• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Message from the president...
 From the editor's desk
 First announcement
 Resource poor farmers with complex...
 Heterogeneity and complexity in...
 Reductionism, systems approaches,...
 Integrating FSR into the national...
 Applying farming and regional systems...
 Contributions from social systems...
 Book reviews
 3rd North American farming systems...
 Instructions to authors






Group Title: Journal for farming systems research-extension.
Title: Journal of farming systems research-extension
ALL VOLUMES CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071921/00013
 Material Information
Title: Journal of farming systems research-extension
Alternate Title: Journal for farming systems research-extension
Abbreviated Title: J. farming syst. res.-ext.
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Association of Farming Systems Research-Extension
Publisher: Association of Farming Systems Research-Extension
Place of Publication: Tucson Ariz. USA
Publication Date: 1990-
 Subjects
Subject: Agricultural systems -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work -- Research -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Sustainable agriculture -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1-
General Note: Title varies slightly.
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: Vol. 1, no. 2, published in 1990.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071921
Volume ID: VID00013
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 22044949
lccn - sn 90001812
issn - 1051-6786

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
    Message from the president of AFSRE
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    From the editor's desk
        Page ix
        Page x
    First announcement
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Resource poor farmers with complex technical knowledge in a high risk system in Ethiopa: Can research help?, by Sam Fujisaka, Charles Wortmann, and Habtamu Adamassu
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Heterogeneity and complexity in farming systems: Towards and evolutionary perspective, by G. Weber
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Reductionism, systems approaches, and farmer participation: Conflicts and contributions in the North American land grant system, by John S. Caldwell and Archer H. Christian
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Integrating FSR into the national extension system: A case of Bangladesh, by Indrajit Roy
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Applying farming and regional systems approaches for sustainable wood energy resource development: A case of Northern Thailand, by S. Praneetvatakul and W. Doppler
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
    Contributions from social systems thinking to farm systems research and extension, by T. E. Kleynhans
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    Book reviews
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
    3rd North American farming systems research and extension conference: Nov. 2-5, 1997
        Page 99
    Instructions to authors
        Page 100
Full Text
Vol Number 2



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for Farming Systems
Research-Extension
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Journal
for Farming Systems
Research-Extension


Volume 6, Number 2, 1996


Published by
the Association for Farming Systems Research-Extension









Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension
ISBN: 1051-6786
Editor
George H. Axinn
Department of Resource Development
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan,U.S.A.
Nancy W. Axinn, Editorial Assistant

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

The AFSRE President is: The AFSRE Secretary/Treasurer is:
Dr. P. Anandajayasekeram Dr. Virginia Cardenas
SACCAR Education and Rural Studies
P/bag 00108 College of Agriculture
Gabarone University of the Philippines at
BOTSWANA Los Bafios, College, Laguna
Tel: (+267) 328769 PHILIPPINES
Fax +267 328806 Fax +63-2-813-5697 or +63-2-942-914
e-mail: 100075.251 l@compuserve.com e-mail: VRC@mudspring.uplb.edu.ph

Correspondence regarding articles for this journal should be addressed to:
George H. Axinn, Editor, JFSRE, E-Mail -- axinn@pilot.msu.edu
FAX 517-353-8994 Postal: 313 Natural Resources Building, Michigan State
University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1222, U. S. A.


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension









Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension
Volume 6, Number 2, 1996

CONTENTS

IV. Message from the President of AFSRE

IX. From the Editor's Desk

1 Resource Poor Farmers with Complex Technical Knowledge in a High
Risk System in Ethiopia: Can Research Help?
Sam Fujisaka, Charles Wortmann, and Habtamu Adamassu

15 Heterogeneity and Complexity in Farming Systems: Towards an
Evolutionary Perspective
G. Weber

33 Reductionism, Systems Approaches, and Farmer Participation: Conflicts
and Contributions in the North American Land Grant System
John S. Caldwell and Archer H. Christian

45 Integrating FSR into the National Extension System: A Case of
Bangladesh
Indrajit Roy

55 Applying Farming and Regional Systems Approaches for Sustainable
Wood Energy Resource Development: A Case of Northern Thailand
S. Praneetvatakul and W. Doppler

61 Contributions from Social Systems Thinking to Farm Systems Research
and Extension
T. E. Kleynhans

83 Book Reviews


VoL 6, No. 2, 1996








MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF AFSRE

Dear Colleague,

Greetings from the Southern Cone of Africa. First of all, let me thank you all
sincerely for the responsibility that you have entrusted on my shoulders to lead
this Association on your behalf. I will assure you that I will try to live up to
your expectations. I also would like to congratulate the outgoing president and
the board for the excellent job they did during the last two years to continue to
maintain the image and credibility of this Association. Without the clear vision
of the board and the commitment and dedication of the members, this could not
have been possible.

The major objective of the Farming Systems Approach (FSA) is to help
improve the relevance and efficiency of research, extension, training,
institutional, and policy support systems in accelerating the process of
agricultural development, with a view to improve the livelihood and well-being
of farm families. The renewed interest in Farming Systems Research-
Extension (FSR-E) in the seventies arose as a result of the failure of the
traditional approach (in much of the world), and the so-called "Seed-fertilizer"
revolution to create the necessary impacts in the less favourable environments
where the majority of the resource-poor farmers live.

Traditional production systems in many parts of the world reflect an
enormous degree of ecological awareness. The underlying principle in the
evolution of the wide variety of farming systems was the selection of a
sustainable agriculture so that people could survive. The guiding principle in
many African fanning systems is that of risk minimization. The traditional
agriculture was, to a high degree, integrated with the ecosystems; but unable to
meet the demands of the growing human population and economic challenges.
Modern agriculture is highly productive, but also often unstable, especially in
rainfed farming conditions, and considered to be environmentally un-friendly.
The challenge for FSR-E practitioners is to develop, with farming people, new
and improved sustainable agricultural production systems by integrating what
is good in the different systems in a comparable, economically and ecologically
sound manner -- a Win-Win situation; increased productivity coupled with
ecological/environmental sustainability. This challenge is further complicated
by recent economic developments. Market liberalization as well as structural
adjustment programmes are currently being implemented in many countries in
Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These recent changes often call
for fundamental changes in existing production systems -- a reality to be
addressed in the current context.


Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension








Over the years, FSR-E procedures have undergone various modifications
giving rise to an incredible range of methods, projects, vocabularies and
technologies. FSR-E methods have grown and matured sufficiently that there
is likelihood that they will continue to be a major approach among those
concerned with technology development and transfer (TDT). At the beginning
the focus of FSR-E activities was to better understand the various components
of the fanning system; the linkages among those components, and the linkages
between farming systems and the larger social/political/economic systems of
which they were a part. (It was an application of systems science to farming).
The goal was often technology generation and dissemination. Now there is
growing consensus among practitioners that the approach could be used
effectively to address issues related to policy and institutional support systems
affecting the farming community. While significant attention has been given in
the past to developing FSA methods, provision for fully integrating this
approach within the research and extension process has been inadequate and in
some instances the institutional challenges are being undermined. This aspect
deserves more attention in the future.

FSA as a tool for successful technology development and transfer has been
accepted by the majority of decision makers and development practitioners
within agricultural and natural resources sectors. The TDT is a dynamic and
evolutionary process and will continue to evolve as new challenges emerge. In a
dynamic world such as ours, the challenges confronting the National
Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) are continuously changing. As a
reflection of these changes, the current FSA methods and procedures are also
being challenged to respond to these changing needs. The contemporary
challenges confronting the FSA users include, among others, increased
farmers' participation, cost effectiveness of FSR-E, need for sustainability
(ecological, economical, as well as institutional) considerations in FSA, need
for increased focus on policy research (including micro-macro linkages),
improved research-extension linkages, impact of FSA on professional
agricultural research and extension personnel as well as on the ultimate
farming community (the so-called "people level" impact), effective use of
indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) in FSA, and empowering the farming
community. Currently research and development practitioners are working on
these issues and developing innovative methods and techniques to address
them. I would like to see a greater participation and contribution of our
members in these debates.

In my opinion, the emerging methods and techniques are not substitutes for
FSA, but can complement the methods that are already available for client-
oriented research and development. FSA practitioners are thinking innovatively
in addressing the practical problems encountered in the field. In coming up


Vol 6, No. 2, 1996









with new ideas, one needs to be very careful about the limitations and inherent
dangers in stretching these ideas beyond their limits. This is especially true
when ideas/techniques/methods are developed in an external environment.
Therefore, we need to critically evaluate these emerging ideas and methods. I
trust that all of you will participate in these evaluations, so that the appropriate
modifications are grafted on to the existing procedures. FSA procedures are
flexible enough so that the new technologies and methods can be effectively
combined in addressing the new challenges.

Now, turning to the challenges confronting the Association itself, the FSA
family is continuously growing. Today, in addition to the global mother
association, the Association for Farming Systems Research-Extension
(AFSRE), there are several others. There is one in Asia, several in Latin
America, one in North America, and four in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Three
of the African associations are regional (Eastern, Western, and Southern) and
one is continental in terms of geographical coverage. In SSA we are still
struggling to work out the linkages and responsibilities between the regional
and continental associations. Given this expansion and growth, there is an
urgent need to redefine the roles and responsibilities of AFSR-E, so that it
complements and reinforces the activities of the regional associations. At the
Sri Lanka Symposium a committee was constituted by the General Assembly to
review the current constitution of the Association. The terms of reference of
this committee were to review the goals and mission of the Association,
including the philosophy, strategy, and future of AFSR-E. This issue should be
addressed in relation to the goals, objectives, and activities of the regional
organizations. Currently I am working very closely with this committee to get a
preliminary report on this matter. This report will be circulated widely to all
members of the Association for review and comments. I would urge all of you
to participate actively in this process of chartering the future direction and
priorities of this Association.

Each of the sub-regional associations are also planning to publish their own
journals. AFSR-E is still facing problems in getting articles for publication
because a good number of FSA practitioners from the developing countries are
not members of the Association. There is a need to revisit the editorial policies
of the AFSR-E journal, and the regional journals, to ensure that the various
issues of the journals are released at regular intervals without undue delay at
the same time that the quality of this Journal is also maintained. The review
procedures followed by these journals need to be harmonized. Several policy
questions regarding the journals should be addressed and resolved in the near
future. At present the AFSR-E Board is in the process of constituting an
Editorial Committee. The editor and the chairperson of the Editorial
Committee are currently addressing these policy issues confronting this


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension






PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE


Journal, and seeking views of the committee members. Once again, this
information will be circulated to you all in due course. Please take time to study
these materials when you receive them and give us your views and expert
opinions. I earnestly request all of you to submit your contributions (articles,
book reviews, notes, etc.) to these journals. It is the responsibility of each and
every member to ensure that the journal is published regularly while
maintaining its quality.

Another issue of concern is the declining membership. The only way to
increase the membership is to raise the image and credibility of the Association
and to provide services to the FSA community, so that they can be proud to be
members. One of the reasons for this declining membership of the AFSR-E is
the formation of regional associations. Some members are unable to invest in
more than one association. This issue should also be addressed while reviewing
the constitution of AFSR-E and its linkages with regional organizations. If you
have any suggestions to address these issues and challenges please feel free to
communicate with me or any of the AFSR-E Board members.

One of the distressing problems confronting the broader TDT activities in
many developing countries is the declining support for agricultural research. In
the recent past, the high payoffs to investments in agricultural research and
extension are well documented. Despite these, in times of budgetary tightness
research seems to be a prime target for cuts. This is largely due to the long
gestation period to generate results. Even within research and extension, the
on-farm research component gets affected very much because of the need for a
higher level of recurrent expenditures to continue these activities. Although the
reintroduction of a systems approach to research and extension has celebrated
its silver jubilee, the FSA community is not consciously documenting the
accomplishments and success stories. Research managers at the national level
and the donor community are looking for the impact of FSA to justify their
continued investments. Therefore, in order to continue to maintain, as well as
to mobilize additional resources to support FSA activities, there is need to
document and disseminate the success stories and accomplishments. I would
urge the FSA community to use our journal(s) as well as other forms of
publication to widely disseminate this information.

As all of you may be aware, preparation for the 15th International
Symposium of AFSR-E to be held in Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, from
30 November through 4 December 1998, is proceeding well. This is the first
time the global symposium is going to be held in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the
Rainbow Nation is proud to host this symposium. The major theme of this
symposium is "Farming Systems Approach (FSA) in Rural Livelihoods,
Empowerment, and the Environment: Going beyond the farm boundary." The


Vol 6, No. 2, 1996









sub-themes include ecologically sustainable development and farming systems;
short term farmer survival versus long term sustainability; capacity building;
empowerment through building capacity; the institutional environment and
farming systems; and methodological issues and challenges. Please mark these
dates in your calendar. In addition to providing food for your thought, you can
explore the unexploited natural potential as well as the warm hospitality of the
democratic South Africa. We expect a large participation in this symposium
from all parts of the world. I am looking forward to seeing you all in Pretoria!

Last but not least, remember this is your Association. The strength of this
Association depends on your active participation in its activities, dedication and
commitment to its cause. The membership should take a pro-active role in
deciding the future direction and activities of this Association. Let us all work
together to strengthen this Association, make it more relevant and productive
so that we can be proud that our Association is second to none and we are
members of a successful, credible, professional association serving the resource
poor farmers around the world.


Dr. P. Anandajayasekeram (Ananda)
President, AFSR-E
May, 1997


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension










FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK

The world is always changing, and a new look is evolving for the global
Association for Fanning Systems Research-Extension. Readers will find
evidence of that in the pages of this issue of the Association's Journal. If you
started reading this issue from the first page, you have already seen the message
from our new president, Dr. P. Anandajayasekeram. For members of AFSRE,
Dr. Ananda has called our attention to many of the opportunities lying ahead of
us as regional associations in most parts of the world gain strength, and the
leaders of the global AFSRE seek to rationalize our evolving relationships.
This Journal is also evolving. As mentioned in the President's letter, we
now have a global editorial committee, under the leadership of former AFSRE
President, John Caldwell. As they struggle to work out appropriate relations
among the regional or continental journals and this one, the Journal for
Farming Systems Research-Extension, opportunities abound for those involved
in farming systems approaches to agricultural research and extension to reach
an ever-widening audience through their publications. Personally, I look
forward to some kind of an arrangement through which, as each one of us joins
her/his regional organization we automatically become members of the
international AFSRE, and thus receive both information from the place where
we work and from the rest of the Globe.
Readers who are interested are urged to communicate with President
Ananda, Chairperson Caldwell, or myself to share your views in these matters.
The next issue of this Journal will feature a Letters to the Editor section in
which your suggestions for our associations, as well as other ideas for the future
of systems approaches to the study and development of farming may be shared
with others.
A new feature of this issue of your Journal is the Book Review Section. This
time we include reviews of some of the newest and the oldest of relevant books.
Robert Chambers' 1997 book, Whose Reality Counts? Putting the first last
should bring back warm memories and deep understanding to readers who
themselves work very closely with farming people. U. P. Hedrick's 1948 book,
The Land of the Crooked Tree, may cause some readers to raise their eyebrows,
but it was only this year that your editors read it for the first time, and we were
amazed by the accuracy and detail of the descriptions of farming systems in this
book which were made at the beginning of this Century.
Different from the first two, the next two reviewed books take a broad sweep
of the global situation with respect to an evolving situation most relevant to
those concerned with systems approaches to farming, to agriculture, and to the
broader ecological, social, economic, and political systems of which they are a
part. One is Lester Brown et. al.'s State of the World 1997; the other is Idriss


Vol 6, No. 2, 1996








Jazairy et. al.'s 1992 IFAD book, The State of World Poverty -An Inquiry into
its Causes and Consequences.
Finally, because it is so personal from a dedicated field worker who has a
lifetime of experience learning from rural people, Akhtar Hameed Khan's 1996
book, Orangi Pilot Project Reminiscences and Reflections is included. That is
followed by a brief notice of our loss of one of the best known authors in this
field, Willard R. (Bill) Schmehl. And then, you will find notice of a new book
just being released by AFSRE, summarizing much of what members of this
Association have written in the last two decades about farming systems.
Before you get to the Book Reviews, however, I hope you will read the
analysis of resource poor farmers with complex technical knowledge in a high
risk system in Ethiopia by Sam Fujisaka, Charles Wortmann, and Habtamu
Adamassu. It is followed by an evolutionary perspective on heterogeneity and
complexity in farming systems by Georg Weber.
The next three articles deal with the challenge of actually implementing
farming systems approaches in a national system of agricultural or forestry
research and extension. The first, by John Caldwell and Archer H. Christian
focuses on the North American Land Grant System; the second, by Indrajit Roy
deals with integrating the farming systems approach into the national extension
system of Bangladesh; and the third analyzes the application of farming and
regional systems approaches in Northern Thailand, and was written by S.
Praneetvatakul and W. Doppler. The final paper, by T. E. Kleynhans, includes
an overview of the evolution of systems thinking and systems applications. It
provides those who practice farming systems approaches with a useful
conceptual framework.

Here are two other important thoughts from your Editor. There is an urgent
need for more papers from readers like you which meet the criteria for this
Journal. (See p. XII) It is great that many farming systems articles can now be
published in regional and other publications. But this Journal cannot serve your
needs unless you send me your manuscripts. The other thought regards the
importance of your participation in the AFSRE Symposium scheduled for South
Africa in November-December 1998. Please see the notice of it which follows,
and begin to make your plans.

George H. Axinn
Editor, JFSRE


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension









FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT

15TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH-EXTENSION (AFSR-E)

Date: 30 November 1998 to 4 December 1998
Venue: Pretoria, South Africa
Theme: Farming Systems Approaches in rural livelihoods, empowerment,
and the environment: Going beyond the farm boundary
Sub-Themes:
1. ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND
FARMING SYSTEMS
1.1 The changing role of researchers and extensionists in
development, and in the dissemination of knowledge and
technologies.
1.2 Integration of micro (specific) strategies with macro -
economic/social/political and ecological factors.
2. SHORT TERM FARMER SURVIVAL VS LONG TERM
SUSTAINABILITY
2.1 Reciprocity and exchange; farmers responses and initiatives.
2.2 Heterogeneity and multiple realities.
3. EMPOWERMENT THROUGH CAPACITY BUILDING
3.1 Training in FSRE and other participatory techniques: tips, tricks,
techniques, and materials.
3.2 Empowerment of personnel and organizations to meet the
challenges of changing strategies for agricultural research and
extension.
4. THE INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT AND FARMING SYSTEMS
4.1 Demand-driven research and development.
4.2 Government regulations: incentives or constraints?
4.3 Contributions of gender studies to increased efficiency and equity
in research and knowledge generation.
5. METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES AND CHALLENGES
5.1 Building on local rural knowledge.
5.2 Working with farmer groups experiences, benefits, problems.
5.3 Cost effectiveness of FSA.
5.4 Production of knowledge and exchange.

FOR MORE INFORM TIONABOUT THE 15 INTERNATIONAL
SYMPOSIUM, contact AFSR-E Symposium '98, PO Box 411177,
Craighall 2024, SOUTH AFRICA. FAX: +27 (0)11 422 5927
E-mail: ted@dbsa.org


Vol 6, No. 2, 1996











Criteria for Selection of Future Articles for this Journal

a. Articles will address farms as whole systems, including their
production and consumption, and involving the plants, livestock, and humans
in the farming system, or the institutional support services for farming systems,
including the policy structure.

b. If possible, field research would involve partnerships among
professional agricultural/forestry scientists, extension personnel, and farmers
(men, women, and children). Ideally, that includes collaboration in deciding
what to study, designing the research, collecting the data, analyzing and
evaluating the findings, etc.

c. Human data will be disaggregated by gender.

d. Where papers involve several layers of a systems hierarchy -- from
soil microenvironments (for example), to whole farms, to communities of
farms, to larger agro-ecological zones, to national policy -- they will deal with
these phenomena from a systemic perspective.

e. Papers which deal with FSRE as a concept, and its relationship to
other approaches to rural development, etc., will assume that FSRE refers to
work like that described in (a) through (d) above.

f. Papers should demonstrate the relationship between new material
being presented and the current literature in FSRE, as published in earlier
issues of this journal, proceedings of AFSRE symposia, etc.

In addition to Regular Articles, the Journal will occasionally include a
section of Field Notes. These are more brief, need not have literature citations,
but are expected to share relevant field experience which may be useful to other
practitioners and scholars.


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension











RESOURCE POOR FARMERS WITH COMPLEX
TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE IN A HIGH RISK
SYSTEM IN ETHIOPIA: CAN RESEARCH HELP?




Sam Fujisaka, Charles Wortmann and Habtamu Adamassu'



ABSTRACT


Dryland farmers in the Nazret area of the Rift Valley SE of
Addis Ababa are resource poor and must deal with low and
uncertain rainfall. They have fine-tuned a set of alternatives if
rains arrive late, if rains stop after initial rains and sowing,
and/or if any crop fails to establish; and they sow a range of
crops and cultivars suited to different land, soil, and moisture
conditions as the growing season unfolds. Farmers have
changed crop and varietal preferences over time in response
to problems and opportunities. Their complex technical
knowledge and sound adaptation to circumstances suggest,
first, that there may be limited opportunities for additional
research-based problem solving; but that, second, any system
improvements will require substantial farmer involvement.
Farmers and researchers were able to develop a set of
participatory research activities directed towards specific
problem areas, largely to intensify use of their more
productive lands. Research activities include evaluation of
varieties of several crops, improved low-level input use and
improved tillage.


