Journal of farming systems research-extension

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Journal of farming systems research-extension
Running title:
Journal for farming systems research-extension
Abbreviated Title:
J. farming syst. res.-ext.
Association of Farming Systems Research-Extension
Place of Publication:
Tucson Ariz. USA
Association of Farming Systems Research-Extension
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v. : ill. ; 23 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural systems -- Periodicals -- Developing countries ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work -- Research -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Sustainable agriculture -- Periodicals -- Developing countries ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )
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.
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1051-6786 ( ISSN )

Full Text
Volume 2, Number 2

for Farming Systems

for Farming Systems
Research -Extension

Volume 2, Number 2, 1991

Published by
the Association for Farming Systems Research-Extension

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
The University of Arizona, Tucson

Peter E. Hildebrand Donald E. Voth
Food and Resource Economics Agricultural Experiment Station
Department University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
University of Florida, Gainesville
Harold J. McArthur C. David McNeal, Jr.
Office of International Programs Extension Service, USDA
University of Hawaii, Honolulu
The Journal is sponsored by:
The Farm Foundation
The Ford Foundation, New York
The Ford Foundation, New Delhi
United States Agency for International Development
United States Department of Agriculture
University of Arkansas/International Agricultural Programs Office
University of Florida
The University of Arizona

The Journalfor 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 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
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: Nancy Schmidt, John Bancroft, and Daniel Goldstein, Office of Arid Lands
Studies, The University of Arizona
Design and Production: Paul M. Mirocha, Delphine Keim, Diedre Muns, Robert S. Breckenridge,
and Ingrid Downey, Arid Lands Design, Office of Arid Lands Studies, The University of Arizona
ISSN: 1051-6786

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension
Volume 2, Number 2, 1991


1 Integrating FPR With Conventional On-Farm Research Programs:
An Example From Botswana
G.M. Heinrich, F. Worman, and C. Koketso

17 New Age Extension in Farming Systems Research: End of the
Technical Message Era
Jonathon Landeck

29 Adjusting and Transferring Agricultural Technologies:
Three Examples from Perui
J.I. Mata

39 Looking Beyond the Farm for Gender Issues in FSRE
Patricia Ladipo

51 Integrating Women into Farming Systems Research: A Homestead
Vegetable Production Project in Coastal West Bengal
S. Chakraborty, J.E. Gleason, B. Mandal, and C.S. Das

59 Farm Management Information Systems: A Role for Literacy
Training in FSRE Programs
K.L. Mintz

69 Informal Research With Farmers: The Practice and Prospects in
the Hills of Nepal
S.P. Chand and B.D. Gurung

81 Moroccan Experience in Establishing a Local Coordinating Network:
Researchers-Farmers-Extension Agents
E. Elmzouri and L. Edwards

91 The Importance of Risk in Technology and Diffusion: The Case of
Small Maize Producers in Mexico
R.R. Marsh

109 Sustainable Agriculture Policy Analyses: South Dakota On-Farm
Case Studies
T.L. Dobbs, D.L. Becker, and D.C. Taylor

125 Farmer Participation in On-Farm Trials: The Case of Lowland Rice in
Southern Senegal
J.L. Posner, E. W. Crawford, and Mulumba Kamuanga

Integrating FPR With Conventional
On-Farm Research Programs:
An Example From Botswana'

G.M. Heinrich, F. Worman, and C. Koketso2

The term "Farmer Participatory Research" (FPR) encompasses a wide array
of differing approaches to adaptive-type research (for examples, see Far-
rington and Martin, 1987 and Farrington, 1988). All of these approaches,
however, share the common goal of incorporating farmers more directly into
the process of technology development and application. In general, they focus
on agricultural systems involving resource-poor farmers, systems that often
have been overlooked by more conventional agricultural research approaches
(Chambers et al., 1989).
FPR approaches usually are considered to be most appropriate for areas
described as "difficult" (Farrington, 1988) or "complex, diverse, and risk-
prone" (Chambers et al., 1989). However, these approaches might also be
appropriate in more well-endowed environments if they increase the efficiency
and cost-effectiveness of on-farm research.
FPR is not a replacement for other types of research. Rather, it is most
useful as a compliment to more traditional on-station and on-farm farming
systems research (FSR) approaches. It can complement more conventional
approaches by ensuring that farmers' objectives, priorities, and constraints are
understood within the research system; by helping to ensure that research
output is relevant and practical within the farm environment; and by incorpo-
rating the energies, resources, ideas, and indigenous technical knowledge
(ITK) of farmers into the technology-development process.

SAgronomist and agricultural economists, respectively, Department of Agricultural
Research, Francistown, Botswana.
Paper presented at the Tenth Annual Association for Farming Systems Research-
Extension Symposium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, October 14-17, 1990.
This paper represents the opinions of the authors but does not necessarily represent the
views of the Department of Agricultural Research, Botswana.


The need to incorporate FPR in NARSs
There is growing acceptance of the fact that FPR could contribute
significantly to the development of appropriate technologies for resource-
poor farmers, particularly in difficult agricultural environments. However,
this potential impact is not likely to be realized unless FPR approaches are
adopted by National Agricultural Research Systems (NARSs) and applied on
a sustained basis and on a fairly broad scale within relevant areas (Norman and
Modiakgotla, 1990).
Although the concept ofFPRdoes not preclude farmer participation in on-
station research work, it is assumed in this paper that most FPR activities will
take place on-farm. Thus, the most logical way for FPR to be integrated into
NARSs is through on-going, on-farm FSR programs. It is further assumed
that incorporating FPR in NARSs means integrating FPR with on-farm FSR
programs operated by NARSs.
NARSs exist in most developing countries and have better access to
information and resources than do farming communities involved in resource-
poor agriculture. For example, NARSs often have linkages with International
Agriculture Research Centers (IARCs) and participate in other international
information networks. They have input on national policy issues, the capacity
to develop applied technologies, and often possess the infrastructure to
establish linkages with farmers and extension systems on a national level.
The NARSs stand to benefit directly from FPRapproaches that improve the
efficiency of the formal research process (Norman and Modiakgotla, 1990).
As the end users of new technologies, farmers have an important role to play
in technology development and application (Norman and Modiakgotla,
1990). FPR approaches can provide an effective method for incorporating
farmer participation in the technology-development process at the national
level. Isolated FPR activities or projects may be useful at a local level, but
because of the magnitude of the political power and human and physical
resources associated with the NARSs, FPR activities can best achieve a major
impact when incorporated into the NARSs.
The adoption of FPR by NARSs may be slowed by two primary factors.
First, adoption involves the introduction of new approaches into an institu-
tional setting that may be somewhat resistant to change. Furthermore, FPR
requires that farmers be regarded as partners in the research process, rather
than strictly as clients. This means that they are empowered with some degree
of decision-making capacity and that researchers must surrender some control

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


over the research process. This is not a concept that usually is taught in the
formal education process, and, initially, some researchers may experience a
difficulty accepting this change. Hence there may be attitudinal and institu-
tional barriers to overcome. Second, while more and more FPR approaches
are being developed and tested, they often are supported by external funding
and often require considerable inputs of researcher time (Farrington, 1988).
These economic and logistical constraints contribute to making FPR pro-
grams difficult to sustain in an institutional setting.
In a review of FPR concepts and practices, Farrington and Martin (1987)
state that "more case studies are needed where the incorporation of FPRinto
NARS has been attempted." The following case from Botswana is an example
of an FPR approach developed as an integral part of a regional on-farm FSRE
program within the Department of Agricultural Research. Following a
description of the on-farm program and its development, some issues are
discussed that involve the integration of FPR with more conventional on-farm
FSR approaches.

Historical Perspective
Botswana is a semiarid to arid country with all the characteristics of a
"difficult" environment for arable agriculture. Rainfall is low (450 mm in the
crop-producing areas) and unreliable, and soils generally are low in fertility
and moisture-holding capacity. Some 70 to 75 percent ofthe population lives
in the rural areas. Rural incomes generally are derived from diverse sources,
such as livestock production, crop production, and off-farm enterprises.
Despite the risks involved in arable agriculture, more than 95 percent of
households in the rural areas of the Tutume Agricultural District, which was
studied in this project, engage in cropping activities every year (Miller and
Seleka, 1985).
The Agricultural Technology Improvement Project (ATIP) was funded
jointly by USAID and the Botswana Government and administered by the
Mid-America International Agricultural Consortium (MIAC) through Kan-
sas State University. It was one of a number of farming systems projects
initiated in Botswana in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One of its primary
functions was to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to
develop and extend applied technology options for increasing farm produc-

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


tion through farming systems research in the areas of the Central Agricultural
Region and Tutume Agricultural District. The following discussion deals
with the on-farm research program begun in 1983 that developed in the
Francistown area, which is part of the Tutume Agricultural District.
The ATIP began with the classical farming systems research perspective.
Although the primary research emphasis was on descriptive and diagnostic
activities in the first two years, testing of some promising on-shelf technology
options also was begun during this period. Over time, the emphasis shifted
to design and testing activities.

Introduction of FPR Activities
Much of the early trials work in the Francistown area was conducted under
researcher management (RM), with either researchers or farmers implement-
ing the work (i.e., RI or FI). Researcher management implied that researchers
determined the trial objectives and design and directed trial implementation.
However, in the 1985-86 season, ATIP decided to examine the potential of
one promising technology option ("double plowing;" Heinrich and Worman,
1988) under farmer-managed, farmer-implemented (FMFI) conditions. To
facilitate the testing process, a group of volunteer farmers was invited to
implement the trials and monthly group meetings were held to monitor
progress, to discuss farmer observations through the season, and to deal with
Heretofore, the RMRI trials work had been focused largely on tillage-
planting systems for soil-moisture enhancement and improved stand estab-
lishment. Although it was known that myriad other constraints existed,
researchers viewed soil moisture and stand establishment as the primary local
constraints to crop production. Research was restricted to these topics
because researcher time was limited and the RM format allowed only a limited
number of trials. Too many topics would have spread research efforts too thin.
Twelve farmers participated in this first group activity. During the monthly
group discussions it rapidly became apparent that (1) the farmer-participants
were quite capable of conducting trials on their own and (2) the farmers had
a wide range of problems and interests beyond the topic being tested.
Technologies existed that might usefully address some of the problems.
In following years, therefore, these groups were expanded to allow the
examination of a wide range of technology options. A detailed description of
how these groups operated has been presented elsewhere (Worman et. al.,

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


1987). A summary of group operations follows:
1. Participation was open to all interested participants within a village. The
local extension agent was invited to attend all group activities.
2. At the beginning of the season, researchers presented a wide range of
technology options (from many sources) for farmers' consideration. Farmer-
participants also were encouraged to suggest areas where there was a need for
improved technology options not presented in the list. When this occurred,
more options were sought and added to the list.
3. Farmers individually selected options to address their own particular
problems and to fit their specific resource constraints. For example, those
farmers with soil-fertility problems might select a fertilizer trial, whereas
others who controlled their own draft power could select more intensified
tillage for water conservation and those who did not control draft power might
choose to try a hand row planter to gain more control over the time of
planting. Field activities were conducted on an individual basis. The groups
were used only for organizational and discussion purposes.
4. Subgroups of farmers who had selected the same options then
conducted trials with those items according to a standard, mutually agreed-
upon trial design. This allowed proper comparisons and some simple
statistical analyses of yield results.
5. Where necessary, small amounts ofinputs were supplied by the research
teams (e.g., 1 kg of seed for each of four cowpea genotypes in a variety trial).
The research team also assisted in pegging trail plots where necessary,
monitoring the dates of all field operations in each trial, and weighing plot
grain yields after farmers had completed harvesting and threshing.
6. After implementation was underway, the whole group met monthly to
discuss progress and observations and to deal with any problems.
7. As the harvest period approached, field days were held often to share
interesting results with farmers outside the group, extension personnel, and
other researchers.
8. After harvest, a postseason survey was conducted with each farmer-
participant regarding each technology option he or she had tested in order to
quantify farmers' opinions and perceptions of the technology and to solicit
suggestions for improvement.
Within these group activities farmers controlled the research agenda by
selecting topics and technologies to test and by identifying areas where more
technology options were required. Researchers acted as a source oftechnol-

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


ogy options and gained information for their own purposes through mutual
agreements on trial designs that would allow some statistical analysis.3
Evaluation and adaptation of technology options were done jointly in group
discussions and through the end-of-season surveys.
These groups have been described under several different titles, but they
currently are referred to as Research-Oriented Farmer Groups (ROFGs).4
The growth of ROFGs was rapid (Table 1), reflecting a high degree of farmer
interest in the activity. In addition, the ROFGs became a powerful tool for
examining the potential of a wide range of technology options under farmer
management and added a great deal of flexibility to the on-farm research
program. Furthermore, it is probable that the regular group meetings
enhanced trial implementations, as has been observed elsewhere (Baker et al.,

Table 1. The Growth of ROFG Activities in the
Francistown Region, 1985-89

No. of Total Total valid No.of
Year villages farmers comparisons options tested

1985-6 1 12 12 1
1986-7 3 97 44 8
1987-8 3 143 152 6
1988-9 3 128 140 8

Sources: ATIP Annual Report No. 4, p. 105; ATIP Progress Report F87-6; ATIP
Annual Report No. 6, p. 63; ATIP Progress Report F90-60.

A Farmer Participatory Extension Approach
Subsequent to the development of the ROFGs, ATIP was asked to assist in
addressing the problem of low agricultural productivity in a Communal First
Development Area (CFDA) near Francistown.
After discussions with the CFDA coordinator and extension personnel,
ATIP decided to test an approach for accelerating extension activity through

SIt should be noted that the ROFG's were used primarily as a source of quantitative data
regarding farmers needs, interests, and technology evaluations. Collection of hard data
was limited to recording plot grain yields so that productivity levels of new technology
options could be monitored when employed under farmer management, across
locations and years.
4 The ROFG's have also been called, at different times, options testing farmer groups and
researcher-led farmer groups.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


adaptation of the ROFG approach,which currentlyis referred to as Extension-
Oriented Farmer Groups (EOFGs). A detailed description of this activity may
be found in Heinrich et al. (1990).
The EOFGs functioned similarly to the ROFGs, but with several important
differences. Because EOFGs were an extension activity, the EOFG leadership
was provided by extension personnel, although researchers still participated to
some extent in group meetings. Only previously tested technology options
were employed (these groups were not used for technical research). Because
the groups were designed for extension, no specific trial formats were required
and no hard technical data were collected.
The approach was tested in two villages, with participation open to all.
Within the EOFGs, farmers specified areas of technological interest, and a
range of available options were discussed that might address those interests.
Individual farmers selected options to fit their interests and resources and
conducted their own individual trials. The group (extension personnel,
farmers, and researchers) met monthly to discuss progress, solve problems,
and share information and ideas. Field days were held where farmers had the
opportunity to present their field work to other farmers and to extension
personnel from other extension areas.
The group format made for more efficient use of extension officers' time
and facilitated the sharing of knowledge among the participants. The EOFG
approach assisted farmers in the correct application of improved technology
and resulted in an increase in the adoption of improved technology as
indicated by a marked rise in the purchase of various equipment items through
the government subsidy scheme (Heinrich et al., 1990). In addition, the
EOFGs provided a good forum for NGOs to interface with farmers and define
areas where NGOs can participate in addressing local constraints (Heinrich et
al., 1990).
The ALDEP five-year plan (1990, personal communication) assessed the
EOFGs as an effective extension tool and adopted them at the pilot-project
level within extension service.

The on-farm research program developed in the Francistown region com-
prised three major parts: researcher-managed trials program, ROFG activities
(with FMFI trials), and EOFG activities. The role of each and the portion of

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


program resources devoted to each are summarized below.

Researcher-Managed Trials Program
Both RMRI and RMFI trial types were used when the technologies being
examined were not compatible with farmers' own resources (e.g. design-stage
trials involving heavy equipment, such as subsoilers). RMRI and RMFI
formats also were used when a number of very specific "systems" were being
compared (using both agronomic and economic criteria), requiring fairly
precise implementation of the different systems and the collection of hard
technical data, or where a number of different factors and their interactions
were being compared, necessitating a relatively complex experimental design
(e.g. a diagnostic trial evaluating the relative effects of several components of
a technology package, such as an improved tillage system, phosphate fertilizer,
and improved weed control).
The RM trials section, therefore, was used largely for diagnosis and design,
or in early testing-stage trials when hard data were required or cause-effect
relationships needed to be examined. With the high degree of researcher input
required, only a limited number of research topics could be examined using
this format. For that reason the format was narrowly focused on high priority
research areas. It accounts for roughly 60 percent of researcher time, but
probably only 50 percent of other program resources.

ROFG Activities
This section added a great deal to the overall program. In particular, it
provided a format to involve farmers, researchers, and extension personnel in
the joint planning, implementation, and evaluation of technology-options
trials. At the same time, it facilitated the sharing of both external scientific
knowledge and ITK and ensured that farmers' perceptions and constraints
were understood. As a result, the range of topics that farmers and researchers
could examine was expanded well beyond those topics given highest priority
by researchers.
ROFG activities added considerable flexibility to the total program, owing
to the ease with which technology options could be moved into the testing
program. This flexibility was extremely useful because it allowed the program
to respond rapidly to the needs and interests of farmers, as well as to the
requirements of on-station commodity research teams for on-farm testing of
their products (Norman and Modiakgotla, 1990).

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


This section of the program was used mainly for evaluation and adoption
of new technology options under farmer management and implementation.
About 30 percent of researcher time was allocated to this section of the
program, although it consumed roughly 40 percent of research resources.
The amount of information obtained per unit of researcher time was high
because farmers themselves conducted most of the work and contributed
many ideas.

EOFG Activities
This section of the program dealt primarily with dissemination-stage
activities. Appropriately, it was led by extension personnel but provided a
forum for continued extension-researcher interaction as technologies moved
into the extension domain. This activity absorbed roughly 10 percent of
researcher time and a very minor percentage of research resources.

On-farm research programs have a number of clients, principally farmers,
extension personnel,and station-based researchers (Norman and Modiakgot-
la, 1990). The various linkage mechanisms employed by the on-farm research
program in Francistown are described below.

Farmer Linkages
Researchers met monthly with three different groups each composed of 10
to 30 farmers of various resource levels in three different villages. About 90
percent of the farmers attending these meetings were women. Topics
discussed covered the general field situation, farmers' constraints and prob-
lems, potentially useful technology options, and farmers' evaluations of
various technologies under testing. These meetings provide a very strong
channel for communications. Farmer field days were held, which allowed
farmers not participating in research activities to view and comment on
developing technology options. In addition, postseason surveys were con-
ducted to record individual farmer assessments of various technology options.

