) --) SK
February 1st, 1988
TO: See Distribution
FROM: S&T/AGR/EPP, Roberto Castro Jit?
SUBJECT: Briefing on S&T/AGR Farming Systems Support Project Final Evaluation
Place: Conference Room 520, SA-18
Date: Monday, February 8, 1988
Hour: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
You are invited to a briefing on the external evaluation of the Farming
Systems Support Project (FSSP). From a programatic point of view, the project
activities have been terminated as of December 31, 1987; nevertheless, the
Cooperative Agreement with the University of Florida has been extended six
Albert Brown and James Chapman from Chemonics, who have conducted the
evaluation, will brief S&T staff seeking two objectives: a) provide an
overview of project performance and accomplishments; b) to obtain a feedback
from participants for a final evaluation report.
ST/AGR, D. Bathrick, E. Roche
ST/AGR/EPP, V. Cusumano, P. Church
ST/AGR/AP, H.Hortik & Staff
ST/AGR/RNR, T. Gill & Staff
ST/ED, J. C'Donnell
ST/RD, J. Grayzel & M. Yates
Draft evaluation report
FOR DItSCSSION PURPOSES ONLY
END OF PROJECT EVALUATION
THE FARMING SYSTEMS SUPPORT PROJECT
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
A. WHAT FSSP WAS SUPPOSED TO ACCOMPLISH
B. SUMMARY RESULTS OF MID-TERM EVALUATION
C. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION
II. RESPONSE TO THE MID-TERM EVALUATION
ACTIVITIES SINCE MID-TERM EVALUATION
SYNTHESIS AND ANALYSIS
END OF PROJECT EVALUATION
THE FARMING SYSTEMS SUPPORT PROJECT-
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
The purpose of this document is to present the results of
the End-of-Project evaluation of the Farming Systems Support
Project (FSSP). The main purpose of the. evaluation as stated in
the scope of work (Appendix 1), is to analize the accomplishments
of the first phase of FSSP since the mid-term evaluation carried
out in June of 1985. Specifically, this document assesses the
degree of compliance of the project with the objectives as stated
in the original project paper, the tangible and intangible
results that were achieved that impacted on AID field missions
and on host country institutions implementing farming systems
research and extension (FSR/E) programs, and the managerial and
technical effectiveness of the support institution in providing
technical assistance, training, networking and reporting under
the terms of the project paper and cooperative agreement.
Another purpose of this exercise is to assess the
usefulness of FSSP accomplishments with a view toward future AID
support toward farming systems efforts of a similar nature.
A. WHAT FSSP WAS SUPPOSED TO ACCOMPLISH
According to the Project Paper, the goal of the Farming
Systems Support Project is to strengthen LDC agricultural
research and extension programs in order to increase the
productivity, income and quality of life among small farmers.
The purpose of the project is to provide technical assistance to
missions and LDC agricultural research and extension programs for
the design, implementation, and evaluation of projects intended
for the small or limited-resource farmer, while at the same time
building institutional capacity within those countries through
training and networking.
The stated purpose of the Cooperative Agreement was to
develop, strengthen and expand the capacity of the recipient (U. s
of Florida) and collaborating institutions (the Support Entities) *' "'.
to provide technical assistance, training and guidance to FSR/E / -S ~,.
programs in developing countries. )
Over its initial five-year life, the project was expected to
undertake and accomplish eight major activities:
1. At mission request and with mission collaboration,
provide technical assistance for project design and
evaluation, as well as for the resolution of specific
problems during implementation of FSR/E projects. The
development of a roster of FSR/E practitioners both in
the U.S. and abroad would be a secondary outcome of
2. Publish field recommendations based on synthesis of
experiences gained through technical assistance in
specific problem areas and through limited applied
research, and distribute these recommendations to
missions, LDC agencies, and practitioners.
3. Conduct 12 courses for LDC field practitioners and a
like number of courses for policy makers,
administrators, and educators in the principles and
methods of farming systems research and extension work.
4. Establish seven regional networks of FSR/E
5. Sponsor annually in each region a workshop whose theme
and location would be determined by FSR/E practitioners
in the region.
6. Publish a quarterly newsletter that reports the
insights gained during technical assistance, the
evaluations performed under the project, and the
results of the regional workshops.
7. Publish and distribute an annual annotated
B. Establish, within S&T/DIU, a documentation center for
FSR/E literature that will, upon individual request,
provide copies of uncopywritten works not only during
the life of the project, but after the project ends as
B. SUMMARY RESULTS OF THE MID-TERM EVALUATION
In June of 1985, a five-person team conducted a mid-
term evaluation of the FSSP. That exercise, the results of which
are summarized below, formed part of the information base used to
"undertake the End of Project evaluation, which concentrates on
examining events following the mid-term evaluation.