S. Fujisaka is agricultural anthropologist, Centro Internacional de
Agriculture Tropical (CIAT), A.A. 6713, Cali, Colombia; C. Wortmann is
agronomist, CIAT, P.O. Box 6247, Kampala, Uganda; and H. Adamassu is
agricultural researcher, Nazret Research Center, Institute of Agricultural
Research (IAR), P.O. Box 436, Nazret, Ethiopia.


VoL 6, No.3, 1996






FUnSAKA, WORTMANN, AND ADAMASSU


INTRODUCTION

The agricultural area northeast of Nazret (and SE of Addis Ababa), Ethiopia, in
the Rift Valley receives 800 mm rainfall per year with uncertain initiation and
cessation and a peak in July and August (CIAT Agroclimatic Database). Rains
are also uncertain in September during a critical stage for most crops. Soils are
sandy to clay loams with little organic matter (Mulatu et al 1992). Major crops
are tef, maize, beans, wheat, barley, and sorghum. Farmers kept small numbers
of cattle and oxen, as well as a few goats and donkeys. Farmers matched crops
and cultivars to different lands and soils and to the uncertain moisture
conditions; used a range of techniques to control weeds; applied small amounts
of farmyard manure (FYM) and inorganic fertilizers; but had few solutions to
problems such as malaria, livestock diseases, lack of cattle feed during part of
the year, and insect pests in peas and lentils.
Participatory diagnosis and planning suggested that although farmers were
relatively "rich" in technical knowledge and solved many problems to the
extent that limited resources allowed, there were also opportunities for farmer
participatory research to make systems improvements. A previous study in
Ethiopia in which farmers discussed varietal characteristics, problems, and
technology evaluation; and participated in the formulation of recommendations
and policies also highlighted the importance of integrating farmers' and
researchers' knowledge (Franzel 1992). Agricultural research conducted in the
Nazret area, however, has mainly consisted of on-station or
researcher-managed on-farm trials on tie-ridging, row planting, seed rates,
sowing dates, rates and timing of fertilizer application, herbicide use, and
varietal trials of early-maturing maize, beans, sorghum, and tef (Regassa et al
1992).
Our work builds upon the increasing incorporation of indigenous technical
knowledge and of farmer participation in agricultural problem solving that has
taken place world wide over the past more than 15 years. Agricultural research
approaches have evolved from somewhat tentative uses of ethnoscience in
agricultural development (Brokensha et al 1980) to the emergence of
partnerships among biophysical and social scientists in practical problem
solving (Rhoades 1984, Richards 1985, Green 1986), and to currently relatively
"mainstream" applications of indigenous knowledge in development (Warren et
al 1995). At the same time, learning about farmers' technical knowledge has
moved from ethnoscience to "rapid rural appraisal" (Carruthers and Chambers
1981, KKU 1987), "diagnostic" approaches (Raintree 1987, Fujisaka 1991),
and more recently to "participatory rural appraisal" (IIED Participatory
Learning and Action Notes 1995). Similarly, farmer participatory
problem-solving has become substantially more commonplace as
"farmer-back-to-farmer" (Rhoades 1982) and "farmer first" (Chambers et al
1989) have matured into the facilitation of farmer experiments (Haverkort et al


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1991, Fujisaka et al 1994) and even "beyond farmer first" which placed greater
emphasis on "rural people's knowledge" (Scoones and Thompson 1994).
Our work necessarily incorporates farmers' technical knowledge in the
design of participatory research. As will be discussed further,. "necessarily"
because of the inherent riskiness and poverty of the agroecosystem combined
with the relative wealth of farmers' problem-solving approaches.

METHODS

Some 10 national and two CIAT researchers first conducted informal structured
interviews in four communities in the area northeast of Nazret in late 1995.
Farmers provided descriptions of their lands and soils, respective crop and
cultivar choices, crop management practices (including allocations of
resources), crop-related problems, farmer solutions, and farmer decisions in the
face of risk and uncertainty.
Based largely on farmer interest, researchers next agreed upon a single
community, Merebe Mermessa, for farmer participatory research, and then
worked with small groups from the village using participatory diagnostic
techniques. Among others, farmers provided a bar graph of rainfall by month;
assessed the changing importance of their crops by assigning different numbers
of counters (beans) from a total of 100 to each of eight crops using 1960, 1980
and 1995 as reference years; and estimated relative labor demand by assigning
counters to crops by month giving the proportion of total management labor
required per crop by month. Farmers also assigned counters by month to
indicate incidence of malaria, availability of food, and availability of animal
feed and fodder over the course of a year. Finally, farmers and researchers
worked together to develop a decision model for planting, and to identify and
discuss systems problems, farmers' solutions, and needed research.
Although the CIAT researchers emphasized the need to have women
researchers and to interview women farmers, no women researchers
participated and few women farmers were interviewed. Male farmers controlled
participation in the appraisal activities such that women farmers were not
represented.




RESULTS

Soils and lands
Farmers described their soils in terms of colors and texture and land
types largely in terms of landscape position. Colors included black (tekur afar),
and less fertile red (kyafar or gombore) and white (necht). Soils, mostly loams,


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FUJISAKA, WORTMANN, AND ADAMASSU


included shakite with a coarse pumice layer which occurred at varying depths
and thicknesses, and served to conserve underlying soil moisture; black clay
loam koticha; and gombore with low moisture holding capacity and most
subject to soil moisture deficits.
More productive soils were the lower-lying (golba) shakite or koticha soils
where farmers planted maize and sorghum. Dark soils in upper areas were also
relatively productive and were sown to tef, beans, barley, and wheat. Lower
(golba bota) areas received rainfall runoff and were planted earlier than upper
(aoretti, goba or kafyale bota). Some low areas with black soils were
frequently waterlogged and could only be used for grazing.
Farmers applied FYM largely to maize fields near the homestead.
FYM was not applied to tef to avoid lodging from higher fertility and
introduction of weeds. Many farmers used inorganic fertilizers, normally up to
50 kg DAP and and 50 kg urea per ha, for maize and occasionally for tef.

Crops and livestock
Farmers managed a range of crops, the most important of which are
discussed in the farmers' order of importance (Table 1).

Table 1. Farmer ranking of crop importance over time, Nazreth, Ethiopia, 1995


Crop '60 80) '95 Reason for changes

Tef 10 34 33 (>) Use of fertilizer & herbicides
Maize 26 23 24 (=) Some reduction due to more tel
Beans 19 17 22 (=)
Wheat 0 10 11 (>) Use of fertilizer & herbicides
Barley 15 10 5 (<) High seed rate, low milling recovery
Sorghum 12 2 1 (:) Birds. < area means greater damage
Peas 10 2 1 (<) Aphids
Lentils 8 2 1 (<) Insect pests
Farmers aslsgned a total of 10)0 counlers (beanji to different crops for each of the three )eari

Tef, the main crop, has increased in importance over time due to high
market demand and increased productivity due to use of herbicides and
inorganic fertilizers. Tef was sown in late June through early August and
harvested from early October through November. The crop was produced for
consumption (as injera, a fermented bread-pancake) and sale. Straw was used
as cattle fodder. Tef was sown on upper rather than lower areas with heavier,
more fertile soils to avoid lodging and to allocate such soils for maize. Tef
suffered from few insects or diseases, but required substantial labor for weed
control. Farmers tilled fields up to six times and handweeded as many as three
times (with Setaria sp a major pest). Farmers also used high seed rates to


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obtain weed-competitive plant stands. Cultivars included longer duration white
seeded types, shorter-duration and more drought tolerant reds, and mixtures of
red and white. White tef was preferred for consumption. Shattering was a
reported problem confirmedd by flocks of pigeons gleaning grain from the
ground at harvest). Reported tef yields were 0.4-1.4 t/ha.
Maize followed tef closely in importance and was also consumed (also as
injera) or sold. Cultivars included the short duration Katumani sown in June,
medium duration Lemat sown in early to mid-May, and the long-duration Israel
sown in mid-April. Each was harvested in late November, with longer duration
cultivars having higher yields if the season was without substantial soil
moisture deficits or other problems. Farmers reported typical yields of 0.8 t/ha
for short, 1.0 t/ha for medium, and 1.6 t/ha for long-duration cultivars. If plant
stands of long or medium duration maize cultivars were poor, farmers
re-plowed and re-sowed a short-duration maize or other short-duration crops,
or undersowed short-duration crops such as bean leading to what then emerged
as intercropped fields. Farmers cultivated maize fields with animal drawn
plows (ards or maresha) at about 30 days after sowing (DAS) as a weed control
measure in a practice called shilshalo. Besides water stress and weeds, other
problems in maize were low soil fertility and poor emergence due to soil
crusting, armyworm, stalkborer and cutworm.
Beans (largely small white seed cultivars such as Mexican 142) were the
third most important crop, produced largely for market with the residues stored
and used for fodder. Beans were sown in July and harvested in late September
and October. Weeds were well managed without weeding through sowing in a
clean seedbed at high seed rates on fields previously sown to tef. Typical yields
appeared to be in the 0.5-0.9 t/ha range. Farmers recognized low soil fertility,
leaf feeding beetles and bruchids as crop problems.
Farmers ranked wheat fourth, with importance increasing since the 1960s
due to higher productivity associated with more use of inorganic fertilizers and
herbicides. Farmers estimated wheat yields to be 0.7 to perhaps 1.5 t/ha.
Although Ethiopia is a center of barley diversity, farmers reported decreases
in the importance of the cereal due to the high seed rate needed and low milling
recovery. Yields were approximately 1.0 t/ha.
Sorghum, peas, and lentils each decreased in importance over the past 30
years. Sorghum was important for grain, fodder, building material, and fuel,
but suffered from substantial bird losses. Farmers sowed bitter varieties as a
way to reduce losses, but decreasing areas have placed more bird pressure on
remaining fields. The crop occupied roughly the same agricultural niche as
maize. Peas were a cash crop with high demand, but declined due to serious
pest problems, especially aphids. Lentils were sown after failure of
long-duration crops, but suffered losses from insect pests.
Farmers' assessment of crop importance for 1960, 1980, and 1995 (Table 1)
indicates the changes mentioned above. Overall, maize shifted from first to


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FUJISAKA, WORTMANN, AND ADAMASSU


second in order of importance; tef shifted from a minor crop to the most
important; and beans moved from second in importance to about equal
importance as maize. Both tef and wheat increased in importance with
increased productivity due to greater use of herbicides and inorganic fertilizers.
Barley, sorghum, peas, and lentils have declined in importance because of
unsolved production problems.
Farmers had small herds of 4-5 cattle, including draft oxen, plus a few
donkeys and goats. Livestock were grazed in communal grazing lands, field
margins, and in harvested fields; and were fed crop residues harvested and
stored for the purpose. Farmers have reduced numbers of chickens due to
diseases. Donkeys were important for transport, especially of domestic water
supplies.


Farmers' perception of rainfall, labor demand, malaria incidence, and food
and livestock feed availability
Farmers provided various types of data related to yearly cycles. Farmers'
reported rainfall approximated the 10-year recorded pattern with the exception
that September and October were perceived to be much drier than recorded data
indicate (Figure 1). Farmers' rainfall estimates predicted their reported
practices in that they would be expected to start land preparation in late
February and March, sow lower areas as soil moisture became sufficient in
April through June; and sow any remaining areas in July-August. Farmers'
underestimation of September rains may reflect their perception of the riskiness
and high negative consequences of drought in that month.
A farmer group-estimate of labor required per crop per month indicated low
demands from January through June, a moderate high in July and peak
requirements October through December, with November the busiest (Table 2).
Another group estimated labor demand per month (independent of crop): early
demand periods were April-May and June-July, and the heaviest requirement
again in November (Table 2). Both estimates may be biased in that women'
weeding labor from late May through mid-August appeared to be
under-estimated.
Malaria was identified by farmers as a major problem that reportedly
increased in May as the rains started and agricultural labor demands increased,
peaked in September, and fortunately decreased substantially by November
when labor was required for crop harvest (Figure 2). The same figure shows
that farmers reported that their food stocks declined from January through May,
remained very low until August or September when the first crops were
harvested and increased to highest levels in December after harvest and
processing.


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Table 2. Farmers' labor allocations to different crops over the year


Crop S O N D J F NM A M 1 J A TOT \L
TOc I 5 h 3 1 I 0 0 I I 1 25
Maize 1 0 4 5 0 0 I 1 I 0 3 I 16
Bean I 3 0 0 I I 2 0 10
Wheil 2 I 0 I 1 1 3 I 14
Barley 1 15 0 I I I 1 I 3 1 1
Sorrhum 0 3 4 2 0 I I I I I 3 2 17
Peas0 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 I I 0 5
TOTAL I. 4 1 2 1 3 3 3 4 4 1 7 l0o
1 S 4 4

TOTAL 2 9 1 8 5 2 1 14 3 1 16 00
11* 3 1 6

Farmers assigned zero to 100 beans to each cell. Values were then converted
such that labor totals equalled 100%
** Another group of farmers drew a bar graph of labor demand over the year,
values were converted to percent per month


The decline of malaria coincided with both restoration of family food stocks
and the end of the wet season.
Farmers indicated that animal feed stocks followed a pattern very similar to
human food stocks, except that relatively more animal feed became available in
September with harvest of the earliest crops; and stocks already started to
decline in December when human food stocks were highest. Farmers used crop
residues of tef, maize, barley, bean and sorghum as fodder; purchased oil cakes
if cash was available; and practiced open grazing after September to maintain
animals. Unfortunately, animal feed was least available at the time of peak
demand for animal power for land preparation in March-July.

Farmers' solutions
Investments in any future research should provide innovations which can be
adopted given farmers' circumstances and which provide systems improvements
via problem solving. As such, farmers' solutions must be well understood if
research-based innovations are to progress beyond what farmers already do.
Farmers dealt with their major constraint, erratic and often inadequate
rainfall, by having responses to whatever conditions emerged over the course of
each crop season. Farmers began tillage with the earliest rains, and practiced a
stale seedbed technique when early rains were intermittent. Farmers could sow
a long duration maize in lower areas with early April rains. If and as rains


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FUISAKA, WORTMANN, AND ADAMASSU


Figure 1. Farmers' v measured rainfall, Nazret,
Ethiopia


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
SAvg monthly rainfall U Fannernseported



Figure 2. Farmers' reported malaria incidence,
food and animal feed availability
and labor demand over the year


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul


Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


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continued, farmers planted intermediate and then shorter duration crops and
cultivars while expanding area sown from lower to upper fields. If rains were
delayed, farmers did not sow the longer duration maize or sorghum cultivars,
waiting instead to sow shorter-duration crops. Farmers could resow or
undersow shorter duration crops if rains stopped after planting. Observed maize
plus bean, barley, tef, or wheat intercrops, for example, were results of sowing
into a maize crop which had not established well.
The farmer decision systems were related to a weak bimodal rainfall pattern
which resulted in a long but unreliable growing season for cereals which
presented farmers with the many different scenarios to which they had to
respond. The sophistication of such farmer decision systems made it difficult to
identify research aimed at developing innovations that would increase system
productivity and enhance sustainability. Likewise, however, an opportunity was
available to involve farmers who were knowledgeable about their situation to
participate in systems-improvement research.

Farmer-identified problems and solutions
Farmers identified problems in addition to those named above. Although
they started with "shopping lists" and did not reach a consensus regarding
prioritization, farmers eventually developed a "short list" of low soil moisture,
birds, aphids, low soil fertility, weeds, lack of animal feed, and a range of pests.
Farmers and researchers then worked together to propose several participatory
research activities. Although also developed, numbers of farmers conducting
each experiment, plot layout and size, and data to be collected are not presented
here, although open-ended farmer evaluations will be necessary in all cases as
the experiments are established and as results become available.
1. Livestock feed. Crop establishment was often poor because of poor
land preparation due to insufficient draft power. Lack of draft was in part due
to lack of livestock feed in May through July. Farmers were aware that feeding
oxen small amounts of high quality supplements such as cotton seed cake
enabled animals to be in better shape for plowing. After rejecting forage
undersowing, oversowing and "stock exclusion" as ways of improving livestock
nutrition, farmers decided to test several herbaceous forages grown as sole
crops and fodder trees grown in their household compounds and as hedges
around compounds. Herbaceous forages are expected to contribute to improved
tillage operations, while fodder trees may help to improve tillage from April to
July.

2. Low soil moisture. Low soil moisture was a cause of poor crop
establishment and low productivity. As discussed, farmers adjusted crops and
sowing dates according to soil moisture. Farmers reported that shilshalo
improved infiltration. Farmers will test a three tined animal-drawn tillage
implement developed by researchers at Melkassa for seedbed preparation. The


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implement is expected to require less draft power, result in less evaporation
from disturbed soil, and improve tillage for all rainfall scenarios.

3. Weeds. Farmers identified weeds as a major cause of yield loss and/or
of high labor requirements for crop production. Farmers repeatedly tilled soils
prior to sowing thereby practicing a stale seedbed technique, hand weeded,
used shilshalo in maize and sorghum, sowed beans in fields previously in tef
(where investments in hand weeding were high), did not use FYM in tef, and
used high seed rates in response to weeds. Farmers will test herbicide (2,4-D)
application after shilshalo in sorghum. Improved weed control would also
improve moisture use by the crop.

4. Cutworms. Maize was the most important crop in the area; and
cutworms were a cause of poor maize establishment. Farmers dealt with the
problem by resowing or undersowing beans and lentils in poor maize stands.
Farmers will conduct trials to verify the use of carbosulfon wettable powder as a
maize seed dressing for cutworm control.

5. Maize cultivars. Farmers and researchers thought that some of the
recently bred maize varieties may be superior to local cultivars against some of
the production constraints. Researchers and farmers decided to test
medium-maturity maize varieties under farmers' conditions. A few promising
varieties are to be identified for testing to improve maize production.

6. Bean cultivars. New varieties were identified as a possible solution to
some of the problems affecting beans. Researchers and farmers thought that
varieties exist that would perform better under farmers' conditions than those
currently sown by farmers. Farmers will test a few varieties so identified.

7. Soil nutrients. Maize yields were constrained by low available N and
P. Farmers recognized the need for improved nutrient supply, but needed to get
high returns to their investments in fertilizers; and they suspected that rapid
vegetative growth was related to susceptibility to drought. On shakite and
koticha soils, farmers will test 0 fertilizer, 60 kg/ha DAP applied at sowing, 60
kg/ha DAP applied at shilshalo (about 30 DAS), 30 t/ha FYM applied at final
land preparation, 1.5 T/ha FYM applied at planting time and 30 kg/ha DAP
applied at shilshalo.

8. Birds in sorghum. Farmers have reduced area sown to sorghum due
to bird damage. Farmers now grow some bitter varieties less favored by birds
(and humans) and practiced bird scaring. Researchers and farmers thought that
varieties exist that would suffer less bird damage than those being sown.
Farmers would test a few early-maturity varieties.


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9. Field pea declined in importance as farmers failed to adequately
manage aphids. Farmers wanted to test new genotypes that might be resistant
or tolerant to aphid.

Most of the proposed research topics were aimed at intensification of
production on the less drought-prone and more productive shakite and golba
soils. Apparently farmers recognize that they are likely to get better returns
with these soils to the additional capital or family labor investment associated
with some of the proposed innovations.


DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

Although the priority problems, except for the insect pests, were very similar,
the research needs identified through this participatory approach differed from
those identified earlier by researchers using more conventional farming systems
research methods (Regassa et al 1992). Proposed experiments which were
similar for the two approaches include bird resistant sorghum variety testing,
evaluation of fertilizer use on maize, and tests of bean varieties. Fourteen other
areas of experimentation were identified using the FSR approach, while the
participatory approach identified six areas not previously identified. IAR
researchers agreed that the participatory research approach should first be
implemented on a limited scale to determine its relative effectiveness in
comparison to a more conventional farming systems research approach.
The question underlying this paper, however, is whether or not research
could provide improvements over current farmer practices given, on the one
hand, an agroecological environment featuring low and uncertain rainfall,
relatively poor soils, and low levels of farmer resources, and, on the other,
complex technical knowledge employed by farmers to solve problems. Similar
difficult environments combined with often elegant farmer solutions have been
encountered in, among others, rainfed lowland rice in India, Indonesia, and
Burma (Fujisaka, forthcoming, Fujisaka 1990, Fujisaka et al 1993); in upland
agriculture in Mexico and Central America (Wilken 1987); in the famine-prone
Horn of Africa (Walker 1995); and with subsistence Moru farmers in southern
Sudan (Sharland 1995). In each of these cases farmers' own advances in
problem solving: a) made understanding farmer knowledge and practices a
pre-requisite to any further problem-solving; b) made it difficult to identify
potential innovations that either were not superior to, or did not, in various
ways, run counter to farmers' solutions; and c) made farmer participation very
necessary in achieving any additional improvements.
In our case example, farmers broadcast seed, but still used animal
cultivation after emergence in maize and sorghum; and therefore probably


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FUJISAKA, WORTMANN, AND ADAMASSU


would gain little from additional investment in row planting--an area in which
substantial on-station research investments have been made. Farmers used
higher seed rates than has been recommended by researchers; although the
benefits given possibilities of low germination and emergence combined with
benefits in weed competitiveness makes this another "rational" farmer practice
(although research recommendations were modified for beans after farmers'
practice was "validated"). Farmers adjusted sowing dates in response to soil
moisture availability. Although researchers have conducted many fertilizer and
herbicide trials, farmers had substantial experience in the use of their limited
amounts of organic and inorganic fertilizers and herbicides. Finally, farmers
managed numerous crops and cultivars according to specific requirements and
could probably benefit little from cropping pattern trials.
Will the participatory research program developed jointly by researchers
and farmers provide new problem-solving answers that farmers do not currently
possess? For the three-tined cultivator to be an improvement over farmers'
implements it must function better at no increase in the draft power required.
Experiments with herbicides versus handweeding following shilshalo of
sorghum will provide new information, although farmers' current weed
management practices for sorghum appear quite efficient. Given women's
(observed) high labor inputs into weeding, however, trials with herbicides and
handweeding would require their evaluations.
Improving livestock feed supplies may require the introduction of new plant
species and associated management practices. Field-sown forages require that
farmers reduce area of food crop production to produce fodder to feed their
animals, a scenario that appears unlikely in an area where people complain of
land scarcity. Fodder trees may grow in the area, but would probably require
community action to protect seedlings if plantings are to be extended beyond
the household compounds. Seed treatments for maize are easy to test and may
provide significant benefits.
It may be difficult to improve systems through improved fertilizer use.
Farmers were aware of the benefits of fertilizer use and appeared experienced
in the application of affordable amounts. Even the researchers' standby of new
varieties may be problematic given that farmers already employed a range of
crops and cultivars. Farmers, in addition to planting less sorghum because of
birds, had already turned to more bitter sorghum varieties to reduce losses to
birds in spite of these varieties also being less palatable.
We hope that research will provide problem-solving innovations, albeit
these may represent incremental rather than quantum leaps forward. Where a
quantum leap could be made, however, is in effectiveness of systems research
as partnerships formed among farmers and teams of researchers becomes more
effective in addressing farmers' problems. As both farmers and researchers
improve their skills, participatory approaches to fanning systems research
should become more effective and efficient. New problems and opportunities


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RESOURCE POOR FARMERS ETHIOPIA


will also arise as demographic pressures push for greater intensification
(Netting 1993). Such a research partnership will enhance the development of
more intensive, but sustainable systems; and that the modest investments
needed to conduct participatory research (which may be substantially less than
on-station research) may be especially appropriate for cases similar to what we
have described for Ethiopia.



