiences from plains, are
some of the important elements of objective circumstances in mountain areas.
Such mountain features as inaccessibility, fragility, and marginality contribute
to them in different ways. On the positive side, the presence of often narrow
but unique high-potential areas and activities is also a part of the objective
circumstances in mountain areas.
Understanding the objective circumstances or complex of constraints and
opportunities created by mountain specificities on the one hand, and required
resource management practices acceptable to them on the other, may help in
an effective search for sustainability for mountain agriculture. In other words,
mountain specificities can serve as a useful tool for the identification of
options which can or cannot serve the goal of sustainability. This will be clear
from the following discussion. However, before we discuss the sustainability
implication of mountain specificities, a few preconditions associated with
processes enhancing sustainability of agriculture and other activities in
mountains may be reiterated.
Though the determinants of sustainability include both biophysical and
socioeconomic factors, in the mountain context the former assumes primacy.
At the operational level, the crucial factor is the capacity of these factors, not
only to maintain, but if needed, to increase the flow of products and services.
Raising the flow may imply responding to interventions (including
manipulation of the resource base itself), without losing what Tisdell (1988)
calls the essential ecological integrity of the system. Socioeconomic factors
largely consist of conscious or unconscious modifications in the resource base
and its use patterns. These modifications are aimed at ensuring the capacity of
the natural resource base to provide an uninterrupted and undiminished flow
of output despite periodic disturbances and to withstand higher use intensity
to raise the level of performance when required. The latter may also involve
higher input absorption and responding positively to expansion of the scale of
operation and infrastructural logistics.
The sustained performance described above is often facilitated by a given
system's linkages with other (wider) systems. This helps in the absorption of
the consequences of periodic "shocks," the relaxation of specific resource
constraints faced by the farmer, and the enhancement of the gains associated
with spatial and temporal specialization. This implies linkages through


exchange between different systems, mountains and plains in our case.
Table 2 summarizes the above factors with reference to mountain speci-
ficities in order to highlight their sustainability implications. Accordingly, due
to features such as fragility, marginality and even inaccessibility, mountain
agriculture has a very narrow production base and production possibilities.
Because of these very factors, scope is limited for manipulations by higher
input use and higher use intensity of land resources. Vulnerability of land
resources to rapid degradation (as reflected by soil erosion and landslides) as a
result of even small disturbance is also linked to fragility.
However, owing to heterogeneity of mountain habitats, mountain agricul-
ture is also endowed with a complex of varied opportunities for land-and
water-based activities. Mountain communities skillfully harness them. But
being too diverse and narrow and having been constrained by inaccessibility,
they cannot impart the benefits of large-scale operations. Gains from experi-
ences of other ecological zones are also less likely, because the heterogeneities
restrict the replication of external experiences.
Niches or specific situations/products, with their potential comparative
advantage for mountains over plains, are also a product of the heterogeneity
characterizing these regions. Some of them are quite narrow and often
harnessed to support petty trading despite inaccessibility problems. Special
horticulture products, flowers, medicinal plants, etc., may serve as examples.
Mountains are also endowed with niches which are so huge and complex
(e.g., potential for large-scale irrigation and hydropower production) that
harnessing them is often beyond the capacities of mountain communities.
Often when such niches are harnessed through external initiatives, they
attract resource-extractive focus, with little sensitivity to their backlash effects
on sustenance systems of mountain communities. Moreover, owing to the
socioeconomic and political marginality of mountain people, the terms of
resource extraction are unfavorable to mountain regions, which consequently
become net exporters of resources to the plains.
Except for the above type of upland-lowland linkages, the scope for
exchanges between mountains and plains is quite limited due to
inaccessibility. This restricts the scope for higher surplus generation and the
exchange of products, production experiences, and markets with plains areas.
The mountain specificities and their implications described above present
a complex of constraints and opportunities, treatment of which forms the
essence of farming systems and other adaptation strategies evolved by
mountain communities. Various measures designed to adapt (or amend)
mountain specificities to suit production requirements or to adapt
requirements to mountain conditions could be put into various categories.



Sustainability implications in terms of:

Inherent production potential Abilities to link
& modification possibilities through: with wider system

Mt. specificities Resource Input Infra- Gains Resilience Surplus Replicability
(and objective use absorption structural of to generation of external
circumstances) intensity capacity logistics scale shocks & exchange experience

(Remoteness dis-
tance, closeness,
restricted external
linkages, etc.) (-)

(Vulnerability to
irreversible damage,
low carrying capacity,
limited production
options, high overhead
cost of use, etc.) (-) (-)

(Cut off from main-
stream, limited pro-
duction options,
high dependency, etc.)

(Complex of constraints
& opportunities, inter-
dependence of production
bases & products/
activities, etc.) (+)1 (+)

(Small and numerous
specific activities with
comp. advantage; use of
some beyond local capa-
bilities, etc.) (+) (+)

(Folk agronomy, ethno-
engineering, collective
security, diversifi-
cation, self provi-
sioning, etc.)

(+) (+)

(-) (-)

(-) (-) (-)

(-) (-) (-)

(+) (-) (+)

(+) (+)

(+) (+) (+)

(+) () (+)

1(-) indicates extremely limited possibilities, while (+) indicates greater scope for sustainability through production
performance and linkages with wider systems (e.g., upland-lowland interactions).


They may be termed as folk agronomy, ethno-engineering, diversification
strategies, self-provisioning systems, collective survival mechanisms, etc.
These measures in their respective ways help in raising use intensity and
protection of land resources despite fragility and marginality, multiplying and
diversifying options despite limited production possibilities, generating and
exchanging surpluses despite accessibility problems. Human adaptation
mechanisms in mountain habitats need further comment, as they could help
identify elements usable in strategies for sustainable development of mountain


Some of the strategies developed by people to ensure their subsistence in
mountain habitats are summarized in Table 3. They could be viewed as
responses to different mountain specificities. Accordingly, local resource-
centered diversification is one important approach. It is based on interlinked
activities (e.g., annual and perennial crops, livestock, forestry, etc.). It is
supported by systems of self provisioning, on-farm storage, and recycling. This
approach not only serves sustenance needs in a relatively closed system (due
to inaccessibility), but has potential to benefit from heterogeneity of the
resource base without damaging the fragile and marginal resources.
Ethno-engineering, covering such practices as terracing mountain slopes
and harnessing the runoff and developing small drainage systems, is also
designed to treat marginality and fragility of natural resources and harness
their specific potentialities. A number of agronomic practices, such as
rotations, fallowing, etc., also help in this respect.
The choice of crops with different attributes (to meet food, fodder, fiber,
and cash needs) and integration of systems based on annuals and perennials
(to ensure balanced land use) are important components of folk agronomy
(Whiteman, 1988; Forman, 1988). They help in management of fragility and
marginality of resources and in harnessing diversity and the specific niches
created by it.
In the face of individuals' incapacities and possible individual irrationality
in handling specific problems, a variety of collective arrangements have
evolved. Such provisions as common property resources, collective risk
sharing, and contributions to community asset creation/maintenance, etc., are
examples of this (Guillett, 1983; Pant, 1935). They not only help in handling
constraints imposed by inaccessibility, fragility, and marginality, but also
facilitate creation and harnessing of niches in the diverse mountain situations.
Despite inaccessibility, the mountain communities manage specific