On-Station and On-Farm Research Teams
Originally, these began as weak linkages without formal channels of

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


communication. With the development of the ROFGs the linkages become
much stronger. The on-station commodity-research programs became a
valuable source of new technology options for on-farm teams and farmers,
while interest in testing technology products on-farm grew among station-
based researchers as useful information was returned.
At present, the Department of Agricultural Research is in the process of
organizing multidisciplinary, subject-oriented research groups on-station
(e.g. a National Tillage Research Group, composed of a soil physicist,
agronomists, a hydrologist, an economist, a statistician, an agricultural
engineer, extension personnel, and others). These groups will include both
on-station and on-farm research personnel and will be responsible for design-
ing and implementing research strategies, evaluating research results, and
formulating proposed extension recommendations. This approach would
formalize the linkage between on-station and on-farm research teams.

On-Farm Research and Extension
One of the principal approaches used for this purpose was the annual
regional coordination meeting. This was a meeting of regional and district
level staff from the research and extension departments, which also included
NGOs involved in agricultural activities within the region. The purpose of the
meeting was to present rough work plans for the coming year and to allow for
discussion and comment before the various participants had finalized their
work plans. Areas of overlap in activities among the various agencies involved
in agricultural development within the region were identified. This meeting
was informally arranged within the region.
Extension personnel were included in the ROFG activities. Local exten-
sion agents attended monthly village group meetings and participated in the
planning and conduct of field days. Extension personnel at the district and
regional level and extension agents from outside the village areas often
attended ROFG field days. Research and extension personnel and NGOs
collaborated in the development and testing of the EOFG approach.
The combination of ROFG and EOFG activities within the region could
provide a continuum ofmore-to-less researcher involvement and less-to-more
extensionist involvement as technologies move through the testing, adapta-
tion, and dissemination stages. The level of farmer involvement could remain
high and relatively constant. The concept of a continuum is important
because it avoids the breakdown in communication between research and

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


extension that can easily occur when the two are separated in different
government departments.
According to the model that has developed, then, the linkage systems
within the region could operate as follows:
Farmers would have strong participation in the research and extension
process through the ROFGs and EOFGs. The research and extension
personnel would interact through the annual regional coordination meetings,
through joint participation in ROFGs, EOFGs, and field days, and through
other activities that might develop, such as jointly organized farmer-training
courses and agricultural shows.
Linkages between the regional field work and on-station research would
occur through the multidisciplinary, problem-oriented research groups.
These groups have the potential to coordinate joint on-farm and on-station
activities, as well as to serve as a liaison with extension personnel at the national
level. On-station researchers would also have direct but weaker links with
farmers though visits to the ROFGs.
Optimally, station-based researchers would be responsible for on-farm
research, so that they would have more direct linkages with farmers and the
farm situation. However, this has not developed in Botswana, in part because
of the "project" nature offarming systems research and in part because limited
research facilities and personnel prohibit the decentralized research system
that would be required by this approach.


The example from Botswana illustrates several important points regarding the
integration of FPR with more conventional, on-farm research programs. As
the case study shows, the FPR section of the on-farm research program was
successfully merged with more conventional techniques. It did not detract
from, but rather added greater capacity, effectiveness, and efficiency to the
total program. This was achieved by adding the research capacity of farmers
to the available research resources within the department, thus increasing total
research capacity. It would seem reasonable that such an addition could be
beneficial both in "difficult" environments and in more well-endowed agri-
cultural environments.
The primary purpose of the groups was to include farmers more directly in
the technology-evolution process. In the ROFGs, however, trials generally

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


were implemented in a manner that would allow statistical analyses of yield
results. Some FPR practitioners might argue, therefore, that researchers were
still exercising too much control over the testing process. However, on-farm
research programs have clients other than farmers (e.g. on-station commod-
ity-research teams) who prefer to work with quantifiable data. Furthermore,
researchers may have interests that go beyond farmers' immediate needs in
developing their own improved production systems (e.g. the identification of
high-impact technologies for priority extension or the performance of crop
genotypes over locations and years).
In developing FPR systems, compromises can be reached so that the
interests of the various participants are met. For example, an independent
study of the ROFGs by the Rural Sociology Unit in the Botswana Ministry of
Agriculture concluded that farmers participated in the the ROFGs primarily
because the groups were viewed as a useful source of new information and
allowed for the practical testing of new ideas (Ntseane, 1988). On the other
hand, the research team in Francistown viewed the ROFGs as a strong channel
of communication with farmers. This was reflected in the strong and sustained
farmer participation over several years, the useful research results obtained,
and the subsequent increase in involvement of on-station research programs
in on-farm FSR activities. It is more likely that FPR approaches will be
sustained by NARSs when the interests of both farmers and researchers can be
Institutions, like farmers, are somewhat resistant to change. Similarly, it is
unreasonable to expect institutions to make large investments of resources in
activities that have not been shown to be strongly beneficial. Thus it should
not be expected that conventional on-farm FSR programs in NARSs would
invest initially in large-scale or expensive FPR approaches. Continuing the
analogy to resource-poor farmers, the types of changes most likely to be
adopted by institutions are those that initially require only small changes in the
allocation of personnel and resources. Initiation of FPR activities by on-farm
FSR teams working with small groups of farmers on a local level is one way in
which such changes could be introduced with relative ease.
The overall on-farm research program that developed in the Francistown
area evolved in response to perceived needs among researchers (for expanded
research capacity) and observed interest among farmers (for a broad range of
technology options). The final structure was shaped by local cultural norms.
The point is that it is unlikely that one FPR approach developed for a specific

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


situation could be directly applied to another area without some adaptation.
As such, examples of FPR approaches developed in different areas are most
useful as a source for developing principles and ideas that then can be adapted
and applied by local on-farm FSR teams to suit the local situation. The
specifics of how FPR approaches operate in on-farm FSR programs must be
developed at the local level.


Baker, G., H.C. Knipscheer, and J. De Souza Neto. 1988. The impact of regular research
field hearings (RRFH) in the on-farm trials in northeast Brazil. Experimental
Agriculture 24:281-288.
Chambers, R., A. Pacey, and L.A. Thrupp, eds. 1989. Farmer first: Farmer innovation
and agricultural research. London, UK: Intermediate Technology Publications.
Farrington, J. 1988. Farmer Paricipatory Research: Editorial introduction. Experimen-
tal Agriculture 24:269-279.
Farrington, J., and A. Martin. 1987. Farmer Participatory Research: A review of concepts
and practices. ODI Discussion Paper 19. Overseas Development Institute, London.
Heinrich, G.M., and F.D. Worman. 1988. Double plowing: A low-external-input
technology for increased grain production on hardvelt soils in eastern Botswana.
Agronomic Abstracts, p. 55.
Heinrich, G., S. Masikara, S. Magalela, and G. Moremedi. 1990. Testing an accelerated
extension approach in northeast district: The case of extension-oriented farmer testing
groups. ATIP Working Paper 25. Agricultural Technology Improvement Project,
Gaborone, Botswana.
Miller, W., and T. Seleka. 1985. Agricultural baseline survey of Tutume District. ATIP
Working Paper 3. Agricultural Technology Improvement Project, Gaborone,
Norman, D., and E. Modiakgotla. 1990. Ensuring farmerinputinto the research process
within an institutional setting: The case of semi-arid Botswana. Paper presented at
the International Symposium on Natural Resource Management for a Sustainable
Agriculture, New Delhi, India, February 6-10, 1990. (Also published as ATIP
MP90-1, Gaborone, Botswana.)
Ntseane, P.G. 1988. ATIPgroups report. ATIP Working Paper 11. Agricultural
Technology Improvement Project, Gaborone, Botswana.
Cropping Systems Resource Management Unit and the Research and Extension Liaison
Office, Department ofAgriculture Research, The Gambia. On-Farm testing byfarmers
groups: First year report. 1989. Paper presented at the ARREV meeting. (mimeo).
Worman, F., G. Heinrich, S. Masikara, B. Mabongo, and S. Bock. 1987. 1986 Farmer's
groups technology options testing trial. ATIP Progress Report F87-6. Agricultural
Technology Improvement Project, Gaborone, Botswana.
Worman, F., L. Williams, C. Tibone, and G. Heinrich. 1990. 1989 Adoption study:
Spontaneous technology adoption infarmergroups. ATIP Working Paper 34. Agricul-
tural Technology Improvement Project, Gaborone, Botswana.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991



The following two tables present examples of the types of technical data
collected in the ROFGs.
Table Al presents an example of summary yield data collected in one year
(1987-88). Table A2 presents summary yield data collected over several years.
These give some indication of technology performance in wet (1987-88) and
dry (1988-89) years and suggest priority areas for extension efforts.

Table Al. Mean Yield Data for Selected ROFG Trials
Francistown Area, 1987-1988

Yield Yield
improved trad. check % Increase No. of
Trial name Crops (kg/ha) (kg/ha) in yield trials

Double Cereals 488' 288 69 32
plowing Cowpeas 181, 130 39 30
Combined 339' 212 60 62

Groundnut Groundnut
seed (v. Sellie) 342b 276 24 44

Row planting 80% Sorghum 173 NS 131 32 10
vs. 20% Cowpea

Phosphate 75% Cereals 550' 366 50 8
fertilizer 25% Cowpea

Cowpea Blackeye 171 13
variety ER7 145 13
trials TVX 210 13
B005C 318 13
',b,' Denote significant differences between treatments at the 0.1%, 1%, and 5% levels
of probability. NS=not significant.
d Includes only trials that tested all four varieties together.

Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension


Table A2. Effectiveness' of Various Technologies Used by
Farmer Testing Groups, Francistown, 1986-1989b

Percent increase in yield by year

Technology 1986-87 1987-88 1988-89 Average

Double plow 69 60 85 71
Phosphate fertilizer' 97 50 20 56
Rowplant vs. broadcast 6 32 30 23
Groundnut seed treatment 24 0 12

' Effectiveness is measured as mean percentage increase in grain yield per technology
option with time
b Crops were primarily sorghum and millet, although some trials also included cow-
SFertilizer was applied at a rate of 20 kg phosphate per ha.
d Groundnut seed treatment involved groundnuts only. In 1987-88, treatment was
with Captan; in 1988-89, treatments included both fungicides and fungicides plus
Source: ATIP Progress Reports PRF87-6, PRF90-2, and PRF90-6, Department of
Agricultural Research, Gaborone, Botswana.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

New Age Extension in Farming
Systems Research:
End of the Technical Message Era

Jonathon Landeck'


There are three sets of actors in the West African2 farming systems research-
extension (FSRE) theater: farmers, researchers, and extension agents, each
with specific roles. Farmers are the clients of FSRE researchers and extension
agents and their raison d'etre. They are the ultimate bosses and the final
decision-makers with respect to technology adoption. Research and exten-
sion serve farmers by generating and exchanging information with farmers to
improve their options in the field of sustainable agricultural production.
Farmers do not really need FSRE in order to continue farming. We in the
FSRE business, however, need farmers to stay in business. We prefer, of
course, that FSRE benefit farmers, but unless FSRE can figure out how to
make the rains fall in a timely manner, it likely will take a backseat to
subsistence farmers' immediate concern with dailysurvival. Fortunately, most
subsistence farmers will agree to produce the crops that we need for our data
sets, pro bono. We plan, nevertheless, for active participation by farmers in
FSRE under the rubric of on-farm, farmer-managed adaptive research.
Assuming that farmers will participate actively in FSRE, how can we as
researchers and extension workers better serve farmers' needs for information
Consider the multitalented agri-socioeconomic researchers for whom
FSRE provides an institutional structure. They serve farmers by doing what
they do best: they collect data. Without doubt, we need farm-level data. Such
data are the earth, wind, and fire of practical information. FSRE researchers

1Department ofAgricultural and Extension Education and Department of Crop and Soil
Sciences, Michigan State University; presently Agriculture Program Leader, Cornell
Cooperative Extension of Seneca County, Waterloo, New York.
The comments in this paper are made with the agricultural systems of Burkina Faso,
Niger, Guinea, and Senegal in mind-nations where I have had considerable contact
with farmers.


collect data, breathe life into the numbers, create information, write reports,
double-check the results, wring their hands, then voila, the technical message
is born. But it is the next step in agricultural technology transfer following the
birth or renaissance of a technical message that is the most critical.


In the past, the agricultural technology-transfer procedure was straightfor-
ward. Researchers would work out the kinks on the research station, develop
a prototype, then pass the prospective innovation on to the extension worker.
The extension worker would shoulder the technical message, carry it to
farmers, offer encouraging words, establish demonstration plots, breathe
sighs of relief when the technology worked, and take the heat when the
technology was inappropriate. Caught between a rock and a hard place when
the technology was slow to be adopted, extension workers became adept at the
"good news and bad news" game: The good news is farmers are definitely
interested in the technology; the bad news is they cannot afford to use it. The
cost of time, labor, and energy frequently rekink the technology-transfer
No one likes to hear bad news. We take solace in the general validity of
learning and adoption curves. We have become accustomed to qualifying our
recommendations for adopting innovative technologies with a proviso that
farmers use "best farm-management" practices. In the context of subsistence-
type farming systems, where sustainability is an objective, the best farm-
management practices mayinclude more than justagronomic factors; economic,
social, religious, political, historic, and even aesthetic factors can make or
break technology adoption. Extension workers are well-placed to understand
the importance of these nonagronomic factors in farm-level production, even
without a detailed farm survey, by virtue of their access and proximity to
farmers. When it works as designed, however, FSRE also is equipped to
consider the implications of factors and constraints to adoption besides those
of a strictly agronomic nature.
As on-farm adaptive research continues to increase, the technical message
carrier, as such, will not be needed as before. Instead, we hope that farmers
will be brought to test sites to discuss on-farm research with cooperating
farmers. Research results are, more frequently, in farmers' fields, where they
can be seen and judged on the spot. In this respect, the technical message era

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


as traditionally known may be on the wane. Nevertheless, some FSRE systems
develop technician-type roles for extension workers, who compile logbooks
on the progress of research plots, act as translators in meetings with farmers,
collect household data, replicate experiments in farmers' fields unfrequented
by researchers, set up demonstration plots, and so forth. These duties are a
part of what may be called the Old World methods of extension.


The extension worker as a vehicle for carrying technical messages between
researchers and farmers is an idea with which we have long felt at ease. From
some researchers' point of view, this is a convenient role for extension workers,
who stay out of the way until the crucial work of interacting with farmers on
a broad scale in order to popularize a new technology begins. But this is a role
that makes vassals of extension workers, at least when it comes to the design
and control ofresearch. New thinking in FSRE seeks modifications in this Old
World view of extension.
Even among the most reknown FSRE practioners, the issue of extension
has been wrestled with on-the-ground and in the literature. Yet, in many
forms, the Old World view of extension persists. A comprehensive document
on farming systems research (Shaner et al., 1982) describes extension's role
as diffusion and testing of research results and technologies. Extension also
is invited to participate in research design by contributing knowledge of
farmer practices, selecting farmers for trials, surveying farmers, and providing
feedback between farmers and researchers. Twenty-six activities are identified
for the participation of extension personnel in farming systems research, from
selecting target areas to conducting on-farm research and analysis to establish-
ing pilot production programs. These prescribed roles represent a forthright
attempt to "let extension in" on the FSRE process. Still detectable in the
literature, however, is an underlying sense that extension workers should not
be leaders in FSRE, possibly because they cannot compete with researchers in
the domain of scientific, technological knowledge. Extension workers thus
are trained to take their cues for action from researchers, who decide which
technologies are ready for farming populations, even if the technologies are
developed and refined off the farms.
In a recent work, Spring (1988; citing McKee, 1984) reviews the FSRE
process as a series of five stages: prediagnostic, diagnostic, technology design,

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


testing, and final extension. Although Spring (1988) focuses on the problems
of gender issues in FSRE, the author agrees with the notion of extension as the
final stage in the FSRE process-a vestige idea from the Old World view of
extension. By this Old World view, extension is very much akin to an
afterthought, rather than an educational activity in which a learning facilitator
assumes a leadership (as opposed to fellowshipp") role from Day One.
We cannot assume that everyone in FSRE takes extension for granted as an
educational activity. Hildebrand and Poey (1985) suggested that on-farm
research can be a hands-on learning experience for extension personnel. Their
r6sum6 of the nature of farmer-researcher relationships, however, does not
address the role of the extension worker relative to farmer-researcher relation-
ships. They discuss farmers' evaluation of on-farm research, perhaps the most
important aspect of technology transfer, but not the role of extension workers
in such evaluation. Moreover, they neglect the option of beginning evaluation
during the design phase of on-farm research, a time when farmers' insights
may serve as guides to appropriate research. Herein lies a potential new FSRE
role for extension: that is, to serve farmers from the beginning of research
design, acting as their advocate of appropriate research by constructively
criticizing research objectives before the first plot is laid out. This is the basis
of an educational leadership role that could redefine the identity of extension
in the context of FSRE.
The identity of extension workers as technical message-carriers makes them
easy targets when research results are met with indifference by farmers.
Although extension is not solely to blame for failures in technology transfer,
extension workers do effectively shield researchers from farmers' criticism for
such failures. Placement of the onus to succeed on extension workers is
symptomatic of an ill-defined role for extension in the FSRE process.
Although it is possible that the training of extension personnel is at fault when
technology transfer does not proceed as planned, the real weakness in this
process more likely is the technical message itself. Thus, an objective of
extension training programs should be to teach extension workers to recog-
nize when researchers are on the right track in the design of research for
developing technology appropriate to local farming systems.
Development of appropriate technology is the purpose of FSRE, but
surveys alone do not necessarily assure that appropriate research and technol-
ogy will result. Researchers and extension workers who think beyond
quantitative characterizations of villages and farming systems as the best way

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


to understand a farmer's view of the world may be of better service to farmers.
It is time that we make a quantum shift in FSRE, from studying farmers to
informing farmers through educational activities that focus on discussion.
Because of their periodic direct contact with farmers, extension workers can
conveniently assume the role of educational leaders through discussion with
farmers of issues associated with sustainable agricultural production.