The FSSP, in response to the Cooperative
Agreement, carried out several activities designed to further the
obtainment of project goals and objectives. The activities
involved technical assistance, training, networking and state-of-
77L _i, -. y 2-2. .L T "-." -7 ,-- '" ... .L;_2 .... ... -.', 2 ._ 2L.. --'5_. .. ..__- -'-, _-,7-5.T --. % T. .. ..."55.- .--
a. Technical Assistance
The FSSP was envisioned as a field support
project which would take its guidance from USAID field missions,
providing assistance in design, implementation, and evaluation of
projects involving FSR/E. The exact nature of the support would
be determined by the missions, and financed through mission "buy-
The response of FSSP to missions requests in this regard has
in general been rapid and of good quality. However, the level of
demand for activities of this type was much less than originally
anticipated. According to AID records, from the time of project
startup in September of 1982 through July of 1986, there were two
mission buy-ins for project design, three for evaluation, and one
for general technical assistance, for a total value of
USs249,641. The bulk of that assistance (four out of six) was
provided to missions in the Latin America/Carribbean region.
Early on, training activities concentrated on
domestic workshops which introduced FSR/E concepts to U.S.
university faculties and other interested parties. Several (21)
training courses were presented overseas, of high quality in
Latin America, and variable quality in Africa. African courses
were initially seen to be weak with regard to African content,
relevance and quality, though significant improvements were made
over time. The mid-term evaluation judged that FSSP was trying
to do too many things rather than doing them well.
In this area, FSSP had made a particularly
stong and successful effort in developing a network of
professionals interested in farming systems work among 21 U.S.
Universities and four private consulting firms (called support
entities). The necessity of establishing such a group was
dictated by the dispersed nature of farming systems expertise,
and was utilitized to mobilize resources for technical assistance
and training as well as communication of current events and
experience. Of special importance was the Annual Farming Systems
Symposium which, while not directly an FSSP activity, provided a
forum for sharing of farming systems experiences in the U.S. and
worldwide, becoming the single most important gathering in the
world of farming systems practitioners.
Overseas networking at this point in the Project was mainly
exploratory, with the major accomplishment being the
establishment and support of an animal traction network based on
an initial workshop in Togo.
FSSP publications, including three newsletters (one in three
languages plus two minor ones), bibliographies, and the
Networking Papers Series, were useful and of generally high
quality. However, they were seen to represent a dispersion of
core staff effort and financial resources which lowered the
overall performance of the Project.
d. State of the Art Synthesis
A number of problem areas and issues in
farming systems were selected by FSSP core for examination and
synthesis. The means and mechanisms to accomplish this were
never clearly defined, and strategizing and priority setting
regarding which topics should receive attention and how was
largely internal and subjective. The quality of SOTA output,
mainly contained in issues of the Newsletter, Networking Papers
and embedded in training materials, needed improvement.
2. Organization and Management
FSSP evolved into its current structure (a small
core staff situated at the University of Florida, complemented by
support entities) based on an original Project design which was
vague in structure, expected results, and strategy. Decision-
making regarding FSSP activities appeared to be centralized
within the core group, often with minimum participation of AID,
the SEs and the standing committees. Many SEs felt that they did
not receive their fair share of opportunities to participate in
FSSP activities. This mode of operation inhibited the building
of a consensus regarding priorities and activities, especially
with AID, which continually affected perceived project
performance and relevance. The absence of a consensus on
strategy resulted in misinterpretations and conflicting signals,
and in a relationship between AID and the Core Staff that is best
described as adversary rather than collaborative.
Problems on the AID side were evident as well from the
inception of the Project. Initial expectations regarding the
benefits/results of FSSP were probably unrealistic, given the
prevailing view of farming systems as a solution to agricultural
development problems. Responsibility for Project management and" '
guidance was dispersed among S&T Agriculture, S&T Rural i-'-s .
Development and the Africa Bureau, with no uniformity in stategy C"( J
or purpose evident. This complicated communication and
collaboration with the Core Staff at Florida, and provided for
very high levels of frustration on both sides to the point that
the desire to try to collaborate was severely reduced.
3. Conclusions and Recommendations
Overall performance of the Project as of the Mid-
Term Evaluation was found to be uneven, ranging from poor to
outstanding, with improvement taking place in most areas as the
Core Staff and closely collaboratoring individuals gained
Certain difficult unresolved problems tended to pervade all
activities of the Project which promoted and fostered the
development and maintenance of the adversarial relationships
mentioned above. These were:
o The lack of a consensus within AID and between
AID and the other FSSP participants as to the
appropriate role, responsibilities and activities
o The absence of a long-term strategy that would
serve as a basis for determination of FSSP
priorities and programs;
o Given the lack of consensus and strategy, the
unilateral nature of decision-making regarding
project activities by the FSSP Core Staff;
Based on these observations, the Evaluation Team put forth a
series of 31 recommendations, some of which were supported by the
analysis presented while others appeared to be based on little or
no expressed rationale. The key recommendation, which was
expressed several times in many of the more specific
recommendations, was for AID, the FSSP Core Staff, and the
Support Entities to get together and forge a consensus leading to
an operational strategy for FSSP, which would be manifest through
the revision of the Project design.
C. SOME ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND
While the Mid-Term Evaluation Report was fairly
comprehensive in scope and content, it did not provide much
information as to why the Project evolved as it had. The
following is an account pieced together from interviews with AID
and FSSP staff, of some events which occurred early on in the
development and implementation of the Project which seem to have
influenced its performance during its nearly five-year life.