Mountain specificities

sibility Fragility Marginality Diversity Niche

Diversification and self provisioning:

- Spatially, temporally interlinked activities x x x x
- Local resource-focused recycling, self-
provisioning x x x
- Scattered settlement patterns x x

Folk agronomy:

- Annual-perennial plant complementarities
(farming-forestry linkages etc.) x x
Cultivars of varying attributes x x x x x
Fallowing, rotations, topo sequencing,
intercropping x x

Ethno engineering:

- Slope management (terracing, etc.) x x
- Protective vegetation, contour farming x x
- Traditional irrigation/drainage management x x x
- Small-scale transport logistics
ropewayss, etc.) x

Collective arrangements:

Common property resources x x x
Social regulation for use/protection of
fragile resources x
Community irrigation systems, etc. x x x
Crisis period sharing systems x x x

Upland-lowland linkages:

Petty trading in specialized mountain products
(with high value, low weight, etc.) x x x
Periodic migration x x
Transhumance x x
Externally planned extraction of mountain niches x

linkages with plains. Petty trading in specific products, especially those with
low weight, high value, and low perishability, and which occur only in
mountain niches, is a common feature. Periodic and permanent out-migration
of hill people is a well-known device to manage local pressure in a rather
closed system due to accessibility problems. Transhumance is also practiced
both to facilitate the use of diverse ecological niches and as a mechanism for
releasing local pressure and linking the mountain economy to that of the
plains (Bjonnes, 1983).
Though not directly relevant to the present discussion, there is yet


another category of mountain-plain linkages which operate through the
modern public interventions for harvesting timber, exploiting hydropower
potential, etc. However, most of them are externally conceived and planned.
They are often quite insensitive to mountain specificities (Paranjpye, 1988;
Repetto, 1988). Consequently, they have several backlash effects on
mountain habitats and traditional adaptation strategies (Sanwal, 1989).

Reduced Feasibility and Efficacy of Traditional Strategies
As mentioned earlier, due to changed demographic, economic and
administrative circumstances, most of the above measures are becoming
unfeasible or ineffective in handling mountain specificities. For this reason
alone, we included "resource management practices" as one of the categories
to classify the indicators of unsustainability.
In the first place, increased pressure on land has made it difficult to
continue such land-extensive practices as long fallows, specific rotations, and
balanced land use involving annual-perennial complementarities. Extension
of cropping to submarginal areas, rapid decline of forests and common
property resources, and overgrazing of pastures have made the current
situation insensitive to fragility and marginality of land resources (Rieger,
1981; ERL, 1988; Sanwal, 1989).
Public interventions for infrastructural development and their subsequent
impacts on resource use also have similar consequences. The public
interventions in terms of new agricultural technologies, focusing largely on
selected crops and selected crop attributes, have also contributed to reduced
diversity and resiliency of mountain agriculture. The new highly centralized
administrative systems and other institutional arrangements (including those
for input supply and marketing) have bypassed and marginalized the
traditional collective systems and folk knowledge about resource management
(Sanwal, 1989).
The market, which traditionally operated as a facility for siphoning off the
local pressures and trading local surpluses, has now acquired different
characteristics in the mountain context. Encouraged by factors such as public
interventions for extraction of mountain niches, improved accessibility in
some cases, and changed qualitative characteristics of mountain populations
(e.g., rise of individualism), the market has penetrated quite deeply into
mountain areas and people's psyches. This has undermined several measures
which needed adherence to social sanctions and respect for collective
decisions, a high premium placed on self provisioning and recycling, a
preference for conservation as opposed to extraction, etc. The importance of
markets has also dramatically changed the nature of upland-lowland linkages.


Distant market signals in plains, which are indifferent to mountain
specificities, dictate the pattern of resource extraction in mountains.


Both the preceding comments and the earlier discussion on indicators of
unsustainability present a rather discouraging scenario regarding mountain
agriculture. A utopian solution would call for restraining market and state
and, of course, stopping population growth in mountains. The last is unlikely
in the near future. The other two are also impossible, as in today's world one
cannot wish away markets and states despite their failures. For one thing,
along with their negative side effects, the market and public interventions
have helped make some improvement in the conditions of mountain people.
Hence, the solution lies in minimizing their negative side effects. This in turn
could be achieved by sensitizing public interventions and market forces to
mountain specificities. Jodha (1989), by analyzing the mountain specificities
and their development imperatives, has presented a framework for attempting
this. The basic need is to incorporate the mountain perspective as a
contextual factor in the decisions made and actions taken in respect to
An additional and more concrete approach is to identify the rationale of
traditional adaptation strategies and incorporate it into interventions for
agricultural and other developments in mountain areas. However, before
looking at the specific areas in which the rationale of traditional adaptation
strategies can be found, the problem may be restated in the following manner.
The unsustainability scenarios in mountain areas have emerged largely
because the current use intensities of mountain resources are higher than the
ones permitted by the inherent characteristics of those resources. This has
happened through both changed use patterns and an increased use of resources
for new purposes. In the context of the present pressure of demand, the high
resource-use intensity cannot be avoided. The crucial challenge is to
reconcile high-use intensity and protection of resources against degradation.
This calls for both technological and institutional measures.
Technological elements from traditional adaptations which require a high
land-man ratio are no longer relevant in the present context. Similarly, unless
collective consciousness is strengthened, the institutional measures involving
adherence to social sanctions and informal norms have little chance of
success. With full recognition of these realities, one can nevertheless look to
the traditional practices for some insights. Tables 4 and 5 present relevant


Table 4 summarizes the potential attributes of crop-centered and
resource-centered technologies. These technologies incorporate the rationale
of traditional strategies without adopting their land-extensive features, which
are not feasible in today's context of high pressure on land. The table also
indicates specific features of crops and varieties (e.g., low weight, high value,
etc.), which can impart a comparative advantage to mountain agriculture,
despite the problems associated with inaccessibility. A focus on bioengineer-
ing, soil- and water-management systems, and new technologies is suggested,
which can help increase input-absorption capacities of fragile and marginal
lands without damaging them.