With the FSRE diagnostic survey mechanism, farmers' nondiscrete thoughts
and perceptions can be rationalized into categorical tabular results. An
understanding of these perceptions by researchers and extension educators is
complete only after follow-up discussions of survey results with respondents.
In some cases, discussions have preceded surveys with good results. In fact,
it usually is difficult to know what to ask in surveys without prior discussions
with members of the target population. In any case, surveys and nonformal
discussions have complementary roles in FSRE. My experience in West Africa
indicates that conversation and discussion count most with respect to sharing
information with farmers. Thus, in defining extension as an educational
process, we ought to place greater emphasis on discussion and less on items
such as survey-based, detailed farmer and household typologies. These
surveys may have a purpose, but they may not be totally indispensable to the
design of appropriate research, technology development, and effective exten-
sion education.
Recently, in the Fuuta Jalon highlands of Guinea, 32 male and 32 female
farmers were asked, "What makes farming difficult for you?" and "What would
make farming easier for you?" Although the first question appears to lead
responses by presuming that farming is, indeed, difficult, in this case it is
appropriate because the researchers themselves had picked up hand hoes and
tried farming every few days for several hours. This experience, together with
several months of residence in the villages, helped the researchers formulate
their questions. Nevertheless, the predominant responses to these questions
did not address the physical pain required to produce a crop. They addressed
labor issues, such as return for effort expended, supplemental labor supply,
and equipment to substitute for labor. These and other open-ended,
conversational questions, as well as observations and discussions with other
farmers in the region, provided ample occasion to cross-check hypotheses that

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


labor was a leading issue in the minds of farmers. It is appropriate in these
villages to research any technologies that address issues associated with labor.
A survey might or might not have led to similar conclusions. Nevertheless,
FSRE proponents in extension education should consider what constitutes
the best leadership tools for educational purposes. Then, in light of limited
training and operating resources, we could decide how best to expend our
educational efforts. For example, should extension educators shoulder
technical messages as their primary mandate? Or can prospective, on-farm-
tested technologies find their own way from farmer to farmer on the strength
of their suitability to local farming systems and farmer visits to test sites? There
are many such questions of emphasis and priority for FSRE.
As noted earlier, agronomic factors are not the only set of decision criteria
used by farmers in adopting or adapting technologies to their farm operations.
There are economic, social, political, religious, historic, and even aesthetic
factors to consider. This is particularly true in nations such as Niger, Burkina
Faso, Mali, and Senegal, where natural resources are scarce and where FSRE
has a foothold. In fact, FSRE does attempt to address nonagronomic factors
of farm-level decision-making. But because of a preoccupation among FSRE
researchers and extension personnel for collecting quantifiable data, certain
facets of the resource systems within which farmers live are liable to be
overlooked in research design.
Therefore, in the design stage of FSRE on-farm research, to complement
survey work, extension educators should lead discussions in a public forum by
questioning researchers and cooperating farmers as to how a particular
agronomic trial will yield results appropriate to the local farming system.
"Appropriate" results respond to issues such as human-energy inputs to
production, health and nutritional conditions, the quality of the water supply,
money-saving measures for farmers, time-saving measures that allow farmers
to perform other tasks, the creation of solidarity with the community at large,
or tempering the forest spirits, even when these issues do not appear in survey
FSRE genuinely tries to address these issues, but a successful effort requires
cooperation among all of the FSRE actors. McDermott (1987) believes that
the farming systems research model may not provide an effective means by
which to close the gap between research and dissemination of tested technol-
ogy because of poor leadership in defining the mission ofextension. McDer-
mott suggests that extension "must develop capacity in technology that will

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


enable it to deal effectively with research." This can be realized by the addition
of a "technical liaison and support function" to extension's repertoire.
McDermott assigns three major responsibilities to this function, which, with
liberty, may be termed: (1) technological literacy on the part of extension
personnel, (2) technological marketing by extension through linkages with
input suppliers, and (3) technological support for extension workers via
appropriate training.
McDermott's vision with regard to technical capacity is correct, and
extension training should continue in these directions. But there is a fourth
dimension to the technical liaison and support troika that is needed, techno-
logical criticism. This fourth responsibility offers extension educators an
opportunity to create for themselves a distinct identity-apart from research-
ers-and to develop a sense of leadership for the purpose of better service to
farmers. Moreover, this responsibility for leadership by extension lends itself
to cooperative action between researchers and extension educators outside
the traditional subservient, technical-message-carrier role.
The term technological criticism does not imply that extension educators
should be trained to become cynics of new and innovative technologies
evaluated in the FSRE process. On the contrary, technological criticism can
be an educational tool for encouraging farmers to discriminate between
appropriate and inappropriate technologies before on-farm or research-
station trials are put in place. This would provide a counterbalance in FSRE
trial designs. Benor (1987) touches briefly upon technological criticism in
discussing the "field-and-farmer orientation" needed by extension workers.
Benor's incontestable premise is that extension workers must be in contact
with farmers to be effective. Benor rightly observes that one basic question
should be kept in mind by extension workers: How will any proposed
[research] activity most readily benefit farmers? This question should be
absolutely foremost in the conscience of extension workers. Extension-
training programs oriented to teach prospective extension workers to con-
structively criticize agronomic research, as opposed to becoming researchers'
message carriers, are, therefore, in order. Such a training orientation may
point us toward emphasizing and developing an educational mandate in
extension rather than maintaining the traditional status quo, the technical-
message-carrier function.
Waugh et al. (1989) briefly address the need for a reorientation of thinking
about the role for extension workers in FSRE. They identified eight more or
less traditional activities for extension in FSRE, including characterization and

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


analysis of farming regions, supervision of farmer-managed trials, feedback of
information from on-farm trials to researchers, and on-the-job learning about
new technologies. They clearly demonstrate a trust in extension workers to
contribute constructively to FSRE. They also seem to downplay the technical-
message-carrier role. Possibly Waugh et al. (1988) feel that such duties can
be counterproductive when the technical message or the technology related
to the message is not suited to the local farming system. They may understand,
too, that the adoption/adaptation of technology will occur naturally within
and among farming communities, provided the technology is truly on-target,
by virtue of farmers making their own rational deductions based upon their
observations and discussions with other farmers.
This success or failure of demonstration plots in this scenario for extension
is no longer solely the concern of extension workers. Demonstration plots
should be (1) solicited, without coercion, by farmers and (2) established by
researchers who take full responsibility for the success or failure of the plots.
When extension workers are found alone, next to the corpse of a failed
demonstration crop, it does little for their credibility with farmers. Research-
ers (or their technicians), on the other hand, are trained and paid to know how
to grow crops successfully in field plots for purposes of technology evaluation
or technology demonstration. Although extension workers should assist in
the establishment and monitoring of such plots, there generally are not
enough resources to train extension educators to mimic or compete with
researchers. Where specific training is necessary, such as for "on-farm proven"
animal traction or fertilizer use, in-service training of extension educators and
farmer leaders can occur. Otherwise, extension personnel can learn from on-
the-job, shoulder-to-shoulder interaction with researchers, provided exten-
sion workers are taught to ask the right questions.
Because researchers usually have greater diploma power and bigger oper-
ating budgets than do extension workers, their cooperation in this kind of
training is necessary. In order to be successful, researchers must avoid the
researcher-chauvinist3 attitudes that often dominate the relationship between
extension educators and research scientists. These postures are especially
acute where extension services have not had the historical ahd financial
support of local and regional communities or of national institutions such as

3 By this I mean the perception that, when all is said and done, agricultural researchers
are the ultimate authority on questions of what is appropriate agricultural technology
and what is not.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


universities. In these cases, farmers are optimally served by neither research
nor extension and are thus cheated in their role as the clients of FSRE.
However, with modifications in the function and structure of extension
services, FSRE may be ready for a new era.


In the New Age of FSRE, functional and structural aspects of extension
services can be modified to give extension a new lease on life. An initial task
for FSRE extension educators is to break the technical-message-carrier mold
used more or less ineffectively over the past 30 years to define and orient
extension education. Alternative approaches require that extension educators
not aspire to compete with agricultural researchers in terms of scientific
expertise. Rather, training programs for extension personnel can focus on the
educational aspect of FSRE, which presently is weak in the FSRE whole-
systems approach to agricultural development.
Prospective extension educators certainly ought to be trained in fundamen-
tal agronomic principles and techniques, but it may be as important to teach
them to think critically about technology and to ask the right questions in
order to train themselves on-the-job, alongside researchers and farmers. In
the case of West African nations, thanks to FSRE, we already know a great deal
about the major categories of constraints to technology transfer at the farm
level: labor and land. These constraints and allied issues are natural points of
departure for the development of critical thinking skills through formal
training and hands-on experience.
With critical thinking skills, extension educators will have a basic tool with
which to glean technical information from researchers, a most useful resource
in discussions with farmers. As critical thinkers equipped with fundamental
information, extension educators can learn from farmers and researchers. As
their knowledge of traditional and nontraditional agronomy increases, so will
their ability to serve farmers by acting as public advocates of appropriate
research. In the early stages of FSRE, extension educators will then be able
to lead constructive discussion and criticism of current and proposed on-farm
and research-station technology evaluation. Extension educators might dis-
cuss with farmers how the proposed research simulates or differs from local
farm management and household realities so that, prior to testing, farmers
become aware of the implications of adopting or adapting the technology.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


Discussions such as this are important because, during reconnaissance or
diagnostic surveys, researchers, in their bid to obtain data, sometimes forget
that farmers exchange information primarily through discussion and conver-
sation, communication modes quite alien to quantitative survey methods.
Thus we can expect certain, perhaps crucial, information to slip through the
cross-cultural cracks built into formal surveys.
Throughout this paper, I have discussed a functional modification of the
traditional, technical-message-carrier role of extension as one way to over-
come the propensity of research to consider extension an afterthought in the
FSRE4 process and to make better use ofextension personnel. We would now
suggest a structural modification in extension likely to be met with skepticism.
The structural modification is this: move extension education services from
ministries of agriculture (where agricultural research normally is housed in
most FSRE-friendly nations) and formally link it with national university
faculties. When in the same ministry, the academic and economic power of
research scientists allows them to overshadow extension educators in matters
of agricultural research policy and action. Given that extension is an educa-
tional service, it should be in an educational ministry. I do not believe that the
linkage between research and extension would necessarily suffer if such a
realignment were made. On the contrary, the relationship may well improve
as researchers work to maintain a professional spirit of interagency coopera-
As university staff members, extension educators will be accorded a formal
status associated with knowledge, information, and learning. In addition, this
status will identify extension educators as people whose service function is
education, as opposed to publicity and sales. A structural overhaul of this
nature would require the development of university-level curricula geared to
producing four-year degree graduates, the New Age extension educators.
Current extension personnel already in the field, whatever their age, would be
accorded a two-year leave of absence to complete a degree, toward which two
years of on-the-job experience would be credited as experimental learning.
Some experienced extension educators, along with regular faculty members in
the social sciences, might also be used to train four-year students. The
presence ofuniversity-linked personnel in the rural areas might also elevate the

4It is noteworthy that, after years of using FSR to designate "farming systems research,"
we have now tacked on E, as if to say, "Oh yeah, and extension, too."

Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension


status of agriculture in the eyes of the nation.
This educational approach to New Age extension in FSRE is one to
consider as we move into the next century of agricultural development
worldwide. By the year 2000, I hope that a new profile of extension is drawn
into the landscape of FSRE and sustainable agriculture, one that will distin-
guish clearly the technological development role of research, the educational
role of extension, and the farmers we serve.

Benor, D. 1987. Training and visit extension: Back to basics. In W.M. Rivera and S.G.
Schram, eds., Agricultural extension worldwide: Issues, practices and emerging prior-
ities. London: Croom Helm.
Hildebrand, P.E. and F. Poey. 1985. On-farm agronomic trials in farming systems
research and extension. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
McDermott, J.K. 1987. Making extension effective: The role of extension/research
linkages. In W.M. Rivera and S.G. Schram, eds., Agricultural extension worldwide:
Issues, practices and emerging priorities. London: Croom Helm.
McKee, C. 1984. Methodological challenges in analyzing the household in farming
systems research: Intra-household resource allocation. In C. Flora, ed., Proceedings
of the Kansas State University's 1983 Farming Systems Research Symposium.
Shaner, W.W., P.F. Philipp, and W.R. Schmehl. 1982. Farming systems research and
development: Guidelines for developing countries. Boulder: Westview Press.
Spring,A. 1988. Using male research and extension personnel to target women farmers.
In S.V. Poats, M. Schmink, and A. Spring, eds., Gender issues in farming systems
research and extension. Boulder: Westview Press.
Waugh, RK., P.E. Hildebrand, and C.O. Andrew. 1989. Farming systems research and
extension. In J.L. Compton, ed., The transformation of international agricultural
research and development. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

Adjusting and Transferring
Agricultural Technologies:
Three Examples from Perui

J.I. Mata1

Transferring new or improved agricultural technologies to farmers is one of
the greatest challenges to increasing agricultural productivity and improving
farmers' physical and economic standards of living. To achieve this goal, some
approaches emphasize technology generation by strengthening research
programs. Other approaches seek to identify methodologies and strategies to
more effectively transfer research-generated technologies to farmers. Often,
both approaches address only one side of the problem.
Technology transfer in agriculture is an integrated process of generation
and transfer that must begin and end with farmers. Research must originate
from farmers' needs. The success or failure of technologies and practices must
be evaluated based upon how farmers have adopted and used them and on the
results they have obtained through implementing them.
Experiences of the Communication for Technology Transfer in Agricul-
ture (CTTA) Project in the Callej6n de Huaylas, Ancash, Peru, clearly
demonstrate the importance of adjusting technologies to meet farmer needs
and provide examples of how communication approaches and channels can
facilitate and enhance technology adjustment and adoption.

Deciding What to Transfer
CTTA's first step in choosing what technologies to attempt to transfer to
farmers in the Callej6n de Huaylas was to identify with the farmers the main
problems faced by their crops and the traditional methods with which they
combatted these problems. The analysis helped to identify farmers' demands
for technologies relevant to their perceived problems.

IAcademy for Educational Development.


The next step was to learn what technologies were available from sources
of technology generation, in this case the local agricultural experiment station.
Technology availability is relevant for solving immediate problems, such as
insect attacks and plant diseases, and also for offering new practices (e.g.,
planting distances) or inputs (e.g., improved seeds) that may increase crop
CTTA compared farmer demand for technologies with the technologies
that were available from the experiment station. Staff members paired the
problems identified by farmers with solutions that were currently available
from the experiment station. Next, they noted experiment-station technolo-
gies that did not directly correspond with farmer-identified problems, but that
were related to them and might increase productivity. In addition to identi-
fying the technologies that farmers were interested in using, CTTA also
carefully studied farmers' knowledge and practices and recorded their expec-
tations and attitudes toward adopting new patterns and behaviors and their
feelings about technical assistance.
All af this information-agricultural technologies, farmer knowledge and
practices, farmer attitudes toward adopting new practices, and farmer feelings
about technical assistance-was used to select the first set of potentially
successful technologies and to plan a strategy for transferring them.


CTTA divided its intervention into two stages, both of which corresponded
to one complete agricultural cycle of the potato, maize, and wheat crops that
predominate in the pilot area.
In stage 1, experiment-station technologies were introduced to farmers
and an effort was made to adjust the recommended practices to match farmers'
ability to use and adopt them successfully. Stage 1 had two objectives: (1) to
learn how best to translate new technologies into a series of behaviors that
could be easily followed by farmers and (2) to identify the most effective tools
(communication channels, media, materials, etc.) for transferring new prac-
tices to farmers. With this information, CTTA began informing farmers about
the new technologies, motivating farmers to try them, and training farmers to
ensure that the new practices would be applied correctly and with good results.
The best way to adjust technologies was to give them to farmers and then
to watch how they used them. The project needed to identify problems with
implementation, farmers willingness to adapt the practices to meet immediate

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


needs, and farmers' ability to solve problems using their own resources. This
analysis could only be done by observing the users' traditional practices and
how they managed the introduced technologies.
Also in stage 1, CTTA tested methods for transferring the technologies-
traditional and new communication approaches, media, and channels-to
learn which combination would most effectively reach and be used by farmers.

In the pilot area, farmers first work together in community fields and then
individually in their own plots. Group cultivation of community fields offered
CTTA staff an invaluable opportunity to work closely with farmers to learn
traditional practices and to help introduce new technologies. Working with all
the farmers at the same time in community plots provided a chance to learn
their reactions and opinions about both old and new practices and to
encourage them to adopt the new ones.
These first communication efforts delivered the adjusted information to
farmers so that they might apply them in their own plots. Farmers opinions
about the new technologies helped communicators know what to include in
the first radio programs and flyers that were designed to introduce the
technologies to a broader audience.
As each new technology or practice was introduced, its reception and
adoption by farmers was evaluated in the field. Constraints to adoption and
correct application were carefully discussed with farmers. Findings from this
analysis guided stage 2, in which a final technology set and a communication
strategy for its transfer were developed and implemented.
Based on experience gained in stage 1, CTTA constructed a communica-
tion strategy in stage 2 that could be implemented within local institutional
capacities and resources. The strategy was designed to reach across long
distances and difficult terrain and, thus, integrated the use of radio programs
and graphic materials with group training and demonstration plots. This
strategy allowed the information to reach many farmers through several
channels, but at low personnel and input costs.
Graphic materials, which were widely distributed throughout the pilot
area, broke down each technology into a sequence of simple steps. The
illustrations were designed to be understood by farmers who could not read.
The radio programs, in a combination of Quechua (the local language) and
Spanish, explained each illustration in the sequence included in the graphics.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


This multichannel approach helped farmers to study and learn about the
technologies in their own homes before going to till their individual plots.
Group training helped refine extension workers' techniques for teaching
new practices and provided a forum for discussing problems and learning
about farmer concerns. These opportunities for direct communication built
a system of continuous feedback that helped communicators, extension
workers, and researchers to continually adjust technology recommendations
to meet specific circumstances. Information collected during group training
was immediately responded to and relayed in radio programs. Demonstration
plots were managed using the technologies that were being promoted. They
provided an opportunity to put into practice each new technology and to
demonstrate the results of their implementation.


Following are three examples of how specific technologies were adjusted and
recommended to farmers.

Controlling Papa-Kuru
Farmers said the potato worm (Premnotrypes sp.), called "papa-kuru" in
Quechua and "gorgojo de losAndes" in Spanish, was one of the most damaging
insect pests of potato in the Callej6n de Huaylas. Papa-kuru larvae bore
through potato tubers, thus reducing quality and quantity of the harvest. The
adult weevils appear after certain rains, causing many farmers to believe that
papa-kuru comes down with the hail.
Farmers try to control papa-kuru with foliar insecticides such as Gusation,
but they often apply it too late.
Experiment station recommendation. The potato specialist at the experi-
ment station suggested using Curater powder, 5 g/10-m rows, applied at
seeding, to control papa-kuru. The powder should not contact the potato
seed. The specialist also suggested (for farmers with greater economic
resources) applying Curater powder in the rows at seeding and granulated
Volaton around the base of plants at hilling. The experiment station
recommendation had an important implication for farm labor.
Farmers in the Callej6n de Huaylas break ground and sow the same day.
Generally they use two crosses of an oxen-pulled plow to break up the soil and
then plow the furrows. A man plows a furrow, followed by a woman who drops
seed into it. Another woman follows behind and puts a handful of fertilizer

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


near each seed. The plow closes one furrow as it opens the next.
Applying the experiment station recommendation requires making two
more crosses with the plow and using one more person to apply the Curater.
The application sequence is as follows: (1) open the furrow, (2) plant the seed
and apply the fertilizer, (3) cover the seed with the plow, (4) apply the
recommended dose of Curater, and (5) plow another pass to cover the
Curater. The sequence was recommended to farmers and some tried it. They
rejected it because it was expensive and because Curater was hard to apply in
the correct fashion and dose.
Compromise recommendation. Discussing these constraints with farmers
and experiment-station specialists produced an adjusted method that builds
upon and reinforces traditional methods for controlling papa-kuru.
Method 1: Crop rotation helps prevent papa-kuru infestation. Farmers
should rotate potato with crops of maize or other cereals. Papa-kuru dies
during the rotation crop.
Method 2: Fields should be plowed at least three times to break up and turn
the soil and then be left for several days before planting. This exposes the larvae
to the sun and predators, such as birds, and reduces their numbers.
Method 3: After plowing, while waiting for the sun and predators to act,
the potato seed should be moistened and place in the shade until it develops
a greenish color (verdeo). This makes the seed bitter and less palatable to the
Method 4: High hills should be built around the base ofplants, which helps
prevent papa-kuru larvae from reaching the tubers.
Method 5: Farmers who can buy insecticides should apply granulated
Volaton around the base of the plants when hilling and Gusation to their
foliage. Both insecticides are easily available in the market at costs affordable
to most farmers.
Results. The first formative evaluation, in December 1987, after six months
of intervention, showed that 70 percent of the sample farmers had heard the
recommendations. Of these, 80 percent (55 percent of the sample) followed
the recommendations, and 70 percent of them (49 percent of the sample) used
them correctly.