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HETEROGENEITY AND COMPLEXITY IN
FARMING SYSTEMS: TOWARDS AN
EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE

G. Weber'


ABSTRACT


Attending the diversity of farming systems in a given
mandate area is a common challenge to technology
generation, testing and dissemination. Frequently,
predominating systems are classified into domains using a
wide range of structural and functional criteria. The utility of
these classifications are mostly related to the purpose for
which they were designed and have limited applicability
beyond the original study area and discipline. Additionally,
they may hide more than what they reveal. It is argued that
the adoption of an evolutionary perspective permits a better
insight for sustainable agricultural development and may
provide a ,much needed general framework for systems-
oriented research and development. Changes in demand for
agricultural products are determined by market access and
population increase, both of which are ultimate forces driving
the evolution of agricultural system. These in turn impact at
the supply side on the evolution of agricultural productivity
and production practices. Resulting individual systems can
accordingly be identified as stages along general evolutionary
pathways. Such an evolutionary perspective offers the
opportunity to integrate site-specific systems research and
development with strategic eco-regional or discipline-oriented
research and provides a common framework for action.







PASOLAC, AP 6024, Managua, Nicaragua. Former address: International
Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, PMB 5320, Ibadan, Nigeria.


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INTRODUCTION

The biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional conditions of agricultural
production vary widely from place to place and over periods of time. In the
process of adapting cropping patterns, livestock management and farming
practices to the conditions of the location and the aims of the farmer, distinct
types of farm organization have developed (Ruthenberg, 1971).
A large body of literature has accumulated where the social,
environmental and technological dimensions of farming have been described.
Depending on the discipline and the research objectives, different approaches,
modes of analysis, problem foci and geographical scales have been utilized.
Thus, the term 'farming system research' encompasses a wide range of studies,
experiences and views. Most studies are based on comparative system analysis
with the objective to classify systems into a few representative units. The
criteria for comparative system analysis and classification vary widely and may
be based on structural, functional or evolutionary phenomena or any mix of
these. Production-oriented agronomists and economists, for example, have
provided location- or enterprise-specific studies with the major objective to
define research and recommendation domains (Byerlee and Collinson, 1980;
Norman et al., 1982). Livestock-scientists have described livestock systems and
have analyzed changes in carrying capacity of the natural resource base for
livestock production over time and as a function of technology (Jahnke, 1982).
Geographers have focused attention on the geographical distribution of
agricultural systems as part of the overall economy (Morgan and Munton,
1971), while historians have described the stages of past agricultural
development (Andreae, 1981). These different approaches have contributed to a
more holistic view of farming systems although a general, integrating
framework is lacking.
A generalized concept of comparative analysis and classification of
farming systems should be applicable at different geographical scales with the
practical aim at enhancing the integration of strategic, applied and adaptive
research with development efforts across disciplinary and, as far as possible,
across geographical boundaries. It should be compatible with past approaches
and should be simple to apply. In this paper, a comparison is attempted
between an evolutionary approach to farming systems characterization with a
number of widely used concepts which rely mostly on structural and functional
criteria of classification. Implications for research and development are shortly
discussed.


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COMPARATIVE FARMING SYSTEMS ANALYSIS


Past approaches

Systems research aims at a holistic view, encompassing most or all parts of the
total. The boundaries of the total may be delineated geographically at the farm,
zonal, regional or supraregional level or they may be set conceptually at a more
or less specifically defined enterprise or management practice, e.g. maize-based
systems or mechanized farming. The complexity of the system increases
exponentially and only a few major components can be analyzed as the
geographical scale increases. Therefore, a geographical or horizontal view of
all major components of a system at the farm or local level, e.g. all cropping
patterns and practices used in a cereals-producing area, may at the larger scale
be switched to the analysis of a vertical or conceptual slice of the system, such
as an assessment of the integration of maize production into the overall farm-
economy of production, marketing and consumption.
The vertical description is often depicted as a structural hierarchy of
subsystems with functional relationships in material and information flow
among them. The horizontal analysis concentrates on a comparative analysis of
systems at a defined level of aggregation and a grouping of these into higher
levels of aggregation. Historically, mainly structural criteria such as land use,
predominant crops or farm size have been used for comparative analysis and
classification. More recently, functional criteria such as market orientation,
land use intensity or crop-livestock integration have increasingly been included
to better describe the interaction among components. Further analysis of
farmers' decision criteria has contributed during the past two decades to a better
understanding of socioeconomic system dynamics while research on physical
resource processes, ecological succession and pest dynamics have deepened the
agronomic understanding of interdependencies.


Towards an evolutionary perspective

Functional analyses go beyond structural descriptions. They question not only
'What' and 'How' a system is organized but expand the question of 'How'
systems function and ask 'Why' they have a given structure. This functional
analysis, however, was initially limited to the proximate causes of
interrelationships. Further understanding of the ultimate causes and driving
forces of system dynamics over time requires an evolutionary perspective. For
instance, the structural description has led to a differentiation of shifting


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cultivation, semi-permanent, stationary and permanent cultivation as
organizational units of land use. A functional analysis reveals the transition
from one stage to the next as land use intensifies and may identify associated
processes such as fertility decline and changes in natural vegetation. An
evolutionary approach expands this analysis and indicates that the demand for
agricultural products from an increasing population or from better market
access are the ultimate forces which drive the system along a pathway of
intensification and that the supply of agricultural products and associated
production practices change along the evolutionary pathway. Land-use
intensifies along this pathway and the farming system shifts gradually from one
organizational stage to the next. Depending on the demand forces, however,
different functional relationships may develop. The evolutionary analysis of
farming systems builds on accumulated knowledge about the structure and
function of farming systems while the latter two find a general framework for
explanation in system evolution.
Examples for different classification systems are summarized in Table 1.
Land use intensity and land use type are the most commonly applied agronomic
criteria for classification while the utilization of modem production
technologies and the degree of market-orientation are widely used economic
criteria. A wide range of additional criteria have been suggested for multiple-
criteria classifications. Underlying forces of long-term system change have been
recognized by many authors since Malthus indicated a close relationship
between population increase and the limited capacity of the resource base to
satisfy demand. The Malthusian deterministic view has in the meantime been
replaced by a more dynamic view of the supply side after the flexibility and
elasticity of production have been revealed. Boserup (1965), for instance,
indicated that population growth is an evolutionary demand force in initiating a
transition from one land use system to another, more intensive one, while
Pingali et al. (1987) added market access. These authors identified population
growth and access to markets as the main determinants of agricultural
intensification in Sub-saharan Africa, both leading to a transition from forest
fallow and bush fallow systems of cultivation to annual and multiple-crop
systems. In a similar approach, Turner and Brush (1987) use a trajectory of
production types from exclusive household consumption or subsistence to full
market-oriented commodity production as a criterium of classification. They
add land use intensity and the degree of technological advancement as a second
and third trajectory and locate 12 different farming systems along these
trajectories. Boserup (1965), Pingali et al. (1987), and Turner and Brush (1987)
have most clearly moved towards an evolutionary analysis and classification of
farming systems. More recently, an evolutionary classification has been
proposed by which systems are first classified into agricultural systems
according to the underlying forces of demand, i.e. market access and population
increase.


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Table 1: Classification of fanning systems into structurally or functionally
similar groups.


Classification system and criteria used


Groups formed


1 Land use intensity (R-value)
(after Nye and Greenland, 1961)



2 Land use intensity, crops rotated
(after Ruthenberg and Andreae, 1982)





3 Land use intensity
(R-value), cropping system
(after Pingali et al., 1987)




4 Stationariness of herds
(after Dittmar, 1954, in Ruthenberg, 1971)




5 Degree of commercialization
(after Ruthenberg, 1971)



6 Degree of market orientation, factor
productivity
(after Doppler, 1991)








7 Degree of mechanization
(after Ruthenberg, 1971)



8 Land use intensity, market-orientation,
technological complexity
(after Turner and Brush, 1987)


Shifting cultivation
Semi-permanent cultivation
Stationary cultivation
Permanent cultivation

Shifting cultivation
Semipermanent fields
Ley system
Permanent cultivation
Perennial crops
Grazing system

Gathering
Forest fallow
Bush fallow
Short fallow
Annual cultivation
Multiple cropping

Nomadism
Semi-nomadism
Transhumance
Partial nomadism
Stationary husbandry

Subsistence
Partly commercialized
Semi-commercialized
Highly commercialized

Subsistence with
- shifting cultivation
- stationary cropping
Subsistence/market-oriented with
- livestock integration
- water management
- intensive labour use
Market-oriented with
- high intensity
- extensive

Pre-technical
Manual hoe farming
Semi-mechanized
Mechanized

Paleotechnic and consumption-oriented
systems
Mixed-technic and production systems
Neotechnic and commodity-oriented
systems


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Subsequently, further divisions into resource domains and farming domains
are suggested based on the concomitant evolutionary changes in resource
characteristics and the utilization of resource management and farming
practices (Smith and Weber, 1994; Weber et al., 1996). Different from earlier
classifications, Turner and Brush (1987) and Smith and Weber (1994) suggest
that the underlying forces of market access and population increase may be
independent and thus may lead on different evolutionary pathways to distinct
farming systems. These can roughly be assigned to four basic evolutionary
phases: market-driven expansion or population-driven expansion at an early
stage and market-driven intensification or population-driven intensification at a
later stage of land-use intensity (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Schematic representation of the evolution of agricultural systems
from a market-driven (ME) or population-driven (PE) expansion phase to a
market-driven (MI) or population-driven (PI) intensification phase (after
Weber et aL, 1996).



With increase in market access:
+ market demand for farm products
+ availability of cash
+ availability of purchased Inputs
+ labour market

Market-driven ____ Population-driven



Intensification phase
1 P1


Agricultural systems
With increase in population density:
+ land use Intensity
+ utilization of marginal land
Early MI Early P + labour availability
land availability
+ cropping intensity
crop husbandry efforts (weeding,...)
+ livestock confinement


ME PE




Expansion phase


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Past approaches in an evolutionary perspective

A comparison of classification systems summarized in Table 1 with an
evolutionary approach of classification indicates that most commonly used
classifications can approximately be located along the basic pattern of
evolutionary change indicated in Figure 1. The descriptive differentiation of
land use systems by Nye and Greenland (1961), Ruthenberg and Andreae
(1982) and Pingali et al. (1987) are stages along the pathway of increasing land
use intensity (Fig. 2). These studies, however, do not differentiate clearly
between systems under population-driven intensification from those under
market-driven intensification, although Pingali et al. (1987) have elaborated on
the effect of these underlying evolutionary forces on agricultural
mechanization. Additional criteria such as cropping system (Fig. 2-2), used by
Ruthenberg and Andreae (1982) in order to separate the peculiarities of grazing
systems and plantations from annual cropping systems,and multiple cropping
(Fig. 2-3) used by Pingali et al. (1987) cannot be located on the two-
dimensional evolutionary graph as it relates to management rather than land
use.
A classification exclusively along a transect of market-orientation has
been mentioned by Ruthenberg (1971), describing systems according to their
degree of commercialization. This approach, however, does not differentiate
degrees or types of land use (Fig. 2-5). Doppler (1991) analyzed the functional
relationship between the degree of commercialization, land use and farmers'
decision criteria and suggests a first differentiation according to market
orientation into subsistence, market-oriented and mixed subsistence/market-
oriented agriculture which is followed by a second differentiation according to
intensity and specialization. The first level of classification includes
evolutionary and functional criteria while the second level is mainly based on
functional and structural criteria. The evolution of systems at the second level is
therefore difficult to analyze (Fig. 2-7). The classification of farming systems
by Turner and Brush (1987) along the three trajectories of 'output intensity',
'production type and consumption' and 'technology type' coincides for the first
two criteria with a differentiation according to land use intensity and market
access. The third criterium relates to the degree of technological advancement
and the replacement of labor by new resource and crop management practices.
The three basic systems and the 12 farming systems described by Turner and
Brush (1987) can approximately be located according to market-orientation and
land-use intensity on the evolutionary graph (Fig. 2-8) indicating that systems
under population-driven intensification are not clearly differentiated by their
concept.
The comparison of these commonly used classification systems indicates
that some criteria do not coincide with the first level of evolutionary


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Figure 2. Approximate location of six different classification systems (see
Table 1) in an evolutionary space of agricultural systems (see Figure 1).


Classification 1 (after Nye and Greenland, 1961)
Market-driven <-- Population-driven

Permanent cultivation Intensification


Stationary cultivation

Semi-permanent
cultivation
Shifting
cultivation

Expansion


Classiication 3 afterr Pingall et a., 1987)
Market-driven < Population-driven
Annualcultivation Intensification
.......... .... ...... .......... Intensification


Short fallow systems /



Bush-fallow j


Forest fallow Expnson


Classification 7 (after Doppler, 1901)
Market-driven < Population-driven

S Intensification










Su Expansion


Classification 2 (after Ruthenberg and Andreae, 1982)
Market-driven <- Population-driven


systems

Ley farming systems -

Semi-permanent field g
systems NR
hidingg cultivation o
fallow systems

Expansion

Classifllatin aftere R uthenberg, 1971)


Intensification
A


Classilfalon 8 (alter Tumer and Bnish, 1987)
Market-driven < Population-driven

I a Intensification








*- -Paleotechnic f
c E o







2 Expansion
CL .0" -0


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HETEROGENEITY AND COMPLEXITY IN FARMING SYSTEMS


differentiation into agricultural systems according to market-access and
population increase, i.e.evolutionary changes at the demand side of agricultural
production. An additional dimension has to be added defining evolutionary
changes at the supply of agricultural production along the transition from
extensive to intensified systems as a result of increasingly scarce land. Changes
in supply and demand both determine together the evolution of farming
systems.


The evolution of supply from agricultural production

Supply of agricultural products depends on two steps: first, the recognition,
accessibility and management of internal and external resources and second,
the efficient conversion of a given resource endowment into useful products.
Both steps are clearly interrelated. As land use intensifies, resource and crop
management technologies play an increasingly important role in determining
ecosystem processes through human intervention.

Evolution ofresource management.
The classification of the physical resource base has mostly followed
descriptive criteria based on climate, soil or vegetational characteristics (e.g.
K6ppen, 1931; FAO-UNESCO, 1974; Walter, 1973). These criteria have been
used to describe potential biomass production of natural ecosystems and are
widely used in agroecological studies (FAO, 1978). The analysis of major
disturbances, in particular in tropical climates has revealed the limitations of
such structural classifications without a thorough understanding of functional
and evolutionary phenomena. For instance, in most areas of the humid tropics,
biomass production is maintained through efficient nutrient cycling rather than
through a large pool of plant-available nutrients in the soil. Major disturbances
may therefore disrupt the nutrient cycling leading to major shifts in floral
composition and long resilient times to regain the original climax. Human
intervention, such as large-scale crop-production projects in the humid and
subhumid tropics, have often failed where structural classifications were used
without a thorough understanding of the function and evolution of the
ecosystem. This has stimulated a shift in resource and crop management
research towards a focus on system processes, such as soil nutrient dynamics,
with the aim to develop more sustainable land use systems for major
agroecological zones.
The dynamic interrelationship between the physical resource base and crop
yield can, in a simplified way, be described as a function of plant-available
water and nutrients within broadly defined climatic zones (Fig. 3). For
instance, in the semi-arid tropics, cropping on newly cleared land without
external inputs results


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Figure 3. Schematic representation of changes in land productivity as a
function ofplant-available water and nutrient supply in sub-humid savannas.



Pote A per ha



D D

APathway



Potential output






Plant-available water
Path 1: Newly cleared land (A) degrades to (B) as soil organic matter is mineralized; the pro-
cess is reversable through natural or improved fallow.
Path 2: The organic matter content is increased in compound fields (C) through the application
of manure and crop residues.
Path 3: Application of anorganic fertilizers increase the supply of plant-available nutrients (D),
plant-available water becomes limiting.
Path 4: Application of nutrients and water-harvesting technologies such as tied ridges increase
plant-available water and nutrients to (E).







5
A Pathwaz

CO

Z 6 I Potential output
SG


Path 5:

Path 6:

Path 7:


Plant-available water
Newly cleared land (A) evolves to (F) as anorganic fertilizers are applied; soil organic
matter is mineralized causing a decline in plant-available water.
The application of acidifying fertilizers and the decline in organic matter content can
cause soil acidification (G) if no lime is applied.
Application of anorganic fertilizers and crop irrigation increase the supply of plant-avail-
able nutrients and water to a high yield potential (H).
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HETEROGENEITY AND COMPLEXITY IN FARMING SYSTEMS


in a decline of organic matter content through mineralization with a concurrent
reduction in plant-available nutrients and water. This shift from (A) to (B) in
Figure 3 results in a decline of potential output. The decline can be recovered
from (B) to (A) through land fallowing within the resilient capacity of the
ecosystem. The introduction of moderate amounts of fertilizer may increase
nutrient availability, leading to an increase in potential output from (B) to (D).
Further increases in output to (E) will, however, depend on the concurrent use
of two resource management technologies: moderate fertilization and the
introduction of water-harvesting technologies such as tied ridging.
Alternatively, farmers may increase in (A) the pool of organic matter in the soil
through the application of manure and crop residues which in turn can
contribute to higher output through efficient nutrient cycling in the system (C).
Examples of such processes have, for example, been described by Prudencio
(1993), Rugalema et al. (1994), Koudokpon et al. (1994) and have been
summarized for the West African Savannas by Pieri (1989).
In areas with good access to external inputs, farmers may use inorganic
fertilizers at an earlier stage. The system shifts from (A) to (F) with a certain
reduction of organic matter content. Continuous use of inorganic fertilizers,
however, may induce soil degradations, eventually soil compaction, erosion,
acidification, if no additional resource management technologies will be
introduced to sustain the system around (F). The introduction of water
management technologies, in particular irrigation, may increase potential
output to (H). The stages (A) to (H) describe distinct physical resource
conditions and associated potential output along evolutionary pathways of the
physical resource base. Pathways 1,5 and 6 lead to a decline of potential output
unless appropriate resource management technologies, such as long fallow
periods, manuring or application of lime, will be used. Pathways 2, 3, 4 and 7
may increase potential output. However, the adoption of any specific resource
management technology will depend to a large degree on resource endowments
as described for agricultural systems in Figure 1. Pathway 1 and 2 do not
require purchased inputs although pathway 2 requires considerable local
material input in terms of manure and crop residues and it is highly labor-
demanding. Stages (A), (B) and (C) can therefore be described as moderately
productive, degraded and highly productive 'resource domains', respectively, in
farming systems likely to evolve in areas with poor market access. Pathways 3,
5 and 7 depend on purchased inputs and (F), (G) and (H) are moderately
productive, degraded and highly productive resource domains, respectively, in
farming systems more likely to evolve in areas with good market access.
Pathways 3 and 4 describe transitional stages to the moderately productive
resource domains (D) and (E) likely to evolve in farming systems with
moderate market access.
Figure 3 greatly oversimplifies the functional interrelationship between
physical resource conditions and potential agricultural output. However, an


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analysis of the effect of human intervention on the physical resource base along
basic evolutionary pathways can still be achieved although the specific
technologies used by farmers in different environments may greatly differ.
Dynamic simulation models may in the future be able to approximately quantify
such processes including the potential sustainable output from a physical
resource base. The most important challenge for farming systems research,
however, is to relate these process level studies and the differentiation of
'resource domains' to the evolution of the overall farming system.
Such differences in the resource base have, for example, led to previous
classifications of farming systems or land use units into structural or
organizational groups -of farming according to resource status or resource
management. Soil fertility status or management and water management were
the most frequently used criteria (Table 2). Groups formed describe phases
along an evolutionary process of increasingly intense resource management and
concurrent differentiation of the resource base. These changes may evolve
under the use of'moder' as well as 'traditional' technologies, both of which can
reach considerable advancement in complexity and in the degree of
environmental control (see Klee, 1980 and Turner and Brush, 1987)). Although
this general process is driven by the demand for agricultural products, the type
of technologies adopted, thus the resulting differentiation of the resource base
and the formation of different farming systems, is determined by the degree of
resource endowment and access to resource management technologies at the
farm level. Both of these in turn will be vastly different in areas under
population-driven or market-driven expansion or intensification.