Traditional strategies and
their key elements

Imperatives for new options

Diversification and interlinkages
of agricultural components
(forestry/farming; cereal legume

Balanced land-extensive and
land-intensive agricultural

Local-resource orientation of
folk agronomy, other technologies

Land-extensive crop rotations,
nutrient cycling through
cropping systems

Ethno-engineering for resource
management, conservation

Systems approach with focus on multiple-use species for
annuals and perennials for food, fodder; with focus on
wider adaptability, wider range and complementarity with
other crops and activities

High-yielding, short-maturity annuals and perennials, to
increase land-use intensity, without discarding their
complementarities for balanced land use; activities (e.g.,
apiculture, aquaculture) not competing for land

Agricultural products with high value, low weight, low
perishability, local processibility, recyclability, lower
crucial dependence on external inputs and high use of the
comparative advantage of mountains, to combat
inaccessibility and marginality constraints

Plants to build and bind soil; biological control of yield
reducers; legume-based systems to reduce need for

Bio-engineering and mechanical devices for slope
stabilization, soil and drainage management; agro-forestry
systems, use of folk knowledge in fragility management

At present the hill farmer, in spite of his concern for sustained
productivity and conservation of his land, finds sustainability difficult to
achieve because he does not have alternative new components (e.g., crops
with specific attributes listed in Table 4) to incorporate in his strategies to
satisfy the above concerns. Part of the blame for this should rest with those


who plan and develop new technologies for mountains. First, in proportion to
the total agricultural research being conducted today, the research for
mountain habitats is insignificant. Second, even the research done for
mountain agriculture is insensitive to mountain specificities. A preliminary
review of literature on research and development for mountain agriculture (in
Nepal, India, Pakistan, and China) shows very few cases where research
agendas and approaches take explicit account of mountain specificities.
Table 5 indicates the possible directions of institutional approaches for
sustainable agricultural and other development in mountain areas. The need
for using mountain specificities as a screening device to assess the
sustainability/unsustainability implication of development interventions or
market initiatives is emphasized. To minimize the impart of resource-
extractive patterns, strong compensatory measures are necessary. They should
take into account not only financial resources but biophysical conditions as


Attributes of traditional situations Imperatives for new options

1. Absence of large-scale external interventions Assessment of negative implications of development
activities for mountain specificities, as a primary
a) Development initiatives with negative side screening device for consideration of the development
effects options.
b) "Extractive"patterns of activities due to i) Restraint of reckless harvesting and trade in
market and state interventions mountain products;

ii) Regulation of extraction rate only as permitted by
mountain specificities (e.g., fragility, etc.)
iii) Compensatory measures in biophysical terms (e.g.,
replacement planting for each tree removed, slope
stabilization by bioengineering methods)
iv) Equitable or favorable terms of trade for
mountains, in upland-lowland exchanges/linkages
v) Obligatory transfer of part of gains of resource
extractions back to mountains for local
development, to reduce pressure on land
2. Absence of high local pressure on land and i) Population control and encouragement of out-
extractive patterns of resource use migration

ii) Promotion of non-land-based activities including
product processing, apiculture, etc.

3. Role of collective resource management i) Restoration of local control of local resources,
decentralized and participatory development
approaches, and focus on group action


well. The latter would mean obligatory provisions such as planting
replacements for each tree removed by timber harvesters, stabilization of
disturbed slopes through biophysical means, etc. Restoration of local control
of local resources and decentralized and participatory development approaches
are other institutional arrangements, the need for which is suggested by the
rationale behind traditional adaptation strategies to handle mountain
To conclude, the essence of our discussion is that in order to restore and
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Lorna Michael Butler and Jack Waudt


Congress' initiation of the Low Input Sustainable Agriculture (LISA)
program, through the 1985 Food Security Act, has effectively challenged the
traditional land grant university (LGU) system. Those of us in western
Washington and Oregon who are involved with one of the initially funded
projects are struck by the degree to which the LISA program is influencing our
traditional way of doing business. We have also observed that a good many of
the people who are contributing to the program have international
experiences, some of which are with farming systems research and extension
(FSRE) programs.

Purpose of the Paper
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate ways in which the FSRE and
LISA concepts are contributing to needed extension organization changes in
Washington State, and to speculate on how these changes may influence our
way of operating in the future. The western Washington-Oregon LISA
program, now in its second year of operation, will serve as an illustration for
our points. With it, we will identify some of the challenges that lie before us.
The two of us, who have jointly authored this paper, share leadership
responsibilities of the program in western Washington.

Extension Modifications Are in Order
Events of the past decade have put increasing pressure on Cooperative
Extension to modify its mission, structure, priorities and approaches.
Competition for tax dollars and university resources has accelerated. Public
demands for tax-supported services, such as health care and environmental
clean-up, have moved support for education, particularly when perceived as
"agriculture," to lower priority. With agricultural production in the hands of
approximately 600,000 full-time producers and 1.6 million part-time producers
who are dependent on off-farm or retirement income for their livelihood, the
traditional base of support that extension once counted on has eroded.

1Extension Anthropologist and Professor, Department of Rural Sociology, Washington State
University-Puyallup, and Washington State University County Extension Agent (Clallam County),
Port Angeles, and Western Washington LISA Project Coordinator, Washington State University-
Puyallup, respectively.


The mission of the LGU, under the Morrill Act of 1862, commits
Cooperative Extension to serve all citizens of the state through education,
information dissemination, and applied research in support of the state's
agricultural, natural, and human resources, and to improve the quality of life
for all citizens. The LGU originally provided education to the masses,
generating new knowledge, applying it to society's problems, and extending it
to students on the campus and to the people of the state.
There are those who feel that the LGU has lost its relevance to society.
Schuh (1986) expresses concern about the declining emphasis on applied
research at LGU and the emergence of private-sector research and educational
organizations that attract the funds that might, at one time, have gone to
universities. The challenge we face, according to Schuh, is how to "bridge the
gap between society's current problems and the frontiers of knowledge." This
calls for innovation within the university, and the renewal of a mission
orientation in the whole LGU system. This may call for the identification of
new units or schools and changes in the mission of some of the existing
More recently, Hushak (1989) contends it is time for an expanded vision
of the LGU. The image of the present colleges of agriculture must extend
beyond agriculture to include "the total rural community and an international
perspective." Hushak states that the viability of the rural community is more
critical to the well-being of farm households today than is the farm itself.
Are we losing touch with the people who most need our resources? We
are almost afraid to ask ourselves how much quality time we spend really
listening to, or observing the behavior of, ordinary people. Even our
traditional clientele frequently go elsewhere for the latest research
information. Other organizations are taking a leadership role in things that
were once our exclusive domain. Agencies and organizations (e.g., the Soil
Conservation Service, Rodale, the Environmental Protection Agency) are
capturing the credibility that once was ours and pressuring Congress to
allocate them the resources to take on research and educational
responsibilities that were once perceived to belong to LGUs.
The LGU has allowed its primary focus to become production agriculture,
with relatively little attention being directed to the total food system as it
exists in the context of the household and community. We have paid little
heed to the long-term social and environmental impacts of our research, and
now production agriculture needs our help to regain its credibility among
those concerned about land and resource stewardship, groundwater
contamination, and food safety.
Our organizational system has mirrored our emphasis on production in its


narrow disciplinary and reductionist orientation. As a result, we find ourselves
with few incentives to encourage genuine interdisciplinary, systems-oriented,
on-farm research. Our structure has evolved away from the original intent to
maintain a close working relationship between research, extension, and
resident instruction. In contrast, there is an increasing amount of separation
between these mutually compatible functions.