Plant Spacing
This second example also illustrates the adjustment of a recommendation
that was chosen to respond to a problem identified by farmers. The technology
was developed through experiment station research where it successfully

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


increased maize production by more than 15 percent.
Most farmers in the Callej6n de Huaylas sow maize "a cola de buey." A
woman follows behind the plow and drops a continuous line of seeds into the
furrow, at no controlled interval. The maize then germinates and grows at
irregular spacing, preventing irrigation and rain water from circulating freely
and encourages soil erosion on hillsides.
Experiment station recommendation. To achieve efficient plant spacing,
experiment station specialists recommended that farmers plant three maize
seeds each in a pocket spaced at 60-cm intervals along the sides of furrows
spaced 80 cm apart. Such spacing would encourage development of strong
root systems.
However, to achieve the plant spacing recommended by the experiment
station, a farmer must walk behind the plow, make pockets in the side of the
furrows with a spade at one-step intervals, and drop three seeds into each
pocket. Applying this recommendation would require using a spade, which is
not commonly used in the area. Planting one hectare would require digging
about 21,000 pockets, each time lifting the spade to the shoulder. This
represents considerable effort at 9,000 ft elevation. The recommendation thus
presented two major difficulties: sowing would take much more time and
effort and require a new tool and women, who would not have the strength
required to use the spade, would be excluded from a task that they traditionally
have performed because farmers of the culture believe that women's and
earth's fertility are profoundly linked. The recommendation therefore re-
quired not only adopting a new tool and expending greater effort, but also a
shift in cultural practices.
Compromise recommendation. The problems of time, effort, economics,
and culture represented by the recommendation were discussed with the
specialists and a compromise recommendation was made that followed the
same principles as the initial recommendation-even spacing between furrows
and pockets, with three seeds per pocket.
It was recommended that seeds be dropped into the furrows at regular
spacing; 60 cm was translated to mean "three hands" and 80 cm to mean "four
hands." Farmers were urged to cut light staffs "three hands" long for women
to use as measures between seed drops and to place a "four hands" stick behind
the plow to mark the appropriate distance between furrows.
One flyer and several radio programs promoted this recommendation
during a one-month period when farmers were sowing maize.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Results. Five months after promoting the new technology, formative
evaluation showed that 56 percent of the sample farmers had sowed their crops
at the recommended furrow spacing with the appropriate number of seeds per
drop; 43 percent of the respondents had followed the recommendation for
spacing within furrows.

Controlling Utush (Maize Ear Worm)
As described above, some research-generated technologies require adjust-
ments in farming practice; others require adjustment within the local cultural
context. The technology for controlling maize ear worm (Elliothiszea), which
seriously reduces maize harvest in the Callej6n de Huaylas, required adjust-
ments in recommended practice.
Experiment station recommendation. Specialists from the experiment
station recommended spraying Sevin on the maize silk when utush eggs
appeared and then repeating the spray application at eight-day intervals until
no more eggs were evident. Most farmers who tried to control the pest used
the recommended insecticide. Many, however, did not use the correct dosage,
application procedure, or timing. Usually, they applied the insecticide to the
plant foliage, and only after damage occurred. Farmers who did not own or
have access to a sprayer did not use any control.
Utush attacks were so serious in the project area that insecticide application
was the only effective control measure. Under the experiment station recom-
mendation, applying the insecticide required having access to and using a
sprayer, being able to detect the presence of utush eggs, and applying the
insecticide before the larvae hatched and began destroying the harvest.
Compromise recommendation. The specialists were asked to develop
simpler ways to apply Sevin than by sprayer, so that farmers could use the
insecticide. The specialists found that brushing the insecticide on the maize
silk with a paint brush was an effective alternative to spraying and guaranteed
that the insecticide was applied directly to the developing ears of maize.
Specialists also revised their recommendation for mixing the insecticide to
correspond with the new application procedure.
Farmers also needed to learn how to check their crops properly for presence
of utush eggs. Specialists and extension workers showed farmers how to
identify the eggs, how to distinguish them from similar-looking items, such
as dew drops, and how to walk in pairs on each side ofa row of plants and check
each ear for eggs. Farmers also were told that Sevin should be applied when
at least one of every ten plants had egg deposits.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


Results. Messages explaining how to check for and control utush were
broadcast via radio programs and spots and distributed in a flyer for one month
during utush season. No quantitative data were collected because the recom-
mendations were disseminated before the formative evaluation. However,
visits to the communities verified that utush control had significantly im-
proved in the pilot area. Visits also confirmed that the prospect of harvesting
utush-free maize encouraged farmers to plant larger areas of the crop.


Agricultural communication and technology-transfer processes often are seen
as ways to disseminate information about research-generated technologies
and practices. Practitioners of these processes often expect farmers to adapt
themselves to new methods, rather than for the methods to be adjusted to
farmers' needs.
CTTA Project experience in Perfi shows that this approach itself requires
adjustment. Farmers certainly need to adapt their traditional methods to
include new technologies and practices, but researchers and technology-
transfer specialists also must adjust their recommendations to build upon
farmers' traditional practices and reflect farmers' physical, cultural, and
economic realities.
Developing technologies that are well-suited to farmers' demands and
circumstances requires a new focus in agricultural research and technology-
transfer programs. Technology transfer should not be an activity that begins
after a research program generates a new or improved technology or practice.
The technology-transfer process must be part of the technology-generation
process and must focus on the demands, expectations, and needs of the
intended users. Technology generation must be directed by practical adjust-
ment to produce pragmatic and efficient practices.
To achieve these aims requires that agricultural and technology-transfer
specialists thoroughly know and understand the farming practices and cultural
values of the potential users. This knowledge may be learned through
information collected in developmental investigation. The importance of
observing and recording farmers' behavior and seeking to discern their
possible constraints to adopting new practices cannot be overemphasized.
The emphasis of agricultural technology generation and transfer should be on
building upon and improving, not dismissing, traditional practices.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Technologies that are developed without being tested within the circum-
stances in which they are to be implemented must undergo postgeneration
adjustment if they are to be useful to and meet the requirements of farmers.
This phase should produce technologies that are applicable by farmers and
serve their needs and also should reflect the knowledge and research of
agricultural specialists.
A technology may require different kinds of adjustment. Some research-
generated technologies require adjustments in technology-for example, a
change in dosage or chemical. Other technologies may require changes in the
tools required to use them-for example, using a brush instead of a sprayer.
Still other technologies may require adjustment to reflect the local cultural
context-for example, to allow women to fulfill their traditional role.
It is also necessary to consider the cost of a technology, which may be not
only a monetary cost, but a labor and social cost as well. To respond to all of
these issues, it is essential to observe carefully the behaviors and listen to the
demands of farmers. In the Callej6n de Huaylas, CTTA found that economics
was the greatest barrier to farmer adoption of new technologies. The project
found that a technology presented as a sequence of behaviors to be followed
throughout the cycle of a crop had little chance of being accepted and
consistently applied. This did not mean that farmers refused to adopt
technology packages. It simply meant that technologies had to be presented
to farmers as individual practices with specific and immediate goals.
A communication strategy for transferring agricultural technology must
focus not only on disseminating information and motivating adoption, but
also on training farmers to use a technology correctly. This requires that
communication strategies must be incorporated into an educational method-
ology with a very strong pedagogical component.
The examples describe above demonstrate that if new methods are not
adjusted to meet farmer needs, every communication strategy is useless, cost-
inefficient, and time-consuming. It is unwise to approach technology gener-
ation and technology transfer as separate entities. To be successful, these must
be complementary and intricately related.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

Looking Beyond the Farm for
Gender Issues in FSRE'

Patricia Ladipo2


The history from 1969 to 1989 ofa maize project, which involved ten Yoruba
villages near Ile-Ife in western Nigeria, is examined in order to highlight
gender issues in the maize system. The villages, which are involved in the
University ofIfe's Rural Development program were primarily cocoa growing
villages, similar to those described by Galletti et al. (1956) and Guyer (1980).
Findings from several studies conducted during the agricultural develop-
ment process are combined to demonstrate the following points: (1) program
interventions at any point in a food production system may influence all other
points, (2) program interventions can raise gender issues, (3) gender issues
affecting postharvest processes can influence farm production, and (4) an
ecosystems approach involving client participation in research and extension
can help to predict and accommodate gender issues.


The 1969 base-line study3 of the villages indicated that men dominated farm
production, not only of cocoa but also of the small amounts of food that were
grown. Men also dominated the cocoa trade. However, women in these
villages had traditionally processed and marketed food crops, including any of
the local, low-yielding white maize that might be in excess of subsistence
Figure 1 shows the flow of maize and money from maize prior to extension
intervention. Most of the maize, whether stored or not, went toward family
consumption after being processed into either pap or pottage (a mash ofmaize

1 Paper presented at the Tenth Annual Farming Systems Research-Extension Sympo-
sium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, October 14-17, 1990.
Ladcon, Iwo, Nigeria.
This study was conducted by the Department of Extension Education and Rural
Sociology, University of Ife, under the direction of Dr. S.K.T. Williams.


and beans). Some of it was sold and bought as grain, and from there some went
into small-scale commercial production of pap or pottage. Most of the
proceeds of these commercial uses of maize went to support the care and
education of children.
Figure 1 also indicates if men or women were usually responsible for each
process. This determination involved two considerations: (1) who actually did
the work and (2) who was in control of the process. Because these factors
changed over time, it is important to note that initially men both controlled
and performed farming and storage, while women controlled and carried out
processing and marketing. Both parents contributed maize, maize products,
and maize profits to the family pool. The local white maize was a low-input
crop and hardly any of the income from it was put back into the farm. Another
thing to note is that shelling was done by women (who pounded or rubbed
the ears), but it was performed mainly as an obligation to their husbands and
was thus a process controlled by men. The extent and importance of men's
control over shelling was initially underestimated by the development agents.


SPottage Making
..... .................
.. .Family !
Farming Manual Maintenance &
Shelling Development

..........---- .............
Pap Making

Marketing I

-- ,- -- -

Maize Men do, men control
Money --- Women do, men control
............ Women do, women control

Figure 1. Local White Maize in the Community, 1969

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


In 1972, in order to help farmers increase their incomes and diversify their
income sources, the project staff introduced a high-yielding yellow maize
variety as a cash crop. Because this variety was not at first acceptable for food
but was demanded by the animal-feed industry, it radically changed the way
maize and money flowed in the community (Figure 2). First, with the
introduction of the new variety, there was no locally grown maize available for
women's maize-based activities. Second, shelling became a major problem
because: (1) the yield and the acreage were much higher than those of the local
white variety and (2) instead of being stored and released gradually, almost all
of the crop was rushed to the market in order to get the highest possible prices.
Because these prices dropped at the end of the rainy season, the crop was dried
in a wood-fueled batch drier, and some women participated in carrying maize
and wood to the drier, which was operated by men. Maize prices were dictated
by the industrial consumers, because they were few in number and there was
no demand for the yellow variety through the local food markets.

Storage t

SPottage Making '

Family q
Farming Manual Maintenance &
Shelling Development I

S4 Pap Making
Men's 4
Cooperative ------- -----
Development Local

S-- -r Key:
........... -- Maize Men do, men control
Industrial 4- Money --- Women do, men control
Marketing .......... Men do, industry controls
......................... Noone does

Figure 2. Improved Yellow Maize in the Community, 1972

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


Yellow maize was a high-input crop and in order to acquire credit, seeds,
information, and other inputs, the men formed farmers' cooperatives. The
existence of these cooperatives and bulk purchasing outlets made yellow maize
comparable to cocoa, and men took over the marketing of maize. Finally, it
should be noted that because of the high input requirements, the debt
incurred, and the excitement about the crop, most of the proceeds went into
the cooperatives and the farms. Very little maize-based resource flowed into
the family pot.
This situation came to the attention of project staff during a child nutrition
program in 1976. Realizing that the project had benefited men and disadvan-
taged women, the latter group requested a program that would make their
processing work easier and would give them their own source of capital. The
project responded by helping the women to develop their own cooperative
and to purchase a mechanical maize sheller (for a detailed project description,
see Ladipo, 1981).
As shown in Figure 3, this project replenished women's resources and
benefited the family, although money, not maize, circulated within the
community. It is important to note that with the introduction of the
mechanical sheller, control of the shelling process switched from men to the
women who actually performed the shelling.

SStorage \ Pottage Making
i I I i

c .-1---,Women's I | Family 1
Farming Mechanical Cooperative Maintenance &
Shelling Development Development

I I I ------
Men's i I
Cooperative ---
Development Local Pap Making
I--,- --I Food -
I Marketing -I

I Maize Men do, men control
S Industrial -- Money --- Women do, women control
Marketing ............ Men do, industry controls
......................... No one does

Figure 3. Yellow Maize in the Community, 1976

Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension


Although male community leaders approved of the establishment of the
women's cooperative and welcomed the idea of the sheller as a way of
quickening the pace of marketing, the men reacted negatively to the machine
when it began operating. Specifically, they argued about the price for shelling,
withheld their maize from the machine, and demanded free shelling, and,
finally, some even seized the machine.
There are many possible reasons for the men's negative reaction to the
women's sheller, but the main reasons become plain from an examination of
Figures 2 and 3: (1) men had always controlled the shelling process in the past,
(2) all new technology had previously been targeted to men, and (3) whoever
controlled the shelling controlled the timing of all subsequent processes and,
thus, the price received for maize.
With the seizure of the sheller, women realized that the issue was one that
could threaten the stability of their homes. They decided to sell the machine,
not to their husbands but to another community. Having done so, however,
they did very little manual shelling and the flow of maize almost ceased.
Everyone realized that something had to be done.
Fortunately, at that time high-yielding white varieties of maize were
becoming available, and both men and women expressed interest in them.
After all the problems with fodder maize, staff and villagers were eager to
adopt a highly acceptable and profitable variety.
Project participants took part in identifying the salient characteristics
affecting acceptability. These characteristics were quantified for the various
types available and the economic implications of the acceptability factors were
explored with maize handlers. For each available variety, the numerical values
assigned to each characteristic were combined into an acceptability score and
this score was then multiplied by the yield potential as reported from research
stations. This approach adjusted yield figures, which were of major concern to
men, by acceptability factors, which were of major concern to women. The
variety with the highest adjusted yield value was adopted by the farmers in
1979 (for details, sec Ladipo and Nout, 1981).
As shown in Figure 4, the introduction of the improved white variety
reconnected maize and money with all parts of the system in the community,
except for industrial aspects. Women returned to their normal pursuits:
making and selling maize foods and shelling maize by hand, although the
shelling was occasional and the amounts were moderated by storage.
Meanwhile, the women worked to develop their own cooperative, which
was built on the proceeds raised through trade in maize and other items.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


Storage IPPottage Making

Women's Family
Farming Manual Cooperative -- Maintenance &
Srmn Shelling Development J Development
... ~l;. ................... ...

Men's Pap Making
Cooperative I .........I-.......-
Development ocalr I .......
Marketing I

I i---

Industrial I Key:
Marketing I Maize Men do, men control
- -- Money --- Women do, men control
............ Women do, women control
No one does

Figure 4. Improved White Maize in the Community, 1979

Eventually, the women's cooperative grew and subdivided into large, viable
groups, while the men's groups became increasingly burdened by debt. Even
so, in the area where the maize sheller had been introduced, there was no
direct connection between any women's group per se and the production and
handling of the crop.
The direct connection between women's groups and crop production and
handling in the 1990s, which is occurring now, will probably have a major
impact on control of the whole system, right back to the procurement of farm
inputs. Before examining this latest rearrangement, it is useful to review the
ways in which client participation and a systems approach could have been, and
at times were, used to guide programming in these villages.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension



Tracing the flow of inputs and outputs from one process to another can
provide information not only about what happens and who is involved, but
also about people's expectations. For example, had flow diagrams been used
from the beginning of the project, the effects ofintroducing yellow maize and
the central importance of shelling might have been anticipated by tracing and
two of the failures might have been avoided.
Within a longer time frame, tracing inputs and outputs was usefully applied
to women's enterprises. It was found that women usually engage in a series of
occupations, starting with whatever amount of capital they have and progress-
ing through a series of increasingly capital-intensive and decreasingly labor-
intensive jobs (Figure 5). With the women's help, it was possible to understand
their views, where farming and trade featured in them, and, particularly, the


Distant produce buying
) Local produce buying
Urban petty trade
"o Rural petty trade

S* Selling cooked food

Making cold pap
Gathering wood or leaves

Paid labor

0 Very Hard Easy
Level of Physical Exertion

Figure 5. Women's Occupational Ladder

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


importance of the cooperative in saving them from sliding down the occupa-
tional ladder.
Food flow was used to identify male farmers, female marketers, roadside
cooks, and housewives as people to consult about maize acceptability. Not
only were these the people to be affected by any changes, they were also the
local experts on the subject.

Focusing on particular processes
The systems approach also facilitates a process-oriented approach. For
example, after tracing maize to the relevant participants and processes, the
participants in each process supplied detailed information about inputs,
outputs, and transformations. Once the course of events was determined,
some aspects of the process were removed from their natural settings and
examined and quantified in the laboratory. The quantitative data were then
used to predict how new inputs would affect processes and outputs. This type
of analysis can only be performed through client cooperation.
Participation is also important for identifying the problematic aspects of a
system. For example, in the case of the maize sheller, project staff focused on
the processing bottleneck and the physical labor output ofwomen. With more
open communication from participants, it might also have been possible to
focus on the family maintenance and development process, to see that shelling
was an important aspect of the exchange between husband and wife, one that
could not be altered without prior ideological change and a different econom-
ic balance between the sexes (Figure 6).

Considering the environment
Finally, an ecosystem view encourages consideration of the local environ-
ment. Figure 4, above, presented a situation very similar to the initial one. A
high-yielding variety had replaced the local maize type, but, except for the
addition of cooperative development, there was very little change in activities
or resource control.