Conversion to agricultural products.

Farmers use production technologies in order to efficiently convert a given
resource endowment into useful products for household use or marketing. As
the endowment with socioeconomic and biophysical resources change along the
evolutionary pathway of agricultural systems and resource domains, preferences
for technologies change and different farming systems emerge. Many studies in
farming systems research describe and compare the structure of such specific
systems, many recent studies reveal also functional interrelationships and
analyze farmers' production strategies and decision criteria. In most cases,
however, the analysis is limited to the proximate causes of functional
interrelationships and is rarely linked to the overall dynamics of the
agricultural system. Recent summaries have, for example, been compiled by


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HETEROGENEITY AND COMPLEXITY IN FARMING SYSTEMS


Table 2: Classification of land use in farming systems (examples).


Study area AS' Differentiating resource Groups formed
characteristics and management
technologies


Benin:
Subhumid
savanna
(Koudokpon et
al., 1994)



Burkina Faso:
Semiarid
savanna
(Prudencio,
1993)






Nigeria:
Humid forest
(Lagemann,
1977)


Tanzania:
Humid forest
(Rugalema et
al., 1994a, b)


Nigeria: Sub-
humid savanna
(Weber et al.,
1996)


P/M-I Fertility and organic matter
management
oil palm fallow
manure from small ruminants
residue composting
fertilizer to cash crop (cotton)


P/M-I Fertility and organic matter
management:
Manure
food legume rotations
low amounts of fertilizer
natural fallow
Water conservation:
ditches
earth or stone dikes
mulch

P/M-I Fertility management:
bush fallow
mulch
household refuse
composted residues

M/P-I Fertility management:
banana residues
tree litter
animal manure
fallow

MI and Fertility management:
PI fertilizer
food legume rotation
animal manure
residue mulching
compost
fallow


1 Forested zone
2 Home gardens
3 Oil palm
fallow
zone
4 Cotton/maize
rotation zone

1 First ring fields
2 Second ring
field
3 Third ring field







1 Compound
fields
2 Village fields
3 Bush fields


1 Homegarden
(kibanja)
2 Fallow plots
(omusiri)


1 Fertile uplands
2 Moderately
fertile
uplands
3 Degraded
uplands


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intensification






WEBER


Klee (1980), Turner and Brush (1987), Doppler (1991) and Mclntire et al.
(1992). An analysis of changes in farming systems along the evolutionary
pathways of agricultural systems and resource domains with different market
access, land use intensity and land productivity has most recently been
attempted by Manyong et al. (1996) and Weber et al. (1996) for West Africa.
The resulting classification of farming systems according to predominant crops,
for example, into maize-based, sorghum-based, cotton-based, cassava-based
and yam-based systems coincides broadly with common classification systems.
The evolutionary perspective, however, broadens the view and emphasizes the
heterogenous socioeconomic and agroecological settings under which these
crop-based systems have evolved and how they might evolve in the near future.


Constraints to production as an evolutionary phenomena.

The previous chapters indicate how changes in productivity can be
described within the context of the evolution of farming systems along the
transect of increasing market-driven or population-driven expansion or
intensification. Further evaluation of system stability and sustainability over
time requires additional analysis as functional relationships in particular in
biotic systems become increasingly complex as land use intensifies. For
instance, many pests depend in their severity on the frequency of encounter
between pest and host. Thus, an expansion of a particular crop may promote the
increase of frequency-dependent biotic constraints. Others such as many leaf
diseases are closely related to the overall physical (e.g. climate) determinants of
the environment. Thus, their severity may hardly change as land use intensifies.
Details of such functional relationships have been analyzed for many
agricultural pests under studies on insect population dynamics, pathogen
epidemiology and weed community research (Ruesink, 1976; Kranz and Hau,
1980; Teng and Savary, 1992). Extensive research has been done during the
last two decades on developing dynamic simulation models of pests, pathogens
and, more recently, their interaction with host plants. An important element of
such research has been the identification of factors which drive individual pests
to increase or decrease in severity. Much less research has been devoted to
analyze the dynamics of biotic communities in agroecosystems and to relate
them to the evolution of the overall farming systems. Differences in
terminology and in conceptual approaches have additionally impeded the
practical integration of pest dynamics into farming systems research.


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CONCLUSIONS

A widely accepted, generalized approach to the classification of farming
systems has not emerged, despite its potential contribution to agricultural
research and development. Attempts to classify agricultural or farming systems
commonly represent a potpourri of formal and informal criteria and many must
be considered typologies which do not systematically apply to every system
(Turner and Brush, 1987). The utility of such classifications are closely related
to the purpose for which they were designed and it has been claimed that maps
based on such classifications may hide more than they reveal about the overall
farming system (Morgan and Munton, 1971). In spite of such criticism,
classifications have been a useful tool for practical agricultural research and
development.
The task of promoting agricultural development has become increasingly
complex over the past decades. The initial focus on productivity has been
widened to include stability, sustainability and equity (Conway, 1987).
Additionally, efforts in research and development have shifted from favorable
to more marginal environments and from external-input systems to low
external-input systems. Research on the supply side of agricultural production
has shown, that the overdeterministic interpretation of the population-land
relationship underestimates the flexibility and elasticity of agricultural
production through resource and crop management (Boserup, 1965; Pingali et
al., 1987). Interest in comparative farming systems analysis has therefore
shifted during the past three decades from describing the structure and
organization of farming systems to an analysis of functional interrelationships
towards evolutionary phenomena. This has recently been strengthened through
an increasing emphasis on sustainability which requires the analysis of system
dynamics and resilience over time. Similar trends in most disciplines concerned
with agricultural research towards the analysis of functional interrelationships
have resulted in a better understanding of soil processes, crop growth, pest
dynamics and vegetation change. A common framework for system analysis,
however, is lacking.
Much can be learned from previous experiences in ecology and biology
where a shift from structural and functional comparative analysis and
classification towards evolutionary biology, population analysis and community
ecology provided a much needed common framework (Mayr, 1984). An
evolutionary approach to comparative system analysis and classification may
offer a much needed, generalized framework in sustainable agriculture.
Structurally and functionally different farming systems, as previously for
example described by Nye and Greenland (1961), Ruthenberg (1971), Pingali et
al. (1987) and Turner and Brush (1987), can thus be interpreted as being at
different phases in an evolutionary space. A considerable proportion of the


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previously described and classified variability in fanning systems can, in a first
step, approximately be represented in a simple two-dimensional evolutionary
space of agricultural systems, determined by demand for agricultural products
according to market-access and population-increase. Additional variability can
in a second step be determined by concomitant evolutionary changes at the
supply side associated with the utilization of appropriate resource management
and conversion-efficient production technologies. Previously used structural
and functional classifications based on criteria such as water management,
fertility status, land-use or predominant crops can therefore be represented as
phases in a multi-dimensional space of the evolution of farming systems.
Linking an evolutionary analysis of farming systems with recent advances in
understanding insect, pathogen and weed systems facilitates an assessment of
system sustainability over time (Smith and Weber, 1994; Weber et al., 1996).
The adoption of an evolutionary approach in sustainable agricultural
development will require a common terminology and a general framework for
comparative analysis and classification based more on thematic clustering
rather than on geographic boundaries. Geo-referenced information systems,
which presently attract considerable attention, may contribute to a delineation
in the distribution of some major resource characteristics, but they might
contribute little to a clustering of resource and farming domains along
evolutionary pathways.
It remains an open question for basic research if and to what extent complex
systems evolve gradually or if system change is linked to rather sudden phase
changes. Recent research in system modelling and in ecology indicates that
there is a considerable degree of evolutionary self-organization in complex
systems. Additionally there are indications that, although the dynamics are
driven by local processes the final configuration is a reflection of the global
structure (Lewin, 1992; Maxwell and Costanza, 1993; Judson, 1994). Thus,
phase changes may better explain the evolution of complex biotic systems than
gradual selection processes (Lewin, 1992). This has considerable implications
for research on farming system dynamics as commonly used deterministic
models may be far from explaining the complexity of systems in the real world.
In particular the human dimension of change in agricultural systems needs
considerably more research before it can be integrated into an evolutionary
concept. It is an essential component for evaluating the implications of
agricultural change on equity.
Although basic and strategic research at the regional or international level
on analyzing system dynamics and the underlying forces will be necessary,
there are immediate practical implications for site-specific technology
generation, testing and dissemination. The identification of major opportunities
and risks in predominating farming systems in a mandate area can be better
identified under an evolutionary perspective and can contribute to priority
setting in research and development projects (Manyong et al., 1996).


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HETEROGENEITY AND COMPLEXITY IN FARMING SYSTEMS


REFERENCES

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Byerlee, D., and M. Collinson. 1980. Planning Technologies Appropriate to Farmers. Concepts and
Procedures. Mexico, CIMMYT.
Boserup, E. 1965. The Conditions ofAgricultural Growth. Chicago: Aldine.
Conway, G.R. 1987. The properties ofagroecosystems. AgriculturalAdministration 24: 95-117.
Doppler, W. 1991. Landwirtschaftliche Betriebssysteme in den Tropen und Subtropen. Stuttgart:
Verlag Eugen Ulmer.
FAO-UNESCO. 1974. Soil Map of the World. Vol.1. Legend. Paris, UNESCO.
FAO. 1978. Report on the Agro-Ecological Zones Project. Rome, FAO.
Jahnke, H.E. 1982. Livestock Production Systems and Development in Tropical Africa. Kiel:
Wissenschaftsverlag.
Judson, O.P. 1994. The rise of the individual-based model in ecology. TREE 9: 9-14.
Klee, G.A. 1980. World Systems of Traditional Resource Management. London: Winston and Sons.
K6ppen, W. 1931. Grundrif derKlimakunde. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Koudokpon, V., J. Brouwers, M.N. Versteeg and A. Budelman. 1994. Priority setting in research for
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Kranz, J. and B. Hau. 1980. Systems analysis in epidemiology. AnnualReviewPhytopathology 18: 67-
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Lagemann, J. 1977. Traditional African Farming Systems in Eastern Nigeria. Munich: Weltforum-
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Lewin, R. 1992. Complexity. Live at the Edge ofChaos. New York: MacMillan Publ. Comp.
Manyong, M.V., J. Smith, G. Weber, S.S. Jagtap and B. Oyewole. 1996. Macro-Characterization of
Agricultural Systems in West-Africa: An overview. Ibadan: IITA, RCMD-Monograph No. 21.
Maxwell, T. and R. Costanza. 1993). An approach to modelling the dynamics of evolutionary self-
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Mayr, E. 1984. Die Entwicklung der biologischen Gedankenwelt. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
McIntire, J., D. Bourzat and P. Pingali. 1992. Crop-Livestock Interaction in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Washington: The World Bank.
Morgan, W.B. 1978. Agriculture in the Third World. A spatial analysis. London: Bell and Hyman.
Morgan, W.B. and R.J.C. Munton. 1971. Agricultural Geography. London: Methuen and Co.
Norman, D.W., E.B. Simmons and H.H. Hays. 1982. Farming Systems in the Nigerian Savannas.
Boulder: Westview Press.
Nye, P.H. and D.J. Greenland, D.J. 1961. The Soil under Shifting Cultivation. Reading:
Commonwealth Bureau of Soils. Technical Communication No. 51.
Pieri, C. 1989. La Fertilit6 des Terres des Savannes. Paris: CIRAD.
Pingali, P., Y. Bigot and H.P. Binswanger. 1987. Agricultural Mechanization and the Evolution of
Farming Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Baltimore: John-Hopkins University Press.
Prudencio, C.Y. 1993. Ring management of soils and crops in the West African semi-arid tropics: the
case of the mossi farming system in Burkina Faso. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 47:
237-264.
Ruesink, W.G. 1976. Status of the systems approach in pest management Annual Review Entomology
21: 27-44.
Rugalema, G.H,, F.H. Johnsen and J. Rugambisa. 1994. The homegarden agroforestry system of
Bukoba district, North-Western Tanzania. Agroforestry Systems 26: 53-64, 205-214.
Ruthenberg, H. 1971. Farming Systems in the Tropics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Ruthenberg, H. and B. Andreae. 1982. Landwirtschaftliche Betriebssysteme in den Tropen. Pages 125-
173 in von Blanckenburg, P., ed., Sozialakonomie der landlichen Entwicklung. Stuttgart: Verlag
Eugen Ulmer.


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Smith, J. and G. Weber. 1994. Strategic research in heterogenous mandate areas: an example from the
West African savanna. Pages 540-560 in Anderson, J., ed., Agricultural Technology: Policy
Issues for the International Community. Wallington: CAB International.
Teng, P.S. and S. Savary. 1992. Implementing the systems approach in pest management. Agricultural
Systems 40: 237-264.
Turner, B.L. and S.B. Brush. 1987. Comparative Farming Systems. New York: The Guilford Press.
Walter, H. 1973. Die Vegetation der Erde in 6kophysiologischer Betrachtung. Stuttgart: Fischer.
Weber, G., J. Smith and M.V. Manyong. 1996. System dynamics and the definition of research domains
for the northern Guinea savanna of West Africa. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 57:
133-148.


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REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS APPROACHES, AND
FARMER PARTICIPATION:
CONFLICTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS
IN THE NORTH AMERICAN LAND GRANT
SYSTEM1


John S. Caldwell' and Archer H. Christian3


ABSTRACT

A program in vegetable crop sustainability has been
developed from 1993 by a team of researchers in two
universities and members of a farmer organization, applying
the principles of FSR/E within the U.S. land-grant university
context. Selection of cucurbit integrated pest management as
the research focus was based on farmer focus group meetings
and a farmer survey. Dialog with funding sources has
revealed that importance is' given to component research
methods that conflict with farmer constraints of land area and
time, and that farmer monitoring time and extensive farmer-
researcher interaction are considered to be too expensive.
The research program has sought to introduce greater
biological diversity into American cucurbit production
systems. Exploratory trials in 1994 and 1995 have used the
university experiment station and one on-farm site. The
research program has been divided into three components
(strip crop management techniques and effects on ground
beetles; effects of flowering plants at the head of crop rows on
parasitoids; and insect movement between natural vegetation
and the crop field). The research has broadened beyond pest-
predator/parasitoid insect interactions, increasing the number
of biological interactions examined and adding labor and

SThis paper was presented at the AFSRE Symposium in Sri Lanka in
November of 1996.
2 Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic
Institute & State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327 USA.
3 Chair, Research Committee, Virginia Association for Biological Farming,
POB 10721, Blacksburg, VA 24062-0721 USA.


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CALDWELL AND CHRISTIAN


management interactions, while examining these interactions
in smaller subsets. An approach is evolving in which systems
interactions identify reductionist research as a basis for
farmer assessment of the fit and functioning of new
components in their farming systems.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Farmer participation and system approaches have been goals of FSR/E since its
inception in the late 1970s. Concurrently FSR/E has sought to apply the power
of scientific methods and knowledge to the solution of agricultural problems of
farmers, especially those in less favored environments. FSR/E has also
recognized the importance of both public institutions and non-governmental
organizations. FSR/E has sought to integrate farmer participation and systems
approaches into agricultural research and extension in public institutions, and
infuse their agendas with farmer-defined needs for agricultural research and
extension.
Tension has existed in the pursuit of these goals. One source of tension has
been methodological. Scientific methods in agricultural research have been
based on reductionism: the study of components of systems individually
(Dillon, 1976). Several assumptions, sometimes explicit and other times
implicit, have underlain the acceptance of reductionism. One is the
mechanistic paradigm: the assumption that a system can be explained by
aggregating separately-obtained sets of knowledge of the nature and working of
its individual parts. A second assumption has been that it is not possible to
study in a scientific way the workings of an entire system, because of
complexity and confounding of variables.
A second tension has been institutional. Publicly-supported agricultural
research and extension institutions have developed within the reductionist
paradigm. Organizational structures have usually been established around
components, either in discipline-based departments or in commodity-based
programs. Both institutional reward systems and professional recognition have
been primarily based on work in these component-centered departments and
programs. In many countries, research and extension are also institutionally
separated. Interdisciplinary teams are best suited to pursue a systems approach,
but such teams cross component-based boundaries both inside and outside
research and extension institutions. Efforts to resolve this institutional tension
have been the focus of numerous FSR/E papers under the rubric of
"institutionalization."
There has also been tension between science and farmer participation. This
has been seen throughout the history of the International Symposia that AFSRE
and its predecessors have sponsored. Most recently this tension was evident in
differences in perspectives on FSR/E accomplishments and future directions


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REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS, AND FARMER PARTICIPATION


presented in several presentations at the 1994 symposium. From very different
starting points, both Sebillotte (1994) and Olivier de Sardan (1994) questioned
the relationship between farmer participation and science. While Sebillotte
acknowledged the place of farmer participation in FSR/E, he also cautioned
against loss of scientific objectivity. Olivier de Sardan saw an even more
fundamental conflict between the individual and practical goals of farmers,
versus the public and knowledge-generating goals of scientists. Jiggins (1994),
in contrast, reaffirmed the centrality of farmer participation to achieve the goal
of making science more relevant to the problems of farmers in less-favored
environments. Antecedents to this debate can be found in papers and
workshops in mid-1980s FSR/E symposia that sought to develop on-farm trial
methodologies that simultaneously provided scientifically-valid assessment and
real farmer participation (Barker and Lightfoot, 1986; Caldwell and Lightfoot,
1988), and in discussion following Chambers (1993) keynote address at the
1992 symposium.
The land-grant system in North America has often been held up as a
model for linking research and extension. Researchers based at a central
university and extension field staff based in local administrative units
(counties) are both under one organizational structure. Some of the researchers
at the central university are given explicit extension responsibilities in their job
descriptions that require and reward them for work in the field.
Although the land-grant system links research and extension, it has
not been based on systems approaches, and farmer participation has been
mixed. Much pre-war agricultural research was implicitly systems in nature,
reflecting the farm background of the first generations of agricultural
researchers. Systems approaches were also evident in early farm management
research and in a number of extension programs from the 1940s to the 1960s,
including the Farm and Home Development Program, the Rapid Rural
Adjustment Program, and the Balanced Farming Program (Johnson, 1982;
Hagan, -1984). The latter programs included work that could be called on-farm
research, even if the programs did not conceive of themselves as research
programs. But even in these programs, on-farm research was valued more as a
real-world means to "educate" farmers, and farmer participation tended to be
more responsive to researcher initiative. Subsequently, as methods for
reductionist study became more sophisticated, scientific knowledge became
more compartmentalized. Industrialization favored reliance on off-farm inputs,
resulting in less on-farm recycling, a more industrial approach to agricultural
production on a commodity-by-commodity basis, and a reduction in the systems
nature of agriculture. This in turn meant that knowledge produced by
reductionist approaches became more easily applicable to production
agriculture. Both systems approaches and farmer participation in research
seemed to become less relevant in the 1960s and 1970s.


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CALDWELL AND CHRISTIAN


Into this context, since the early 1980s, has come concerns about the
sustainability of agriculture in North America. These concerns have been
based on the recognition that North American agriculture cannot continue
indefinitely to "mine" the soil, even the rich soils of the U.S. Midwest; that off-
farm inputs are largely non-renewable; and that industrial agriculture has
negatively affected public health and the environment (Phillips and Shabman,
1991; NWA Foundation, 1994; Feath, 1993). By its very nature, sustainable
agriculture is a multi-goal endeavor and process, seeking to achieve a balance
among the often conflicting desired outcomes of environmental protection,
high-yield production, economic gain, and enhanced quality of life.
Sustainable agriculture is inadequately served by a strictly component approach
(Hanson et al., 1995). Further, sustainable agriculture research is rarely
amenable to the direct, shorter-term measurement that is characteristic of the
reductionist evalu?'.on that takes place in production systems focused almost
exclusively on yit i and return. Flora (1992) argues that farmer participation
on multi-disciplil my teams and in on-farm research is essential for effective
FSR/E application in sustainable agriculture, and that adaptations to all phases
of this methodology are necessary, from diagnosis to extension, to
accommodate the differences presented by sustainable agriculture. Yet this
Conception has not been put widely into practice, and the number of university
associated on-farm research projects underway across the United States is still
very small.
In this paper we report on the development of a program applying the
principles of FSR/E in vegetable crop sustainability within the above
institutional and historical context of the North American land-grant system.
As a faculty member in the Department of Horticulture of Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), one of Virginia's two land-grant
universities, the first author (Caldwell) began developing the program in
August 1993 in close collaboration with the Virginia Association for Biological
Farming (VABF). VABF is a non-profit/non-governmental farmer
organization whose mission is to promote and provide education in biological
(sustainable) agriculture. We first describe how farmer needs and input guided
the choice of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as the initial focus of the
program and how farmers have participated in the development of the research
program. We then describe the technical difficulties encountered in developing
a biologically-based vegetable IPM production system. Finally, we conclude by
presenting ways in which the three methods, reductionism, systems approaches,
and farmer participation, can be better integrated for each to make
complementary contributions to research and extension in sustainable
agriculture.