The Western Washington-Oregon LISA Program
Approximately a year and a half ago, a group of relatively unacquainted
people from western Washington and Oregon received a two-year western
region LISA grant to conduct a project titled, "Evaluation and Design of Low-
Input Vegetable/Small Grain and Small Fruit Systems of Western Washington
and Oregon." The implementation team included a mix of Washington State
University and Oregon State University agricultural research and extension
staff (county agents and specialists), one environmental sciences faculty
member from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Oregon, and
Washington TILTH, and several innovative organic farmers and marketers.
The project's first phase has focused on description and diagnosis of
existing vegetable and small fruit systems. Our aim is to learn what makes
these systems sustainable and to better understand the principal production
and marketing strengths and constraints of these systems.
For us, "sustainable" implies decreased dependency on nonrenewable
resources, long-term, nondestructive management of natural resources,
continuing farm profitability, and maintenance of food quality and safety.
Interaction between and among farm household members, consumers,
marketers, researchers, and extension staff is central to the approach.
By the conclusion of this phase we hope to identify a set of research and
extension program priorities that will lead us into phase 2. It is already
apparent that the next phase will probably give major attention to (1)
developing a complementary on-farm/on-station research program, and (2)
building coalitions of program leadership among special interest groups (e.g.,
agricultural, environmental, consumer), agencies, the private sector, and the
Concepts, methods, and assumptions: The program draws on the
concepts and methodologies of the FSRE approach, which has evolved largely
in response to Third World food production and development problems.
Until LISA appeared, there were only a few notable U.S. examples of attempts
to institutionalize the FSRE concept as a means of managing the


interdependencies between American agriculture, food and environmental
quality, and consumer demands.
We are attempting to do this by stressing the importance of the clientele
in the process, and through an interdisciplinary systems approach to analyzing
and resolving problems.
Central Assumptions:
1. Innovative and entrepreneurial clientele are valuable sources of
knowledge and experience for identifying, adapting, evaluating, and
disseminating LISA system practices.
2. A blending of research and extension functions, at the field level, will
help to ensure that LISA technologies are appropriate to the needs of
clientele. This can be accomplished through client-researcher-extensionist
partnerships at each program phase.
3. An interdisciplinary team, drawing on a variety of experiences and
backgrounds, has greater potential for finding practical solutions to unique
production problems than does a single-discipline approach. The farmer is
more likely to see the farm as an interrelated whole in which each part is
related to the other, and to the goals and resources of the household and larger
We are committed to the renewal of extension's on-farm research base. In
the early years of extension, little technology was transferred until it was first
tested and adapted by local farmers. Most extension agents are sensitive to
the risks involved if they attempt to transfer information directly from the
research laboratory or plot. Overseas projects are rife with examples of failures
to adapt technologies to the local context. For these reasons, we are searching
for locally acceptable solutions to production and marketing issues, and for
regionally appropriate organizational management strategies on the part of
extension and research.
Strategies and activities: The program is guided by a diverse advisory
committee composed of four university scientists and extension specialists who
are not directly involved in the program, two university administrators (from
WSU and OSU), three producers, and an external agency representative.
The committee meets twice a year, but between meetings individuals serve as
"sounding boards" for suggestions about program policies and directions. The
group reviews and evaluates program activities and accomplishments. In
addition, there is an Executive Committee, consisting of the two state
coordinators, which is in charge of day-to-day program operation. One full-
time Project Associate, located at OSU, assists with program implementation
in both states.


Primary program activities to date have consisted of the following:
* A sondeo/sensing interview survey2 of the greater Seattle organic fresh-
produce marketplace. Three dozen industry participants were interviewed
by an interdisciplinary team to determine the state of the market for
organically grown produce on the premise that its growth might provide
incentive for producers to reduce levels of external production inputs.
* A telephone survey of 400 western Washington and Oregon producers of
five crops (potatoes, broccoli, sweet corn, raspberries, strawberries). The
purpose was to understand the range of production practices currently in
use, and to differentiate among groups of producers using similar practices.
* A tri-state symposium to enhance the dialogue between organic,
conventional, and transitioning producers, university personnel (research,
teaching, extension, administration), agency and interest group
representatives, consumers and the private sector.
* A two-state Sustainable Agriculture Newsletter distributed to over 5,000
farmers, research and extension faculty, and agency and organization
representatives. This is intended as an educational resource regarding
production and marketing alternatives, needs, and practices.
* A series of whole-farm case studies of innovative Washington and Oregon
vegetable and small fruit systems. Collaborating farms include those
which are "certified organic," conventional, and transitional, and range in
size from 2 to 2,000 acres. Our objective is to learn what makes each
sustainable from a total farm-household perspective. Through
approximately five interdisciplinary-team visits we are documenting the
production system, farm history, managers' backgrounds and experiences,
changes in the operation and in technologies used, problems encountered
(biological, social, economic, environmental), agricultural-food
stewardship values, and attitudes, goals, and history of experimentation.

2The "sondeo" is a rapid survey technique used in FSRE programs overseas, and more recently in the
United States. An interdisciplinary team conducts 10-30 informal interviews or discussions with
farmers to better understand existing production systems, constraints, problems, and resources. The
technique is a useful tool for identifying on-farm research needs to directly benefit limited-resource
farmers. The "sensing interview" is also an informal survey, usually involving an interviewer and
interviewee, or a small group. Six to 12 open-ended focus questions guide an informal discussion to
obtain a sense of the situation.



Interdisciplinary Capacity Building
Several characteristics of the LISA program are consistent with
recommendations proposed nationally by the Extension Committee on
Organization and Policy (ECOP) for organizational change within the
extension system (1982). Among the proposals was a movement to
interdisciplinary program teams, regionalization of staff, and increased
cooperation with other organizations in the public and private sectors.
A recent survey of agriculture deans illustrates how recent social and
economic changes are affecting colleges of agriculture. We are seeing an
expanded interest in integration of research and extension functions, and
more emphasis on social-science research. The findings reinforce the need for
extension to become more involved with research, to make greater use of an
agricultural systems approach (we feel that "agricultural" may still be too
limiting), and to strengthen interdisciplinary work.
How is the LISA program stimulating some of these changes? Like FSRE,
LISA is an interdisciplinary, systems-oriented, problem-solving model. The
two are equally 'in need of an institutional environment that fosters
interdisciplinary collaboration across departments and units. Both are
research-management tools intended to increase the usefulness of research for
selected clients. In the case of LISA, the primary client is the farmer who is
concerned about adapting to a more sustainable production and marketing
system. For FSRE, the primary client is the resource-poor farmer.
Issue-based programming: The basic intent of LISA is to assist producers
in decreasing external inputs, while also maintaining profitability and
protecting the environment. Within the university, this was initially
interpreted to be an agricultural and natural resources (ANR) program. In
some institutions,! the request for proposals was not shared with extension, nor
with those disciplines and programs not traditionally part of ANR. Extension
agents were among the last to hear about the program. In one year, LISA has
moved far beyond this narrow context. We feel relatively good about the
growing interest and commitment we have from both research and extension,
including county agents. This includes faculty with backgrounds in a wide
range of social, life, and biological sciences.
This is an indication that the problems involved touch on several critical,
interrelated, issues of wide public concern. LISA is serving as a capacity-
building tool for improved integration of resources to address the
interdependencies between and among such issues as:


Food safety
Natural resource stewardship
Business profitability and competitiveness
Soil, water, and air quality
Rural revitalization
Waste management
Identifying a systems-oriented team: When we began to organize the
LISA program, one of our initial tasks was to identify an implementation
team. We needed input from a number of related horticulture disciplines
(plant pathology, entomology, weed science, soil science), from social
scientists (anthropology, rural sociology, family finance and management,
agricultural economics), and from disciplines associated with food and
nutrition sciences and consumer studies. In addition, we wanted both
research and extension (specialist and agent) involvement.
In western Washington, we have a relatively small pool of faculty on
which to draw. There are approximately 24 research FTEs distributed among
four research and extension units. None of these are specialized in a social
science, nor in food sciences, nutrition, or consumer sciences. Horticultural
scientists are in short supply. There are considerably more extension resources
available if we consider both extension specialists and county faculty (about
15 specialist FTEs and 62 county agent FTEs). While this appears to be a
reasonable number of resources from which to draw, we had major problems
coming up with individuals who
Could foresee adequate rewards for their efforts
Were willing to commit time to the program
Possessed an appropriate "mind set" to work in the program
Perceived they had sufficient administrative support to participate
Could relate their expertise to LISA program needs
As it turns out, our Washington team consists primarily of extension
faculty, some specialists, and some county agents. There is only one "actively"
involved researcher. This individual is unique in that he seems to perceive
the investment of his time as one that will have long-term research and
institutional benefits. The majority of researchers see little incentive for their
participation. No Phase-1 funds were allocated for station research, and any
potential research was perceived as unlikely to contribute to tenure and
We encountered such comments as, "If the project focuses on raspberries
(or the individual's area of specialization), I might consider involvement when
funding becomes available." In a different vein, other researchers rejected the
inductive methodology. One person stated, "I know what the problems are, so


why should I waste time going to farmers' fields to ask them this question?"
In Oregon, there was little extension input initially, and no resources at
all in rural sociology or anthropology. Now, there are several "horticulture"
agents, one home-economics agent, specialists in family economics,
agricultural economics, agronomy and weed science, and entomology. Active
research participation has come from soil science, horticulture, entomology,
and plant pathology.
Hidden resources: We are learning to recognize and utilize resources to
full advantage. Faculty interests and skills are normally identified primarily by
title, departmental affiliation, or academic specialization. It is more difficult
to identify people with interdisciplinary "mind sets," "hidden" social science
aptitudes, and flexible research interests. We are finding unique talents
lurking in other disciplines.
For example, we have accessed home economists trained in family
resource management and nutrition to address linkages between food systems,
consumer behavior, and household decision-making and management.
County agents are especially versatile. We have one, for instance, who is a
"horticulture-IPM specialist," but who also has a background in social work
and the transportation industry. Another, who is employed as an
administrator arid "agriculture generalist," has international private-sector
experience in plant breeding. A number of team members have worked in
developing countries.
Eventually, we may have to look beyond the college and university for
resources in business economics and management, political science,
international marketing, history, ecology and environmental sciences. These
areas of specialization are less common to colleges of agriculture and home
Faculty education: Probably one of the most significant effects of the
program has been its educational impact on collaborating faculty. It is doing
what we could not do in the classroom. By being a participating member of
the implementation team, each person is broadening his/her view of other
disciplines and of their applications to the problems of sustainable agriculture.
One day about eight of us were in the field of a collaborating farmer. A
research colleague remarked, "This is the first time in my career that I have
been in a broccoli field alongside of so many different disciplines." Another
time, a person commented, "There are only two or three times in a person's
career when you experience a high level of group excitement and creativity.
This is one of them." Together, we are learning to listen to farmers, observe
what they are doing, and reach a shared consensus on problems and possible


Most of us joined the project with our own ideas of what constitutes a
"systems approach." For some this meant interrelationships between and
among entomology, horticulture, plant pathology and soils; for others this was
livestock production, range and forages, and animal nutrition. As a team we
are learning to recognize and appreciate the human element of each system
and the way it interacts with the physical subsystem.
In one case study, we are beginning to understand why a large, three-
generation family farm operation continues to keep 700 head of sheep, in spite
of incompatible weather, pasture unavailability, and serious predator problems.
On top of this, not everyone in the family even likes sheep. As one of the
managers said, "It is the oldest debate on the farm." While the family operates
a complex vegetable, grain and small fruit system, there are three generations
of emotional attachment to livestock. Children share in lambing activities,
and harassed farm managers enjoy the association with animals offered by
visits to winter grazing pastures.
In other cases, we are becoming aware of successful farmers' efforts to
"nurture" their labor. On farms where labor is less of a problem, managers are
extremely inventive in providing support and recognition to valuable
employees. As a team, we are observing this firsthand, and collectively we
have heard both home economists and agricultural economists discuss the
subject. We are reaching a point where others of us are making similar
observations of other systems. This is giving us more mileage from our
Support for interdisciplinary adaptive research: The interdisciplinary,
systems approach of LISA and FSRE are incompatible with the discipline-
driven nature of university research and extension. Implementing holistic
research is difficult in that it calls for redirecting research away from
disciplinary and commodity concerns, toward complex interactions among
people, crops, soils, and livestock (Busch and Lacey, 1983; Gilbert, Norman,
and Winch, 1980).
Movement in these directions has been hampered by the relative glamour
and political support enjoyed by such fields as biotechnology. Done well,
adaptive research is technically difficult and labor-intensive (Holt, 1987).
At WSU, we are taking steps to encourage interdisciplinary work. Both
the LISA program and the Water Quality program are relatively recent
Cooperative Extension initiatives. Each has profited from considerable
research and extension-administration support. These programs have
benefited from a creative grant pool to which county agents and specialists
jointly apply for support for interdisciplinary and adaptive research programs.
Extension is also considering salary merit incentives for "high-risk"


programming, for example use of interdisciplinary or team-oriented
approaches in high-priority issue areas. As positions are filled, we are also
seeing more joint research-extension positions at the state level, and more
area specialization. We are also extremely fortunate that our directors of
Cooperative Extension and of the Agriculture Research Center are making a
noticeable effort to "be of one mind." This close collaboration between two
traditionally separate units is already reaping benefits. One example of this is
the apparent increased extension-agent interest in adaptive research.
We still have a long way to go in institutional legitimization of LISA-type
programs. However, they are having an effect on our system. Extension in
Washington is verbalizing its intent to deemphasize the four traditional
program areas (Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family Living, Community
Resource Development, and 4-H and Youth), and to stress issue-oriented team
approaches. To make this work, however, we will need to legitimize "issue
clusters" that cut horizontally across academic departments. These clusters,
which may change every few years, will need recognized leadership, budget
support, and incentives for participating faculty. If LISA is to have a lasting
impact on the institution, our administration is going to be faced with some
serious planning decisions very soon.