Recent changes in the political and economic environments, stimulated by
structural adjustment, are bringing radical changes to maize production in the
study villages, and seem about to upset former gender-based patterns of
resource control in the maize system.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Figure 6. Reciprocity of Contributions Among Family Members

Devaluation has led to a rapid rise in agricultural input costs with a decrease
in maize production and on-farm maize storage. In fact, increasingly higher
proportions of maize are sold green to bridge the widening seasonal food gap
and to help farmers repay debts incurred on maize production. Policies
encouraging export production cause farmers spend more time on cocoa and
less on food crops. Meanwhile, import restrictions and other policies aimed at
increasing home industry have multiplied the industrial uses of maize, making
the maize trade very competitive. These same restrictions have reduced the
availability of many imported manufactured items, pushing more traders into
dealing with agricultural products.
Other important changes include the creation or reconstruction of rural
feeder roads; bank reforms encouraging small-scale, rural-oriented loans,
especially loans to women's groups; and a program (Better Life for Rural
Women) that has promoted the idea that women are fit and proper people to
handle new technology.
All of these economic and social stimuli are occurring at the same time as
public support for health care and education is being cut back, making most
families unable to ensure their children's futures. In this situation of extreme
pressure and unusual opportunities, change-even change in gender roles-
can be expected.
In 1989, one of the women's cooperatives prepared an application for a
rather large loan for the purpose of creating more maize storage.4 Part of the
maize they plan to buy and store will be their husbands'.

Vol. 2, No. 2,1991


For the first time, women's cooperative money will be feeding into the
maize farms as men accept forward-buying arrangements in order to pay for
inputs that they could not finance otherwise. The loan project calls for
construction of the Food and Agriculture Organization/Danish Inter-
national Development Agency/International Institute of Tropical Agricul-
ture (FAO/DANIDA/IITA) maize cribs, which will be owned and run by
women. These women will control the flow of maize out of the crib, and thus
the rate ofshelling. The women will shell manually for the first year while they
consider whether or not to invest in a sheller.
As always, women will control the food marketing of maize, but because
all of the varieties grown are now acceptable as food, women can also negotiate
the prices for industrial sales. Finally, it is envisaged that in terms of maize and
maize income, women will be making the major contributions to family
Figure 7 illustrates that within the structural adjustment environment, the
loan is likely to change control of the maize system so that women will have
influence in production decisions and will have dominant control in all other
areas. The effects of these changes should be closely monitored through
frequent communication with all family members. In this way, program
support could be made available if needed to assist families in making
constructive adaptations.


The author is grateful to the Association for Farming Systems Research-
Extension for inviting and supporting her participation; the Isoya Rural
Development Project staff and other colleagues at the University of Ife/
Obafemi Awolowo University for their contributions to the action and
research projects described in this paper; and the rural and urban people of Ife
for their willingness to experiment and share.

4 Before the application was processed, the government became involved in maize storage
and prices dropped so low that production has since been suppressed. The women
postponed action on the loan until the government abandons the project and produc-
tion and prices return to normal.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


I- I

Storage Pottage Making
I i

(Mechanical) I Fmy
,- i Women's | Family
Farming Mechancal) Cooperative Maintenance &
SShelling Development Development

"-Men-'s I ----
SCooperative ii I Pap Making

Drying L
Development Local


Drying L -J |

Industrial I Key:
Marketing Maize Men do, men control
-- Money --- Women do, women control
........... Women do, industry controls
...... Men do, women control
No one does

Figure 7. Women in the Maize System, 1990s


Galletti, R, K.D.S. Baldwin, and I.O. Dina. 1956. Nigerian cocoa farmers. Oxford.
Guyer, J.I. 1980. Food, cocoa, and the division of labor by sex in two west African
societies. Comparative Studies in Society and History 22(3):355-373.
Ladipo, Patricia. 1981. Developing women's cooperatives: An experiment in rural
Nigeria. Journal of Development Studies 17(3):123-136.
Ladipo, Patricia, and R. Nout. 1981. Maize acceptability: A problem in extension
programming. Nigerian Journal ofAgricultural Extension 1(1):15-23.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

Integrating Women into Farming
Systems Research:
A Homestead Vegetable Production
Project in Coastal West Bengal

S. Chakraborty, J.E. Gleason, B. Mandal, and C.S. Das

This paper is based on an action research project integrating women into
farming systems research (FSR). The research focus is on women's role in
vegetable cultivation in homestead gardens in coastal West Bengal, where
vegetable production occupies a major place in the agricultural production
system. The study demonstrates that integration of women into FSR can be
achieved by addressing their traditional roles and needs.

In coastal West Bengal, as in other parts of the country, women play a major
role in rice production as well as in vegetable production, the other major crop
in the area. But women by and large have been bypassed in agricultural
development and extension systems and generally have not received the
benefits of improved technologies. Although not ignored completely, wom-
en's activities are treated as "traditional," and their skills viewed either as
innate to women or as easily acquired through practice without any techno-
logical or research support. Social attitudes are also a barrier to women's access
to technology. Women are perceived to be confined to their homes, to have
low literacy levels, and, therefore, to be unable to absorb scientific information
and skills.
Realizing that successful agricultural development for resource-poor farm
families depends on the full integration of all human resources, the FSR team
at the Ramakrishna Mission, Lokasiksha Parishad, Narendrapur, conducted
research on the traditionally recognized role of women in agriculture, i.e.,
homestead vegetable production. The program was conceptualized as a
mechanism for integrating women into the mainstream of FSR.
The homestead garden program ofRamakrishna Mission is an integral part
of the overall research project in the region because it develops the knowledge


and skills of women in vegetable production, a primary economic activity of
many villages in coastal West Bengal. Specific objectives of the kitchen garden
program are to develop an understanding of the value of women's contribu-
tions to the farm economy and to enhance their contribution by upgrading
their skills and putting available resources to maximum use. The program also
aims to help women understand the dietary importance of vegetables and the
nutritional needs of family members and to ensure a steady supply of
vegetables for consumption and sale throughout the year. The program also
promotes contact between women vegetable producers and FSR scientists.


The FSR scheme of the Ramakrishna Mission is being implemented in nine
villages in three coastal districts of West Bengal. Nearly 80 percent of the
population lives in rural areas and is mainly dependent on agriculture. The
average land holding is very small and many people are landless, working as
agricultural laborers on other peoples' farms. A household survey of 250
families selected by stratified random sampling showed that the highest
percentage of families has land holdings from 0.11 to 1.00 acre (43.2%),
followed by families with land holdings from 1.01 to 2.50 acres (22.4%), and
families with land holdings of 2.51 to 5.0 acres (11.6%). Landless laborers
comprise 22.8 percent of the total population. Owing to the different
environment in this part of West Bengal, these resource-poor farm families
have not benefitted from the Green Revolution that occurred in other parts
of India.
The main crops grown in the area are rice and vegetables; multiple cropping
is constrained by lack of irrigation. Rice, followed by vegetables, is the main
cash crop for most farm families. A study of 20 families selected at random
from one village (Jelerhat) showed that most of the families obtained a cash
income from vegetable cultivation and wage labor. Only 25 percent sold rice.
The production of vegetables thus occupies a very prominent place in the
economy of this village and women, as equal partners with men, play a
significant role in vegetable production.

Genesis of the homestead vegetable production program
In coastal West Bengal, women's contribution to vegetable production
normally is recognized as an extended function of their domestic responsibil-
ities. The word "garden" has a different connotation than "field production"

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


because it implies production of vegetables and flowers on homestead land.
Vegetable or flower gardening around the house is treated as women's work
in which men extend a helping hand. In field production the situation is
reversed, and men are regarded as producers and women as helpers. As a result,
the agricultural extension system does not address women as commercial
producers of vegetables, although they have an important role to play.
FSRscientists working in the field have discovered two major barriers to the
full integration of women into sustainable development programs: (1) men
believe that women are too shy to receive any information from scientists,
especially males; and (2) women feel uncomfortable meeting jointly with men
in FSR projects. Scientists recognized that these cultural barriers to women's
participation could only be overcome by targeting production systems in
which women were involved extensively and in which this involvement was
deemed culturally appropriate. Because women's involvement in home
garden vegetable production was accepted as a traditional female role,
scientists felt that research focusing on vegetable production would help break
down the barriers and integrate women into mainstream research.

Meetings were organized to discuss home garden vegetable production with
village women. Discussions in the meetings focused on types of vegetables
produced, on sources of supply of seeds, on manures and fertilizers used, on
sources of irrigation, and on consumption and marketing of produce. Based
on the information gathered in these meetings, a scheme of vegetable
production in home gardens was designed and was first implemented in the
rainy season of 1987. Two hundred women in nine villages participated in the
program. They were given vegetable seed packets, worth about Rs. 5,1
containing seeds ofbottlegourd, okra, snakegourd, bittergourd, french beans,
and amaranthus. The seeds were thought to be sufficient for growing up to
200 kg of vegetables on 3 to 5 cents (100 cents=l acre) of land. Women were
instructed in the sowing application of manures/fertilizers and in the utility
of systematizing vegetable production for better nutrition and sale. Follow-
up visits were made and progress was reviewed in periodic meetings.
Although success in the first season of the program varied considerably, it
generated enough interest that the number of women participating increased

1 US$0.30; US$1 = Rs. 16.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


to 220 in the next season. Feedback from the women guided the scientists in
improving the program. Seeds that did not do well were eliminated and a
better mix of vegetables was developed. Distribution of seeds (carrots, peas,
radishes, spinach) and of seedlings of tomato and knolkhol was preceded by
training on five specific topics: (1) use of organic manures, (2) preparation of
land, (3) soil management, (4) raising ofseedlings, and (5) nutritional aspects
of kitchen gardening. Individual records of vegetable production were kept.
As a result of the improved training and monitoring, vegetable production
increased significantly that winter. Table 1 shows the vegetable production
record of women in two villages.
In Tulsiberia, average production was greater and the production range was
smaller than in Jelerhat. In addition to increased consumption, many of the
women in the village occasionally sold vegetables. Price data for these
vegetables were not collected, so the value of production was not known.
However, it can be concluded with confidence that none of the participating
families could have purchased the same quantity of vegetables that they grew.
A comparative study was made of the earnings from vegetable production

Table 1. Production of Vegetables:
Jelerhat and Tulsiberia, Winter 1988

Vegetable Average Production (kg) Minimum (kg) Maximum (kg)

JELEHAT (40 Women)

Radish 9.9 6.0 15.0
Spinach 12.2 8.0 16.0
Tomato 38.5 8.0 75.0
Carrot 2.0 0.5 4.5
Pea 0.7 0.0 2.5
Knolkhol 80.3 0.0 120.0

TOTAL 187.9 25.0 213.0

TULSIBERIA (25 women)

Radish 10.0 8.0 15.0
Spinach 11.5 8.0 16.0
Tomato 54.7 47.0 65.0
Carrot 4.8 3.0 8.0
Pea 1.5 1.0 2.5
Knolkhol 150.5 140.0 162.0

TOTAL 232.8 216.1 255.2

Source: Gleason, J.E., and S. Chakraborty, 1988.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


among the participants and among nonparticipants in the kitchen gardening
program in the village of Jelerhat. The data in Table 2 show that the families
participating in the kitchen gardening program during May and September
1988 had greater average earnings from vegetable production than did
nonparticipants. The difference in earnings was Rs. 149.34 per 10 acres, or Rs.
192 per family. Home garden production complemented the family's cash
income from vegetable production.
Regular meetings and field visits with the participating women gave
adequate feedback to the scientists about the need for further systematizing
the program. More attention was paid to topics such as selection of vegetable
seeds, timely delivery of information, preparation of land, and marketing
information. In addition to production records, records were kept of
individual performance of various vegetables in different plots.
During village meetings it was found that decisions on vegetable produc-
tion were made only on the basis of market demand. There was no systematic
planning of vegetable production in home gardens from a nutritional point of
view. Seeds were sown according to the individual grower's interest. It was
found that in spite of easy production of leafy and other green vegetables in
gardens, families consumed more potatoes than any other vegetable. Nutri-
tional information on the production and consumption of vegetables, there-
fore, was included in the next package of technological messages. FSR
scientists developed a plan for rotation of vegetables that would ensure both
maximum utilization of available land and enhanced production. The criteria
for the selection of land in terms of location, soil type, etc., were explained.
Participants were given a design for land shaping and rotation of vegetables.

Table 2. Comparison of Earnings From Vegetable Production of Kitchen Garden
Families and Nonkitchen Garden Families, May-September 1988

Kitchen garden families Nonkitchen garden families
(Rs./O.10 acre) (Rs./0.10 acre)
May 351.60 219.65
June 116.11 111.27
July 75.00 65.75
August 74.00 76.00
September 86.75 81.95

TOTAL 704.26 554.92

Note: Based on exchange rate: US$1 = Rs. 16 IC.
Source: Gleason, J.E., and S. Chakraborty, 1988.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


The design included digging a compost pit in one corner of the land.
Principles of making the pit were explained to the participants. They also were
advised to store the ashes normally thrown away after cleaning ovens in order
to add potash to the land. Field staff have been briefed for necessary field
follow up.
In the current season the program will focus more on means of attaining
stability in vegetable production and on improved family nutrition.


In cases of small and marginal land holdings, an important step toward
stabilizing the production system is to maximize the use of resources available
within the command of the farm family. Thus, the question of the develop-
ment and use of women's resources is very significant for the stability of the
agricultural production system.
As a preliminary step to integrating women in farming systems research and
extension, the Ramakrishna Mission FSR scientists identified women's in-
volvement in home garden vegetable production as an entry point. This was
an important target because vegetable production is a major source of cash
income in coastal West Bengal and thus occupies a very significant place in the
primary sector of the economy. Home garden vegetables are consumed
primarily by family members and are a contribution to the improvement of their
nutritional status, which represents an economic gain in the long term. FSR
scientists, therefore, give vegetable production the same priority as crop
The kitchen garden program was identified after a series of meetings with
village women. They showed interest in the program and demanded good
seeds, which were supplied by the scientists. The program was closely
monitored through regular meetings and field visits. Selection and proper
treatment of seeds, raising of seedlings, preparation and use of farmyard
manure to improve soil fertility, and nutritional aspects of home garden
vegetable production were included in the training package. Women also were
advised on the methods of selection and preservation of seeds. Scientists
visiting the field identified the best fruits in the gardens from which seeds
could be collected. Women showed interest in production of their own seeds.
The program has shown some definite results. Village women are becom-
ing increasingly interested in producing and consuming more and new types
of vegetables. In addition, there is greater rapport between the scientists and

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


rural women gardeners and freer interaction between the two. Women turn
up in large numbers at village meetings to discuss vegetable production with
the scientists and to collect seed packets. They report on increased consump-
tion of traditional and new vegetables and on their modes of preparation. For
example, carrots, which were not grown locally before the kitchen garden
program, now are commonly consumed. The economic benefits of the
program also are important, as participants can save the money formerly used
to purchase vegetables.

The project of homestead vegetable production was designed to initiate the
process of integrating women into mainstream agricultural research and
development. The project has demonstrated that the involvement of women
in specific agricultural programs can have strong positive benefits. Owing to
regular interaction with the scientists through this specific program, women
now are much more articulate and can express their needs and interest freely.
This has accelerated progress toward an integrated and more productive use
of farm household resources. Scientists have a better understanding of the role
of women in agriculture and of their needs as producers.
A number of significant findings have emerged from this ongoing project.
Despite perceived cultural assumptions, women are not necessarily too shy to
interact with outsiders (even males) about their specific ideas and needs. They
are keen to seek relevant information from scientists to improve their garden
Training needs to be an intrinsic component of the home garden program.
One message cannot be applicable for all times and in all locations. Training
is necessary to meet the problems and challenges posed by ecological
differences, variation in soil conditions, and natural calamities.
To ensure the stability of the agricultural production system, a supplemen-
tary economic support system is needed that will use women's labor to increase
family income. Women have expressed an interest in starting some home-
based enterprises, such as poultry raising or other marketable activities.
Possibilities are being explored to start up household enterprises in the project
As has been observed, women play a vital role not only in homestead
vegetable production but also in commercial production. By participating in
this project, women realized the value of their work in vegetable production

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


to the household economy and their need for better scientific information.
Through their participation they have been able to improve their small-scale
vegetable production both for home consumption and for sale. The home
garden program ensures the use of the total resource endowment of the family
in terms of the labor of women and children, available land, organic manure,
and other resources. Home garden vegetable production can counter the
challenges of food scarcity and nutritional imbalance.


Gleason, J.E., and S. Chakraborty. 1988. Using traditional roles to integrate women into
agricultural projects. Farming Systems Research Newsletter 3(1).

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension

Farm Management Information
Systems: A Role for Literacy
Training in FSRE Programs'

K.L. Mintz2

The role of farming systems research-extension (FSRE) in relation to farmers
and sustainable agriculture is a relevant topic for proponents of farmer-based
research. This paper focuses on the improvement of on-farm information
management with a methodology based on the incorporation of farmer
training into FSRE programs. Expansion of the farm family's role in informa-
tion management improves community resource development and strength-
ens FSRE.3
FSRE programs incorporate the commodities of information and knowl-
edge. The programs should facilitate the participation of farmers, farm
families, and farm communities within what is broadly referred to as the
agricultural knowledge information system (AKIS). AKIS is defined as a set of
agricultural organizations and/or persons and the links and interactions
between them (Rl6ing, 1990). Participants engage in processes such as the
generation, transformation, transmission, storage, retrieval, integration, dif-
fusion, and utilization of knowledge and information with the purpose of
working synergistically to support decision-making, problem-solving, and
innovation in a given country's agriculture or a domain thereof.

1 Paper presented at the Tenth Annual Association for Farming Systems Research-
Extension, Michigan State University, East Lansing, October 14-17, 1990.
International Extension Training Program, Michigan State University Cooperative
Extension Service.
SThe point of view evident in this paper is a hybrid one based on experinece with Farming
Systems Research Programs and with Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Com-
minity Development Programs. The reality of the geographic setting, West Africa, is
that the majority of resident farm family members are illiterate.



Within the AKIS, FSRE is a mechanism that links research-station scientists
to farming communities. In developing countries these links are often weak
because there are few structural mechanisms to make researchers accountable
to farmer interests. In these situations, FSRE is a participatory methodology
that is able to focus research on relevant problems and that provides timely
feedback relating to on-going research.
Farming systems research (FSR) survey work focuses on collecting infor-
mation from farm families. This information is then transported and analyzed
within the structure of the FSR program. The analysis step produces the
"knowledge," which is circulated to agricultural research institutions and used
to improve current farming practices. The resulting innovations are then
tested with farmers, often under the auspices of the farming systems program.
It is at this point or later that extension involvement may become significant;
widespread diffusion of the technology concerned usually is the responsibility
of extension.
In FSRE programs, the farmer is both the source and the end target of
information. In developing countries, where small-scale farmers are predom-
inantly illiterate, farmers have a minimal input in the recording of FSR
information. Instead, they answer questions and wait to see what studies will
involve them in the future. Much of the information collected in FSR surveys
concerns observations of farmer behavior.