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REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS, AND FARMER PARTICIPATION


FARMER PARTICIPATION IN SETTING THE RESEARCH AGENDA


Selection of Cucurbit Integrated Pest Management as the Research Focus.
The process of setting a research agenda for the vegetable sustainability
program utilized farmer input in both secondary information and formal survey
methods. Secondary information was gathered from a 1993 farmer focus group
meeting sponsored by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
(SSAWG), a network of non-profit/non-governmental organizations created to
promote more sustainable methods in agricultural production in the Southern
region of the United States. The focus group meeting, conducted by SSAWG
member VABF, sought to identify problems for which research and information
are needed.
Among the four key production constraints identified in the meeting, two
involved insect control. Farmers indicated a need for better information on
which cover crops and living or applied dead mulches could best serve as
habitats for beneficial insects predatory to six vegetable insect pests: stink
bugs, Mexican bean beetle, flea beetles, cucumber beetles, Colorado potato
beetle, and squash vine borer. In fall 1993, when the two authors came in
contact, a first decision was thus made to focus the new vegetable sustainability
program on integrated pest management (IPM).
Although simultaneously conducting research on all six pests and all their
primary vegetable crop hosts might best reflect the diversity of growers' needs,
the knowledge base and resources of the new program would be exceeded.
Therefore, program focus was narrowed using a farmer mail survey on pest
incidence and control measures for vegetable crops and available mulch and
cover crop materials. The survey was designed by a team of two VABF
members and six faculty (two horticulturalists, an entomologist, a plant
pathologist, an agricultural economist, and a sociologist). It was sent to the
314 members of VABF and 147 other non-VABF participants at the 1993
Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Conference. A 31% response rate was
obtained, but only 57% (82 respondents) of respondents grew vegetables.
Among these 82 vegetable growers, cucurbits were most frequently cited (31%
of all crop responses) as having insect pest problems. Cucumber beetles and
squash vine borer comprised 74% of the pests cited on cucumber and squash
(Caldwell et al., 1995). Thus, cucurbit IPM was selected as the initial focus for
research.


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CALDWELL AND CHRISTIAN


Research program design,
In 1993, 1994, and 1995, research plans were developed by joint VABF-
university teams. The overall goal of the research program has been to build on
general agroecosystems concepts in order to develop methods to introduce
greater biological diversity into cucurbit production systems in ways that are
amenable to farmer implementation. A review of 150 studies comparing more
and less diversified agroecosystems has shown that 53% of 198 herbivore
species were less abundant in the more diversified systems (Risch et al., 1982).
Achievement of greater diversity would introduce into North American
agriculture more mixed cropping and natural vegetation management
approaches similar to those used by farmers in less favored environments of
many developing countries.
In the current U.S. land-grant system, internal resources are primarily
available for on-station research. Developing a consensus between farmers and
researchers on how to carry out joint on-farm research and to develop farmers'
monitoring and evaluation skills requires training, travel, and personnel costs
that exceed internal resources. A major focus of team planning, then, has been
the design of proposals for outside funding for on-farm research linked to on-
station research.
Proposals have been reviewed by anonymous teams composed primarily of
researchers, but in some cases including farmers. The resulting dialog between
the planning team and the research community has revealed the tension among
reductionism, farmer participation, and systems approaches.
In 1993, the joint VABF-university team developed a two-year plan for
initial exploratory research, placing a strong emphasis on farmer participation.
The team proposed testing four habitats for beneficial insects on 25 farms in
three regions of Virginia, using farms as replications within regions in a nested
design structure (Stroup et al., 1991; Caldwell, 1989; Milliken and Johnson,
1986). One farmer in each region would be trained and hired to serve as
regional trial coordinator. This model conibines the concepts of farmer para-
professionals of the Rapid Adjustment Program (Rich, 1982) and clustered
trials of Heinrich and Masikara (1993) in Botswana. A 26th site would be
managed by researchers, have on-site replication, and include supplemental
researcher control treatments. All sites would be assessed in an incomplete
block design analysis of variance model developed in collaboration with the
Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech (Caldwell and Walecka, 1987; P.
Palettas, Virginia Tech, personal communication, 1993).
Proposal rejections by two funding sources related to insect monitoring
methods and farmer compensation. The suggested larger plot sizes and more


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REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS, AND FARMER PARTICIPATION


rigorous monitoring conflicted with farmer constraints of land area and time.
Partial support proposed for farmer monitoring activities and travel costs for
extensive farmer-researcher interaction were seen as excessive.
In 1994, the planning team was expanded to include additional VABF
members, an off-campus research station entomologist, and an entomologist
and an extension specialist from Virginia's second land-grant university,
Virginia State University. This collaboration produced a three-year research
plan, drawing from habitat research in 1994 (based on the 1993 research plan),
and proposing on-farm and on-station technical research in the first two years
on five crop agro-ecology modifications. Concurrent economic research was
included to develop a "menu" of marketing techniques to improve the economic
viability of biological pest management. These two research efforts would then
converge in the third year in farmer-managed trials of improved agro-ecologies.
Compared with the 1993 plan, this plan expanded the systems aspect of the
research program, but delayed widespread farmer participation in on-farm
research until the last year. It retained the overall structure of on-farm trials
clustered in regions, but with a more gradual expansion of farm numbers,
beginning with first year single-site trials in two regions, to 3-4 farms in one
pilot region in year 2, and 10-15 farms in 3-4 regions in year 3.
Concern about the scientific validity of on-farm research methods was the
primary factor in decisions by two funding sources to reject this proposal. The
size of the budget for a three-year program was a second factor.
In 1995, a smaller team developed a less ambitious plan for two years of
research, building on 1995 on-station research in three of the five agro-
ecological modifications. This proposal was also rejected, despite the gradual
phasing in of on-farm research, a more reductionist approach, and a
considerably reduced budget compared with 1994. Concern about on-farm
trial research methods was again the primary factor.
The above results of three years of efforts to obtain outside support for on-
farm agro-ecology research indicate that it is difficult to combine technical
research with extensive farmer participation in the design and conduct of the
research on their farms in a way that is viewed by the research community as
scientifically valid. Criteria derived from reductionist research remain the
critical measure of the validity of on-farm research.


TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES IN DEVELOPING BIOLOGICALLY-
BASED VEGETABLE IPM PRODUCTION SYSTEMS

The research plans developed for outside funding in 1993 and 1994 have served
as the basis for reduced programs of exploratory research at the university
experiment station and one on-farm site in 1994 and 1995. These trials,
supported by internal resources, have revealed that development of improved


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CALDWELL AND CHRISTIAN


systems is based both on understanding and skill in managing components, and
on an understanding of interactions within a biological system.
Previous research in Georgia by Phatak (1992) and Bugg (1991) has shown
that cover crops and living mulches can increase populations of generalist
predators of pests of several vegetable crops. Their approach was based on the
assumption that an overall increase in the types and numbers of predators
results in stability at a lower level of pest pressure on the economic crop. We
initially adopted this same assumption.
In the 1994 habitat trials, we attempted to assess both above-ground and
below-ground predators in the economic crop and in natural vegetation. Due to
the complexity, and thus time and monetary expense required, of each of these
components, we were forced to abandon the natural vegetation assessment and
reduce above-ground insect assessment.
We also found that other interactions affected the viability of strip cropping
as an insect pest management approach. Poor crop establishment and
competition with the strip crop was not offset by positive pest management
effects in the economic crop. Improvement of those interactions is a
precondition for assessing economic benefits of strip cropping for pest
management. Grossman (1993) in California had similar problems in
developing a living mulch system for crucifer production.
The research program was divided into three components in 1995, based on
the 1994 findings. Objectives for the first component, a continuation of the
strip cropping trial, were a) the development of strip crop management
techniques supporting economic crop yields equal to or greater than those with
sole cropping; and b) assessment of the effect of the different habitats on
ground beetles. The second component examined the effect of flowering plants
at the head of crop rows on above-ground predators and two types of
parasitoids. The third component characterized natural vegetation adjacent to
the crop field, and assessed insect movement on transects bisecting the natural
vegetation and the crop field.
Each of these trials revealed both new needs for additional component
understanding, and the importance of other interactions. Overall weed
management problems and increased labor demands for strip management in
the strip cropping trial led to investigation of equipment modification for no-till
seeding of crop strips between habitats. Difficulties in assessing parasitism in
the flowering border trial led us to restrict our focus to only one of the
parasitoids, while adding a second sampling method in 1996. In the natural
vegetation trial, difficulties in locating marked insects led to research into
rearing methods.
These technical difficulties have on the one hand broadened the scope of the
research beyond pest-predator/parasitoid insect interactions, increasing the
number of biological interactions examined and adding labor and management
interactions. On the other hand, they have necessitated examining these


Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension






REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS, AND FARMER PARTICIPATION


interactions in smaller subsets, in order to deepen the knowledge and ultimate
mastery of each component playing a role in a given interaction.


CONCLUSIONS: TOWARDS A MORE SYNERGISTIC
RELATIONSHIP AMONG REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS, AND
FARMER PARTICIPATION

The results of two years of technical research suggest that reductionist research
and systems research are complementary rather than conflicting alternatives.
The testing of biological systems incorporating greater diversity has been
necessary to reveal which reductionist research is most needed. This has
conceptual parallels with the approach used by Atta-Krah and Francis (1986) to
develop agro-forestry systems in Nigeria. In that program, farmers weie left
free to try different combinations of agro-forestry components in their own
systems, which were then monitored to identify problems needing reductionist
component research.
Biological vegetable farmers typically produce a range of crops in small
parcels with high diversity using machinery, animal traction in some cases, and
considerable hand labor. They are thus more similar to farmers in the
developing world than large-scale North American farmers who use industrial
methods to produce monocrops on large pieces of land. It would be ideal to
study each biological farm as a whole, examining interactions among crops,
pests, beneficial insects, and natural vegetation, to develop a classification of
types (research domains).
After making such a classification, however, attempting to improve systems
would require specialized knowledge of a large number of pests and beneficial
insects. Yet, a given researcher often spends many years in acquiring
specialized knowledge, for example of a particular order of insects (Diptera), or'
even of a particular family within the order (Tachinadae). Thus, while systems
interactions can be used for classification and identification of research
problems, only a few research problems can be addressed in depth at a given
time. A complete specialized knowledge of all or most of the components of a
system not only exceeds the capability of the individual researcher, but it is
likely to exceed the capabilities of the institution as a whole.
Participatory approaches place high value on farmer knowledge. They are
based on the expectation that farmers have developed an intuitive
understanding of how complex, diverse systems function, and how they would
respond to change, that is superior to the understanding that models of their
systems built by scientists can provide. Because farmers are assumed to have
acquired valid empirical knowledge over the course of time and this knowledge
is not uniformly distributed among farmers, participatory approaches also
incorporate the position that solutions to farmers' problems are often found


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CALDWELL AND CHRISTIAN


from group analysis and sharing of individual knowledge. Bentley (1989) has
shown, however, that the validity of farmers' knowledge varies considerably
depending on the type of phenomenon described. Reductionist research is
needed to complement farmer knowledge precisely in these areas where
empirical approaches are inadequate.
A more synergistic approach to combining reductionism, systems
approaches, and farmer participation recognizes the different roles of each.
Improved systems depend first on improved components. Reductionism is
needed to understand components in ways that go beyond farmer empirical
knowledge. At the same time, reductionism can only be useful if it fits into
farmers' systems. Systems analysis and farmer participation are needed at the
start of any program to select topics for reductionist research, and systems
validation and tarmer participation are needed during and after reductionist
research to insure component fit and functioning. Farmer participation is
needed to develop and choose management components, and to assess how all
components function in the management system. Adoption of this perspective
acknowledges that farmers have an advantage in understanding how whole
systems work, and that this understanding is integral to an effective research
process.
In the North American institutional setting, the first criteria for the
evaluation of improved systems has been the validity of research on their
components. The work reported here indicates that such research is a necessary
but not sufficient criteria for the development of biological systems. The
performance of improved components needs to be assessed by farmers in terms
of the functioning of their entire system. Including on-farm research as the
sufficient step parallel with reductionist research can harness farmers'
assessment and integrating abilities to the application of the results of
reductionist research.


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REDUCTIONISM, SYSTEMS, AND FARMER PARTICIPATION 43


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(Hemiptera: Lygaeidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 84(2):408-416.
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Caldwell, J.S., J-P. Amirault, and AH. Christian. 1995. Insect pests, beneficial insects, and cover crops
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Caldwell, J.S. (technical editor) and L. Walecka (coordinating editor). 1987. Design techniques for
on-farm experimentation, FSR/E Training Units: Volume II. 2nd ed. Farming Systems Support
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Chambers, R. 1993. Methods for analysis by farmers: the professional challenge. Journal for Farming
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Grossman, J. 1993. Fighting insects with living mulches. The IPM Practitioner XV(10):1-8.
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Columbia, Missouri.
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Systems Research-Extension 3(2):131-145.
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on Systems-Oriented Research in Agriculture and Rural Development, Montpellier, France, 21-25
November 1994.
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of Kansas State University's 1981 Farming Systems Research Symposium Small Farms in a
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Development, Montpellier, France (summary of paper presented at the Symposium, 21-25
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Florida.


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INTEGRATING FSR INTO THE NATIONAL
EXTENSION SYSTEM: A CASE OF
BANGLADESH"

Indrajit Roy2

INTRODUCTION

Accelerating transfer of technology to farmers is one of the key elements in the
package of policies designed to achieving higher growth rates in agricultural
production in Bangladesh. In this context, the important parameter to judge the
relevance of farming systems research (FSR) would be the efficiency with
which it serves as an approach to technology transfer. The traditional transfer-
of-technology approach is biased against resource-poor farm families in the
sense that their technology needs are not only neglected but also they are
frequently overlooked as a group for receiving messages about technological
innovations. Besides, the existing approach is inadequate to take account of
diversity of land, soil, and climatic resources. This often results in
technological recommendations that are overly general and farmers often find
them inappropriate for solving their problems. Recognition of location-
specificity and greater relevance to farmers' socio-economic context are thus
two important features that make FSR unique as an approach to ensure that
technologies developed are demand-driven and client-oriented.
The proposition that FSR be incorporated into the country's mainstream
extension services is no longer debatable. But the practical approaches and
innovations in management required to foster a truly FSR perspective are yet to
be developed. The purpose of this paper is to identify the opportunities and
constraints in integrating the FSR approach into the national extension system.

BACKGROUND

Characteristics of FSR in Bangladesh
The FSR perspective in Bangladesh evolved through a decade-long
experience of working with a cropping systems research (CSR) approach. The
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) brought the scattered


1 Revised version of the paper presented at the 12th Annual Symposium of the
Association for Farming Systems Research-Extension. Michigan State
University, East Lansing, USA, September 13-18, 1992
2 Principal Scientific Officer, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council,
Farmgate, Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh


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efforts on FSR under one project titled the National Coordinated Farming
Systems Research Program which started in 1985-86. The program involved
six crop and non-crop research organizations of the national agricultural
research system (NARS) and the Bangladesh Agricultural University. In 1989
the program was renamed as the National Coordinated Farming Systems
Research and Development Program (NCFSRDP). Each component of the
program opened one or more FSR sites in specific agro-ecological zones of the
country. The site model was chosen to achieve a greater coherence in efforts to
conduct research in crop and non-crop components of the farming system. The
other purpose was to make use of the site to forge a close working relationship
between research and extension staff at the local level.
The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute's FSR program built on its
limited experience with on-farm client-oriented research (OFCOR). BARI's
OFCOR program had limitations it was strong in service function and
applied function which concerned mainly broad-scale on-farm testing,
screening, and evaluation of technologies developed on-station. But its
adaptive, feedback, and support functions were limited (Merrill-Sands 1989).
The adaptive research trials network of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute
(BRRI) provided a basis for embracing the FSRD approach. Other research
institutes incorporated FSR into the strong focus on their mandated
commodities. The outcome of these efforts was development of technologies
that had exclusive focus on specific farm components and tended to ignore the
inter-relationship among other components of the whole farm. But as the need
to link FSR with extension grows stronger, the research organizations mount
efforts to move toward a FSR program that pursues a holistic approach of
integrating commodities and searches for inter-dependencies.

Characteristics of extension in Bangladesh
The country's agricultural extension system involves both public and
private sector organizations. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE)
is the main public sector institution that provides extension services in crop
agriculture. There are several parastatals which provide extension services for
non-crop commodities, for example, fisheries, livestock, and forestry. Private
sector's involvement in technology transfer is mostly limited to rural extension
work conducted by non-government organizations (NGO).
The NGOs in their work focus mostly on marginal farmers, landless
laborers, and destitute women groups largely by-passed by the public sector
extension system. Such NGOs as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement
Committee, Proshika, Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), and Caritas
have action programs that promoted the use of minor irrigation equipment
(Biggs and Farrington 1991). The activities of another NGO the Mennonite
Central Committee encompass a farming system perspective that is reflected
in farmer participatory research for developing cropping systems for small and


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INTEGRATING FSR INTO THE NATIONAL SYSTEM BANGLADESH


marginal farmers (Graham and Buckland 1991). In the forestry sector, the
Village and Farm Forestry Project (VFFP) is the most notable non-government
institution in the country that promotes tree planting on privately owned
farmland and homesteads. The project supported by the Swiss Agency for
Development and Cooperation operates through 19 NGO partners who assist in
developing village-based and commercially run private nurseries (Hocking and
Roy 1996).
The T and V model was the dominant extension approach till the early
1990s. The system has been modified and the grass roots level extension staff
are now required to make contact with farmer groups rather than with
individual farmers. Apart from the formalized extension system DAE and other
extension parastatals conduct a large number of demonstrations with planning
and funding support from research institutes and several international funding
agencies.


APPROACHES TO INTEGRATE FSR AND EXTENSION

The approaches to integrate FSR with the mainstream extension system can be
broadly divided in two categories. The first one groups isolated and scattered
efforts on the part of research institutions to build a collaborative relationship
with the public sector extension organizations. The second one groups
modifications which extension organizations themselves bring about in their
working methods that allow an FSR perspective in conducting extension
activities. The former approach is an adhoc and project-tied activity through
which research institutes attempt to disseminate specific product of their FS
research by large-scale demonstrations and training making use of institutional
capacity of the public extension organizations. This approach is an adhoc one
because it exclusively depends on external funding and extension organizations
tend to treat them as activities not internal to them. The latter approach relies
on changes in philosophy and methods of organizing extension work, due in
part to the impact of the former approach, that are friendlier to internalizing
FSR in routine activities of mainstream extension organizations. Below we
present some case examples that illustrate the experience of the first approach:

Case 1. Homestead Vegetable Production Technology

The FSR team of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI)
developed this technology that envisages growing 14 vegetable crops in five
patterns round the year in a 6m x 6m plot at farmers' homesteads. The
technology was designed to achieve three-fold objectives: (1) to encourage farm
families, particularly marginal and small ones, to grow vegetables on their
homesteads for consumption and thus to cope with nutritional deficiency in


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vitamin A, C, calcium, -and iron; (2) to sell the marketable surplus for
additional cash income; and (3) to involve women and children in active
homestead labor.
The success of this technology package during four years of field testing
prompted BARC to initiate the homestead vegetable production program in the
winter season of 1989 in collaboration with the Department of the Agricultural
Extension System (DAE) and BARI. The program started with establishing
1000 homestead vegetable gardens and by 1993 the number of demonstrations
soared to 57,500 spread in 135 of the 465 Thana (sub-district) of Bangladesh. It
became possible to disseminate this technology to an estimated 2.1 million
farmers through demonstrations, field days and training. Because seed
availability was a major concern for the sustainability of the program, 2000
farmers were trained to produce and preserve vegetable seeds. The program had
a tremendous impact on farmers' intake of vegetables 66.4% of the vegetables
produced were consumed by the farmers, their neighbors and relatives and
33.6% were sold (Ahmed et al. 1991). Another estimate puts additional income
across the country through production of vegetables on homesteads at around
Taka 43 million (Stem 1993).

Case 2. Spaced Transplanting Technique (STP) of sugarcane

This technology envisages planting of pre-germinated cane seedlings raised
from single node stem material in place of the traditional "end-to-end" stem
cuttings (containing a minimum of three nodes). The STP has a comparative
edge over traditional methods of planting: it ensures optimum plant stand that
causes about two-fold increase in yield; it is cost-effective because it requires
less planting material and holds potential to create spin-off effect in rural agri-
business.
The Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute (BSRI) included STP in 1985
as trials under their FSR program. Since 1988-89, BARC started funding
demonstration and farmers' training program on STP in cooperation with DAE
and BSRI. In 1988-89, DAE set up six demonstration plots each on 0.40 ha
plots. In 1990-91 this figure rose to 335 covering 42 districts of the country.
The mean yields of sugarcane in demonstration plots were consistently high
ranging from 74.6 to 83.4 t/ha as against 50 t/ha obtained using traditional
planting method. BSRI conducted farmers' training on STP. During the period
from 1988/89 to 1990/91, they trained a total of 6000 cane growers.
The spread of this technology was quite rapid. From 251 hectares of land in
1988/89, this technology was expanded to cover 7626 ha of land in 1990/91
and about 10 thousand hectares by the end 1993 (Huda et al. 1992 and Stem
1993). For small-scale farmers, this technology offered the opportunity of
making extra money from selling cane seedlings raised in polybags. Most
important, however, is the generation of employment for women. In sugar mill-


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INTEGRATING FSR INTO THE NATIONAL SYSTEM BANGLADESH


zone areas under STP, women could earn US$ 0.79 a day for filling 1000
polybags with soil (BARC 1990).

Case 3. Fish Production Technology in ponds

Eight FSR sites incorporated fisheries as a component in their activities. In,
1990-91, BARC conducted a demonstration program on four fish production
technologies tested at these sites. Based on the initial results, BARC in 1992
initiated a large-scale technology transfer program through the Department of
Fisheries (the extension wing of the Fisheries sector) and NGOs. The
technologies included were: (a) fish culture in seasonal ponds, (b) polyculture
in perennial ponds, and (c) nursery pond management. Eight NGOs working in
14 districts were selected who established 165 demonstrations in perennial
ponds, 127 in seasonal ponds and 7 in nursery ponds. They trained a total of
1227 farmers. This training and demonstration program created a positive
impact on farmers' adoption of technologies. The trained farmers, on average,
motivated five persons who have adopted fish culture technologies in their
ponds using their own resources. This caused the level of their income to
increase by about 33% (Dewan et al. 1994).