Blending Research and Extension
In the long run, we hope LISA will lead to more integrated on-farm,
client-oriented research and extension programs. We foresee a legitimate
institutional unit or institute that blends the capabilities and functions of both
research and extension. Central to this unit would be its commitment to
clientele participation as partners, collaborators, promoters, experimenters,
testers, and evaluators of alternative technologies.
On-farm research: International experiences associated with the
introduction of on-farm research into a traditional on-station research
program provide valuable lessons for LISA. Our Washington team is
considering these carefully as we define a statewide strategy for a more client-
oriented research and extension unit that could serve as an "umbrella" for a
number of interrelated sustainable agriculture programs in the WSU College
of Agriculture and Home Economics.
On-farm and on-station research are not the same. However, the success
of one is dependent on the success of the other. A nine-country International
Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) study on organization
and management of on-farm client-oriented research stresses the need for a
balanced build-up of the two to achieve a strong integration.
Effective adaptive research relies on station-based research for


Providing technical options that can be adapted to specific
agroecological and socioeconomic conditions;
Providing the expertise to assist with diagnosis of farm-level problems,
and to design solutions for them.
Similarly, on-station research relies on on-farm research for
Feedback on the performance of technologies under different
management conditions;
Information on clientele's priority needs and problems (Merrill-Sands
and McAllister, 1988).
On-farm research can fulfill a number of different roles. For example, it
might answer a question about which we have general information concerning
a specific circumstance. On the other hand, it can be used like a
demonstration to convince people of the effectiveness of a particular answer.
Much of today's on-farm research is used to inform clientele about new or
improved practices. Lockeretz (1982) feels this "on-farm research" is more
appropriately called a demonstration. On-farm research can also test the
suitability of station-based research for a particular area, or it can help a farmer
solve a particular problem that he/she has already identified.
In our view, on-farm research should have a broad role in addressing the
problems of the agricultural-production and food system. Merely using on-
farm research to test or demonstrate the suitability of a particular technology
undervalues its potential. Its primary contribution is its ability to answer
"people" questions such as farm-household acceptance, availability of skills to
handle an alternative, or impacts on people and communities. It is also
invaluable as a means of communicating farmers' needs to researchers so that
practical solutions to problems can be devised and tested within the farmers'
own systems.
The real issue with on-farm research is how to design a credible
institutional model. As we consider the design of such a model we must also
consider supportive institutional and professional organization policies. Our
current system provides few rewards for faculty who conduct on-farm research.

Clientele University Partnerships
While we are not yet carrying out a LISA on-farm research program, we
are setting the stage. for one. We are establishing a valuable rapport with
innovative producers, some of whom have as yet benefited very little from our
services. In particular, there is a rapidly growing group of "organically
certified" producers in Washington and another group of larger-scale
conventional producers who are interested in "transitioning" to alternative
production and management systems. There is also an extensive core of


marketers, wholesalers, retailers, direct marketers, restaurants and brokers.
Another clientele group to which we must pay more attention are the
special-interest stakeholder groups-environmental, consumer, producer
(organic and non-organic), commodity, and marketing groups. So far, our
program has not done an effective job of building coalitions with these
stakeholders, particularly those who have not traditionally been our "friends."
This will become extremely important in Phase 2 of our program.
We have gone into the LISA program blindly, assuming our traditional
clientele would understand and support what we are doing. This has not been
the case. In spite of good intentions to involve as many conventional
producers as organic producers in the program, we have not been so successful
in gaining the support of traditional commodity-group representatives. One of
our Phase-2 goals will be to bridge the gap between the "opposing producer
camps," and special interest groups.


The experiences we have had to date with LISA have been
valuable-professionally, personally, and institutionally. We are fortunate in
having many implementation-team members with international agriculture
development experience, and some of these with experience in FSRE. As we
chart our future and attempt to take advantage of "LISA lessons learned," it is
becoming apparent that extension, together with research, is facing an
exciting institutional renewal opportunity. Our WSU agriculture- and food-
systems team is grappling with some challenging institutional questions. As
the answers to these evolve, we hope they will lead to a more balanced
institutional system which is able to adapt to the future agriculture needs of
the people of Washington.

Questions Posed by LISA
1. Capacity building: How do we build a College-of-Agriculture and
Home-Economics capacity for an on-farm and on-station research program
in which clientele assume an active partnership with both extension and
research? There is no base of experience in the LGU for on-farm client-
oriented research. This raises a number of pragmatic and theoretical issues
with regard to clientele's participation in all research activities, not just in
those associated with sustainable agriculture. We will therefore need to give
attention to the following points:


Identifying a client-driven strategy which ensures
a systems approach
location specificity
clientele ownership
the value of clientele knowledge
credible results;
Inventorying existing research, activities, and programs that pertain to
or support LISA principles, then widely disseminating this
Identifying a small but committed critical mass of faculty and clientele
to implement the program.
An organization and management approach that is supportive of a
client-oriented strategy and a systems approach.
2. Value of local knowledge: How do we change our mindset regarding
the value of "local" knowledge and information? Will academic scientists
learn to accept local knowledge on par with "scientific" knowledge?
Farmers and clientele are the best sources of local knowledge, in that they are
well informed about their own situation, their resources, what works and
doesn't work, how one change impacts other parts of their system, and so on.
Clientele must be active participants in setting research and extension
agendas. In turn, researchers and extensionists must observe and learn from
clientele. This joint effort increases the ultimate value of research.
3. Interdisciplinary support: How do we ensure organizational support
for interdisciplinary, systems-oriented, team approaches to research,
extension and resident instruction?
Increased funding support through re-allocation of internal resources,
federal and state line-item funds, the establishment of grant pools, and
external grants;
Funding-agency policy changes that stress the need for
interdisciplinary, adaptive research and extension;
Internal policy changes affecting promotion, tenure, publishing
expectations, financial rewards and incentives, and professional
Legitimized interdepartmental work "clusters" with budget support,
recognized leadership, incentives for participation, and a clearly
defined place in the organization.
4. Resources: How can we capture the needed resources to have an
impact on the changing agriculture industry and food system? Within the
university, there will be tough decisions concerning the reallocation of
existing resources, making better use of the talents we have (i.e., locating