Benefits of FSRE Programs for Farmers
FSRE programs enjoy some popularity in farming communities. One of the
most immediate and obvious benefits of FSRE programs is that a convenient
transportation link is provided from the participating village to a major city.
No matter how disciplined FSRE supervisors may be, older people, medical
evacuees, and important messages often will find transport in the project-
liaison vehicle. Village-based enumerators can usually be pressured into using
motorcycles or mobilettes when they are available (and operational) to travel
to regional capitals in the event of a local crisis.
Participation in FSRE programs has some economic benefit for the
concerned villages as well. A salaried position is created in the village in the
form of a project enumerator. Several times a year a project tour will lead VIPs
to the site. Festive celebrations usually are supported by project funds. Local
government officials may become more responsive to their constituents, who

Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension


now have regular contact with these often internationally financed project

Role of FSRE for Farmers and Communities
Clearly, these are all incentives for farm families to participate in FSRE
programs. But how are household agricultural practices affected by FSRE on
a sustained basis? Generally, there are program-sponsored on-farm trials that
are of significant interest to the family. It is not obvious, however, that the
farmer learns to manage experimental activities. The trials provoke much
village discussion, but within FSRE the farmer usually is accorded neither the
role nor title of researcher. The measurements go to the program office and
results may be presented back to a village group.
What role does FSRE play in local resource management? In addition to
participation in meetings organized by the FSRE program, community
groups should be encouraged to plan and promote independent activities that
use aggregated farm data as a take-off point for exploring ways to improve
production methods. Instead of promoting this pro-active type of approach,
FSRE conditions the farmer to wait for presentation of new technologies. The
formal research sector is important to the farmers as a liaison to new
technologies, but groups concurrently could research adaptations of known
techniques. Overreliance by farmers on standardized recommendations from
external sources can lead to adoption of technologies that threaten farmers'
survival. Management capacity to process information, economic decision-
making, and policy analysis are fundamental to development of on-farm
human resources (RMling, 1986).

Farmer-first Methodologies
Within the realm of farmer-based or farmer-first research, several participa-
tory methodologies of information generation and recording are being used
and refined. These include the formal use of meetings and the production of
maps and diagrams (Conway, 1989; Lightfoot et al., 1989). Researchers
interested in identifying and tapping indigenous knowledge systems find these
techniques useful. But are these techniques tools for sustained improvement
in farm management? Do they help farm families integrate information into
production decisions? Close examination of sample diagrams shows that most
would be of limited use to illiterate farmers.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991



It is assumed that FSRE programs are designed to make the AKIS increasingly
responsive to farmer needs. Yet it is not clear that FSRE programs have
expanded the farmers' role within the AKIS. Training people to transform
knowledge within their part of the AKIS is fundamental to creating a more
effective AKIS (Roling, 1990). What training have farm families received? The
FSR literature is replete with training manuals for all parties involved in AKIS,
except for farm families. FSR generally leaves training and education up to
extension. In developing countries, however, the role of extension is often
limited to delivering training in "new and improved" technology packages.
Transformation, the movement and translation of knowledge generated in
one part of the AKIS and used in another part (R61ing, 1990), is a process in
which farmers currently have a very limited role. In contrast, FSRE programs
have been structured to play a dominant role not only in transformation but
also in the transmission, storage, and retrieval processes. In filling such a
dominant role, is FSRE serving farmers or reducing their participation within
the AKIS?

Increasing Farmer Participation in FSRE
In order for farm families to have an active role in FSRE, their role in the
analysis of information needs to be expanded. This point of view is based on
the recognition that a farmer is the manager of a complex production system.
How can the role of manager be supported? How can FSRE be more
responsive to farmers' immediate needs? By integrating appropriate farmer
training into FSRE programs, farm families may more directly benefit from
them. Participating farm communities may then become more active within
the AKIS.
Record keeping: A key method for improving farm management is the
activity of record keeping. Record keeping is a first step in the management
of information and the control of access to it. The willingness to keep records
is based on recognition of their ultimate value to the farm manager. This
theory is widely accepted within the U.S. agricultural system. As early as the
1930s, extension services in several states joined together with the Farm
Credit Association to offer training to farmers in record keeping (Rasmussen,
1989). The Cooperative Extension Service Telfarm system is a program that
facilitates and promotes farm information management. Farmers input data
into an automated system and then are provided with reports that they use for

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


farm management. In this symbiotic relationship the Extension Service gains
access to a large aggregate pool of data that can be used to serve more general
needs of the state and national AKIS.
Literacy programs: The ability to use records as a management tool
generally is dependent on some level of functional literacy. Where FSRE
programs work with illiterate farmers, functional literacy training programs to
serve the community will be necessary. Ideally, farmer training needs should
be assessed at the outset of the FSRE program. This might be done while the
community is gathered to learn about the objectives and operations of FSRE
and to explore the possibilities for farmer participation. In this situation farm
families would be offered a tangible benefit, a local education program, in
return for the time they would be asked to devote to FSRE activities.
The literacy curriculum might be designed to dovetail with the varying
information needs of farming systems research. At the beginning of an FSR
program, group activities could focus on village histories, demographic
surveys, market studies, and other baseline data. As skills become more
developed, the techniques for filling in field production forms and marketing
questionnaires might be worked into lesson plans.
Literacy programs could certainly be integrated midstream into FSRE
projects. During classes participating family members would learn exactly
what the enumerators had been noting on the forms and notebooks that they
tote around the village. In FSRE, gathering additional data about the village
and zone is a continual process (Shaner et al., 1982). On-going classes could
serve as a resource for this sort of sustained research.
One criticism ofFSRE is the ratio of costs to benefits. It has been suggested
that benefits need to be increased and distributed more widely (Hart, 1990).
What are the benefits of offering FSRE-linked literacy training to the farm
family? Someone in the family, although not necessarily the head of the
household, would have access to community-based education. This education
would be designed around themes of local interest and skill development
relevant to improving agricultural production. Although differences in farm
management practices could conceivably be noticeable in the short term, skills
development would continue to be developed as technology and natural
resources change. In this sense, improving farm management is a long-term
investment in promoting the sustainability of an agrarian way of life.
On a community level, the resource information collected would be
gathered, transformed, and stored locally, and would be retrievable by the
community. Control over access to community knowledge resources would

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


empower the local population. No one research group or program would be
able to control access to the collective knowledge of the community, nor
would outsiders be able to control distribution of this resource. The ability to
store and transfer information confers the power to determine what informa-
tion is available to whom and the power to influence other groups (Garforthe,
What are the costs associated with creating a companion literacy program
for FSRE programs? Who would bear them? Obviously a literacy trainer,
materials, and supervision of the program would involve cost. Within FSRE,
training generally is the domain of extension, but literacy training does not
generally fall within the accepted realm of extension education. The major
basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic, however, make significant
contributions to agricultural growth by facilitating the transmission of knowl-
edge and the improvement of production skills (Wharton, 1963). But
extension programs in developing countries generally do not have the skills
and financial resources to support literacy programs.
NGOs and literacy programs: Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
tend to be weak in agricultural expertise and "inexpert" at making links with
formal agricultural research (Chambers, 1989). Literacy training, however, is
one of their particularly strong suits. A common problem with village-based
literacy classes is a lack of reading materials; one of the major problems with
literacy education overall, in fact, is the loss of basic skills owing to nonuse
(Wharton, 1963). By integrating literacy training with information gathering
and the recording ofknowledge, a valuable village document collection would
be created. It is sometimes difficult for NGOs to convince donors that literacy
programs lead to improved diets for "hungry people" in developing countries.
Collaborative FSRE-linked literacy programs geared toward functional uses,
such as improving household agricultural production and community orga-
nization, would certainly receive NGO funding.
Experience shows that functional literacy and numeracy campaigns were
well received by the local populations once a defined need for them existed.
In the World Bank Mali Sud project, these education programs not only
benefited the farmer organizations involved but also facilitated the adaptive
field-crop trials designed to increase cotton production. It also should be
noted that by developing the literacy skills of farmers, it becomes possible to
reduce the FSRE personnel needed to supervise activities. In the second phase
of the Mali Sud project the ratio of farmer groups served by extension staffwas
more than doubled (Russell, 1986).

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


What are the other costs of literacy training and increasing the level of
farmer participation in FSRE programs? Researchers are likely to lose some of
the autocratic control they now exercise over the design of survey instruments
and the dissemination of research results. As farm families become more
involved in production and analysis of farm records, they are likely to become
more opinionated about what information is worth collecting and recording.
Researchers will have to present logical proposals for each study, including
justification for data requirements.
From the farming systems researcher's point of view, there is another
problem that has not been addressed. Study sites often are selected based on
representativeness in terms of villages in the same agroclimatic zone. What
would a participatory, action-research type of plan such as the one outlined
here do to the researchers' credibility in using the data to construct regional
models? That question would be open for debate within FSRcircles. From the
farmer perspective, it is probably a nonissue.

Benefits of Literacy Programs
FSRE programs stand to benefit significantly from working with more
literate farm families. Responsibility for the bulk of record keeping could be
transferred from village-based enumerators to farmers. This would allow more
time for enumerators to conduct special studies or, as mentioned above, to
work with a greater number of farmers.
The quality of data arguably would be improved for several reasons. The
farmer would be able to record information on a more frequent basis than the
enumerator. With the increased possibility for protecting confidentiality, the
farmer may provide more accurate information. On a more fundamental note,
if the farmer has a personal use for the information and understands its value,
he or she will be more interested in accuracy.
FSRE programs will also gain long-term benefits from facilitating farmer-
training activities. Wharton (1963) asserts that extension education programs
in developing countries have focused primarily on teaching knowledge about
new inputs and new techniques in production. Knowledge about the econom-
ic aspects of farming, such as the analysis of production and marketing
functions, has not been given enough attention. Clearly FSR staffs could be
instrumental in providing the expertise for development of these sorts of
curricula in conjunction with extension and NGOs.
As farm families and participating communities begin to reap the benefits
of improved farm management and resource development, they will become

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


more interested in supporting local FSRE programs and will develop into real
constituent groups. Admittedly, this means they will have a stronger voice and
a larger role in FSRE, but it also means that they will be grass-roots advocates
for the programs. In thinking about sustainability, FSRE proponents would
do well to think about the need to develop such constituencies.


Chambers, R., A. Pacey, and L.A. Thrupp, eds. 1989. Farmer first: Farmer innovation
and agricultural research. New York: The Bootstrap Press.
Conway, G.R. 1989. Diagrams for farmers. In R. Chambers, A. Pacey, and L.A. Thrupp,
eds., Farmer first: Farmer innovation and agricultural research. New York: The
Bootstrap Press.
Garforth, C. 1986. Mass media and communications technology. In G.E. Jones, ed.,
Investing in rural extension: Strategies and goals. Essex: Elsevier Applied Science
Publishers, Ltd.
Hart, R. 1990. Implementing the R & D process. In The proceedings of the Sustainable
International Development Workshop, Sept. 10-15, 1989 (DRAFT). East Lansing:
Michigan State University.
Kaimowitz, D., ed. 1990. Making the link: Agricultural research and technology transfer
in developing countries. Boulder: Westview Press.
Lightfoot, C., O. De Guia, A. Alman, and F. Ocado. 1989. Systems diagrams to help
farmers decide in on-farm research. In R Chambers, A. Pacey, and L.A. Thrupp, eds.,
Farmer first: Farmer innovation and agricultural research. New York: The Bootstrap
Raman, K.V., and T. Balaguru. 1990. Human resources development as a key to the
success of farming systems. Journal ofFarming Systems Research-Extension 1(1):153-
Rasmussen, W.D. 1989. Taking the university to the people. Ames: Iowa State University
Ruling, N. 1986. Extension and the development ofhuman resources. In G.E. Jones, ed.,
Investing in rural extension: Strategies and goals. Essex: Elsevier Applied Science
Publishers, Ltd.
Ruling, N. 1990. The agricultural research-technology transfer interface: A knowledge
systems perspective. In D. Kaimowitz, ed., Making the link: Agricultural research and
technology transfer in developing countries. Boulder: Westview Press.
Russell, J.F. 1986. Extension strategies involving local groups. In G.E. Jones, ed.,
Investing in rural extension: Strategies and goals. Essex: Elsevier Applied Science
Publishers, Ltd.
Shaner, W.W., P.F. Phillipp, and W.R. Schmehl. 1982. Farming systems research and
development. Boulder: Westview Press, Inc.
Wharton, C.R., Jr. 1963. The role offarmer education in agriculturalgrowth. New York:
The Agricultural Development Council, Inc.

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Whyte, W.F. 1983. Toward new systems of agricultural research and development. In
W.F. Whyte and D. Boynton, eds., Higher yielding human systems for agriculture.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Whyte,W.F., and D. Boynton, eds. 1983. Higheryielding human systemsfor agriculture.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

Informal Research With Farmers:
The Practice and Prospects
in the Hills of Nepal'

S.P. Chand and B.D. Gurung2

Nepal, in the Himalayan mountains of South Asia, has a very diverse
topography. Approximately 83 percent of the total area of the country lies in
the hills and mountains, where about 57 percent of the total population lives.
Agricultural research and development in the hilly areas are constrained by
inaccessibility of inputs, fragility of the mountain area, marginality of cultivat-
ed land, and diversity of the environment. For these reasons, agricultural
research and development activities are mostly urban-based and urban-biased.
It is rare to find those who believe farmers have something important to say
to scientists or that the research methods employed by farmers are comple-
mentary to the formal research employed by scientists. Formal research
methods, such as on-farm and on-station research and government minikit
distribution, usually have been confined to accessible areas and to the fields of
a few influential farmers.
This article describes the background and objectives of Informal Research.
A detailed methodology followed by Pakhribas Agricultural Centre (PAC) for
the implementation of Informal Research is described. The article also
examines the complementary roles of Informal and Formal Research, how
'Informal Research differs from conventional, nationally adopted minikit
programs, and problems and prospects for the incorporation of Informal
Research into the National Agricultural Research Systems.

Paper presented at the Tenth Annual Farming Systems Research-Extension
Symposium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, October 14-17, 1990.
Chief Agronomist and Senior Agronomist, Pakhribas Agricultural Centre,
Dhankuta, Nepal.



Pakhribas Agricultural Centre, a multidisciplinary research and resource
center, started its research and training activities in agriculture, forestry, and
livestock in 1975. In 1982, work was expanded to include four hilly districts
of Koshi zone, an area of more than 7,000 km2 with 100,000 farm families.
Following the establishment of the National Agricultural Research Center
narcC), which coordinates all crop and livestock research in Nepal, PAC has
become an important part of the national agricultural research network. Since
July 1990, the center has had a mandate to cover the eleven districts in eastern
Nepal, an area of 21,267 km2 with 252,436 farm families.
Based on more than 10 years of on-station and on-farm research, PAC
developed many recommendations suitable to farmers in the hilly regions. In
order to bring appropriate technology and varieties to the farmer at the right
time, in 1985 PAC took responsibility for supplying minikits3 to farmers in
four Koshi hill districts, according to the target fixed by the Government
Commodity Research Program (NCRP) on major crops (e.g., rice, wheat,
maize, and legumes). These minikits greatly helped to disseminate crop
varieties suitable for hill conditions and discouraged the practice of importing
varieties to the hills that were selected for Terai (the plains area) and other
agroclimatic regions.
Since the involvement of PAC in the minikit distribution program, the
effective feedback of minikits has increased by more than 50 percent (the
national average is less than 20 percent). During PAC's two-year involvement
with minikit distribution (1985-1987), however, it became apparent that
distribution of minikits was confined to certain area and certain groups of
influential farmers. According to the district agricultural extension program,
minikits reached fewAgriculture Services Centers (ASC) and there were many
remote areas where minikits were not distributed. Limited distribution was
attributed to poor infrastructure (most areas are accessible only by foot) and
to the tendency to favor resource-rich farmers and influential political leaders.
In order to reach all groups of farmers, PAC initiated the Informal Research
Package (IRP) distribution program through its own on-farm, site-based
Junior Technical Assistants (JTAs) and other research staff visiting on-farm
sites. Informal Research Packages are small packets of seeds (usually 100 to

Minikits are packages of seed of one or two promising varieties (sometimes with
fertilizers) sufficient for planting in one ropani (500 m ) of land (Green, 1987).

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


1,000 g) packed in a cloth bag with a brief description of the varietal names
included in the package, the person who distributed the package, the amount
of seed, distribution date, and altitude (high, mid, low). The Informal
Research Package also is a tool of research-extension to reach more farmers at
low cost.
When the IRP program was initiated, the main objective was to disseminate
technologies to as wide an area of the hills as possible. It was believed that
evaluation of the spread of technologies by farmers could be made after two
to three years. Later, it became necessary to collect feedback as soon as
possible, enabling researchers to modify technology in a shorter period of
PAC launched the IRP program with the following objectives: to test
proven and promising crop varieties (local or improved) with a wider range of
farmers covering different castes and gender, to introduce new crops found
suitable to the different environments of the country, to involve farmers in
evaluating varieties for themselves under whatever management conditions
they may consider appropriate, to get feedback from farmers to further
improve/modify technology, and to develop direct links between all groups
of farmers and the researcher in wider areas of the hills.


Informal Research with farmers has a very flexible methodology in comparison
to any conventional, formal research methodology. Following are the main
steps usually followed in carrying out Informal Research with farmers.

Distribution of Informal Research Packages
No single person is responsible for distributing IRPs to farmers. It could
be any staff person visiting farmers' fields or trekking in the hills, a group of
staff people performing Samuhik Bhraman (a joint trek done by multidisci-
plinary groups; Chand and Gibbon, 1990; Chand and Thapa, 1990), trainees
who come to PAC, or farmers who visit the center or research sites. IRPs also
are distributed to farmers by field-based JTAs at HatBazaar (the local weekly
market) or during regular supervision of on-farm trials. Interested farmers
sometimes come to the JTA's house to get IRPs for a given crop.
PAC distributes about 500 Informal Research Packages annually. They
contain various crops, such as maize, wheat, rice, lentil, chickpea, vegetables,
potato, millet, and peas. Three-year results of Informal Research on various

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


crops clearly showed that the feedback on some new crops such as lentil,
chickpea, and wheat, were higher (64 to 81%) than for relatively traditional
crops, such as rice, millet, potato, and peas, which ranged from 27 to 56
percent. It was observed that farmers are curious to test new crops. Small
quantities of seed supplied in IRPs greatly help to reduce the risk of crop
PAC staff involved in the distribution of IRPs provide minimum informa-
tion about the crops, such as variety name and the altitude at which the crop
can be grown. All decisions on the management aspects of a particular crop,
(e.g., when and where to plant and acceptance or rejection of crop varieties)
are left completely to the farmer.
A complete record of IRP distribution is kept in the Agronomy Section.
The record contains the names of farmers, districts, villages, seasons, and the
name and quantity of crop/variety distributed.

