Telephone: (904) 392-1965
Cable: CENTROP FSSP
Farming Systems Support Project
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
3028 McCarty Hall
Gainesville. Florida 32611
On. Networking # 30 April 29, 1987
Volume Five, Number TWo of the FSSP Newsletter has gone into production with the
following editorial as its lead article. It gives the status of the FSSP now
through the end of the year. What the editorial does not do, is encourage
attendance at both the symposium and the FSSP Annual Meeting. Administrative
Coordinators, Program Leaders and Program Associates are encouraged to find
their own funding to attend these meetings.
FSSP is Closing Down Operations
No one can say for sure when it was decided, or who decided, that the FSSP
would go out of business. But the message from the project's sponsor is clear:
a decision has been made. There is USAID funding, at a reduced level, through
December, 1987. Beyond that, nothing is visible on the horizon.
Now, it's easy to question or downgrade any report that runs contrary to our
hopes and beliefs. And it's easy to overestimate the losses or benefits
surrounding the termination of a project such as the FSSP. That is not the
intention of this editorial, rather, there is an obligation to let you know the
status of the project and what or what not to expect from the project in the
coming months. As things stand:
Personnel reductions have made it difficult for you to reach us and for us
to be responsive to you. FSSP ordinarily operated with 6 FTEs (full time
equivalent employees) in the core, as high as 7.5 when program delivery
warranted that level. The project is now operating with 2.75 FTEs, only one of
which represents a full-time person.
Thete will be two more issues of the FSSP Newsletter in English, Spanish
The Bibliography of Readings in Farming System ends with the Spanish and
French versions of Volume III when they are issued at the end of June, and with
the English version when Volume IV is issued in September.
The Networking Paper Series has been terminated.
The Faming Systems Research Symposium will be held October 18-21 this
year, and for two years after that, through the collaboration of the University
of Arkansas and Winrock International. (See the article beginning on page 3 of
There are no FSSP funds to support symposium participants or to support
attendance at the project's annual meeting.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION EMPLOYER
There will be an FSSP Annual Meeting in conjunction with the annual
farming systems symposium in October. Once again, the future of the farming
systems support network will be topical.
FSSP Biodata service is no longer functional. (It was not updated after
the mid course evaluation suggested it terminate).
FSSP visitors' programs and FSR/E orientation at the University of Florida
is available strictly on a paid basis.
FSSP initiatives for the remainder of the year, apart from the training
development and delivery schedule, can only be considered on a total buy-in
By year's end, FSSP training materials will include volume III on
management, incorporation of livestock considerations in existing volumes I and
II, and an economics sub-unit in volume II. These efforts are underway.
The Intra-household Dynamics and FSR/E Case Studies will be available by
the end of 1987, complete with conceptual framework and teaching guides.
FSSP training for the remainder of the year is scheduled to include:
a short course in Niger in April;
a training for trainers workshop with UF/WIAD in May;
a Honduran course in May and June;
a short course for CRSPs in July;
a Methods Short Course at Florida is tentatively scheduled for July;
a planning session for discussing training activities for West Africa
will take place in Cameroon in July;
a Management and Administration course for Cameroonian participants
based in the U.S. is being planned for August;
a methods short course in Cameroon is being scheduled for sometime in
the Fall; participation is scheduled for a workshop at ISNAR in
September; and two management short courses are under negotiation for
September in Venezuela.
From FSSP's vantage point there has been no decline in the requests for
farming systems support to projects in the field and in support of national
programs. Nor is one anticipated. The traffic in farming systems work has
increased over the past few years. This traffic consists of projects and
project components, publications, symposia, training programs and the
development of training materials. It involves national programs and
international agricultural research centers and their research. It includes a
network of U.S. universities and agricultural consulting firms, their personnel
and the commitment of resources to garner and extend expertise in this area.
Farming systems activities also include college courses teaching farming systems
methodology, farming systems minors, student assistantships and dissertations.
All of this traffic in farming systems has involved or influenced major donor
organizations in agricultural development and technical assistance. It has
involved the USDA, USAID, state governments, even Congress.
With the fiscal constraints under which the FSSP is now operating, the
project has accepted an ambitious workload as it closes out. Project objectives
are budgeted and planned to the end of the contract. Still, the FSSP continues
to be responsive to requests for its services. The capability to do so has been
acquired over the life of the project. So has a commitment to delivery, on the
part of the project's program associates throughout the network.
The organizational structure of the FSSP is without parallel in this
Country, involving more than 600 program associates at 21 universities and 4
consulting firms. Mechanisms have been devised to assess field needs, identify
appropriate support and to employ the network in response to expressed needs.
The strength of the FSSP network is in its program associates and their
representative institutions. These individuals have wide-ranging experience and
represent many different disciplines and backgrounds. Program associates not
only support FSSP's ability to perform, with their skills employing the farming
systems methodology, they are the project.
Given the the sustained level of requests for support services through the
project, the level of traffic in farming systems research and extension, and the
support capability of the FSSP, the timing of the demise of the project is
curious. Still, while it's silly to dive for cover whenever a cloud appears in
the sky, it's just as silly to ignore the Weather Bureau's flood warnings. From
an editorial viewpoint, this means. if any of you intend to publish your work in
the FSSP Newsletter, now is the time to submit it; with two more issues there is
still an opportunity to do so.
Within the FSSP support network a certain optimism exists that there will be
a Phase II. Discussions over the past year with support entity representatives
have indicated an interest in maintaining some parts and functions of the
network. Training capability, an annual symposium and a newsletter are
recognized as elements worth assimilating. Apart from a commitment of the
University of Arkansas and Winrock International to host and support a symposium
S for three years, no other definitive solutions have been forthcoming from the
network itself. Clearly the farming systems network that has been formed and
functioning through the FSSP is not going to disappear overnight, and the
inertia to maintain salient parts of it is well-directed. But without some
central support or core funding, coordinating leadership will be nearly
impossible, as will its function as a network.
The current AID Project Manager for FSSP, Roberto Castro, suggests that
concern for future AID support to farming systems research and extension should
be expressed to your AID mission or AID representatives with whom you work.