LEARNING FROM THE EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST APPROACH

The major success of the first approach is perhaps the adoption of technologies
by farmers at a pace much faster than what is usually observed when
innovations are transmitted through the traditional extension system.
Additionally it provided an opportunity to draw lessons on the type of
institutional arrangements required to integrate inputs from FSR into the
mainstream extension services. First, innovations in building strong horizontal
linkages with different interest groups would be required. This is because lines
of responsibility are vertical within departments, and the authority of one
department does not usually extend to other departments and good linkage
would always depend on how the interested parties perceive it as being in their
interest to interact.
One good example is the institutional arrangement which BARC made for
transfer of HVP technology. These were (i) the technical advisory and
monitoring committee headed by the BARC's Member-Director (Crops), (ii)
the national task force convened by the Additional Director of DAE's Field
Services Division, (iii) the District coordination committee led by the Deputy
Director of DAE, and (iv) the Thana coordination committee led by the Thana
Agricultural Officer. These committees were formed with members drawn from
the various organizations: BARC, DAE, BARI, Bangladesh Agricultural
Development Cooperation, private agribusiness entrepreneurs, and NGOs.


Vol 6, No.2, 1996









The involvement of NGOs in transfer of technology proved to have an
additional benefit creation of employment opportunity for resource-poor farm
families. For example, a local NGO the Bangladesh Rural Advancement
Committee (BRAC) conducted demonstration and training on three
aquaculture technologies: polyculture of carps, culture of nilotica fish, and
culture of an introduced fish species, Thai Sharpunti. Many marginal farmers
and destitute women started using these technologies in their backyard ponds
and seasonal ditches which were suitable for culture of those fast-growing fish
species. This enabled them to earn a substantial cash income.
An important learning was the effectiveness of the District Technical
Committee (DTC) in facilitating transfer of technologies. The DTC was
conceived as an institutional framework to link agriculture research and
extension at the district level. This committee meets once a month and among
other responsibilities formulates extension recommendations and provides
feedback on farmers' problems. Much of the success in examples cited above
can be traced to good cooperation achieved at the DTC level. It has been
observed that where there was a BARI FSR team, DAE's Subject Matter
Specialists had a better appreciation of technological opportunities available for
small-scale farmers (Phillips et al. 1991).

MAJOR FEATURES OF THE SECOND APPROACH

Some important changes took place in the Department of Agricultural
Extension with launching of the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP)
in the early 1990s. These changes enabled DAE to institutionalize many
activities which were conducted on adhoc basis as mentioned in case examples.
The T and V model of extension which puts emphasis on training field-level
extension staff and their contact with individual farmers ceased to be DAE's
dominant method of organizing extension activities. The ASSP restructured the
extension approach based on five core principles: decentralization, targeting,
responsiveness to farmers' needs and working with farmers' groups rather than
with individual farmers. The homestead agricultural production component of
ASSP became an important institution for promoting FSR technologies, notably
homestead vegetable production through the NGOs.
Other non-crop extension organizations are also switching over to NGO-led
extension for promoting FSR technologies. For example, the Department of
Fisheries (DOF) under a European Union-supported project is now working
with 37 NGOs in 21 districts of the country to disseminate pond fish culture
technologies including those mentioned in case 3 above. Additionally, the
project focuses on organizing marginal farmers, group action and gender
dimension in creating income-earning opportunities. The new thinking on the
need to reorganize extension in line with basic principles of FSR was reflected


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INTEGRATINGFSR rNTO THE NATIONAL SYSTEM- BANGLADESH


in the New Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP) which the Government of
Bangladesh approved in 1996.
The key components of NAEP are: extension support to all categories of
farmers; efficient extension services; decentralization; demand-led extension;
working with groups of all kinds, strengthened extension-research linkage,
training of extension personnel, appropriate extension methodology; integrated
extension support to farmers; coordinated extension activities; and integrated
environmental support. The NAEP emphasizes the use of participatory methods
and techniques such as RRA, PRA, and problem census to identify farmers'
problems. One extension project titled Thana Cereal Technology Transfer and
Identification Project which DAE is currently implementing with support from
FAO has employed PRA. In order to forge a whole farm approach in
conducting extension work, the District Technical Committee has been
reorganized into the Agricultural Technical Committee (ATC) comprising
district-level representatives of not only crop-oriented but also non crop-related
extension organizations.

DISCUSSION

The successes and failures of the attempts to integrate FSR with the national
extension system should be seen in the context of institutional constraints in
accommodating basic principles of FSR. FSR promotes a wide range of
technological options in an understanding that the clientele would decide are
useful. It thus allows the farmer to make a choice among the alternatives on the
basis of criteria that most suit his or her circumstances, for example, net extra
cash income, profitability, access to markets, and access to credits, etc.
Traditionally, DAE and other public extension agencies attempt to make
decisions for farmers by providing them with prescriptions which should have
guaranteed returns rather than options which might be worth trying. While
doing so, they promote only those innovations which are approved, declared as
'mature', and deemed to be 'transferable' by a national-level Technical
Coordination Committee.
The process, therefore, misses an important link: it restricts farmers' access
to technical information, limits their ability to innovate with technical
knowledge at different levels of development, and, above all, does not recognize
their ability to make decision for themselves. The preference of public
extension organizations for standard prescriptions was amply reflected in
DAE's acceptance of only 5 technologies for dissemination to farmers out of
100 presented in a national workshop on FSR which BARC organized in 1989.
These technologies were generated through FSR and on-farm research but most
of them were not approved as 'mature' by the Technical Coordination
Committee.


Vol 6, No.2, 1996









More recently, there are, however, signs of change in public extension
agencies that came along with institutional reforms and the Government's
commitment to implementing the New Agricultural Extension Policy. These
changes are shaping the contours of an institutional framework conducive to
working with farmers of different resource endowments, with technical
information of varying levels of 'maturity' and more autonomy for local bodies
to pick up research results and suggest location-specific recommendations.

CONCLUSION

The opportunities and constraints of integrating FSR into the national
extension system have been explored. Earlier attempts to transfer FSR
technologies were isolated and scattered and relied more on building linkages
and working mechanisms of an adhoc nature. This mechanism worked and
indeed led to many valuable learning experiences. But it was not sustainable
since these activities were not looked upon as internal by the public extension
agencies. Despite this limitation, the experiences gained through the
technology transfer programs set the stage for institutional changes that favor
diffusion of FSR technologies. One example of an institutional change that
reflects the moving of the concept of FSR from commodity level to policy level
is the replacement of the District Technical Committee by the Agricultural
Technical Committee. The more recent experiences of transferring FSR
technologies build on the elements of sustainability that stem from the
institutional reforms in public extension organizations which allow them to
internalize the philosophy and activities related to the transfer of FSR
technologies.

REFERENCES

Ahmed, M.,M. Hossain, and A.K.M.A. Gaffar. 1991. Evaluation report of the project on demonstration
of imported technologies of sugarcane cultivation implemented by the Department of Agricultural
Extension, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council.
BARC. 1990. Transplant techniques promises sweet future for Bangladeshi sugarcane growers.
Farming Systems Agribusiness Newsletter, 1(3): 1-3.
Biggs, S. and Farrington J. 1991. Agricultural research and the rural poor: A review of social science
analysis. Ottawa: IDRC, 139p.
Dewan, S., Alam F. and A. Awal. 1994. Evaluation report on transfer of fish culture technologies
through demonstration by NGOs, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council.
Graham, P and J. Brickland. 1991. Challenges and opportunities of govemment-NGO collaboration in
agricultural research and extension: The experience of Mennonite Central Committee in
Bangladesh, 1973-1990. Bangladesh Journal ofExtension Education 6: 118-141.
Huda, M.S., M.A. Quddus, and M.S. Ahmed. 1992. Evaluation report on impact of demonstration and
on STP training of sugarcane. Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Hocking, D. and Indrajit Roy. 1996. Village and Farm Forestry Project, Mission Report: Action
Research Planning for VFFP phase 5. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Dhaka and
Berne.


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INTEGRATING FSR INTO THE NATIONAL SYSTEM BANGLADESH


Merrill-Sands and J. McAllister. 1988. Strengthening the integration of on-farm client-oriented research
and experiment station research in national agricultural research systems (NARS): Management
lessons from nine country case studies. International Service for National Agricultural Research.
66p.
Phillips, J.C., Miah, H., Yeshewalul, A. and Bartlett, A.P. 1991. Report of the ex-post evaluation
mission: Strengthening the Agricultural Extension Services (BGD/79/034), February-March,
Bangladesh.
Stem, C. 1993. Final Report ARP II (S), Checchi and Company Consulting Inc., BACC/USAID/Dhaka.


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APPLYING FARMING AND REGIONAL
SYSTEMS APPROACHES
FOR SUSTAINABLE WOOD ENERGY
RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:
A CASE OF NORTHERN THAILAND1


S. Praneetvatakul2 and W. Doppler3


ABSTRACT


Wood is an important source of rural energy in many
developing countries. The rapidly declining forests have
reduced wood energy supply, consequently, the negative
environmental and economic impacts occurred. This problem
requires a wider approach and solutions which cope with the
specific needs of the region, country, community, village and
people involved. Therefore, farming and regional systems
approaches are applied. In conclusion, for the families to
avoid wood energy shortages, using a more efficient
woodstove and growing trees on farmland could help to
reduce demand and to increase supply of wood. For the
region, in order to avoid over-harvesting of wood from
natural forests and to make wood a viable and sustainable
energy resource, the policy makers should focus activities on
(1) subsidising local stove industries in the initial phase to
make more efficient woodstoves more available and cheaper
for the family; (2) enhancing rural job opportunities to
increase family income making the substitution of modem
energy possible; (3) encouraging multipurpose-tree
plantations on farm lands and woodlot plantations for rural
industries; (4) promoting community forests by providing the

SThis paper was presented at the AFSRE Symposium in Sri Lanka in
November of 1996.
2 Lecturer, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Faculty of
Economics, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand.
3 Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the
Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany.


VoL 6, No.2, 1996






PRANEETVATAKUL AND DOPPLER


village community with real authority to manage their forests;
and (5) implementing successful afforestation, particularly in
taking care of the trees after planting.

INTRODUCTION AND PROBLEM STATEMENT

The rapid decline of forest resources obviously occurs in many developing
countries in Asia as well as in Northern Thailand. This leads to a decrease in
wood energy supply of Northern Thailand. In other regions of Thailand, most
rural Thai households obtained firewood and charcoal from their own lands but
the northern region was an exception. Here the source of wood energy comes
primarily from forests (Department of Energy Affairs, 1992). The declining of
forests results in a reduction of wood energy supply while the consumption of
wood energy still shows an increase in quantity although the rate of increase
was not great. This has widened the gap between sustainable supply and actual
consumption of wood energy in Northern Thailand. Consequently, economic
losses and environmental impacts occur to family-household and the region.
Since wood is and will remain an important energy source for rural Thai people
in the future for at least the next two decades (Sabhasri and Wibulswas, 1992),
strategies to make wood a viable and sustainable energy source for northern
Thai people is vital (FAO, 1993). This will certainly contribute to improving
the environment as well as the standard living of people. However, little has
been done to examine the solutions to this problem from the perspective of
family-household and from a holistic view.

Objectives
This paper intended to identify the potential improvements of wood energy
resources by considering the preference from a family-household viewpoint.
Furthermore, future impact- of improved wood energy strategies will be
examined on farm and family incomes as well as on social costs.
Conceptual Framework
Farming and regional systems approach4 can be used as an appropriate
approach to improve the present wood energy situation. Doppler (1994) defines
this concept as:

SFarming systems approach: at micro level, the decisions for all activities
in the farm, family and household are considered and accomplished as a

4 Farming and regional systems approach is a holistic and behavioral approach
which can be applied in farming related or rural development projects. It
provides the philosophy, the concept and the strategy for developing and
introducing solutions to problems at farm-family-household and regional levels
(DOPPLER, 1991).


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension






FARMING AND REGIONAL SYSTEMS APPROACHES


system. This includes the following ideas: (1) the complexity of the real
world is increasingly considered, (2) dynamic and sustainable views are
essential, (3) objectives and decisions of families are involved, and (4)
participation of target groups in problem solving are included.
Village systems approach: at the village level, the important elements
are (1) the living standard of individual families, including non-farming
families, and (2) common village resources including physical, socio-
economic and social structure regarding their change and investment
need.
Regional and rural systems approach: at the regional level, a complex
idea is developed by considering physical, economic, social,
administrative and cultural points of view. This approach is comprised
of (1) the decision-making of families, villages and regions, (2) all
relevant resources, and (3) a wide range of different disciplines.


The research followed the farming and regional systems approaches of
Doppler (1994) by collecting the information at micro, village and regional
levels (Figure. 1). Resources, innovations and solutions to problems are also
included. Then two sources of data: secondary and primary data were collected.
Data bank from questionnaires were designed. Finally, statistical analysis was
done for example descriptive statistics, correlation, regression and linear
programming.

STUDY AREA

In order to obtain the appropriate information on wood energy resources in
Northern Thailand, Phayao province was selected as the study area (Figure 2)
Since the availability and use of energy differed for each family depending on
their location, their access to energy and the availability of energy, three main
groups of families in the study area were classified:
1) The first class is entitled "rural forest families". They are the families
located in or nearby the mountain forests. Along with some agricultural activity
they are the main producers of wood energy and have easy access to the wood
from the forest for their own energy needs.
2) The second class is called "rural agricultural families". They are the
families located in the plains area. They are mainly agriculturists and therefore
have many agricultural residues as an alternative energy to wood fuel.


Vol 6, No.2, 1996








58 PRANEETVATAKUL AND DOPPLER


Figure 1: Procedure of applying micro, village and regional systems
approach (Source: Doppler, 1944)










collection ofinformation


village micro level
level (farming and
non-farming
families)


environment innovations
and resources and solutions
to problems
I I


data bank


classification


village farm- non-farm job
systems household enterprises employment
systems

~^-----


resource analysis of analysis of
village in systems non-farming
frastructures analysis families


analysis of village
livelihood systems

gional
analysis
_________________


simulation of future development
and testing strategies


regional village
impact impact
analysis analysis


innovations


changes in physical,
economic, social,
farming non-farming organizational, admin-
systems systems istrative and political
impact impact environment
analysis analysis


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension


regional
level


ional
sources
a /sis


reg
res
an,







re
an


determination
of failure
and success







FARMING AND REGIONAL SYSTEMS APPROACHES


3) The third class is named "urban families". They are the families living
in the municipal and sanitary areas in Muang and Dokkamtai districts and had
ready access to modem energy supplies (petroleum products and electricity).

A survey of these three groups of families was done in 1993. Sixty families
per class were interviewed, in total 180 samples.

Figure 2: Study area, Phayao province, Northern Thailand


Vol 6, No.2, 1996


Map of Thailand


Study area:
Muang and Dokkamtai districts


SUrban families

+ Rural agriculture

4 Rural forest fan

Phayao Lake


I---i
0 km
10 km


1






PRANEETVATAKUL AND DOPPLER


RESULTS

1. Socio-Economic Data and the Standard of Living of the Families
The standard of living of the families in the study area was generally
satisfactory. The supply situation of food, health, water and housing was, in
general, sufficient for rural forest, agricultural and urban families. However,
there were common problems in all families in terms of family resources
deterioration, for instances, degradation of soil fertility on farm land, poor
management on and lack of irrigation water systems for agriculture and
unemployment during slack periods of cultivation. In terms of economic
success of the families, due to the rice blast disease in 1992/93, the rice yield
was exceptionally low resulting in negative farm incomes. Consequently, off-
farm income played an important role in this year. The average family income
of all families reached a minimum income to satisfy the basic requirements.
This minimum income requirement of a family (the poverty line) is understood
as the amount of income required for basic needs. However, shortages of cash
occurred almost throughout whole year for rural forest families and some
periods for rural agricultural families.

2. Household energy consumption and production
Firewood and charcoal, mainly from forests, were the main source of home-
produced energy for household energy requirement of rural forest and
agricultural families for which they did not need cash to purchase. This implies
that moving from home produced energy to the modem energy sources would
require cash. This would be difficult where the shortages of cash still occur
throughout the year. Modem energy (petroleum products and electricity) was
the main source for urban families and wood played a minor role here. Based
on an aggregated calculation between sustainable supply and actual
consumption of wood energy in Phayao province, over-harvesting of wood
energy from forests occurred resulting in a non-sustainable use of wood energy
resource. This non-sustainable use (the gap between actual consumption and
sustainable supply) equals to the amount of rice which could satisfy about half
of the total population in the province a year. This loss could be saved by
improving the wood energy situation.

3. Economic and environmental impacts of non-sustainable wood energy
use
Economic and environmental impacts of non-sustainable use of wood
energy resources are substantial. This has resulted in an increase of wood
scarcity and prolonging the distance from house to the place of wood collection.
Consequently, the labour requirement for wood gathering increased and less
labour is available for farming. In addition, if wood supply becomes sufficiently
scarce to the point where petroleum product substitutes become cheaper, cash of


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FARMING AND REGIONAL SYSTEMS APPROACHES


the family will be increasingly required to pay for market fuel instead of home
produced energy. As a result, the poor families will need to reduce cooking
time or the number of cooked meals which would reduce their nutritional and
health levels because of infrequent meals, undercooked food and changes in
dietary pattern (Meier and Munasinghe, 1987). This has a direct impact on the
standard of living and the labour force of the families. Since cash and labour
are very important resources in farming, this would also affect the development
of farming systems.
The over-harvesting of wood energy creates serious environmental impacts
on the region. For instance, excessive pruning of the branches will reduce a
tree's capacity for growth; removal of the more easily felled younger trees will
reduce the regenerative ability of the forest; excessive opening of the canopy
through the removal of too many trees will make the forest susceptible to
damage from wind and sun and affect wildlife; the removal of all residues, even
to the point in some areas of sweeping up the leaves, will remove the nutrients
that should return to the soil to maintain its fertility; removal of stumps, bushes
and shrubs will destroy much of what remains of the soil's protective cover and
binding structure; and eventually, the whole forest will be felled and disappear
(El-Hinnawi and Biswa, 1981).

4. Potential improvements of wood energy resources
There are two main potential. improvements of the present non-sustainable
wood energy resources in Northern Thailand.

1) reducing wood energy consumption through:

1.1 shifting to modern energy such as Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG)
Shifting to LPG use was not preferred by most of the wood respondents,
especially to rural forest families (Table 1). The main reason against shifting to
LPG in the near future was that LPG is unaffordable as more cash is involved
and must be continually available. A second reason was the fear of LPG
explosions. The use of LPG requires some knowledge and management and the
villages often heard about gas explosion. For them, wood energy is the safest
fuel for cooking. This indicates a high preference for wood and an unnecessary
policy to subsidise LPG. However, some respondents would like to try LPG if
they earn higher income. This is due to the reasons of convenience, cleanliness
and increase in a shortage of wood. Therefore, a strategy to increase family
income would make LPG possible to substitute for wood.

1.2 improved cooking devices such as introducing more efficient
woodstoves
More efficient woodstoves were rarely employed in the study area since
normal woodstoves (Anglo) are cheap and easy to buy from the market. These


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PRANEETVATAKUL AND DOPPLER


more efficient woodstoves, however, have many advantages over normal
woodstoves such as saving wood quantity due to complete combustion
(Voravech, 1992) and many benefits to individual such as saving cooking time
and less smoke and to society such as reducing the wood energy shortage and
environmental impact. If more efficient woodstoves are cheap and easy to buy
from the market, the respondents are willing to use them. So, the introduction
of more efficient wood stoves could help to reduce the demand for wood energy.

1.3 introducing alternative energies such as biogas
There was no respondent in the samples who utilised biogas. When asked
about biogas, some respondents refused to apply biogas due to an unclear
understanding of biogas and some did not know about biogas at all. Those with
a better income status such as village heads, however, reported a desire to use
biogas. Since biogas provides several advantages not only to the environment
but also to household use in terms of cleanliness and faster cooking
(Bumronggittikul et. al., 1993), information distribution of biogas technology
on the village level is important. This must be improved to make biogas
possible as an alternative energy to wood.

2) increasing wood energy supply through;

2.1 reforestation
Since the reforestation program has been implemented, the forest areas in
Thailand are, in fact, still decreasing. The contribution of reforestation to wood
energy is actually low. However, the development of reforestation is still
required since most respondents felt that reforestation is the best solution to the
wood energy problem. A successful reforestation effort is crucial. This could be
achieved through both private and government agencies; involving villagers is
particularly vital throughout the process (Flaherty and Filipchuk, 1993).
2.2 community forests
Community forest practices are based on the villagers' knowledge of local
ecosystems. Unfortunately, this knowledge has never been accepted or valued
by state organizations (Chantawong et. al., 1992, p. 156). For instance, Ban
Hau Kaew Luang community forest in Phayao province faced the problem of
the overuse of charcoal and firewood from the forest by other nearby villages.
The local community had no real power or law to protect the forest and there
was no real support from the government. Nonetheless, theoretically
community forests have great potential to improve the present wood energy


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FARMING AND REGIONAL SYSTEMS APPROACHES


Table 1: Opinions of wood energy respondents on a future change
from using wood energy to Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), the three
family groups, Phayao province, Northern Thailand, 1992/93

Rural Rural Urban All
Items forest agric. fams. fams.
fams. families
n=45 n=38 n=6 n=89
% of families not wanting to change 70 55 50 62
to LPG in the future
Reasons (%)
-LPG is dangerous and wood 22.6 4.8 0 14.5
energy is safer 58.1 81 66.7 67.3
-no money to change to LPG
-no problem with wood energy 3.2 9.5 0 5.5
gathering
-convenience and familiar with 9.7 4.8 33.3 9.1
wood energy use
-wood energy is important for 6.5 0 0 3.6
grilling

% of families wanting to introduce
LPG in the future 30 45 50 38
Reasons (%)
-convenient and clean 50 47.1 66.7 50
-shortage of wood energy 35.7 29.4 33.3 32.3
-lack of labour for wood collection 0 11.8 0 5.9
-time savings 14.3 11.8 0 11.8


situation if real authority is given to the village community to manage and take
care the forest, as recommended by several studies (Leepreecha, Thongdeeloed
and Benjavittayatham, 1991 and Chantawong, et. al., 1992). Extension and
promotion of the concept of community forests is needed for both state officers
and villagers.


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PRANEETVATAKUL AND DOPPLER


2.3 Agroforestry, particularly an introduction of trees to farming systems

Agroforestry, in its many forms, has the potential of making vital
contributions to solving wood energy problems. For instance, the introduction
of multipurpose tree species to farming can be considered. McGranahan (1991,
p. 1284), studied the case of Java and Indonesia, found that agroforestry
functioned well to maintain sustainable wood energy use. Java is widely known
for its productive household agroforestry, which provides rural cultivators with
most of their fuelwood and other forest products. As a result, only a minority of
forest dwellers were-affected by the decline in forest foraging. In addition,
Clarke and Shrestha (1989b, p. 50) suggested that growing trees together with
food crops on a farmland offers great potential for balancing the growing
scarcity of woodfuels in rural areas. Furthermore, Soussan, O'Keefe and
Mercer (1992) suggested that localised fuelwood problems and policy issues
can be addressed through managing natural woodland areas and encouraging
multi-purpose tree cultivation on farm-land, since the farmers' appreciation of
tree species was strongly related to agricultural issues. Based on interview
results, Tamarind and Longhand were ranked first by the farmers in the study
area as good multipurpose trees for wood energy. In the light of this finding,
the introduction of fruit trees such as Tamarind and Longhand are suggested to
increase wood energy supply source for household energy requirement in the
future

5. Future impacts of improved wood energy strategies
Doppler (1994) stated, "Analyses of the development of the systems, the
development of solutions to problems, the modelling and measuring of future
impacts of changes require the combination and integration of approaches and
methods developed at various levels ... at farm/household, village and regional
levels." Since there is often a difference between the family-household and
regional needs, this may lead to conflicts related to resource use. Therefore, two
models are developed: the family and regional models. The social costs are not
considered at any level of wood energy use in the family model (with social
costs). However, social costs arising from non-sustainable use of wood energy
from forest resources are costs to the region. These costs are then included in
the regional model.
The results of the future impact analysis of the selected strategies to
improve wood energy at the family (without social costs) and regional levels
(with social costs) are summarised as follows:
There is a difference in family income between the family models
(without social costs) and the regional model (with social costs). The
income per family of rural forest, agricultural and urban families is
reduced when social costs are taken into consideration. This income


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FARMING AND REGIONAL SYSTEMS APPROACHES


reduction per family equals the value of the amount of paddy rice needed
to supply a person for a year.
The introduction of a more efficient woodstove to the family-household
will have impact on reducing wood consumption by 30% and slightly
increasing the farm and family incomes of rural forest, rural agricultural
and urban families. At the regional level, more than 50% of total social
costs will be saved, and total regional incomes as well as average income
per family will increase. Comparing the regional and family models,
family income increased more in the regional than in the family model,
even for urban families. This suggests that the introduction of more
efficient woodstoves will provide benefits not only for the users but also
for everyone in the society.
The introduction of fruit trees to farming will have an impact on
significantly decreasing wood energy collection from outside the farm
and also greatly reducing total energy expenses. Accordingly, farm and
family incomes will rise. On the regional level, wood gathering from
forest resources will be reduced by more than 50%. Social costs to the
region will be completely eliminated and total regional incomes and the
average income per family will increase. The difference in family
income between the regional (with social costs) and family models
(without social costs) indicates that the introduction of fruit trees to
farming will be beneficial even for the non-farming sector.
Decreasing LPG prices will not contribute to wood savings unless large
reductions in LPG prices (more than 75%) are considered. This
underlines the high level of stability and preference for firewood and
charcoal.
Without any improvements, the social costs in the next decade will rise
and the amount of sustainable supply will be reduced. Any measures that
increase the wood supply of I kg at a cost of less than 5.18 Baht in 1998
or less than 6.61 Baht in 2003 will be highly beneficial to the region.





CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS

In conclusion, wood will remain the major source of rural energy in Northern
Thailand. Since wood comes primarily from forests, the rapidly declining
forests in Northern Thailand have reduced the wood energy supply resulting in
the negative environmental and economic impacts to the region.
Recommendations to improve this situation are:


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PRANEETVATAKUL AND DOPPLER


1. For the family. In order to avoid wood energy shortages, the family
should introduce



*a more efficient woodstove to reduce the amount of wood required;
multipurpose tree plantings, such as fruit trees, on farm lands to increase
the supply of wood.


2. For the region. In order to avoid the over-harvesting of wood from forests
and to make wood energy a viable and sustainable resource, the regional policy
makers should focus activities on



esubsidising local stove industries in the initial phase to make more
efficient woodstoves more available and cheaper for the family;
*enhancing rural job opportunities to increase the family income making
the substitution of modern energy possible;
*encouraging multipurpose-tree plantations on farm lands and woodlot
plantations for rural industries, such as tobacco curling industries, through seed
subsidies;
*promoting community forests by providing the village community with
real authority to manage and take care of their forests;
*implementing successful afforestation, particularly in taking care of the
trees after planting.


REFERENCES

CHANTAWONG, M. and et al. (1992). People and Forests of Thailand, In: LEUNGARAMSRI, P.
and RAJESH, N. (ed.), The Future of People and Forests in Thailand After the Logging Ban,
Project for Ecological Recovery, Thailand, pp. 151-196.
CLARKE, H.R. and R.M. SHRESTHA (1989b). Traditional Energy Programs with an open Access
Forest Resource: Policy Implications, Energy Journal, Vol. 10, Iss. 4, pp.45-57.
Department of Energy Affairs (1992). The study on rural household energy consumption in Thailand,
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Thailand (in Thai).
DOPPLER, W. (1991). Landwirtschaftliche Betriebs system in den Tropen und Subtropen, Eugen
Ulmer GmbH & Co., Germany.
DOPPLER, W. (1994). The Role of Quantitative methods in Integrating farming village and regional
systems approaches, a paper presented in International Symposium on Systems-Oriented Research
in Agriculture and Rural Development, on 21-25 November 1994, in Montpellier, France.
DUMRONGGITTIKUL, P. and et al. (1993). Environmental Aspects of Biogas Technology in
Thailand, a paper of Thai-German Biogas Programme, Northern Regional Agricultural Extension
Office, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
EL-HINNAWI, E. and A.K. BISWAS (1981). Renewable Sources of Energy and the Environment,
Natural Resources and Environment, Vol. 6, pp. 191-197.


Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension







FARMING AND REGIONAL SYSTEMS APPROACHES


FAO (1993). Wood energy development: Planning, Policies and Strategies, vol. I, Report on the
RWEDP Regional Meetings on Wood energy planning and policies, Field Document No. 37a.
FLAHERTY, M.S. and V.R. FILIPCHUK (1993). Forest Management in Northern Thailand: a Rural
Thai Perspective, Geoforum, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 263-275.
LEEPREECHA, P., C. THONGDEELOED and S. BENJAVITTAYATHAM (1991). Basic data on
forest resource in the upper northern Thailand, in collaboration between the upper northern region
NGO and Chiang Mai University, Thailand.
McGRANAHAN, G. (1991). Fuelwood Subsistence Foraging and the Decline of Common Property,
World Development, Vol. 19, No. 10, pp. 1275-1287.
MEIER, P. and M. MUNASINGHE (1987). Implementing a practical Fuelwood Conservation Policy
the case of Sri Lanka, Energy Policy, April 1987, pp. 12-134, 1987.
OFFICE OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OF PHAYAO PROVINCE (1993). Table of Basic
Need of families in Thailand, unpublished document, Office of Community Development of
Phayao province, Phayao province, Thailand, (in Thai).
SABHASRI, S. and P. WIBULSAWAS (1992). Thai energy sources and related environmental issues,
Energy Policy, Vol. 20, No. 6, pp. 522-532.
SOUSSAN, J., P. O'KEEFE and D.E. MERCER (1992). Finding local answers to Fuelwood Problems,
Atypological approach, Natural Resources Forum, Vol. 16 (2), pp. 91-101.
VORAVECH, P. (1992). The study of the high efficient improved stoves at Tau Tae village, a paper
presented in seminar on 23-24 March 1992, at Center of Community Forest in Asia and Pacific
Regions, K.U., Bangkok, Thailand.


VoL 6, No.2, 1996












CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS
THINKING TO
FARM SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION'

T. E. Kleynhans2


ABSTRACT


Dissatisfaction with inappropriate solutions to complex
problems lead to the development of systems thinking and
systems applications in various fields, including agriculture.
An overview of the evolution of systems thinking and systems
applications is given. A systems awareness in itself provides
no magic solution to complex problems. Inappropriate
conceptualization of a social system such as a farm system
will prevent effective cooperation among members of a
multidisciplinary team assisting farmers. Inappropriate
understanding of a system will also cause scientists to forget
that the system itself is part of a larger system, thus ignoring
the significant effect of non-farm earnings and the multiple
goals of the farm household. This can lead to ineffective
extension. An inappropriate conceptualization of the farm
system also does not provide for a more radical change in the
goals and structure of the farm system. Systems thinking
does however provide interactive management methodology
for more radical changes.

INTRODUCTION

Farm systems research and extension (FSR-E) was introduced into research
and extension services as a means to improve the technology generation and
dissemination process for small holder farmers (Anandajayasekeram, 1995).
The shortcomings of the conventional research and extension procedures can be
ascribed to a monodisciplinary approach which tries to explain complex

SThis paper was presented at the AFSRE Symposium in Sri Lanka in
*November of 1996.
2 Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Stellenbosch, 7600,
South Africa.


Vol 6, No.2, 1996






T. E. KLEYNHANS


phenomena in terms of simplistic, single cause-effect relations. This modus
operandi assumes that the farmer's goal is given and the manipulation of the
single cause (eg. more efficient input use or credit availability) is necessary and
sufficient to accomplish the given goal. Inappropriate technology not fitting
the variety of requirements of a complete environment and therefore low
adoption rates is symptomatic of this approach. Dissatisfaction with
inappropriate solutions to complex problems was not unique to agriculture as
the development of systems thinking and systems applications in other fields
indicate. As a starting point, this paper provides an overview of the evolution
of systems thinking and systems applications. This framework suggests that a
systems awareness in itself provides no magic solution to complex problems.
Inappropriate conceptualization of a social system such as a farm system will
prevent effective cooperation among members of a multidisciplinary team
assisting farmers.
A second effect of such an inappropriate understanding of a system is that
scientists concentrate so much on the integrated nature of the components of a
system that they tend to forget that the system itself is part of a larger system.
Conceptualizing the farm system as if it exists in isolation and ignoring the
significant effect of non-farm earnings and the multiple goals of the farm
household can lead to ineffective extension.
A third effect of an inappropriate conceptualization of the farm system is
that it does not provide for a more radical change in the goals and structure of
the farm system. A common feature of systems is their rigidity and resistance
to change due to the integratedness of the components. Realizing this rigidity
leads to the warning that FSR-E is not a quick fix or panacea for agricultural
development and that not more than tinkering to the farm system can be
expected (Shumba, 1996). Systems thinking does however provide a
methodology for more radical changes. Interactive management which
developed out of social systems thinking provides guidelines for development of
new goals and new structures. Interactive management provides opportunities
for FSR-E to progress beyond revealing client's existing needs and desires
which are systemically linked to existing farming patterns.

EVOLUTION OF SYSTEMS THINKING

Aristotle declared more than 2,300 years ago that the whole is more than
the mere sum of its parts. Jan Smuts, former Prime Minister of South Africa
and philosopher who established the term holism, contributed to the
formalization of systems thinking in the 1920's (Smuts, 1926). Various efforts
the past 50 years made powerful contribution to the tradition of science.


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CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING


Today the systems movement consists of contributions from various
problem fields which all use the term "system". The biologist Bertalanffy
promoted the use of the term "system" in the 1940's. Together with the
economist Boulding (1960, 1969), the physiologist Gerard and the
mathematician Rapoport (1954), General Systems Theory (GST) was
developed. GST offered a meta-methodology of holism which aspired to
embrace different sciences by discovering concepts, laws and models applicable
to systems of all types. GST was an ambitious attempt to establish systems
thinking as an independent discipline because it argued that systems were
worthy of study in their own right, even though the nature of the elements
making them up (mechanical, biological, human) differed. It is crucial to note,
however, that GST's claimed "generality" of approach usually embodied
biological analogies (Lane & Jackson, 1995). Refer to Waelchli (1992) for a
discussion of GST theses.
The shortcoming of the earlier approaches in systems thinking was that the
beneficial use of systems ideas in specific fields of application showed greater
progress than the development of an overarching theory. The difference
between systems thinking in general and applications in various problem fields
is explained with a schematic outline of activities within the systems movement
(refer to Figure 1).
The first distinction drawn in Figure 1 is between the development of
systems thinking as such, for example cybernetics (2.1) and the application of
systems thinking in existing disciplines like geography (2.2). Within systems
thinking, a distinction is. made between the development of systems ideas and
their mutual relationships, like general systems theory (3.1) and problem
solving applications of system ideas (3.2). The latter can be subdivided
between "hard" systems applications such as systems engineering (4.1), the
use of systems ideas as decision making aids like operations research (4.2) and
"social" or "soft" systems applications on weakly structured problems (4.3)
(Checkland, 1981).
Lane and Jackson (1995) identified two more recent streams in systems
thinking: firstly, emancipatory systems thinking which deals with ways in
which systems approaches can be used in coercive situations to assist less
powerful groups; secondly, critical systems thinking which bases itself on
critical reflection and social awareness on complementarism and on ethical
commitment. FSR-E can best be placed under "the application of systems
thinking in existing disciplines like geography (2.2).


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T. E. KLEYNHANS


How the diagram is built up:
,3.1 Theoretical development
S21 Studyoy 4_-//
1.The systems Ideas
systems 3.2 Problem-solving
movement 2.2 Application in development
other disciplines In real-world problems


4.1 Work In 'hard' systems
(engineering systems
and problem solving)
4.2 Work n 'soft'systems
j (human systems)
4.3 Aid to decision-making


FIGURE 1: THE SHAPE OF THE SYSTEMS MOVEMENT (Arrows indicate major influences)

SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM CHECKLAND, P. (191) SYSTEMS THINKING, SYSTEMS PRACTICE.
JOHN WILEY & SONS, NEW YORK, P. 96.


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CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING


DISTINCTION BETWEEN VARIOUS SYSTEM MODELS

The evolution of systems thinking shows the development of more
appropriate and powerful models as intellectual tools to understand complex
social phenomena. Traditionally, two types of models have been used to
understand these phenomena, namely mechanistic and organismic models. But
in a world of accelerating changes, increasing uncertainty and growing
complexity, these models are inadequate as guides to planning and decision
making. Commonly prescribed remedies, inter alia a technological technofix,
are increasingly ineffective and often make things worse, indicating that
something is fundamentally wrong with the way we think about social systems.
Holism or a systems awareness which emphasizes the presence of a variety of
components and their interratedness is in itself not sufficient to understand
complex systems.
Soft systems methodology does not assume that the problem is one of
rational choice. The conventional management science models problem
solving as a goal-orientated decision process with the crux of the problem being
to identify and evaluate ways of achieving fixed and desired goals within the
particular problem context. Soft systems methodology assumes that the
designation of the problem situation, the definition of the problem, and the
possible goals to be achieved are all problematic elements in themselves
(Ledington, 1992).
Social systems thinking provides a typology of systems which enables one to
judge the appropriateness of a system model to understand a specific kind of
phenomenon. Conceptualizations of mechanistic, organismic and social
systems are compared below.

The mechanistic model

Mechanistic models of the world conceptualize it as a machine that works
with a regularity dictated by its internal structure and the causal laws of nature.
The world, like a hermetically sealed clock, is taken to be made up of
purposeless and passive parts that operate predictably. Any deviation from
regularity is reacted to with changes that restore it; the system is believed to
tend in the long run toward a static equilibrium.
This type of model is based on two assumptions: the world can be
completely understood and such understanding can be obtained by analysis.
Analysis is a three-step thought process. First, it takes apart that which it seeks
to understand. Then it attempts to explain the behavior of the parts taken
separately. Finally, it tries to aggregate understanding of the parts into an
explanation of the whole, according to the doctrine of reductionism.


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T. E. KLEYNHANS


An understanding of the whole requires establishing a relationship between
the parts. The relationship is cause-effect assumed to be sufficient to explain
all actions and interactions of the parts. One thing is taken to be the cause of
another if it is both necessary and sufficient for the other. As identification of
causes provides complete explanations of their effects, the environment is not
required to explain anything. This environment-free concept of explanation
assumes the environment to be static and that the system can operate-as a
closed system.
Organizations are taken to be instruments of their owners with members
labourerss and managers) with no purpose of their own. Mechanistically
modeled organizations are structured hierarchically and are centrally controlled
by a complete autonomous authority.
The operations of an ideal machine do not vary. Therefore, as long as its
input does not vary, its output won't. The result is that controllers (and
supporters) of a mechanistically modeled social system focus on inputs rather
than outputs.
The implications for researchers and extension officers conceiving social
systems mechanistically is that they diagnose problems in a simplistic way and
regard some or other input e.g. a technological device as necessary and
sufficient for the efficient operation of the farm. The fallacy of this
inappropriate model is that researchers and extension officers easily accept the
goal of the farm system as given and project their supply driven goal onto the
farm situation. The reason for low adoption rates of technology is seen as
irrationality on behalf of the farmer.

The Organismic model

A social system conceptualized as an organism has a purpose of its own:
survival for which growth is taken to be essential. Such a system is assumed to
be dependent on its environment for essential inputs (resources). In a changing
environment the system must be capable of learning and adaptating in order to
survive. In contrast with a mechanistic model, the organismic model seeks a
dynamic equilibrium. In order to adapt, planning becomes prediction of
environmental changes and preparation for them.
Research and extension based on an organismic conception of a farm
accepts growth and optimal production as given goals and apply all available
resources to accomplish this goal, without taking account the wider socio-
economic and ecological consequences. The well known farm problem of
declining farm incomes due to technological advance and resultant production
exceeding consumption, exacerbated by low price elasticities of demand for
agricultural products can be ascribed to a production-and-growth-at-all-cost
approach to research and development. Environmental degradation due to this
approach also indicates the need for a framework of understanding the world


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CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING


which allows for adaptation of goals and not only changing of means to
accomplish fixed goals.

The Social System Model

A social system is a purposeful system and its parts are recognized as
purposeful systems and they are part of larger social, purposeful systems. To
understand a social system, one must know the ends or goals of the
components, the system, and containing systems, and how these affect their
interactions. A purposeful system can produce the same outcome in different
ways in the same environment and can produce different outcomes in the same
and different environments. It can change its ends under constant conditions.
This ability to change ends under constant conditions is what exemplifies free
will. Such systems can learn, adapt and create. Human beings are examples of
such systems.
Purposeful systems have all the capabilities of goal-seeking and state-
maintaining systems. Goal-seeking systems such as the farm system have the
capabilities of state-maintaining systems. The converse is not true, therefore
they form a hierarchy.
Another hierarchy relevant to this systems hierarchy is the hierarchy formed
by information, knowledge and understanding. Information is descriptive; it
contains answers to questions that begin with such words as what, which, who,
how many, when and where. Knowledge is instructive; it is conveyed by
answers to how-to questions. Understanding is explanatory; it is transmitted
by answers to why questions. To understand a system is to be able to explain its
properties and behaviour and to reveal why it is what it is and why it behaves
the way it does. Information presupposes neither knowledge or understanding.
Knowledge presupposes information and understanding presupposes both. One
can survive without understanding, but not thrive. Without understanding one
cannot control causes; only treat effects and suppress symptoms. With
understanding one can design and create the future.
The cause-effect relationship is inadequate to understand the functioning of
a social system. The producer-product relationship is required. A producer is
only necessary, not sufficient for the product. Therefore, explanation become
environment-full, recognizing multi-causality which is typical of complex
phenomena.
The appropriate purpose of a system conceptualized as a social system is
development. Development is defined as the process in which individuals
increase their abilities and desires to satisfy their own needs and legitimate
desires and those of others. Because development involves an increase of
ability through learning and one person cannot learnfor another, one person or
organization cannot develop another. One can only encourage and facilitate
that development. There is only one type of development: self-development.


Vol 6, No.2, 1996






T. E. KLEYNHANS


Effective development planning requires a major reorientation of organizations
or governments that assume that they can develop their members.
Development is not a matter of what an organization or government does, but
of what it encourages and enables its members to do.
A thorough understanding of development as learning is necessary before
an extension officer can really be an effective facilitator to farmers. With
inappropriate conceptualization of social systems, facilitation becomes a mere
buzz word with the result that extension officers still act according to a
preconceived goal and concentrate in effect only on means planning. This will
happen despite following the FSR-E principle to reveal the variety of goals and
considerations that a farmer may have.
The quality of life that a person can realize is the joint product of his/her
development and the resources available to him/her. Although this implies that
limited resources may limit improvement of quality of life, it does not imply
that they limit development. Desires and abilities can increase without an
increase of resources. Development is potentiality for satisfaction of needs and
desires, not the satisfaction (quality of life or standard of living) actually
obtained.
The effect of limits or obstacles on purposeful individuals and systems can
be evaded either by changing intent or by using better technology. A limited
resource ceases to be limiting if one's need for it decreases due to development
of desires or if one learn how to use it more effectively through the development
of abilities. Goal or ends development, over and above means development is
an important characteristic of social systems.
To understand the farm as a complex social system (which includes physical
and biological dimensions), a whole new approach is needed which is not only
analytical. Contrary to a widely held belief, a multidisciplinary approach does
not fill this need if it boils down to only a collection of analytically orientated
approaches. To understand a system its structure, processes and functions have
to be examined. A system's structure is the way its work is divided among its
parts and their efforts co-ordinated, that is, the relationships between its parts.
Structure can only be understood if observed in the functioning of a system.
Therefore, analysis, which reveals only the structure of a system, not its
functioning, cannot provide understanding, only knowledge. Synthetic
thinking is therefore required to complement analysis.
The danger of inappropriate ways of conceptualizing social systems lies in
the underlying assumptions about the nature of a social system of which the
researcher or extension officer is not aware. A person does not deliberately
perceive a farm system as a mechanism or organism, but in effect understands
it inappropriately and plans accordingly. Exposure to the typology of systems
provided by social systems thinking may help scientists to identify and clarify
their own assumptions and to accept a more effective and powerful frame of


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CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING


understanding farm systems. (For a more complete discussion of the systems
typology, refer to Gharajedaghi, 1985).
Cultural research has shown that individuals can be encouraged to acquire
new technical competencies (artifacts) without doing violence to long-held
beliefs and assumptions that emerge out of lengthy socialization processes.
However, inviting individuals to embrace new theoretically and philosophical
positions is significantly more problematic, (Brochlesby & Cummings, 1994).
For a discussion of the meta-crisis of perception of professions that shape the
human-made environment and the need to shift from the "object" level to the
meta-level of facilitation of community aspirations, .refer to Motloch &
Woodfin, (1993).

RECOGNITION OF INTERACTION BETWEEN FARM AND
ENVIRONMENT

A mechanistic or organismic conception of the farm system sees the farm as
environment free and tries to optimize the use of resources available within the
farm border. Experimental design and farm plans are based on the assumption
that the farmer tries to maximise production, influenced to a greater or lesser
extent by socio-cultural considerations. However, deviations in farming
practices of small farmers in parts of South Africa, resulting in idle land and
yield increasing technology (such as fertilizer) used in a labour saving way
indicates other considerations. Due to the availability of non-farm income
earnings opportunities and a higher return on labour inputs for some of the
household members, farm households tend to maximize their total income from
the farm and non-farm sources (Low, 1986). An inappropriate
conceptualization of the farm system puts the extension officer in a dilemma
with regard to his/her ability to understand the broader context and
considerations of farm households and to adapt agricultural production advice
accordingly.
Low (1986) argues that although FSR-E recognizes that farmers have
multiple objectives, these objectives are generally looked at in terms of the
farming system alone with two undesirable results: "First it may encourage
researchers to think of those who farm as primarily or solely farmers, and
thereby underestimate the role of non-agricultural activities in the larger
household economy. Secondly, an exclusive concentration on farming may ill
equip FSR to address one of the major issues in agricultural development in
Africa: the withdrawal of labour from agriculture due to rural-urban
migration". He advises the adoption of a household economic perspective and
attempt to see how diverse production activities are combined to maximize
household utility.


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T. E. KLEYNHANS


Realizing the broader environment and wider variety of objectives of the
farm household provides the challenge for extension officers to be able to
facilitate the farmer to choose effectively his/her farming and non-farming
operations. Although the agricultural extension officer does not have to be an
expert on for instance processing, marketing or transport activities, he/she
should be able to recognize worthwhile opportunities and realize the
implications for farming practices in order to find an overall better mix of
economic activities. Such challenges should be realized when designing
curricula for training of extension officers.

IDENTIFICATION OF DESIRES AND REDESIGN OF SYSTEMS

A product, service, organization and therefore also a farming operation is
designed effectively if it provides consumers or users with what they want,
rather than merely remove what they do not want. But determining what they
need or will want is an effort that does not often meet success. The reason for
this is that consumers or users' needs and desires are elusive because
consumers or users themselves generally have not consciously formulated what
they are or how to fulfill them.
FSR-E aims to identify farmer's objectives to be taken into account in the
design and transfer of technology. One does get the impression however that
the information obtained is more often used to increase the efficiency of the
existing production system which boils down to tinkering with the farm system.
Shumba, 1996 stated that more than tinkering with the farm system cannot be
expected from FSR-E to cool down expectations of FSR-E as a panacea for
agricultural development problems. Mere tinkering with existing farm systems
is probably the most realistic expectation of FSR-E if the typical rigidities of
any system to change are taken into account. This is implied in the term
"system" and is due to the integratedness of the components of a system
(Kauffman, 1980). However, this does not mean that systems based thinking
can only offer marginal improvements in the form of tinkering with a system.
Social systems thinking provides a methodology called "Idealized design"
of a system or "Idealized redesign" of an existing system to identify new or
concealed needs and desires and to design new structures and processes to
satisfy these needs and desires.
Idealized design provides an opportunity to a person (eg. a farmer) or a
group of clients to start planning from a zero base situation and reinterpret
his/her Whole situation (farming and possibly non-farm activities). The goal of
"Idealized design" is to escape from mental obstacles of being used to
conventional farming practices and lifestyles in order to develop new goals to
become more effective in a changing environment.
Idealized design gives participants the opportunity to create an
unconstrained design of their ideal farming operation (or rather broader income


Journalfor Farming Systems Research-Extension






CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING


generating operations). Participants are told not to be concerned with the
feasibility of the designs they create, only with their desirability. This is based
on the belief that the principal obstruction to creativity is a preoccupation with
feasibility, a condition that is usually associated with self-imposed (rather than
actual) constraints. The only two constraints that have to be taken into account
are: the end result cannot involve any technology that does not currently exist
and it must conform to the law.
Idealized design assumes that, given proper tools and facilitation, average
participants are often best equipped to design, from a functional standpoint,
those products or production systems that are required for situations with which
they have become familiar. It is this input from participants early on in the
development process that differentiates idealized design sessions from
traditional focus groups and surveys.
The facilitator (who can be the extension officer) is supposed to guide but
not to provide content to the session. He/she asks the participants to imagine
that an existing product/farming operation with which they are familiar was
destroyed overnight and that they have the opportunity to create something
totally new in its place. They then engage in a brainstorming session to
prepare a list of specifications (ideal characteristics) for the ideal
product/farming operation to be designed. Specifications can include any
feature desired by the participants, no matter how outrageous. The entire group
debates the merits of each point raised and finally arrives at some decisions
regarding the ideal. Participants then break into smaller groups to plan designs
that will incorporate as many of the specifications as possible. The advantage
and disadvantages of each design are then discussed in the larger group, after
which the smaller groups reconvene to refine and change their designs. This
process is repeated as many times as possible with the goal being to arrive at
one design that incorporates all of the participants' idealizations. (For
elaboration on the methodology of idealized design, refer to Ciccantelli &
Magidson, 1993 and Ackoff, 1981).



CONCLUSIONS

A systems awareness per se is not new; every agricultural scientist has
some or other concept of a systems on which his/her research and/or extension
is based. To use the term "systems approach" as a buzz word so that people
think they understand it a similar way is actually detrimental to effective
cooperation in research and extension. Agricultural researchers and extension
officers need clarity on their underlying assumptions to find out if they
correspond with the essential characteristics of the farm system. The systems


Vol 6, No.2, 1996







T. E. KLEYNHANS


typology provided by social systems thinking can be of value in this
clarification process.
The socio-economic environment of the farm system affects the farm
household's decision-making in an important way. An inappropriate
conceptualization of the farm system will cause the extension officer and
researcher to ignore these influences and design technology and make
recommendations as if the farm exists in isolation. The effectiveness of
research and extension should however be measured in terms of how it
enhances a higher quality of life and standard of living in the broader
environment. Technology design and recommendations will have to take
cognisance of the urban-rural interaction and its effects on the availability of
labour on the farm.
The changing environment demands adaptation not only of farming
procedures through means planning aimed at increased efficiency, but also
creating new goals for greater effectiveness. Given that conventional farming
practices become obsolete, the question arises whether FSR-E has more to offer
the farmer than just the support of means planning. Social systems thinking
claims that in a rapidly changing environment tinkering with a farm system is
not sufficient and that goal development can be effectively supported by
applying idealized (re)design as an interactive planning method. This powerful
planning tool can be adjusted to various circumstances by following a few
simple guidelines.



REFERENCES




Ackoff, RL. 1981. Creating the corporate future: Plan or be planned for. John Wiley &
Sons, New York.
Anandajayasekeram, P. 1995. Farming systems research: Concepts, procedures and
challenges. Keynote address presented at the Fourth Regional Conference of the Southern African
Association for Farming Systems Research-Extension, Harare, Zimbabwe, 2-4 October 1995.
Boulding, KE. 1966. Economic analysis. Harper & Row Publishers, New York.
Boulding, KE. 1969. Economics as a moral science. American Economic Review, Vol. 59.
Brochlesby, J. & Cummings, S. 1994. Combining hard, soft and critical methodologies in
systems research: The cultural constraints. Systems Research, 12 (3).
Checkland, P. 1981. Systems thinking, systems practice. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Ciccantelli, S. & Magidson, J. 1993. From experience: Consumer idealized design:
Involving consumers in the product development process. Journal of Production Innovation
Management Vol. 10.
Gharajedaghi, J. 1985. Toward a systems theory of organization. Intersystems
Publications, Seaside, California.
Kauffman, DL. 1980. Systems One: An introduction to systems thinking. The innovative
learning series. Future Systems, Minneapolis.


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CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SOCIAL SYSTEMS THINKING


Lane, DC. & Jackson, MC. 1995. Only connect: An annotated bibliography reflecting the
breadth and diversity of systems thinking. Systems Research, 12 (3).
Ledingtin, P. 1992. Relevance, formality and process: Toward a theory of soft systems
practice. Systems Research, 9 (4).
Low, A. 1986. Agricultural development in Southern Africa: Farm household-economics and
the food crisis. David Philip, Cape Town.
Motloch, JL. & Woodfin, T. 1993. General Systems Theory, cultural change and a human
science foundation to planning and design. Systems Research, 10 (2).
Rapoport, A. 1954. Operational philosophy. Harper & Brothers, New York.
Shumba, E. 1996. Importance of farmer circumstances in decision making. Paper delivered
at a national workshop on FSR strategy development, Silverton, 1996.
Smuts, JC. 1926. Holism and evolution. Macmillan, London.
Waelchli, F. 1992. Eleven theses of General Systems Theory (GST). Systems Research, 9 (4).


Vol 6, No.2, 1996









BOOK REVIEWS


BOOK REVIEWS







Chambers, Robert. Whose Reality Counts? Putting the first last.
London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1997. 297 pp.


Robert Chambers' book Whose Reality Counts? is a gem. The subtitle of this
book Putting the First Last is a logical sequence to one of his earlier books
Rural Development: Putting the Last First (Longman, 1983). Chambers'
analysis of events and attitudes is a sobering challenge to all professionals in
development work, especially for those concerned with farming systems
research-extension.
Chambers points out that at the start of the 21st century "we, humankind,
have more power and more control over things, and are more closely and
instantly connected with each other, than ever before. At the same time, more
people than ever before are wealthy beyond any reasonable need for a good life,
and more are poor and vulnerable below any conceivable definition of decency.
New power, knowledge and social and economic polarization coexist on an
unprecedented and scandalous scale........Hundreds of millions of people are
worse off now than twenty years ago. That some nations should be rich and
others poor can even seem inevitable as we watch, year by year, the indicators
of well-being improve in some and decline in others, with lower incomes, fewer
children in school, deteriorating services in health, mounting civil disorder,
lower expectations of life, and greater vulnerability." (p.1)
This is not a challenge Chambers takes lightly. He has led workshops on
participatory rural appraisal (PRA) in many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin
America in an attempt to help professionals in development work develop their
own skills in putting the last first. Those who do that, therefore, put themselves
last. Chambers has written many articles found in IDS Bulletins, World
Development and other publications. Much from these earlier publications is
combined in this book to address the over-riding issue of how those of us who
work in the development field can put the reality of the rural men and women
at the forefront.

The 'discovery' of what rural people know, what they need and want and
how they put new technical knowledge into the mix of factors comprising their
reality is the heart of Chambers' concern. This is no doubt increasingly


Vol 6, No2, 1996








important as fewer development professionals come from rural areas where
they grew up intimately involved in livelihood activities similar to the ones
being done today by the world's most vulnerable women and men.
Chambers points out that the development assumptions of some
professionals in the '50s and '60s have been exposed as misconceived, and
"with the easy wisdom of hindsight, naive." All of us have to appreciate his
willingness to admit his own failings in these categories -- and to appreciate
even more the benefits of learning from this experience. His chapters on "All
Power Deceives" (Chapter 4) and "Learning to Learn" (Chapter 5) are built on
his earlier writing. He points out in Chapter 4 that "Being clever, centrally
placed, served by instant communications of unprecedented quality, and
powerful does not, then, ensure being right or doing good" (p.99). Chapter 5 is
somewhat a 'recipe' for PRA, parts of which will be familiar to readers from
earlier Chambers' articles and lectures.
The focus of Chapter 8 "Poor People's Realities: Local, Complex, Diverse,
Dynamic and Unpredictable" (LCDDU) is the heart of this book. These
characteristics of the reality have always been there, but it took participatory
approaches and practices (listening, giving the speaker the "stick", etc.) to
bring it to the conscious level of development professionals. PRA has made a
significant contribution. While I find the acronym 'LCDDU' annoying, it
clearly establishes a base for understanding that there really can be no recipe
which will address poor people's realities. (Although perhaps PRA is seen as
the beginning of a recipe). In this chapter, the description of each of these
characteristics and their multiple influences on poor people's realities is very
useful.
In Chapter 10, "Putting the First Last" Chambers suggests strategies and
tactics for institutional change and elaborates on these 6 steps: 1. commit with
continuity 2. network with allies 3. start small and slow 4. fund flexibly 5.
train, encourage and support grass-roots staff 6. Build out and up for grass
roots success. (pp226 and 227).
He closes this chapter and the book with specific challenges to the various
groups of people working as professionals in the development field: "The issue
is whether we, as development professionals have the vision, guts and will to
change our behaviour, to embrace and act out reversals, and:
* as economists and bureaucrats to decentralize, destandardize and support
local diversity;
* as staff in NGOs to continue to evolve, apply, share and spread
participatory approaches and methods;
* as teachers in Universities, training institutes and colleges, to go with our
students to local people to learn, to revise our curricula, to rewrite our
textbooks, to teach and lecture less, and more to help others learn;
* as staff in government organizations, not to talk down but to listen, learn
and facilitate, and to provide choices and responsive services;


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BOOK REVIEWS


* as political leaders to promote and sustain decentalization, democratic
values, tolerance, peace and the equitable rule of law;
* as people, to be self-critically aware, to respect others, and to value truth,
trust and diversity;
* as uppers, to disempower ourselves, controlling only the minimum,
handing over the stick, devolving discretion, encouraging and rewarding
lowers' initiatives, and finding fulfillment and fun in enabling others to
express, analyse and act on their diverse realities". (pp. 236 and 237).

As an occasional working colleague of Robert Chambers, the most negative
reaction I have is to his use of "uppers" and "lowers". While it may accurately
define each group's view of themselves, it also very condescending, even if
Chambers didn't intend it to be --and that may be the heart of the problem: we
are trapped (by years of refinement and use) in condescending language,
whatever our attitudes really are.
Chambers' ability, and willingness, to take blame or responsibility for early
mistakes in development activities stands as an example for all of us. And his
skill at playful rhymes adds spark to the whole text. This little excerpt from one
is an example:
"Then the poor might reply:
Donor, we reject your song
Top-down targetry is wrong
Floods of funds as in your verse
Corrupt and spoil and make things worse.
Keep your money. We will show
True development's from below." (p.225).

His stature in the development community which encourages various
Foundation contributions and ITD to publish "Whose Reality Counts?" in paper
and at a subsidized price will be greatly appreciated by all development
practitioners at the field level. Robert Chambers is a thoughtful, humble man
not afraid to keep learning and sharing what he has learned a great example
to all of us.
N.A.


Vol 6, No2, 1996








Hedrick, Ulysses P., The Land of the Crooked Tree, New York:
Oxford University Press, 1948, 350 pp. (republished and available
in paper back by Great Lakes Books, Wayne State University Press,
1996)

The author of this book never used words like farming systems, or even
sustainable development, or international development. He was the son of a
farmer, who lived his first sixteen years working on the family farm, with his
brother and father, as well as a younger sister and his mother. And since he
died long before AFSRE was organized, he could not have known of the
Journal for Farming Systems Research-Extension, or submitted this book for
review.
But although Ulysses Prentiss Hedrick later went on to a college education,
became a professional agriculturalist, and an internationally known
horticulturalist, in this book he describes life on a small, mixed farm family
ecosystem, seen through the eyes of the child and growing boy that he had
been. Having read it by chance this past month, while assembling materials for
this issue of JFSRE, I was struck with the quality of a description and analysis
of a farming system which goes into more detail and greater depth than current
literature usually permits.
As writers for this Journal know, our "criteria" statement for regular articles
specifies that "Articles will address farms as whole systems, including their
production and consumption, and involving the plants, livestock, and humans
on the farming system, or the institutional support services for farming systems,
including the policy structure." In this book, Dr. Hedrick does everything we
request in that sentence.
By 1948, when this book was published, Hedrick was a senior
scholar/practitioner, and Director Emeritus of the New York State Agricultural
Experiment Station. He must have reflected back more than sixty years,
(perhaps with notes?) to write the manuscript. In his preface, he explains
that "The Land of the Crooked Tree, found on old maps as 'L'Arbre Croche,' is
on the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan and was one of the last
forest regions in eastern America to be settled .... It is with the activities of the
early settlers there, in the 1870's and 80's, after it was opened to homesteaders,
that this book is concerned."
Individual chapters in the book include detailed and intimate descriptions of
such aspects of farm life as Our Farm, Father's Garden, Nature's Gardens,
Mother's Poultry, Our Livestock, Farm Crops, Farm Chores, When the
Railroad Came, Parker's Store, The Blacksmith Shop, Forest Products,
Preachers and Churches, and much, much more. There are thirty-one chapters.
If you are really interested in identifying and describing all of the components
of a farm family ecosystem, as well as the linkages among them and linkages


Journalfor farming Systems Research-Extension






BOOK REVIEWS


with relevant outside systems (for supply of inputs or marketing of outputs, for
example), you will find them all in this book. Here are some excerpts:
From his first look at the farm, in 1874, at age four: "The farm before our
eyes was a forest black as night. In it no ax had ever been lifted. Except for the
rough trail over which we had come, there was no sign that man had ever set
foot on our land. The appalling stillness seemed never to have been broken by
human voices. (p.61) ... Although we began in a small way to clear land the
first summer and kept doggedly at it month in and month out until the sons
grew up and the father grew old, it was three years before we built a house on
our land. Mother would not live in an unbroken forest where there were no
roads, no water, no near neighbors, and no school for her children." (p. 63).
Regarding a time a few years later, he wrote: "Father's garden was wholly
utilitarian. In it he grew plants to furnish food for the year around and to add
to our small supply of cash. It was planted with all the vegetables that would
grow in our climate. In his garden, Father was tireless. He worked from
daylight to dark, doing as much as two men, and in a spurt multiplied himself
by three." (p.106). "The first task in our garden was seed-sowing; the second
was weeding. It would be difficult to say which was the most wearisome.
There was this difference. Father was always with me when there were seeds to
be sown, to see that all was done well; I worked alone at the weeding." (p. 107)
"It would be hard to say which was Father's favorite vegetable. Onions
came earliest, and onions, green or dry, we had almost the year round; ten
bushels of dry onions were put in the cellar every winter. For early onions, we
planted small sets, but our main crop came from seed." (p. 111) "When
tourists began to come in large numbers, the demand for green peas could
hardly be satisfied; and peas became the best money-making crop we grew." (p.
112)
"String beans, which Father and Mother called by their Virginia name
'snaps," grew well with us. Our season was too short for the lima beans of that
period and we grew them but sparingly. The markets called for yellow wax
beans, but for home use we greatly preferred green pods, growing, of course,
only stringless kinds. (p. 113) "The poles were set in the ground two feet, and
three strong cords, at heights of three feet, looped them together. Around each
pole he planted six beans. When planted in late May the beans quickly
climbed to the top of the poles, and clambered along cords until the row of hills
made a solid wall of foliage, flowers, and beans. In picking, one could grab a
handful of tender succulent 'snaps' for autumn eating. We saved pole-bean
seeds year after year." (p. 114)
That chapter goes on with even more detailed descriptions of such other
vegetables as sweet corn, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, and
watermelon. In each case, Hedrick describes the plants themselves; the
techniques of planting, cultivating, and harvesting; which family members did
which tasks, and in which seasons; as well as how the crop was used in the


Vol 6, No2, 1996




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