Supervision and Feedback Process
One of the important objectives of Informal Research is to get feedback for
further improvement/modification of technologies. However, there is no
hard-and-fast procedure laid out for the supervision process. As there are no
specific staff designated for supervising IRP programs, staff people visit
Informal Research sites during the regular supervision of on-farm research
sites, and the on-farm JTAs visit Informal Research sites when they are not
busy with their on-farm research activities. Field staff also visit Informal
Research collaborators enroute to their regular on-farm sites. They discuss
crop performance with farmers and, if possible, observe the site. Some JTAs
plan their time to see the crop at the maturing stage and others at harvest time.
Some collaborator-farmers call on JTAs if there is a problem with the crop
(e.g., disease, insect attack, or hail damage) or if the crop is performing well
and is distinctly superior to local varieties. If the crop is very new to the farmers
(e.g., chickpea, lentil), some may seek advice at regular intervals. If JTAs are
unable to visit the fields of farmers who live very far away, they try to get
feedback at Hat Bazaar, village fairs, health posts, and the Village Cooperative
Office. Neighbors or relatives of collaborating farmers sometimes give
feedback on crops to the JTAs, too.

Reporting Mechanism
Field-based JTAs submit weekly and monthly reports of all on-farm
research in their areas. In these reports they also describe the performance and

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


problems of Informal Research being carried out in farmers' fields. The
information is analyzed and compiled by an agronomist at the center.
Immediately after crop harvest or at a mutually convenient time, farmers and
field JTAs meet to fill in the response card and send it to PAC for further
processing. Questions asked in the card are very simple and qualitative and are
based on socioeconomic and agronomic criteria, such as taste, market, by-
products, yield, and so on. (See Appendix A for a translated version of the
evaluation form.)
Reporting and documentation of Informal Research results are vital for
further improvement of the Informal Research program. Once the results are
obtained from the field, they are compiled and tabulated and site-specific and
overall reports are prepared. The reports are presented during the regional
and national crop seminars.

A Comparison of Informal and Formal Research
Informal Research carried out by PAC is complementary to, and by no
means a substitute for, Formal Research. Most of the varieties included in the
IRP program either are tested and found superior during Formal Research or
are relatively new to the farmer but have been found suitable elsewhere in
similar environments. In other words, varieties found superior during on-
station and/or on-farm trials are selected for Informal Research to test in very
wide areas that no conventional research and/or extension system could
reach. Other varieties included in Informal Research are those generated
through natural selection or found most promising and stable in certain areas
of the country. For these reasons, Informal Research carried out by PAC
differs from the Informal Research and Development of India and Bangladesh
reported by Biggs (1980).
The links among farmer, Informal Research, and Formal Research are
complex and strong. There are procedural differences between Informal and
Formal Research too, in that Informal Research is conducted strictly in
farmers' fields, whereas Formal Research is carried out both on-station and
on-farm. Informal Research is completely designed, managed, and imple-
mented by farmers; Formal Research usually is designed and managed by
researchers and implemented by farmers.
In Nepal, complex farming systems exist under heterogeneous ecological
and socioeconomic conditions, making it impossible to develop appropriate

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


technologies suitable to all areas. In addition, available resources are not
sufficient to generate technologies for those areas through Formal Research
alone. Informal Research requires less resource investment and, thus, could
be a reliable, complementary research approach. Formal Research on-farm
trials cannot be transferred to other sites to receive farmers' reactions, for
example, but the same technologies/varieties/crops can be distributed to a
wide area of similar environments through low-cost Informal Research.


Scientists are now realizing that farmers are willing to try new technologies.
They evaluate technology in terms of biological, physical, and socioeconomic
feasibility. Farmers are more enthusiastic about experimentation if they are
given a free hand to decide when, how, and where to plant. This could be one
of the reasons that farmers have shown more interest in Informal Research
than in Formal Research, which often is run under the guidance ofresearchers.

The Case of Lentils
After many years of on-station research, PAC identified trial varieties of
lentil. Although a new crop in the hills of Eastern Nepal, lentil is a traditional
crop of the Terai, where it usually is relayed with, or planted as a sequential
crop after, rice. Research done at PAC and in nearby areas showed that lentils
can successfully be grown after rice or relayed under rice in the irrigated low
land (khet) in mid-altitude areas (1,100-1,700 m). During 1988-1990, 198
lentil IRPs were distributed in seven districts of Koshi and Mechi zones. The
field staff reported excellent performance of lentil crops throughout the hills.
Many farmers of Madimulkharka (Sankhuwasabha District) have been
growing lentil at high altitude (over 1,750 m), a situation in which lentil was
never tested by researchers. This is because of the preconception that lentil
does well only in the Terai and in mid-elevation hills, where the climate is
somewhat warmer.
A farmer who received 500 g of lentil in an IRP planted one-third of the
seed on khet land and paddy bund in July. He thought it would grow well in
paddy bund, as do such other legumes as soybean and black gram (Phaseolus
mungo). Unfortunately, the farmer discovered that lentil cannot be grown
during the summer; his crop was heavily infested with summer weeds and his
plants did not grow well in heavy summer rain. The farmer then intercropped

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


one-third of the seed with potato during January in a high-altitude potato-
maize system. The crop again did not grow well, this time owing to the cold
temperature and, at a the later stage, to damage caused by premonsoon rain.
The farmer continued his experimentation and planted the remaining seed
during the first week of September, after harvesting potato in a potato-maize
cropping pattern. The growth of lentil was good, and the crop utilized
residual moisture for its development. The farmer thus was able to harvest
lentil successfully during February. In this way the farmer not only discovered
the proper planting time for lentil, he also provided feedback to the researchers
that lentil can be grown successfully at high altitudes where a potato-maize
system is practiced and land is kept fallow during the winter season.
Farmers growing lentil in high- and mid-altitude systems also reported that
lentil biomass mixed with khole (kitchen waste and cooked bran) can be fed to
animals; these farmers reported a 20 percent increase in milk yield of cattle and

The Case of Early Rice
Rice is a prestigious food in Nepal. Owing to population growth (2.6
percent annually), farmers have been putting great effort into crop intensifi-
cation. In the lower altitudes (below 1,100 m), farmers grow two to three
crops a year. A double rice crop usually is followed by winter wheat ifsufficient
irrigation is available. Compared with mid-level and high hills, fertility is high
in low-altitude khet land because those areas receive summer floodwater,
which often is rich in plant nutrients. In other words, the land can sustain three
crops per year, including a winter legume. Most of the local rice varieties,
however, take too long to mature to allow farmers to plant three crops per
year. In 1988, some IRPs of early rice (khumal-3 variety), which matures
about two weeks earlier than local Tauli, were introduced in the lower altitude
ofGhoretar (Bhojpur District). Farmers in that area planted khumal-3 as early
rice and after its harvest planted the same variety as main rice, enabling them
to take one more crop in winter. Researchers at Pakhribas did not know that
khumal-3 could also be planted as main rice, but the farmers demonstrated
that it is possible.

Informal Research for Crop Intensification
The rice-fallow cropping system is one of the most important cropping
patterns of the eastern hills of Nepal. About 40 percent of the total cultivated

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


rain-fed lowland falls under this pattern. Fields usually are left fallow after the
rice crop because of the lack of sufficient moisture to grow a subsequent crop.
It has been found that even some of the drought-tolerant and forage crops
cannot be grown successfully due to grazing pressure. Agronomy and
livestock sections of PAC have demonstrated that drought-tolerant legumes,
such as chickpea, and some of the forage crops, such as vetch, can be
introduced successfully through IRPs with the involvement of a group of
farmers. Grazing can be avoided when all surrounding farmers feel responsi-
ble for saving the crop. In this way, farmers can obtain an extra crop and
quality forage after rice harvest (Chand and Gibbon, 1990; Chand and Thapa,
1990). This shows that Informal Research also can be a strong tool for
mobilizing groups of farmers having a common interest.


In the winter of 1987, when the IRP program began, distribution and
supervision were conducted by field-based staff during their regular on-farm
research activities. Due to the abundance ofon-farm activities, field staff could
not devote much time to supervision or collection of feedback from Informal
Research. This resulted in comparatively less feedback at that time. However,
feedback can be obtained after a few years when farmers adopt new varieties
in larger areas. Another problem pointed out by the field staff was their
inability to visit Informal Research testing sites, especially those in remote
areas. This suggests that either separate staff should be employed exclusively
for the IRP program or that Informal Research on certain crops should be
conducted in a cluster in one area, at least for one season, and moved to
another area for the next season. In other words, crop varieties should be given
to a particular agroecological zone where the crops are likely to perform well.
For example, IRPs of maize, chickpea, and pigeon pea can be distributed in
one season to low-altitude, red-soil zones where soil fertility and irrigation are
a problem, and maize, potato, and peas IRPs to high-altitude zones in another
season. This practice may help staff in collecting feedback more efficiently in
a relatively shorter time.
Farmers, especially resource-rich farmers, are familiar with minikits. Small
quantities of seed in IRPs without external inputs (such as fertilizers) usually
are not well received and often are planted in marginal and unproductive land.
Results, therefore, are comparatively poor, which may negatively impress
neighboring farmers.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Farmers sometimes take IRPs of seeds out ofcuriosity, but then fail to plant
them in the field because of insufficient land or they store the seeds improperly
for the next season's planting. This may waste seed.
Altogether, there are 25 different farm-types and stations in Nepal that have
certain command areas representing different agroecological zones. The farms
and stations run their on-farm and outreach research activities in those
command areas. The IRP program may substitute minikit programs super-
vised by district extension, at least in those command areas of farm and station.
Experience has shown that it often is difficult to get effective feedback from
minikits, because the minikit distribution and supervision responsibility is
taken by district extension workers who do not come under the direct chain
of command of researchers. The bureaucratic and single chain of command
of the present governmental set-up has created problems in getting efficient
feedback. If the responsibility for Informal Research is taken by researchers,
district extension workers will have more time to understand farmers' prob-
lems and to organize input supply in the district. The linkage and understand-
ing between extension workers and farmers will be strengthened further if they
are involved in extending those technologies already found promising in
farmers' fields after Informal Research. In addition, this process may
drastically reduce governmental investment in minikits. It is estimated that
the National Maize Research Program alone spends about Rs 250,000
(US$8,333) annually on minikits. Proven technology from Informal Re-
search can be introduced to hill farmers through farmer-to-farmer seed-
exchange programs, such as giving some seed to neighboring farmers if the
variety performs well. It may greatly help local farmers to get the right type
of crop variety at the right time at low cost.


In a country like Nepal, which cannot afford to conduct intensive Formal
Research, an Informal Research Program could be an effective, complemen-
tary approach to Formal Research.
Experience in the hills has shown that improved technology, through
Informal Research, can be taken to wider areas among a wider spectrum of
farmers covering different castes and gender with minimum cost. Informal
Research gives a free hand to the farmers to decide whether to accept, reject,
or modify any technology given to them. All management decisions, such as
where and when to test IRPs, are left completely to the farmers. Informal

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


Research with farmers has enabled researchers to get direct and firsthand
feedback that helps researchers to improve or modify technologies.


The authors would like to thank Mr. C. Borman, former Director ofPAC, for
nominating us to participate in the symposium. Special thanks go to Dr. R.
James Bingen, Program Co-chair of the Tenth Annual AFSRE Symposium,
for arranging a travel grant to the senior author to attend this symposium. Our
colleagues at PAC, especially R.J. Khadka, Y.B. Thapa, and Bijaya Bajracharya,
are acknowledged for their valuable comments on this report.


Biggs, S. 1980. Informal R and D. Ceres 76.
Chand, S., and D. Gibbon. 1990. Samuhik Bhraman: A rapid and appropriate method
of prioritizing and replanning agricultural research in Nepal. Journal of Farming
Systems Research-Extension 1(1):1-15.
Chand, S., and B. Thapa. 1990. An approach to research and development for hill
farming systems: The experiences of Pakhribas Agricultural Center. Paper presented
at International Symposium' on Strategies for Sustainable Mountain Agriculture,
September 10-14, 1990, ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Green, T. 1987. Farmer-to-Farmer seed exchange in the eastern hills of Nepal: The case
of Pokhreli Masino' rice. PAC Working Paper 05/1987. Pakhribas Agricultural
Centre, Dhankuta, Nepal.


Crop......................Variety.........Variety.........Distributed amount of seed.... .................
Altitude..................... Cropping Pattern......................................... .....................
Farm her's N am e..................................... ....................................................
Address....................................... .....................................
(1) Have you planted the provided seed?
If not, why?
If yes, where? In what types of land and why?
(2) Emergence ability of the given seed. Did you find any reasons for bad or good
(3) How do you like the varietal characteristics (plant height, maturity days, etc.)
of this variety?
(4) Have you observed any disease? If yes, explain.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


(5) Have you observed any insects? If yes, explain.
(6) This variety matured early or later than your local variety. Both, late and early
maturing variety have advantages and disadvantages. Because of early and late
maturity period, what are the major advantages and disadvantages of this
(7) Was there any problem in planting subsequent crop, owing to this crop/variety
(8) Do you think this variety is more responsive to chemical fertilizer/compost?
(9) How was production of this crop in this year, from your seed?
(10) Production from the given amount of seed:
(11) Was there any difference in postharvest activities (threshing, grinding, etc.) to
be done with this variety compared to local? If yes, what are they?
(12) Your view on its straw/stalk yield:
(13) How do you like grain color, taste of this variety?
(14) Have you saved the seed of this variety for the next year? Why? If yes, how
(15) Was this crop/variety grown before on your land? Why?
(16) Have you heard before about this crop/variety?
(17) Have you planted any improved cultivar of any crops prior to this? If yes, which
one and how much?
(18) Do you think your neighbors also are interested in participating in this Informal
Research Program? Why?
(19) We are planning to run this program again in the future. Are you interested in
participating in coming years? Why?
(20) Reactions from neighbors or comments on package:

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

Moroccan Experience in Establishing
a Local Coordinating Network:
Researchers-Farmers-Extension Agents

E. Elmzouri and L. Edwards

In Morocco, agricultural research and extension are housed in two separate
institutions: research in the "Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique"
(INRA) and extension in the "Direction de Vulgarisation et de la Reforme
Agraire" (DVRA). The headquarters of both institutions are located in the
capital city of Rabat, with regional offices in the different provinces of the
Communication between researchers and extension agents is limited.
Researchers tend to conduct their trials on research stations rather than on
private farms, and the results are communicated to the extension headquarters
in Rabat through reports. There is almost no contact between the researchers
and the extension agents, who have direct contact with farmers in the field.
INRA publishes only a few bulletins, brochures, and leaflets for farmers.
DVRA publishes bulletins and uses other forms of media to inform farmers
about agricultural events. They also provide leadership for national crop
operations, although these activities are not necessarily supported by local
research findings.
The absence of direct communication between research and extension
personnel means that extension agents often are ignorant of new and
developing technologies. The absence of farmer inputs in decision-making
means that research and extension programs often are out of touch with the
realities faced by the farmer. As a result, farmers feel that neither researchers
nor extension agents are working in their interests because neither invites
them to contribute in the decision-making processes that establish the
research and extension program goals. People at higher levels of government

SAgronomists with the Technology Transfer Section of the Aridoculture Center, Settat,


often send program orders to the local extension agents without taking into
consideration farmers' needs or capabilities.
Our objective in this project was to reduce these problems at the local level
by improving the working relationships among researchers, extension agents,
and farmers of the Settat province of Morocco. The specific objectives were:
(1) to establish a functioning local coordinating network of researchers,
extension agents, and farmers; (2) to develop ways of exchanging ideas that
could improve agricultural production at the local level; and (3) to obtain
institutional approval of this local coordinating network so that recommen-
dations could be directed to the policy decision-makers in the respective
institutions. This local network selected the new technologies for transfer that
had been adequately tested in research trials and in coordinated technology
transfer efforts. It also helped to train extension agents. The extension agents
helped to coordinate programs of technology transfer with other develop-
ment agencies within the project area. This was accomplished through a series
of on-farm and in-class training courses. Field days were organized for farm
leaders and officials of the development agencies. Farmers also were invited
to evaluate the new technologies and were involved in defining research
objectives and programs.


The coordinating network was initiated upon our first visit with the local
extension agents, known as "CT agents" (Centre de Travaus). The purpose
of these visits was to promote linkages among researchers, extension agents,
and farmers. There was an exchange of information and an effort was made
to coordinate a common plan for technology transfer.
The primary focus of the coordinating network was to include the technol-
ogy-transfer team from the research side, the CTs from the extension side, and
the farmers themselves.
In the fall of 1988, the individuals involved in the coordinating network
met to discuss and plan projects for technology transfer. In these discussions,
the responsibility for nominating technologies ready for transfer was assigned
to the head of the research-and-development service (SRD). The responsibil-
ity for identifying the regions appropriate for the technologies was assigned to
the head of the extension-and-development service (SMV). The coordination
between researchers and extension agents was assigned to the technology-

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


transfer team and the extension service (BIA), respectively.
The technology-transfer team had a major role to play in disseminating
information and coordinating the activities of researchers, extension agents
(and their supervisors, BIA), and farmers. Thus, reciprocal exchanges existed
among the three partners concerning the development of new technologies
and new research or extension programs. For the first time, farmers were asked
to evaluate and give recommendations on the research and extension pro-
grams that would affect their livelihoods.
The success of this coordinating network was affected directly or indirectly
by a number of other institutions or agencies. Local political leaders (e.g., the
Governor), SONACOS (the official seed increase and supply company), and
FERTIMA (the official fertilizer supply company) were involved in improving
agriculture in the Settat region. These agencies have control of important
agricultural technologies, such as availability of new seed varieties and new
fertilizer formulations. Successful coordination of activities depended on
cooperation between these institutions and the technology-transfer pro-
grams. The network was officially sanctioned in the spring of 1989.


On-Farm Trials
One of the major projects of the coordinating network was to develop a
series of on-farm trials. The technologies that had been developed and tested
by Moroccan researchers were presented to the other members of the
network. The coordinating network agreed on the technologies that were
appropriate for demonstration, and the experimental design and work pro-
grams were defined in detail by the research and extension partners.
Early in the growing season, farmers were contacted and arrangements
were made for the on-farm trials. The farmers were selected by the technol-
ogy-transfer specialist (Research) and the extension agents according to the
following criteria: (1) the farmer should be someone who is open, receptive,
and cooperative, (2) the farm should be within the project area, (3) the farmer
should own the farm, and (4) the farm should be on a main road, if possible.
Close collaboration among researchers, extension agents, and farmers was
important for the successful planning and establishment of the trials. This
required good management and follow-up procedures. Each of the three
partners was present at each stage of the on-farm trial.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


The technology-transfer specialist and the extension agents visited each
farm to determine which parts of the technology-transfer package were
appropriate. If the farmer was more interested in milk and meat production,
we decided to demonstrate technologies related to forage production and
quality instead of cereal production.
The on-farm trials were quite large (1/4 ha per treatment for demonstra-
tions with many treatments and 1 ha for those with one treatment). We
demonstrated a package of technologies that we thought should accompany
each crop variety. Where possible, we demonstrated an integrated system of
technologies (cereals, food legumes, and forages) on the same farm. The
package of technologies included recommendations on date and density of
planting, fertilizer combinations and quantities, soil preparation, weed con-
trol, and crop varieties, as listed in Table 1.
A total of 15 on-farm trials involved a total area of 40.48 ha. Thirty-five
ha were planted to cereals (durum, bread wheats, and barley), 5 ha were
planted to forages, and 0.48 ha planted to food legumes. The emphasis on
cereals reflects the importance of cereals in the region. Two farms had all three
technology packages. The cereals package was demonstrated on seven farms.