1. Initial uncertainty regarding project focus
The idea for a centrally-funded project in support of
farming systems work was conceived sometime in 1980, during the
time that the term "farming systems" was gaining notoreity as a
new methodology of developing and transferring new technology to
(mainly) small, limited resource farmers. Although several
discussions took place over the ensuing year, no consensus was
arrived at regarding what the such a project should look like, so
it was given relatively low priority.
In 1982, the Senior Assistant Administrator for the Science
and Technology Bureau allocated funds to undertake and support
agricultural research in Africa. It was decided in S&T that what
was to be FSSP would respond well to that purpose, and the
Project Paper was rapidly developed, finalized and approved. It
provided fairly clear guidance as to the types of activities to
be undertaken, but very little guidance as to how the project
would be structured and implemented. Therefore, a cooperative
agreement instrument was chosen which allowed for flexibility in
the development of institutional capacity and specified
activities similar to that normally allowed under a grant, but
with a higher degree of AID participation and control similar to
that occurring under a contractual relationship.
The project design did not respond well to the Senior
Assistant Administrator's original intent, especially regarding
the Africa focus. Rather, it was worldwide in scope, and
emphasized support to missions and host country institutions
rather than research. Only in passing did the Project Paper
mention that the Africa Bureau would be the major recipient of
support services provided by the project (see Project Paper Pg.
20 and Appendix C). Notwithstanding the vagueness of the Project
Paper in ths regard, personnel of the Africa Bureau understood
the focus of FSSP to be on Africa and developed a set of
expectations for the project based on this viewpoint. Staff from
the Science and Technology Bureau, meanwhile, viewed th. project
as global in intent, as reflected in the Project Paper, similar
to the view held by the University of Florida.
It was not until several months later, after the Cooperative
Agreement had been-competed and signed, that the Assistant
Administrator for S&T discovered that FSSP did not meet his
original intent. Several attempts were made to reorient the
project more toward Africa by upper management of S&T, apparently
with limited success. Eventually, somewhere near the time of the
Mid-Term Evaluation in 1985, funding for the Project was cut back
and a clear mandate for work in Africa was expressed.
The initial geographical division of level of effort for
FSSP was taken to be 50 percent Africa and 25 percent. each for
Asia and Latin America. By late 1983, FSSP had hired three Core
Staff members, each with a technical and geographical
responsibility. All were highly-motivated, young social
scientists with limited experience in farming systems and
management of AID projects. All three had substantial experience
in Latin America, very limited experience in Africa, and, except
in one case, very limited knowledge of French.
2. .Early implementation problems
Beginning in August of 1983, after establishing
the Support Entity network and hiring on most of the Core Staff,
Florida was requested to undertake activities in support of
farming systems work in West Africa for.which it was ill prepared,
given the background and experience of its recently hired staff.
The first implementation problem occurred with the organiza-
tion of an orientation in Washinginton, D.C. for a team of ex-
perts contracted to design a farming systems project in Mali.
FSSP performance on this was severely criticized by AID staff
members, both in memos and verbally. Although this effort was
admittedly plagued with problems, Mali subsequently developed an
effective FSR/E operation and became a strong user of FSSP
The second major problem was the implementation of a
training workshop in Ouagadougou, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso).
This was a first attempt by FSSP to do training in Africa, and
the Core Staff was relied upon heavily for both logistical and
technical support. Although one outside consultant was brought
in, this was insufficient to correct the problems with logistics,
language, course content and Africa focus. AID/W severely
criticized FSSP performance in handling the workshop, while the
local AID Mission seemed at least mildly pleased, since they
later said that they would welcome FSSP support "anytime".
A third problem situation arose when FSSP was asked by the
Africa Bureau to recruit and send a team to Liberia to undertake
a rapid appraisal as part of a re-design of a follow-on FSR-type
project the being implemented by Louisiana State University.
FSSP initially balked at the assignment, claiming that a rapid
appraisal by outsiders violated normal FSR procedures this
should be done by the implementing team. The request languished
.for several weeks before a decision was reached to respond.
In addition to the above, there was rather severe criticism
early on by AID of the poor quality of the initial sets of
training materials developed by Florida, with the major
criticisms being that they were not professionally done and that
there was too much emphasis on Latin Americian experience and
examples (which was where Florida had its major experience).
Again it appeared to be a case of trying to hastily put some
materials together in order to be able to respond rapidly, rather
than taking more time and effort to do a more professional. job
which would have meant further delays in responding to training
requests. Training materials with an Africa focus were not
generally available at the time.
The importance in these early problems lies not with the
events themselves, but rather with their effect on the
establishment of working relationships, particularly between FSSP
Core Staff and AID/Washington. AID, especially the Africa
Bureau, had a set of high expectations regarding the
level of expertise and training materials in farming systems
available that the Florida group was not prepared to live up to.
The very harsh criticisms caused Florida to become "gun shy" vis
a vis AID/W, which resulted "de facto" in a decision to reduce
efforts to develop a consensus with AID/W. Whether or not
explicit or intentional, the decision was made AID field missions
and host country institutions would become the key clients of the
Project, with the desires of AID/Washington assuming secondary
3. The support entity network
After the signing of the Cooperative Agreement in
September of 1982, the lead institution set about building up a
support network (SEs) of institutions supposedly possessing
interest and expertise in farming systems work. It was decided
in mid-1983 to close off membership in the network, leaving 21
.= ... .. .. .. .. -- 5 .L .7 "... 2 .. ... T .. .. .. .
universities and 4 firms eligible to collaborate with FSSP.
Members consisted mainly of those institutions that participated
in the initial competition to become the lead implementing
institution. All members of the support network signed
Memoranaa of Agreement wnich allowed FSSP to utilize their
services as needed in return for being kept informed of new
developments and opportunities through periodic meetings and
newsletters. Although there was no guarantee of participation in
Project activities contained in the MOA, many of the SEs
developed expectations which were unrealized due both to a lower
than expected level of demand for technical assistance, and to
the fact that the staff's of most of the SEs lacked appropriate
field experience. Interest in FSSP eventually waned on the part
of most SEs, leaving seven universities and two consulting firms
as the real support group. The support itself was manifest
through the participation of certain key individuals in repeated
assignments in training and technical assistance.
II. RESPONSE TO THE MID-TERM EVALUATION
Pursuant to the issuance of the final report of the mid-term
evaluation, AID/S&T issued a Project Evaluation Summary (PES)
(Appendix 2) which generally agreed with the thrust of the mid-
term evaluation, but stopped short of calling for collaborative
re-design of the Project. Instead, it called for a refocus of
the Project, including a rationalization and prioritization of
activities, with delivery keyed to West Africa, which would be
accomplished during the preparation of the 1986 work plan. As
spelled out in the evaluation, consensus-building via work plan
development had not produced satisfactory results previously.
Specifically, the PES directed the FSSP Core Staff to:
o Develop training materials to support training
activities in Africa, including the addition of
economics of farming systems materials and a strategy
for orientation of non-practitioners to the FSR/E
o Limit project assistance to Africa, with assistance to
others on a strict buy-in basis.
o Develop a strategy for addressing state of the art
topics over the remaining life of the Project.
o Develop an explicit implementation strategy that
identifies key staff, their locations and financial
data associated with program activities.
o Develop an improved budgeting and financial management
The FSSP Core Staff provided two separate responses to the
mid-term evaluation. The first (Appendix 3) was a series of
brief responses to a preliminary draft of the recommendations
emerging from the mid-term evaluation. The second, more formal
response came in the form of the 1986 Project Work Plan (Appendix
4). The Plan claimed to reflect the views of a task group
consisting of the AID/S&T Project Management Team, the FSSP Core
Staff and the AID/Africa Bureau.
The Plan explicitly provided for a focus of actitivities in
training and networking oriented toward delivery in West Africa;
it also presented a general strategy for the development of state
of the art activities which was to be followed up by the
development of a long-term action plan for SOTA by the Technical
Committee. It did not mention the development of an economics
of farming systems training unit, or the development of training
courses on FSR/E for non-practitioners. Neither did it mention
the development of an improved budgeting and financial management
information system. The sections of the Plan describing
implementation appear to lack the level of detail and integration
called for in the PES.
In a letter to the FSSP Director in March of 1986 (Appendix
5), S&T/AGR responded to the 1986 Work Plan. It stated that both
S&T and Africa Bureau representatives had reviewed the Plan and
that the Plan failed to meet minimum requirements. It accepted
the implementation of six activities upon AID approval of a
detailed budget for each; it generally endorsed six other
activities provided AID received and approved a revised work plan
presenting the rationale and course of action for each activity
along with appropriate budgetary information; it rejected the use
of AID funds for the implementation of seven activities, mainly
because they were viewed as being of little or no value to AID.
The letter further stated that the FSSP Core Staff should
not engage in activities called for in the Cooperative Agreement
which required action beyond the termination date of the
Agreement (September, 1987). Any further AID support of the
project would be decided after an End-of-Project evaluation was
completed and renewed competition taken place.
In December of 1986, S&T reviewed its decision to
discontinue FSSP after expiration of the current Cooperative
Agreement (Appendix 6). It found that accomplishments of FSSP
during 1986 were positive and significant, and suggested that
additional time and funding were necessary in order to
consolidate progress and assure pay-off to AID investment to
date. As a result, the Project received a three-month extension
to December 31, 1987 and an additional $300,000 in Project
III. FSSP ACCOMPLISHMENTS SINCE MID-TERM EVALUATION
As a result of the Mid-Term Evaluation, directives from S&T
in response to the 1986 Work Plan, and a reduction in core
funding for 1986 and 1987 from a planned $4 million to just over
$1 million, the size of the FSSP Core Staff was reduced, several
activities were dropped, and resources were concentrated in fewer
activities designed to either capitalize and consolidate previous
work or spin off to other agencies activities that should be
continued over the longer term. The following is summary of the
activities engaged in and accomplishments by FSSP since June of
1985, broken down by activity category, based on a review of
annual and quarterly reports, plus supplementary information
provided by the FSSP core staff.
A. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Due to a less-than-anticipated level of demand and a
significant reduction in resources available to the Project, the
level of effort dedicated to the provision of technical
assistance to AID Missions declined substantially in the period
since June of 1985. Only five missions were undertaken, all of
which were located in Latin America and the Carribbean,
presumably 1007 funded by local AID Missions.
At this point, it is not clear whether the lack of activity LIFl- i -~
in technical assistance represents the lack of the need for vu o-
service, or the perception that FSSP possesses no particular
comparative advantage in providing that service. (The responses
to the Mission survey should provide some guidance on this.)
1. Training Courses
During the period from June, 1985 up to the present
(September, 1987), the FSSP either organized and presented or
participated in thirteen training courses, short courses and
workshops. The training provided consisted of three basic types,
depending upon the level of prior knowledge and experience of the
participants with FSR/E concepts and methodologies.
The first type were the short courses (4-7 days) which
provide an overview of the basic concepts, philosophy and skills
of FSR/E. Five courses of this type were presented: one in Latin
America, two in West Africa, and two in the United States.
The second type of training involved a longer, more in-depth
treatment of methodologies and issues of FSR/E, taking
approximately three weeks and extensively utilizing the emerging
set of training materials put together by FSSP. Two courses were
held in 1986 in the Gambia (in English) and Mali (in English and
French) which covered topics in diagnosis and problem definition,
design, analysis and evaluation of on-farm experiments, and
special topics including institutionalization of FSR/E, linkages
with commodity-focused research, gender issues and analysis and
research-extension linkages. In developing this type of course,
FSSP drew considerably from CIMMYT's experience in East and
__~__~__I_ _~_r__ __ ____ ~ __ __ ~___ ~~_ ___ __~_~ ______I_~_L_ _____ ___ ______~_ __
Southern Africa, and included as trainers and resources persons
people from West Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The third type of training focused on specific topics or
activities within the FSR/E framework. Two workshops were held
which focused on gender issues in FSR/E, one of which involved
training of trainers. Two others provided training on sub-topics
(design and analysis and organization and management of FSR/E to
specific interested groups.
The quality of the training programs was uneven during the
first years of the Project, and has improved considerably over
time with the development of more and better training materials
as well as a cadre of trainers which has improved with
experience. The Training Units enabled more trainee
participation through the provision of individual and group
excercises which reinforced underlying concepts. This was a
major improvement over earlier training approaches which utilized
mostly passive teaching techniques (presentations and lectures).
A review of evaluation reports from a sampling of the
training courses presented by FSSP revealed a generally strong
positive response from the trainees, with LDC trainees providing
a stronger positive rating than domestic (US) trainees.
Typically, trainees favored direct participation in group
activities (analyses, field practice), as opposed to lectures,
slide presentation, and the like. It is also evident from the
evaluations that one of the objectives of the training sessions
was to test and improve the Training Units. On the critical
side, there was generally a feeling that too much material was
being presented with too little time for background reading and
"digesting". Some aspects o+ FSR were covered in too much
detail, while other more complex issues (e.g. statistics)
received insufficient attention.
2. Training Materials
One of the major tangible products of the Project
are sets of training materials which eventually facilitated
marked improvements in the quality of training being provided to
FSR/E practitioners and students.
By way of background, during the time the Project began,
there was much talk of farming systems but precious few materials
available with which to teach not only philosophy but also the
"how to do it" of FSR/E. The lack of didactic material explains
in part why the initial training courses were so weak. Three
types of materials were developed:
a. Slide-Tape Modules
The slide-tape modules represented FSSP's
first attempt to quickly and cheaply develop visual materials
which presented introductory material as well as some of the
analytical techniques and processes germaine to FSR/E. For the
most part, these were developed at the initiation of Project
- activities, and were used in the initial training courses and
presentations undertaken by FSSP. The modules reflected the
prior experience and background of the Florida staff at the time,
with the majority of slides coming from a Latin American context.
While these materials were appropriate for some purposes, they
were not "stand alone" because they represented mainly passive
learning and because they lacked Africa-specific content. At the
time they were developed, however, they were state-of-the-art.
The more participatory approach to training has meant that
reliance on the modules has declined, though many (especially the
introduction to FSR/E modules) are still in use and still being
requested of FSSP by interested parties.
b. Training Units
Up to the time of this report, two volumes of
the Training Units have been developed and released in July of
1986 for purchase and use by the farming systems network. They
have been used and tested extensively in training courses, and,
responding to constructive criticism as well as advancements in
FSR/E scope and methodology, are in the process of being expanded
Volume I is entitled Diagnosis in Farming Systems Research
and Extension, and contains nine units. Each unit outlines one
step in the diagnosis process, from.putting together a multidis-
ciplinary research team to drawing conclusions from formal and
informal surveys and developing an on-farm research program.
Volume It is entitled Techniques for Design and Analysis of
On-Farm Experimentation. It contains five units which examine
test selection and design through analysis of experimental
results. A sixth unit presents techniques for management and
administration of a farming systems research and extension
program at the field level.
The Units are in loose leaf form so that material may be
added or deleted as the knowledge base expands. The units contain
notes for trainers as well as guides for students which present
basic concepts'and then require students to participate in
practice exercises, often in a group situation. The training
notes are complemented by publications produced outside of FSSP
which provide more in-depth information on specific topics. Each
volume does not represent a training course per se, but is meant
to be used as resource material from which to draw in the
preparation of customized courses designed to fit the needs of
the specific group or situation being addressed.
The intellectual material provided in the Training Units was
not developed exclusively by FSSP. Rather, it represents the
collective and individual thoughts and lessons learned of a broad
group of farming systems practitioners. The major FSSP
t ~_ __ _~ ____ ~
contribution has been the pulling together of the material, its
organization and presentation in an appropriate training format.
As mentioned above, the Training Units are being revised,
with some modification being made of existing material, plus
major additions of new material on crop-livestock interactions,
economic analysis, and management and administration of FSR/E.
The revised set of training units will be organized as follows
and should be available by the end of 1987 in English (French and
Spanish?). The first three units will be presented and reviewed
at a workshop proceeding the 1987 Farming Systems Symposium.
Volume I Diagnosis of FSR/E
Volume II Design of On-Farm Experimentation
Volume III Analysis of On-Farm Experimentation
Volume IV Management and Administration of FSR/E
For purposes of this paper, a network is defined to be
a collection of individuals and/or institutions with interests
and capabilities in a specific subject area, and with an
organizational structure that facilitates interaction and
communication among the network participants.
As part of its original strategy, FSSP undertook to develop
what became known as the Support Entity (SE) Network, a
collection of 21 U.S. universities and 4 consulting firms. Each
SE signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the FSSP that served as
a mechanism for formal linkage through which subcontracts and
funding could be addressed when the need arose to accomplish
specific tasks. The activities of the SE network centered around
a set of communications mechanisms, including the FSSP
Newsletter, two internal newsletters (On-Demand and On-
Networking), the publication and distribution of a Networking
Papers series of workshop reports and technical documents, and
the Annual Farming Systems Symposium held at Kansas State
University since 1981. The SE Network was, in turn, part of the
broader population of farming systems practitioners and
interested parties, which had no formal organizational structure
but was served by FSSP principally through the Newsletter and to
a lesser degree by attendance at the Annual Symposium.
The above networking activities were established and
functioning before the mid-term evaluation, and are discussed and
evaluated in some detail in the Mid-Term Evaluation Report.
Networking over the past two years has involved a continuation of
previous activities, plus some specific efforts in West Africa.
In March of 1985, a workshop on animal traction was held in
Togo. Out of this effort grew interest and support for the
establishment of an animal traction network, which was eventually
formed as a sub-network of the West African Farming Systems
Research Network (WAFSRN). In September, 1986, FSSP co-sponsored
a second regional workshop on animal traction in cooperation
with the West African Integrated Livestock Systems Committee, a
sub-group of WAFSRN. The "networkshops" brought together
people with similar backgrounds and professional interests, and
facilitated interchange of research results and ideas.
In March of 1986, FSSP helped organize and participated in
the first meeting of WAFSRN in Dakar, Senegal. Agreements were
reached for stronger linkages between the network and FSSP. With
subsequent cuts in funding and level of effort, the major FSSP
contribution has been the facilitation of non-USAID funding
support for WAFSRN and help in establishing a home-base and full
time network leadership.
In its networking activities in Africa, FSSP intended to
organize around specific topics of interest, such as animal
systems, on-farm experimentation and general FSR/E methodology,
and training in African Universities. While significant progress
was made on the animal systems theme, organization along-other
topic lines is still nascent or non-existent.
D. SYNTHESIS AND ANALYSIS
One of the major weak spots of FSSP performance found
by the Mid-Term Evaluation Team was the lack of a strategy to
capture the essence of lessons learned and changes and
improvements in FSR/E technique and methodology. In response to
this criticism, FSSP charged its Technical Committee to come up
with a strategy for synthesis and analysis. Such a strategy was
to focus on comparative analysis of FSR/E experiences, drawing
lessons to determine which methods have been successful, which
have not, and why. The effort did not call for the creation of
special projects, but rather synthesis by practitioners of their
The principal product of the synthesis/analysis process was
the development of the Training Units. As described previously,
these units present the basic concepts and methodology of FSR/E
which are based on experience and thought by practitioners over
time. The major topics targeted for synthesis into training
materials are crop-livestock interactions and the economic
analysis of on-farm experiments.
Another example of synthesis done by FSSP was the tc
preparation of a report for the Office of Technology Assessment <
of the Congress of the United States. The report provides an f'ed(
overview of farming systems methodology and philosophical
underpinnings, as well as comparing and contrasting FSR/E to the
conventional model of agricultural research and extension.
In collaboration with the Population Council and the Ford
Foundation, FSSP organized the preparation of a set of case
studies which examined intra-household decision making and the
role of gender in FSR/E. The lessons learned from the studies have
_~_ _____~_ ___.___ __.__.__ __ _1__ __ _~ ___ _~
been incorporated into the set- of variables looked at in
diagnosing conditions and problems in existing systems, and
in the design of more appropriate research and extension
Finally, though perhaps not its specific intent and purpose,
the Networking Paper Series contains a total of 15 articles
authored for the most part by farming systems field practitioners
(Appendix 7). Among the topics dealt with are: implementation
problems, rapid rural appraisal, lessons learned from a decade of
on-farm research, on-farm trial design, draught animal systems,
and farmer participation in FSR/E.
E. OTHER ACTIVITIES/PRODUCTS
There are a number of other activities in which the
FSSP has engaged in or supported which are not easily
classifiable into the above mentioned categories. For the most
part, they responded to the needs of AID, the FSSP Core Staff or
the broader FSR/E network. Each is briefly described below.
MSTAT is a statistical package for on-farm
experimental design analysis, which has been developed by
Michigan State University for use on personal computers. The
FSSP signed a subcontract with MSU for support of the development
and dissemination of MSTAT, contributing a total of $230,000.
This financial support ended in 1985 with cutbacks to the FSSP
2. FSR/E Practitioner Biodata Base
In order to facilitate provision of technical
assistance for FSR/E, the FSSP developed and assembled a database
of farming systems practitioners selected mainly from among the
faculty and staff of the Support Entities. The roster was
consulted extensively by FSSP, AID, consulting firms and
universities in order to identify candidates for both short and
long-term field assignments for farming systems projects. The
use and maintenance of the database was curtailed after the mid-
term evaluation due to its perceived low priority in relation to
other activities given severe budget cuts.
3. Farming Systems Project Directory
As a mechanism for facilitating communication
among farming systems practitioners in the field worldwide, the
FSSP took on the task of identifying and describing projects with
farming systems components being implemented not only by USAID
but by other donors as well. The projects and programs were
grouped by country and geographical region, and information was
provided regarding the nature of the project, time frame, key
personnel, and donor. A draft directory was printed and sent to
all who had contributed information. The activity was suspended
due to low perceived priority and budget cuts.
4. Africa Orientation Books
Reacting to what was seen to be a paucity of
information readily available for orientation of FSR/E technical
assistance team to countries in West Africa, FSSP funded the
University of Florida African Studies Center to collect in a
looseleaf notebook form appropriate materials. The Center has
produced books for --------countries--------------------, which
are updated periodically and which are available by subscription.
5. Guidelines for Evaluation of FSR/E Projects
Based on a perceived lack of a systematic
methodology for evaluating the effectiveness of FSR/E Projects,
FSSP set up a task force to develop and field test a strategy for
examining not only short-run project products but also longer-run
institutional strengthening processes. THis effort was viewed as
not being particularly useful by some AID staff members, since
AID already has well established procedures for project
evaluation. The results of the exercise by the task force are
contained in a draft document dated August, 1986. Work has been
discontinued due to budgetary restrictions.
6. Project Handbook
The FSSP Core staff developed a handbook which
reached an advanced draft stage early in 1985 and was printed and
distributed. The handbook contains material describing the
principles of FSR/E and a series of comments and guidelines
regarding the development, design, implementation and evaluation
of agricultural research and extension projects, with emphasis on
7. Farming Systems Library/Documentation
Supported by a subcontract from FSSP, the Farrell
Library at Kansas State University has established and maintained
a collection of farming systems research documents. A cumulative
bibliography lists the materials held in the collection, and all
are available from the library on microfiche. In addition, KSU
has collaborated with AID/S&T/DIU on the preparation of the
publication 'Annotated Bibliography of Readings on Farming
Systems', which began in 1984 with the first volume. The first
three volumes were translated into English and Spanish. The
fourth volume, which is the last issue to receive support from
FSSP, is available only in English.
__~_____C_ ~__ ______
The external mid-term evaluation contained a long list of
recommendations for modifiying the objectives and activities of
FSSP. The principal recommendation, which was both implicitly
and explicitly contained in the detailed activity-specific
recommendations, was that the FSSP Core Staff and the various
stakeholders within AID develop a consensus as to what objectives
and strategy should be followed during the final years of the
project. The output of the consensus was to take the form of a
redesign of the project, the development of a revised logical
framework, both of which would be reflected in a detailed
workplan of objectives and activities for 1986.
As is evident from previous discussion in the first two
sections of this paper, neither the building of a consensus nor
the redesign of the project took place. The FSSP Core presented
a work plan for 1986 which, similar to those presented .for
previous year, was largely descriptive of activities in progress
or planned, but short on overall strategy and interrelationships
among activities. AID dissatisfaction with the plan, as outlined
in the March, 1986 letter, provoked the acceptance of some
activities, the rejection of others, and a decision to severely
reduce project funding and not extend the Cooperative Agreement
past its termination date.
It is not a simple matter to state exactly why a consensus
on objectives and strategy was never reached. It is our view
that this was bue to two factors. First, there was a good deal
of ambiguity as to nature and status of farming systems research Qc- cI-
just prior to project design, which was reflected in a general / t j
lack of clarity in the original project design. Due to the lack (
of clarity, the various stakeholders in the process developed
different sets of expectations. For example, some people in AID ,'j .
expected a very strong focus on Africa, almost to the exclusion
of other areas, while others subscribed to the broader worldwide
view as expressed in the Project Paper and Cooperative Agreement.
Assumptions were also made by many people that a
significant cadre of professionals with experience and talent in
farming system work was readily available to provide technical
assistance, which was not the case. In addition, contrary to
expectations, very few training materials adapted for language
and cultural differences were available, especially for Africa.
Second, at least in part as a result of of the above
factors, there were some incidents early on that served to set a
somewhat negative tone to the relationship between the Florida
group and AID/Washington. Some members of the Core staff took
criticism by AID of their early efforts personally, personality
conflicts developed, and in frustration both sides apparently
decided not to seriously attempt to overcome the differences and
work toward achieving a consensus. Each side perceived the other
as not being willing to be flexible and compromise. The
different actors within AID were not totally consistent and in
agreement in expressing their desires and concerns to the Core.
__ __C__ _1__1 __ ___I__ __ __~ ___ _~__ _
Given the criticism and ambiguity, some of the Core members
explicitly chose not to pay further attention to AID/W,
concentrating their attention on other client groups including
AID Field Missions, host country institutions, and the network of
Support Entities and farming systems practitioners.
The result of all this is somewhat of a paradox. On the one
hand, the Project has received a very negative rating in AID/W,
while at the same time a fairly positive rating from AID
Missions, especially in Africa. And while it was unable to
adequately address the needs and concerns of AID/W, the Project
did produce a number of useful products and support a number of
processes that may serve to influence the direction and nature of
farming systems work over the coming years. To what extent this
will happen depends at least in part on AID's decision as to
whether to continue to fund a centralized support operation for
farming systems work, and on the nature and intensity of activity
such support would involve.
Since the Project was not re-designed explicitly, the only
real basis for evaluation are the original intentions as
expressed in the Cooperative Agreement and the Project Paper.
Referring back to the expected Project outputs and activities
presented in the introduction to this document, we conclude that
overall a creditable job was done in some areas, while in others
performance was lacking.
Specifically, training, while initially weak and somewhat
unorganized, improved significantly over time, aided by the
development of the set of training materials and expertise gained
by the trainers with experience. As trainers become more adept
and materials improve, the demand for training is expected to
continue to remain strong or even strengthen. The total number
of training courses held or directly supported by FSSP for LDC
field technicians exceeded the number called for in the PP. Few
courses, on the other hand, have been provided specifically for
LDC policy makers, administrators and educators.
The demand for technical assistance was considerably less
than originally expected, which may have been influenced by
difficulties with the startup of training and other activities.
With a few exceptions, the quality of the technical assistance
provided to AID Missions was well regarded.
Publications containing field recommendations, which were
originally envisioned as outputs of the synthesis/analysis of
lessons learned from experience, were not produced as such.
Rather, individual practitioners provided recommendations based
on their own experience through the Newsletter and the Networking
Paper series. In addition, the important aspects of the evolving
state of the art in FSR/E were incorporated into the training
The Project Paper called for the establishment of seven
regional FSR/E networks. Over its five-year life, the FSSP
created one network consisting of Support Entities from the i. h
United States, had substantial participation in the development
of a subject area network (crop-livestock interactions) in West
Africa, and provided support to the West African Farming
Systems Network in trying to help WAFSRN select leadership and
establish a home base. It is not clear just how many networks
would have been optimum, especially given the nearly exclusive
focus on West Africa during the second half of the Project. FSSP
did not see its role as establishing networks, but rather
supporting ones that were already in existence.
Several workshops and networkshops were held. Few of them,
however, were based on a determination of need coming from FSR/E
practitioners. Most involved orientation to FSR/E, while others
concentrated on methodology or specific issues such as gender or
In our view, the FSSP complied in creditable manner in
publishing a quarterly newsletter that reported insights gained
by practitioners and generally kept the broader farming systems
interest group informed of activities and advancements in FSR/E;
through the subcontract with Kansas State University, publishing
an annual annotated bibliography of literature dealing with
farming systems; and established within S&T/DIU a documentation
center for FSR/E literature that, upon individual request,
provides copies of uncopywritten works not only during the life
of the project, but after the project ends as well.
Summing up, it is our opinion that a significant number of
activities were undertaken and done well. In a sense, farming
systems is now at the stage of development that was assumed to be
the case by some five years ago. Many of the activities and
products are of fairly recent origin, such as the Training Units,
training courses in West Africa, and the networks which have
recently been formed or are in the process of being formed. It
is our belief that the philosophical underpinnings and methods
contained in the farming systems approach continue to be relevant
to the needs of the developing world, and that work in this area
should continue. We urge AID to seriously consider ways in which
investments already made can be further capitalized on. To
further this thought process, we are presenting a number of ideas
and suggestions contained in a concept paper which is a companion
to this document.