"hidden" talents), selective retraining, and recruiting new kinds of personnel.
In addition, we must improve internal communications to better access the
resources we have.
Outside the university, our challenge is to build creative coalitions and
partnerships with stakeholders. This includes traditional clientele groups
(Grange, Farm Bureau, Commissions), but also includes special-interest groups
such as the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Washington
Environmental Council, WASHPIRG, the League of Women Voters, TILTH,
Greenpeace, private business, and so on. Among these "new friends" are
capabilities that we do not have in the College of Agriculture and Home
Economics, and a different view of the world. By working in unison, rather
than competitively, we stand a better chance of increasing our public support.
5. A new public image: How do we create a new public image of who
we are, and what we do? If we want the public whom we serve to see us
differently, then we must act differently. It is time to take leadership for the
opportunities that are on our doorstep. We must be more aggressive in
publicizing and marketing LISA-related activities in which we are now
involved. Let's shape a more up-to-date language for talking about ourselves
and our business. This may require hiring, or contracting with, talented
publicity and advertising people who know this business. We need to reach
urban and suburban populations, as well as rural, with directed publicity and
media campaigns to change public perceptions.
6. Global competencies: How can we take greater advantage of our
institution's vast international experiences and resources? Many of our
colleagues have learned, firsthand, about indigenous knowledge in other
countries. We have students and faculty on our campus who have valuable
experience with on-farm research in Third-World settings. Our charge is to
tap this experience in a way that answers our own needs at home. There is
also the possibility of building a sustainable agriculture program with a two-
way thrust-overseas and in-state. This could have major institutional value
as we learn from an overseas setting, and scientists and/or extension staff also
learn from our state model.

Our Vision of an Integrated Extension-Research Strategy
The WSU LISA team (composed of participants in two different LISA
projects) is now engaged in preliminary discussions of how to build an on-farm
research capacity in both research and extension. It is our impression that
such a program must strengthen both on-farm and on-station research,
simultaneously. Research, extension faculty, and clientele must be equal
partners in the process.


There is no precedent for a research model in which clientele are equal
partners. Therefore, the primary task we face is to design an on-farm/on-
station research model that builds the capacity without eroding our existing
base of experience and support. Initially we are considering a strategy with
some of the following characteristics:
1. A regionalized model that is responsive to the diversity of our states'
food-production and marketing systems, varying socioeconomic conditions,
and different stakeholders' interests and needs;
2. A "capacity building plan" involving faculty and administration in
reviewing and modifying existing policies and structures, designing a credible
on-farm research model, and in learning needed skills for model
3. An on-farm research training program for participating team
4. A high-level management-advisory group composed of stakeholder
representatives, i.e. agricultural (conventional clientele and "new" clientele),
environmental, consumer, private business (processor, marketer, finance,
service), and government agency (Soil Conservation Service, Environmental
Protection Agency);
5. A mechanism for continuous monitoring and refinement of research
priorities and needs;
6. Area "adaptive research specialists" that have both on-farm and on-
station research responsibilities who would
Be located at our existing research and extension centers (experiment
stations), or at county or area extension offices;
Conduct location-specific on-farm and on-station research with area
implementation teams;
Coordinate the work of area interdisciplinary research teams;
Collaborate with extension agents to organize farmer participation in
the program;
Work with researchers to adapt existing research findings into user-
oriented formats, publications, and training materials;
Offer training in adaptive research methodologies to team members,
other extension and research faculty, and clientele;
7. An increased number of research and extension technicians, in non-
faculty positions, and graduate students, to assist with on-farm and on-
station research, to free up existing faculty so they can participate on research
teams, and strengthen program ties to resident instruction. Non-faculty
personnel will tend to be less caught up with tenure and promotion


8. Coalition building with interest groups, the private sector, agencies
and organizations, and traditional clientele to
Broaden public support;
Expand resources to deal with the problems (expertise and funds);
Establish program priorities;
Evaluate research findings;
Retrain existing personnel;
Attract talented people to our organization;
Reestablish institutional credibility;
9. A public relations and marketing program to publicize our existing
sustainable-agriculture and food-systems activities to Washington citizens,
particularly in urban population areas. This will begin with an inventory of current
sustainable agriculture activities, including research, extension, resident instruction.
In western Washington we foresee at least one full-time person employed in
promotional activities that reach out to the media and other marketing channels.


Busch, L., and W.B. Lacey. 1983. Science, agriculture, and the politics of
research. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, Futures Task Force. 1987.
Extension in transition: Bridging the gap between vision and reality.
Blacksburg, Virginia: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Gilbert, E.H., D.W. Norman, and EE. Winch. 1980. Farming Systems
Research: A critical appraisal. Rural Development Paper No. 6. East
Lansing, Michigan: Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan
State University.
Holt, D. 1987. A competitive R & D strategy for U.S. agriculture. Science,
237 (September 18).
Hushak, L.J. 1989. The land grant system: There can be a future. Choices
(Second Quarter).
Lockeretz, W. 1987. Establishing the proper role for on-farm research.
American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 11(3).
Merrill-Sands, D., and J. McAllister. 1988. Strengthening the integration of
on-farm client-oriented research and experiment station research in
National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS): Management lessons
from nine country case studies. OFCOR-Comparative Study No. 1. The
Hague, Netherlands: International Service for National Agricultural
Schuh, G.E. 1986. Revitalizing land grant universities. Choices (Second Quarter).


Mario E. Tapia N. and Mariano Banegas1


For many years no attention was given to the remains of extended raised fields
called "camellones," located in the high plateau around Lake Titicaca in the
southern part of Peru, at 3,800 m above sea level.
Camellones, waru waru, or chapas are the local names of elevated planting
platforms constructed by removing parallel ditches to form rectangular low
mounds with flat or cambered surfaces (Erickson, 1984).
Uhle was the first to mention their presence in 1923 after his visit to the
high plateau area. Other authors (e.g., Denevan, 1963) have described similar
platforms in the tropical area of Mojos in Bolivia. Parsons and Bowen (1969)
indicate the use of ancient ridged fields close to Guayaquil in Ecuador.
However, the most spectacular in size are the ones located in the tropical
savannas north of Colombia.
Lennon in 1971 and Erickson in 1981 started a systematic archeological
study in Puno, in the area close to the Peninsula de Capachica (Huata).
Erickson spent the longer period of research (1981-84) to determine the age of
the technology as well as the reasons for its abandonment. His conclusions
are that two different epochs could have occurred during its development: the
first period included small fields (2.5 to 5.0 m) with a minor elevation (0.5
m), and the construction could have been started by 1,000 B.C., being
abandoned by the year 300 A.D.; the second period started at approximately
1,000 A.D. and lasted until the Incan occupation at the beginning of the
fifteenth century (Erickson, 1985a).
Erickson (1985b) and Garaycochea (1986) were of the opinion that the
camellones technology is the only way to put into agricultural production the
flat, flooded and frosty areas around Lake Titicaca. These conclusions result
from their field work with different comunidades campesinas and the crop yields
obtained in areas where the risk of climatological damages is very high.
However, more research was needed in order to determine microclimatological
effect, as well as the soil management characteristics of the camellones. Also,
information on labor requirements and such social aspects as community
participation was required. At the end of 1985, multi-institutional

1Agricultural Engineer, Proyecto PISA-INIAA/CIID/ACDI, Puno, Peru, and Agricultural Engineer,
INIAA, Puno, Peru, respectively.


cooperation was initiated with the participation of the INIAA-IDRC project,
Proyecto Investigaci6n de Sistemas Agropecuarios (PISA), Convenio INIAA,
CIDA, IDRD; Centro de Servicios de Pedagogfa Audiovisual para la
Capacitaci6n (CESPAC) ; and Cooperaci6n Tecnica Suiza (COTESU) and
then comunidades.
The objectives were to investigate the microclimatological effects due to
the camellones rehabilitation, to study crop rotation to maintain soil fertility,
to determine economic and labor requirements, and to give peasants
experience and training, so they could lead the rehabilitation process. The
general goal was to evaluate this technique for a further regional agriculture
development project on a larger scale.
It was determined from the beginning that, depending on the source of
collected water, two types of camellones could be differentiated: Closest to
the lakeshore are the camellones using the effect of the rising lake level;
others collect water from overflowing rivers. Both areas are usually classified
as areas of limited agricultural potential.
In 1985, the rehabilitation of two continuous hectares of camellones at
Illpa Research Station served for microclimatic and soil-management studies.
At the same time, 13 ha were reconstructed with community participation on
communal lands. This paper reports what was learned from these
reconstruction projects.


Temperature and humidity determinations were obtained during the early
growth stage of potato crops located in the camellones of the Research
The surfaces of the camellones show a reduction in the time length of
frost (1 to 2 hours) and an elevation in low temperature (20C) compared to
the contiguous flat areas (Table 1).
The most important effect was the difference obtained at 5:00 A.M.,
when the frost effects are the most dangerous to the plants. It is also
important to notice that the temperature was more stable at the surface of the

It was also found that in the first year after reconstruction the camellones
produced the highest potato yield when they were oriented in an east-west
direction and when the furrows ran north to south (Table 2).



Time of Day

Location 1 3 5 10 15 20

Channel 0 -2 -1 13 18 5

Camellon 0 -1 -2 10 16 7

Flat area -1 -2.5 -3 12 18 4


Orientation of camellon Yield average MT/ha

E W 27.7

N-S 13.6

Orientation of furrow

E W 19.2

N-S 21.5

Source: PISA, 1986.

The influence of camellon orientation, however, was rather different the
following year; it is important to mention that the rainfall and soil fertility
conditions were also different, so that a clear correlation cannot be concluded.

The influence of the camellon technology was evaluated through the crop
yield. Different crops were evaluated, and it is important to recognize that soil
fertility is very high the first year, especially if care is taken during the


rehabilitation to place adequate topsoil on the surface of the camellon.
Results from Table 3 reflect that the crops in the camellones without
fertilization produce yields quite comparable to and in many cases larger than
the ones obtained by the peasants under more favorable climatic conditions.
In the areas surrounding the camellones the production of potatoes was null in
this specific year, 1985-86, due to floods affecting the area.


CameUones Peasant Regional average
Crop technology technology yield

var. Andina 18.6 12.10 8.2
var. Ccompis 18.8 18.20 7.5
var. Pinaza 23.4 18.1
(T. tuberosum) 15.3 6.7
(U. tuberosus) 15.4 7.5

1Results of various communities were used: Jiscuani, Kunurana Bajo (PISA, 1986).

Labor and financial requirements
Land preparation in the area has a long tradition. It originally consisted
of removing the surface and preparing small camellones called "huachos" used
for centuries for potato production. A wider camellon (1 m) is called
"chapas," and both techniques are still in use, the "chaquitacilla" (footplug)
being the most common tool for the labor of cultivation. It is deduced that
the camellones are a continuation of these earlier technologies applied in
floodable areas. Its application was quite expanded in prehistoric times,
according to Smith, Denevan, and Hamilton, (1981).
Erickson (1984) mentions that labor requirements vary according to soil
texture and epoch of rehabilitation (soil humidity). It is also necessary to add
other factors, such as the type of rehabilitation, the complementary use of
machinery, and the social motivation of the community, including its training.
Working with ten different communities from the department of Puno,
13.7 ha of camellones were rehabilitated the first year, all by handwork. It


required 760 working days to rehabilitate 1 ha of surface. Considering that an
average of 50 percent of the area was channels, a total of 1,520 working days
per hectare of land was necessary. An average of five years of use was
estimated, according to previous experiences, so 304 workdays per year should
be budgeted in a longer regional project, requiring an initial investment of
about US $1,500 per hectare under production, or US $300 per year per
The use of a tractor to facilitate the soil removal reduces the handwork
around 20 to 30 percent, and the development of adequate implements
should be solved.
An intensive practical training course was implemented for some
communities. A great difference in the quality of work was observed in
communities that had followed the whole training course, compared with the
ones which received only brief explanations. The motivation also played an
important role in the efficiency in preparing the land, as well as in the total
area rehabilitated.

According to Erickson (1984) the reutilization of the raised-field
technology not only will help support the growing populations of the towns
and cities of the altiplano, where many comuneros have had to migrate in
search of a livelihood, but will also help to preserve the fields for the future.
At present there are several institutions and communities involved in
intensive work to rehabilitate the camellones, putting in use an ancient
technology in a country like Peru that badly needs to increase its local food

Denevan, W.M. 1963. Additional comments on the earthworks of Mojos in
north-east Bolivia. American Antiquity 28(4):540-544.
Erickson, C.L. 1984. Waru Waru: Una tecnologfa agricola del altiplano
prehistoric. Boletin del Instituto de Estudios Aymaras. Chuquito Puno.
Erickson, C.L. 1985a. La cronologfa de los camellones de la cuenca del Lago
Titicaca, Peru. 45 Congreso Intemacional de Americanistas, Bogota,
Colombia, July 1-7, 1985.
Erickson, C.L. 1985b. Agriculture en camellones en la cuenca del Lago
Titicaca: Aspectos tecnicos y su future. In Seminario taller recuperaci6n
de tecnologfas nativas: Andenes y camellones. Lima: CONCYTEC.
Garaycochea, I. 1986. Rehabilitaci6n de camellones en la comunidad
campesina de Huata-Puno. Tesis Universidad Nacional del Altiplano,

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