Training Courses
We held our first seminar with all the extension agents of Settat province
early in the growing season. The main objective ofthis meeting was to explain
the ideas behind the technology-transfer effort and the methodologies and
approaches to be used. A general work plan concerning the collaboration
between the technology transfer team and the extension agents was discussed.
After this initial meeting, regional meetings were held on the farmers' fields.
At this stage we began giving seminars about the new technologies and their
use by farmers. We explained our objectives in establishing a local coordinat-
ing network ofresearchers, extension agents, and farmers. Seminars were held
during tillering, heading-flowering, and maturing stages of the cereals. All of
these field-tour presentations were conducted at the on-farm trials to train the
extension agents and farmer-leaders.
Field days: Field days were held three times during the growing season to
let farmers and extension agents judge for themselves the demonstrated
technologies. This gave us an opportunity to explain the differences between
the varieties and to explain the importance of each component of the
demonstration package. These were large meetings attended by 35 to 125
farmers, extension agents, and local leaders. These field days were organized

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Table 1. Details of Technologies Demonstrated in the On-Farm Trials,
Their Locations, and the Area Used

Demonstrated Area Location and Technical
technologies (ha) total area practices


10 Durum Wheat
4 Bread Wheat
5 Barley

Od. Said (5 ha)
Ain n'zagh (5 ha)
khmis Ben Rahal (5 ha)
Od. Afif(5 ha)
Ben Guerire (5 ha)
Jamaa shaim (5 ha)
Ben Ahmed (5 ha)

Total Area 35 ha

soil preparation,
fertilization, date
and densities of
sowing, weed control,
and seed-drill use


Oat-vetch mixture

Native medic
Ley farming
Australian medic


1.0 Od. Said (1 ha)
Khmis G'dana (1 ha)
S. El Aydi (1 ha)
1.0 Khmis G'dana (1 ha)

1.0 Ouled Said (1 ha)

Total Area 5.0 ha

Winter chickpeas
4 varieties


0.16 Ben Ahmed (0.16 ha)
Od. Afif (0.16 ha)
Od. Said (0.16 ha)

Total Area 0.48 ha

soil preparation,
fertilization, row
spacing, date and
densities of sowing
and weed control

15 Farmers
40.48 ha

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


in cooperation with the local extension agents.
Brochures and bulletins: Large numbers of "Fact Sheets" were prepared for
distribution to extension agents, farmers, and other visitors during the field
days. Small charts showing the names of varieties and their locations within
the trials also were distributed. All leaflets were written both in French, the
language used by the officials, and in Arabic, the language used by the farmers.
Invited politicians and mass media: Additional meetings and field tours
were organized for the local and national political leaders responsible for
agricultural development. Representatives of national and international
research and development institutions and sponsoring agencies (USAID-
MIAC-INRA) also attended these field tours. Representatives from the mass
media (video recording and national newspapers) were invited on several
occasions, so that they could report to the nation the value and importance of
research on improving food production for Morocco.

Results of On-Farm Trials: Cereals
The on-farm plots were machine-harvested and weighed. These data are
presented to illustrate how well the new varieties and cultural practices
compared with current farmer practices (Figures 1 through 4). For each
variety, including the one used by the farmer, a regression was calculated for
the yield of the variety against the average yield of all varieties at the respective
locations. This average yield is referred to as the "Environmental Index." This
technique allows us to determine whether the new varieties do as well as, or
better than, the farmers' varieties in both poor and good environmental (yield)
conditions. Some varieties may do well under good yield conditions, but may
not do well under poor yield conditions.
Durum Wheat: In the durum wheat trials we included the farmer's variety;
an old standard variety (#2777); three recently released varieties (Marzak,
Karim, and Cocorite); and seven promising candidate varieties (E15, E21,
#1715, #1718, #1727, and #1728). Under poor environmental conditions,
the new varieties did not yield better than the farmers' or #2777 varieties
(Figures 1 and 2). Under good environmental conditions, the following
varieties yielded more than the two standards: Karim, #1718, #1727, #1715,
E21, and E15.
Bread wheat: In the bread wheat trials we included the farmer's variety; an
old standard variety (Nesma); a recently released variety (Marchouch 8); and
two new candidate varieties (Saada and Alkanz). Under poor environmental
conditions, Saada outyielded all other varieties (Figure 3). Under good

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


45 -1-

2 6 10 14 18 22 26 30 34
Environmental Index (e), (Qls/ha)

Figure 1. Grain Production (Qls/ha) of New Durum
Wheat Varieties, 1988-1989, Part 1

' I i I I I I I I I I I i
6 10 14 18 22 26 30
Environmental Index (e), (Qls/ha)

Figure 2. Grain Production (Qls/ha) of New Durum
Wheat Varieties, 1988-1989, Part 2

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

* 1727
+ 1728
* Marzak
A Karim
x Cocorite
v Farmer


30 -

30 -

25 -

- 15-




40 -

35 -

4 30-


0 20-



6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Environmental Index (e)

Figure 3. Grain Yields of New Bread Wheat Varieties


10 14 18 22 26 30
Environmental Index (e)

Figure 4. Grain Yields of New Barley Varieties, 1988-1989

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


26 28

* Acsad 60
+ Acsad 176
* Tamllalt
A Asni
" 905
v Farmer



environmental conditions, both Saada and Marchouch 8 outyielded all other
varieties. The candidate variety, Saada, was resistant to Hessian flies, a major
pest in Morocco, and was a good performer at all locations. It did have some
lodging problems under good environmental conditions.
Barley varieties: In the barley trials, we included the farmer's variety and
five recently released varieties (Acsad #60, Acsad #176, Tamllalt, Asni, and
#905). Under poor environmental conditions, only Acsad #60 had higher
yields than the farmer's variety (Figure 4). Under good environmental
conditions, all five varieties yielded better than the farmer's variety.

We developed a local coordinating network of researchers, extension agents,
and farmers in Settat Province, Morocco. This network was set up to help
coordinate the development and demonstration of new technologies to
During the first growing season we were able to coordinate a series ofon-
farm demonstration trials, in which researchers, extension agents, and farmers
participated. A series of training courses, field days, and official visits was
organized and brochures and bulletins were distributed.
The results of the on-farm trials indicated that under poor environmental
conditions none of the new durum wheat varieties yielded better than the
farmer varieties, but several yielded better under good environmental condi-
tions. The new bread wheat variety, Saada, which is resistant to Hessian flies,
did better than the farmer variety under both poor and good environmental
conditions. The recently released bread wheat variety, Marchouch 8, was the
best yielder under good environmental conditions. Of the five barley varieties
demonstrated, only Acsad #60 yielded better than the farmer variety under
poor conditions, but they all yielded better than the farmer variety under good
Farmer reactions to the trials were very positive. They appreciated the effort
to share new ideas, especially after we tried to understand their priorities and
needs. They are eager to continue the program and there are many more who
are interested. There are now more than 40 farmers in the program for the
next growing season. They are especially eager to cooperate if some of the
input costs are covered by the experimental team.
The extension agents also appreciated the experience. After receiving
training, they became much more effective in sharing this information with

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


the farmers. They seemed to recognize their need for sound research
information and were eager to participate in the program. They made more
frequent visits to the research center to confer with the technology-transfer
specialist and researchers. Aridoculture Center researchers were also interest-
ed in seeing how their technologies performed on the farm. They were very
helpful in training activities and in explaining technologies on field days.
Technology may be defined as the application ofscience to produce desired
outcomes, and technology transfer as the process of duplicating these out-
comes elsewhere. However, there is a growing sense that a particular
technology is appropriate only in the eye of the beholder. The certainty that
farmers can recognize appropriate technologies has generated strong opposi-
tion to researcher-designed technology packages and has given rise to
arguments that agricultural research should be conducted with farmers on
farmers' fields. The creation of a cooperative network such as the one
discussed in this paper can be effective in assuring that researchers, extension
agents, and, particularly, farmers participate equitably in the technology
design and transfer process.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension

The Importance of Risk in Technology
and Diffusion: The Case of Small
Maize Producers in Mexico

R.R. Marsh1

Input-intensive technologies that require purchased inputs often increase
production and economic risk for small-scale producers, owing to their
impacts on yield and net income variability. Imperfect access to labor, credit,
and information creates additional uncertainty. The extent to which increased
risk affects technology-adoption decisions depends on producer risk attitudes
and abilities to bear risk. Risk-averse producers make agricultural decisions
based on expectations of net benefits and variability in benefits. Production
and economic risk can be minimized if recommended agricultural practices
appropriately reflect on-farm agroclimatic conditions and working capital
constraints and if effective extension is available to accelerate the "learning
In this paper, low fertilizer and plant-density adoption rates and apparent
allocative inefficiency in small-scale Mexican maize production are associated
with the multifaceted uncertainties affecting producers. A general framework
for comparing alternative technology generation and diffusion (TGD) ap-
proaches is presented, and two TGD programs operating in the research
area-one government-directed, the other community-based-are compared
as a case study. Maize recommendations and observed farmer practices are
contrasted with risk-neutral economic optima to assess the importance of risk
considerations in the study area. Producers' risk attitudes are determined,
indirectly, by comparing producer adoption levels with risk-neutral solutions.
The relationship between this revealed risk distribution and selected socioeco-
nomic and institutional factors is examined econometrically. Finally, the net
benefits from adoption of maize fertilizer and plant-density recommendations
are calculated, and the effectiveness of alternative programs in generating and
diffusing appropriate technology is assessed.

1Agricultural Economist, Research Associate, Center for Economic Policy Research,
Stanford University.



Four "prototype" approaches to agricultural technology generation and
diffusion (TGD), with different economic criteria for formulating recommen-
dations and treatments of risk, are summarized in Tables 1 and 2. These
Traditional programs: Optimal factor-use recommendations are derived
by maximizing crop profits using results generated under experiment station
conditions. Capital constraints, site-specific agroclimatic variability, and
producer risk attitudes are not incorporated.
Modified Traditional programs: Optimal factor-use recommendations
are derived from profit maximization, subject to a capital constraint, using
mean on-farm trial and experiment station results. Technology generation is
tailored to specific "agrosystems." Yield and price variability and producers'
risk attitudes usually are not incorporated.
Farming Systems Research (FSR) approach: Technology is generated
from results of on-farm experiments conducted in homogeneous "recom-
mendation domains." Optimal factor-use recommendations include risk by
considering yield and price variability under minimum returns and sensitivity-
analysis frameworks.
Community-Based Rural Development: Agricultural research and
extension are incorporated into a broader strategy to improve community
welfare. Optimal factor-use recommendations incorporate FSR methodolo-
gies and community and farmer participation in on-farm research and adop-
tion feedback. Field-level extension is emphasized.


In traditional technology generation and diffusion programs, the economical-
ly efficient input quantity is determined by equating the value of the marginal
product to the factor price, assuming risk neutrality. This criterion often is
inappropriate under conditions of yield or price uncertainty, especially when
decision-makers face severe information and capital constraints. Under these
conditions, expected utility maximization is a better approximation of farmer
behavior. The mean-variance (E,V) specification of expected utility used in
this study is an acceptable approach when yield/price distributions are
approximately normal.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Table 1. Technology Generation and Diffusion Approaches Compared


Traditional Modified traditional

Objectives Maximize yields; increase per Improve farmer incomes and
hectare income, increase national food production.
Unit of Experimental plots Farmers' fields
Research Basic and applied research; Basic and applied research; station
experiment station-based; pursuit and on-farm; technology "packages"
of technical optima, per agrosystem; pursuit of technical
and economic optima.
Extension Transfer of technology; focus on Agent responsible for multiple tasks;
commercial farms; no field-level demonstration plots; occasional
technical assistance (TA) on small field-level TA; weak research-
farms. extension linkage.
Small Neglected; accept or reject Cooperation of leaders and progres-
farmer transferred information and sive farmers for informaiton, on-
participation technology.


Farming systems research Community-based
rural development

Objectives Improve productivity of farmers'
resources; raise small farmer
adoption rates.

Unit of

Farming system

Research Applied and adaptive research;
on-farm w/farmer; technology
"sequencing" per recommen-
dation domain; welfare-
improving farming systems'
compatible innovations.

Extension Agent participates in farm research
validation, recommendation
formulation, and diffusion of
innovations; provides feedback
to researchers from farmers.

Small "Average" farmers consulted for
farmer farming systems information,
participation problem identification, on-farm
research, and ex-post assessment.

Promote social change, improved
welfare, and community empower-
Communities and households

Optimization of existing resources
with selective integration and adap-
tation of modem practices; on-farm
w/community; continuum of tech-
nical and social options to meet
varied rural community needs.

Frequent on-farm TA; agent and
farmer-managed demonstration
plots; training in technical, social,
and organization skills; emphasis
on learning by-doing, building
trust, and community self-reliance.
Focus on resource poor farmers;
rural communities define problems
and research agenda, conduct
research, and evaluate results;
farmer innovations encouraged.

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991


Table 2: Treatment of Risk in Technology Generation and Diffusion

Approach Economic criteria for technology recommendations

Farming Economic criteria per recommendation domain such that the
systems recommended treatment has:
(1) the highest net benefit among ordered dominant treatments and
(2) a marginal rate of return equal to or greater than (2) the farmers'
minimum acceptable rate of return.
n nn
MRR= (7Yj.I-Yj)P -( Xij+,P, ,x-XiP, )
j-1 i-j-1 i=inputs, j=treatments;
(CYXij+lx ij-_XFP )
i-1j-1 i
MRRmin = (cost of capital) xno. mos. +risk premium, s.t. VMPxTPx i(l+oc),
ac .5-1.0.
Community Recommended formulation subject to:
based rural (1) on-farm and off-farm labor availability as f(local opportunity costs
development of labor and family composition and training);

(2) farmer knowledge of technology and participation in research (6Y
6Kh > 0,Kh = human capital);

(3) agronomic, technological, and economic risks (ie. increases vari-
ability and/or probability of loss associated with technological
change; and

(4) community obligations and organizational structure (ie. commu-
nal decision-making, common resource use, cultural/religious

In E,V analysis, the individual's utility curve depends upon his/her
marginal rate of substitution (MRSEV) of mean profits (E(rc)) for variance in
profits (V(n)):

dE(n/X) [6U/6V(itX)]
(1) MRSEV= u=u = u=u
EV dV(x/X) [6U/6E(n/X)] u=u,

where output price and quantity are stochastic. Using this definition
(Magnusson, 1969) MRS.V is negative, zero, and positive for risk preference,
risk neutrality, and risk aversion, respectively. For risk aversion, the greater the
value for MRSEV, the greater the willingness of the individual to trade higher
expected profits for reduced variation in profits, holding utility constant.

Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension


Table 2. Treatment of Risk in Technology Generation and Diffusion (continued)

Risk and risk preferences

Approach Agroclimatic Technological

Traditional Experiment station conditions;
variability reflected in station

Modified On-farm research by agro-system;
traditional variability reflected in spatial and
temporal distributions
(= 8 locations, 3 years).


Assumption of perfect information,
input availability and quality, and
technology/climate independence.

Nontreatment, nonstochastic
factors controlled in on-farm trials;
partial analysis of technology/
climate interactions; mean out-
comes determine economic optima.

On-farms research in flexibly Only treatment factors controlled
defined recommendation in on-farm trials; multifactorial
domains; variability reflected in analysis of technology/climate
spatial and temporal distributions interactions; multiple, specific
(- 20 locations, 3 years); minimum recommendations not to increase
returns risk analysis. average production risk.

On-farm research concentrated
on resource-poor farms across
rural communities; variability
reflected in spatial and temporal
distributions (# of trials vary as
needed) and in farmer risk

Farmers w/promoters manage all
aspects of on-farm trials with
researchers as consultants; use
of traditional risk-reducing
techniques; concern for resource

The Cobb Douglas production function (Y = aXb) is used to estimate
production elasticities, marginal value products, and input risk coefficients.
For the Cobb Douglas production model, the first order condition for optimal
input use under the EV framework is:

Py iE(Y) Pi
(2) Xi 1- (6Vy/6Xi)(MRSEV)

where ( is the elasticity of production of input X, Xi is the input quantity, and
p, and P, are known factor and product prices. The marginal value product of
input Xi is equated with its factor price compounded by a risk premium equal
to the marginal yield risk associated with input X weighted by the risk
preference or attitude parameter, MRSEv. In this study only yield is stochastic.
Prices are given but vary among sample farmers, as explained later in this

Vol. 2, No. 2, 1991

based rural


Table 2. Treatment of Risk in Technology Generation and Diffusion (continued)

Risk and risk preferences

Approach Economic Farmer preferences

Traditional Assumption of unlimited working
capital and zero transaction costs;
variable costs > net income com-
mon under small farm conditions.

Modified Unlimited and limited capital
traditional options; variable costs > net
income in some years and agro-
systems; zero transaction costs;
use of average prices.

Farming Recommendations subject to
systems minimum rate of return; oppor-
research tunity and transaction costs
considered; use of average farmer
prices; sensitivity analysis for
impact of price changes on net

Community- Optimization of local resources
based rural and limited use of purchased
development inputs; reduction of transaction
costs with collective action; use
of individual farmer prices.

Assumption of profit maximizing
behavior with unlimited capital.

Assumption of profit maximizing
behavior subject to a budget
constraint; broad groupings of
farmers for TGD.

Farmer risk preferences studied for
microregional profile; range of
technology options reflects
variation in acceptable risk levels
and subsistence needs.

Farmers assumed risk averse
w.r.t. k-using technology; TGD
geared toward most risk-averse;
lower risk aversion with farmer-to-
farmer extension, learning-by-
doing, and community-level

In this analysis, as with Wolgin (1975), Moscardi and de Janvry (1977), and
Antle (1987), individual risk attitudes are measured indirectly by calculating
the residual between observed farmer input levels and optimal input use under
risk-neutrality. This "revealed" risk measure, called R(s), reflects producers'
allocation choices when faced with multifaceted sources of uncertainty
(agroclimatic, technological, economic). Substituting R(s) for MRSEv in
Equation 2 gives:

1 piX_
R(s) = 1 [1- PiX
6Vy/6Xi PytiE(Y)

Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension