Possible future directions of farming systems research and extension : a concept paper

Material Information

Possible future directions of farming systems research and extension : a concept paper
Brown, Albert L.
Chapman, James A.
Castro, Roberto J.
United States. Agency for International Development.; Office of Agriculture.
United States. Agency for International Development.; Bureau for Science and Technology.
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C.
Agency for International Development,
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
ii, 40, 13 leaves ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural extension work -- Planning.
Agricultural systems -- Research -- Planning


General Note:
"March, 1988."
General Note:
At head of title: Draft.

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University of Florida
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Resource Identifier:
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Full Text
Albert L. (Scaff) Brown, Team Leader James A. Chapman, Agricultural Economist
CHEMONICS INTERNATIONAL CONSULTING DIVISION 2000 M Street, N.W., Suite 200 Washington, D.C. 20036
Roberto J. Castro, Agricultural Economist BUREAU FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Office of Agriculture Division of Economic Policy and Sector Analysis
March, 1988

Archive Only

A. A Conceptual Framework for Future 14
Development of Farming Systems Methodologies
1. Processes 16
a. Problem Identification 16
b Project/Program Development 16
C. Networking 16
d Synthesis of Experiences 17
e. Methodology Development 17
f. Training and Maintenance 17
g. Institutionalization 17
h., Traditional Farming Systems Process as an example 17
2. Activities 22
a. Improvement of Farming Systems Methodologies 22
b. Institutional Issues 24
C. Policy Linkages 25
B. Priorities for Future USAID Support 25
of Farming SYstems
1. Mechanisms for future support 26
a. Discontinue support 27
b. Maintain support at previous levels 28
C. Fold farming systems into other projects 29 d. Establish a farming systems secretariat 29
2. Recommendation 30
C. Prioritization of future farming systems activities 36 a. Conduct of an impact assessment 36
b. Farming systems training 37
C. Institutionalization of the farming systems appr' ciach in national research and extension systems 38
d. Transfer of farming systems technology 38
e. Linkages between farming systems and policy 39 f. Communications among practitioners 40

I. Possible Future Support to Farming Systems Activities
II. Responses of FSSP Support Entity Network.

For the past five years, since September of 1982, the A.I.D. Office of A agriculture of the Bureau for Science and Technology, through its Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP), has provided support to the development of farming systems 'research and extension; a support that concentrated in the areas of technical assistance, training and networking A.I.D. has decided to end support of.FSSP as of December "31, 1987, for reasons outlined in the End-of-Project Evaluation and other documents. However, the importance of farming systems work for agricultural development in general, and for the small farm sector in particular, continues to be recognized.
The purpose of this document is to stimulate discussion
regarding the future direction and focus of efforts by A.I.D. and other donors to support work in farming systems research and development. It contains a brief analysis of the historical reasons why the farming systems approach came about, an examination of possible areas where future work in farming systems could concentrate, a discussion of possible options that'A.I.D, could use to channel future support, and recommendations regarding priority activities for the short- and medium-term.

The farming systems approach to agricultural development came into existence in response to the inability or'lack of response of certain types of farmers, particularly small, limited-resource farmers, to adopt new agricultural technologies, technologies that emanated from the universities, the international agricultural research centers, and the private sector.
For many years, development specialists believed that farmers
did not adopt technology because they were backward, uneducated and possessed a traditional mentality that rejected change. This concept gradually changed as professionals, undertaking field research in developing countries, began to communicate directly with small farmers. They discovered that resistance to technology adoption was due not to mentality but rather to the myriad of constraints and lack of incentives facing farmers. Principal factors limiting adoption were: (1) lack of access to capital inputs, (2) output prices which negated profitability of new technology, (3) nil or difficult access to markets, and (4) enterprise rigidities which responded to the needs of farmers for food, off-farm employment, and livestock care. Such limiting factors did not facilitate the adop-tion of technology designed to be

: plied to a monocron situation. As further evidence, Theodore Schultz, in his landmark book "Transforming Traditional Agriculture," establishes that small farmers are relatively efficient producers, from an economic standpoint, in allocating their scarce av.aila-ble resources Io alternative productive activities off the farm as well as on.
Why was there a lack of "appropriate technology"? One reason
has to do with the evolution of the structure of agriculture in the developed world, especially in the United States. Until the 1930s and 40s, the U.S. agricultural production sector was characterized by small family farms. Those farms were served by a land grant research and extension system composed of professionals from farm backgrounds in tune with the needs and circumstances of their clientele, the farmers.
Around the 1950s, the structure of agriculture changed, spurred on at least in part by the invention of labor-saving technologies which enabled a single farmer to productively farm larger and larger areas of land. Unfavorable cost-price relationships meant that farm size had to increase i-n order to generate adequate incomes. "Get big or get out" was the theme of the day, and continues to be so. The rapid pace of industrialization and the development of the service sector provided the mechanism for absorbing much of the

displaced farm labor. Farms got bigger and controlled more resources.
As part of this process, the land grant system also evolved to better serve the needs of a new clientele: larger farm businesses with substantial resource bases. To address the more specialized technology needs of the new farming structure, universities became more specialized, divided into disciplines and sub-disciplines, to a great extent losing their multidisciplinary perspective and interest in the farm-household. Farm management, the area where the various disciplines were integrated into a whole farm perspective, was in effect reduced to a sub-discipline of agricultural economics..
Another contributing factor was the general direction of
technological change. It had a definite bias toward innovations resulting in marketable and patentable products rather than more general techniques and cultural practices whose benefits are not necessarily capturable by the innovator. Although the literature is filled with information about the contributions of the land grant system; it appears that the "private sector", by developing and exporting technology embedded in inputs and machinery, has had a greater role than realized in shaping the patterns of technological change in world agriculture.

The methodology of agricultural research was transferred to the developing countries through: (a) the education and training of LDC professionals in U.S. universities who later returned to positions of leadership in their own countries, and (b) via programs through which U.S. universities helped organize and develop faculties of LDC universities. Thus, though not intended, the same bias toward larger farmers, with greater access to resources, was transferred to the LDC agricultural research establishment.
Perhaps more important than education regarding research organization and methodology was the transfer to LDCs of the technology itself; for the most part contained in hybrid seeds, chemical inputs and machinery and implements. It facilitated concentration of agricultural production on larger units while at the same time lowering overall labor requirements. In contrast to the U.S. situation,.displaced labor could not be absorbed by the usually underdeveloped industrial sector. As a result, significant portions of the population settled on hillsides and marginal lands less well suited for agriculture.
Small farmers, in .LDCs, make up a large percentage of the rural population and their production impacts considerably on national food supplies--especially with respect to staple food crops such as rice, corn and beans. Thus, a definite demand, more latent than

expressed, existed for the development of the farming systems approach.
The farming systems approach was developed and refined over time through trial and error in the field by an initially small gr6up of researchers, a cadre that came to develop a better understanding of the constraints faced by small farmers in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.. Among the better known developers and proponents of the approach were Collinson and Norman in Africal-Hildebrand and Hart in Latin America, and Bradfield, Harwood and Zandstra in Asia. These original implementers and proponents of the farming systems approach came from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, mainly agronomy and agricultural economics, and were able to recognize the contribution to problem-solving that various disciplines could make. Apparently, in the early stages, there was minimal communication among the researchers among continents, and with the exception of Asia, within continents, so several researchers came up with similar conclusions and strategies independently during roughly the same time period.
P roblems related to the approach began when it became a fad among the international donor community, in a pattern similar to other short-lived approaches to agricultural development-integrated rural development, institution building, agricultural'

sector modeling, and most recently, private sector development. The notion and concepts surrounding farming systems research, or FSR as it was more commonly known, were accepted and adopted by members of the broader academic and research community who had not really participated in its development. They did, however, help "sell" the idea to the donor community, and soon farming systems came to be viewed by many as a panacea rather than simply an approach to development and transfer of technology adapted to the needs of small farmers.. To what extent this approach has lived up to its billing?. 'This question will be addressed by the inventory/assessment of farming systems experiences, a worldwide activity that A.I.D. has commissioned to the Farming Systems Network. Their report will provide a better understanding of the role and contribution of the farming systems approach to overall rural development in g eneral and to technology transfer in particular.
A major problem early on was the lack of a uniform definition of what farming systems was and was not. Confusing terminology proliferated, and many people assigned their own definitions, there by adding to the -confusion. The lack of clear definition and uniformity of terms meant that some projects and programs were doing farming systems type work without acknowledging the label, while others were doing something else ari-d-calling it farming systems.

The term farming systems proliferated in the development of new AID projects, in part because project developers believed that using that label would assure rapid project approval. During the early 1980s, A.I.D.-financed farming systems projects and projects with farming systems components increased significantly to the point where the majority of countries in which A.I.D. works now have or have had farming systems projects. A survey conducted by FSSP in 1985, concluded that there were some 250 medium- and long-term projects worldwide carrying out farming systems work. Since 1978, A.I.D. has'funded 76 bi-lateral, regional, and centrally-funded projects containing either a farming systems orientation or clearly focusing on farming systems work (45 in Africa, 19 in Asia/Near East, 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean and 1 Worldwide). Furthermore, new projects, with farming systems components, are being designed and coming on-line
If the number of farming systems projects was increasing rapidly during the 1980s, the supply of qualified technical assistance was not. Few well-trained professionals, with broad field experience, were available to provide the quantity and quality of technical assistance required by the projects. Given the short supply of professionals with broad field experience in applying the farming systems approach, the quality of technical assistance was mixed at best. As a result, poor performance' in implementing a number of

projects contributed to a downgrading of the approach in the eyes of many development professionals.
Given the nature of events that had occurred, it is no wonder that farming systems fell so quickly from favor. Initially, this approach stimulated high expectations; it appeared to be something new, with a potential for changes that would benefit everybody, or at least not hurt anybody; and, it focused on helping directly the poorer segments of the rural population. At the same time, there was a general misconception regarding the level of development of the state of the art in farming systems implementation; also, there was. a miscalculation of the length of time required to institutionalize the approach, and to produce technologies appropriate for adoption by limited resource farmers. Nevertheless, a vocal minority of university faculty members and the small group of professionals with broad field experience eagerly jumped on the bandwagon. Many of the senior university faculty viewed farming systems as a reinvention of an old wheel (farm management), resented the notoriety that farming systems was getting, and for the most part have not participated in the projects and networks. Looking back, such reaction was unfortunate, as input from those with a broader historical perspective, perhaps, could have reduced the timing for developing the emerging farming systems methodologies.

The essence of farming systems is not the various methodologies and points of view that have arisen. Rather, it is the basic client orientation thht is inherent in the philosophy of the approach, if not always evident in h-ow it is practiced. A multidisciplinary group of researchers examines a system, assesses its particular set of surrounding circumstances, and develops a diagnosis as to where problems lie, and potential solutions to those problems exist. Based on the diagnosis, an applied research strategy is designed to help. alleviate key constraints, usually focused on a combination of crop and/or animal enterprises. Experiments are designed and carried out on a number of representative farmers' fields, with the efforts hopefully resulting in the development of new practices and their "q uick" adoption by local farmers facing similar .circumstances. The literature is cluttered with numerous terms and definitions which for the most part represent minor variations around this central basic concept. It should be very clear to all that farming systems development is not a panacea or solution to all agricultural production problems. It does, however, have its place within the technology -development and transfer continuum between basic commodity research and transfer of proven technology to farmers.

The Farming Systems approach consists not only of activities but a flow of information as well, a flow that benefits to both developers of technologies and those who use them. Undertaken correctly, farming systems work, by combining elements of research and extension, both in an interactive and iterative mode, provide the linkage that is often missing between these two components of the technology transfer process.
At this point in time, it is inappropriate to pass judgment on the overall effectiveness of farming systems work worldwide: many projects are on-going while some are just getting started. What does seem clear is that progres s in technology development and transfer requires a longer time frame than is usually conceded in a project-type framework. Thus, farming systems projects tend to be downgraded; and it is so because tangible results in terms of increased productivity and incomes are not evident two or even four years into a project. What farming systems does offer is a process, a process that is philosophically and logically appealing, but with no guarantee of the en-d result--which in most cases depends upon factors usually beyond the control of farming systems practitioners.

Despite the problems with performance and unrealized
.expectations, there still exists a substantial group of "believers" in the basic validity of the farming systems approach. Such a group comprises a variety of interests: younger faculty members of U.S. universities (mainly social scientists), IARCs scientists--who have incorporated aspects of the approach into their training programs and standard operating procedures, and professionals in developing countries working in national research and extension programs. Moreover, there are still a number of on-going projects and programs with farming systems components; and significant progress has been made in training, networking and methodology development by FSSP, CIMMYT, IRRI, IDRC and others.
A few of the methods commonly associated with farming systems, especially the rapid rural appraisal or "sondeo", have been and are being adopted by other types of development efforts. For example, the Rapid Reconnaissance Methodology for assessing marketing systems, is the cornerstone of the S&T/RD Agricultural Marketing Improvement Strategies Project. Other applications of the rapid appraisal approach extend to the assessment of fishery projects, and the monitoring of water management activities. In a sense, such methods have taken on a life of their own but must be properly attributable to work in farming systems. It is clear, that whether or not farming systems survives as-.a methodology per se, its

influence on agricultural development will be felt for a long time to come.
Several questions arise regarding the future of farming systems and the appropriate role of the approach ih agricultural development. Should support of farming systems work be withdrawn? Are the networks and programs established strong enough to stand on their own? If further assistance is required, what should the nature of this assistance be? What are the plans of donors other than A.I.D:? Given current budget and manpower constraints, what is the capacity of A.I.D. to provide financial and technical support for farming systems? Should there be a "bridge" with the existing FSSP project while a new strategy comes on line?
The balance of this paper will address some of those questions, presenting analyses, viewpoints, alternatives and recommendations as to A.I.D.'s future participation and focus in support of farming systems work.
A. A Conceptual Framework for Future Development of Farming
Systems Methodologies
In November of 1987, as part of the process of review of S&T/AGR activities in support of farming systems work, an

panel of farming systems experts and development specialists was selected and convened at the offices of Chemonics International in Washington, D.C. The panel, in a two-day meeting, accomplished two tasks: (a) reviewed the draft Final Evaluation of the Farming Systems Support Project, and (b) provided guidance as to the future activities in farming systems which S&T/AGR could consider funding in a follow-on to FSSP. The panel consisted of the following professionals:
- Albert Brown, rural development expert, Chemonics team
le-ader, and former head of the Rural Development Office of
the LAC Bureau;
- James Chapman, agricultural economist of Chemonics and a
farming systems professional with experience in Latin
America and Asia;
- Michael Collinson, agricultural economist, technical
Secretariat of the CGIAR, and farming systems expert with
20 years experience in Africa;
- Hubert Zandstra, agronomist, Director for Agriculture,
Food, and Nutrition of the Canadian International
Development Research Centre (IDRC), and a farming systems
expert with experience in Asia and Latin America;
- Lane Holdcroft, agricultural economist, independent consultant, and former head of the Technical Resources
Office of the Africa Bureau.;

- Calvin Martin, technical advisor to the Technical
Resources Office of the Africa Bureau;
- Michael Yates, rural sociologist of S&T/RD, formerly a
farming system professional of CIMMYT in Haiti; and
- Roberto Castro, agricultural economist of S&T/AGR, and
Project Officer of FSSP.
The results of the discussions summarized into a matrix format were presented to several farming systems professionals and practitioners, and to FSSP Support Entity representatives, at the Farming Systems Symposium held at the University of Arkansas in October, 1987. They were also presented to members of the Technical Sub-Committee for Agricultural Research and Extension of the A.I.D. Agricultural Sector Council.
Exhibit 1 schematically presents a framework for looking at processes and activities which either reinforce current farming systems work or look toward the future: where increased attention should be focused as part of farming systems-type efforts.
1. Processes
The left-hand column of the matrix details the sequence to
steps, usually implemented in the de development of an activity, from recognition of need and identification of the problem(s) through to

the institutionalization of the activity in national agricultural research and extension systems. The process is sequential, but not rigidly so. Not all the steps necessarily need to be included, the order may change according to circumstances; and successive iterations of previous steps may need to occur before problems are effectively solved or dealt with. An explanation follows of each of the steps.
a. Problem Identification
A need-to address a specific problem area through the
development and implementation of one or more specific activities is identified.
b. Project/Program Development
Based on the identification of a problem area, a specific
project or program is designed to correct the problem or advance the state-of-the-art.
C. Networking
Contacts are made among practitioners in different areas of a country or region to trade information regarding experiences in addressing or solving the particular problem. This may int. olve written or verbal communication, usually through newsletters, technical papers and seminars.

d. Synthesis of Experience
After a period of time has transpired, an analysis is carried
out of the experiences of several groups or projects in dealing with the problems, and lessons learned are synthesized.
e. Methodology Development
Based on experience over time, a methodology or set of
recommended procedures is developed to deal with the problem. The methodology may be written up in a handbook or incorporated into sets of training materials.
f. Training and Maintenance
once the methodology for addressing a problem is well developed, it is ready for transfer to those individuals or groups which can benefit from it--to more effectively carry out their work. As new experience is gained and the ability to deal with problems improved, the training materials and strategies need to be revised to incorporate the new knowledge.
9. Institutionalization
The resolution of certain problems may lie within the mandate of public or private institutions. As such, the issue is how best to incorporate into local institutions new modes of behavior so that identified problems are adequately-addressed on a routine basis.-


h. Traditional farming systems process as an example
As an example of the process, consider the development of what is commonly thought of as traditional farming systems research, the process of undertaking applied research on farmers' fields and extending the results.
The problem was the low productivity of small, limited resource farms and the non-adoption of available new technology developed on the research stations.
Projects and programs were the result of the recognition of this problem and the desire to solve it. Among those projects and programs were: the Cropping Systems Program at IRRIPin Philippines, the Puebla Project in Mexico, the Caqueza Project in Colombia, and the CATIE Farming Systems Project in Costa Rica.
Networks were established by some projects and programs to provide mutual technical assistance and a channel to share experiences. Notable in this area is the Asian Cropping Systems Network, which was established by IRRI's Cropping Systems Program in the mid 70s. More recently, the FSSP made significant efforts at networking, utilizing newsletters, worldwide and regional symposia, providing support to the West African Farming Systems Research Network (WAFSRN), and establishing .the Integrated Livestock Farming

Systems Network; the two latter in West Africa.
A synthesis of experiences with farming systems until 1982 was the product of the A.I.D.-commissioned study--Farming Systems Research and Development: Guidelines for Developing Countries--published in that year. Such study synthesized the outgrowth of individual and collective experience in Asia, Africa and Latin America up until that time.
The methodologies of farming systems were further developed and refined by FSSP, the IARCs with farming systems programs (especially CIMMYT and IRRI), other donors supporting farming systems activities (IDRC,GTZ), private firms, and individual field practitioners. FSSP prepared and field-tested two training manuals: On-farm Experimental Design and Analysis and Diagnosis of Farming Systems, and recently completed two other manuals: Analysis and Interpretation of On-Farm Experimentation, and Diagnosis, Design and Analysis in FSR/E.
Training in farming systems research and extension has been
undertaken extensively. through bi-lateral farming systems projects and formal courses. Those courses were planned and executed by FSSP in West Africa and Latin America, by CIMMYT in East Africa, and by the University of Hawaii, IRRI, and...others in Asia.

a. Improvement of farming systems methodologies
Farmer Participation
While research and extension activities are carried out on
farmers' fields, it often happens that the farmer himself is merely a bystander or laborer and is not effectively incorporated in either the research design or the research evaluation processes.
Crop-Livestock Interactions
Farming systems research had its origins mainly in cropping systems research, with little or no regard for the role or importance of livestock in farming systems. This issue appears especially important in West Africa, where FSSP has established the Integrated Livestock Farming Systems Network.
Gender Issues
In many areas of the world, especially Africa but increasingly so in Asia and Latin America as well, women play an important role in farm production systems. They act as both decision makers as well as providers of farm labor. Traditional research and extension systems often ignore this fact, with the result that the real users and potential evaluators of new technologies are mis-identified.

Institutionalization, through training and field practice, are taking place as a result of the application of principles and practices of the farming systems approach. How best to incorporate farming systems work into the standard operating procedures of, national research and extension institutions is still being tried and tested. ISNAR is in the process of developing and analyzing case studies on the incorporation of the farming systems approach in national research and extension systems, an activity that ISNAR calls On-Farm Client-Oriented Research. This effort should produce a synthesis of experience to date in this area.
2. Activities
On the matrix, the row headings indicate possible actions or activities which could/should be developed to improve the effectiveness of agricultural research and extension programs. Besides further work on traditional farming systems research, the range of possible activities include those designed to: (a) improve FSRIE methodologies, (b) deal with critical institutional issues, and (c) establish formal linkages to the agricultural policy-making process. Each topic is briefly discussed below...

Technology Transfer
Farming systems research is necessarily site-specific, but the resulting technologies developed may have wider application than is currently believed. There seems to be a need to identify new technologies as well as the conditions under which they are feasible/viable so that they may be made available to researchers and farmers in other parts of the country or in other countries. The S&T/AGR IBSNAT (International Benchmark Sites Network for Agrotechnology Transfer) Project is geared to partially satisfy such a need, for. it has the purpose of expediting the transfer of information for sustainable agriculture by using computerized programs.
Economic and Resource Sustainability
One area which does not always receive sufficient attention is the sustainability of new technologies, especially when they are designed for a specific set of circumstances which may be temporal in nature. This involves two considerations: (a) the potential impact of the new technology on the natural resource base, and (b) the potential economic contribution toward maintenance of a viable family farming operation, through adequate income levels at affordable input costs.

b. Institutional Issues
Organization and Management
Farming systems research and extension is being implemented in several countries generally under a project which creates a special "farming systems unit." Such units are administratively and budgetarily separate from the rest of the host institutions responsible for agricultural research and extension. As donor-funded projects terminate, or countries try to incorporate the approach into existing institutions without the support of a project, the question arises as how to integrate, organize and manage critical farming systems functions.Res earch-Extension Linkages
Questions continue regarding the dichotomy of research and
extension and how these two can be effectively linked to integrate an effective technology generation and transfer system. The farming systems approach, by combining both research and extension at the field level, might be the necessary integrator. The question still remains as to how to establish necessary linkages so that there is a more 'continuous backward and forward flow of information and technologies.

C. Policy Linkages
Farm-Based Policy Research
The private profitability of farm production and the
attractiveness of new agricultural technologies are affected by economic policies--influencing exchange rate, interest rate, and other relevant economic variables--and by agricultural policies--impacting on commodity and input prices, restricting free trade, and distorting other related factors. Those new technologies are developed and/or introduced into specific policy environments which affect their adoption or rejection and the distribution of benefits between producers, consumers and others. Farming systems researchers, who have intimate knowledge of the systems they are working with, are in a position to be useful to policy analysts-- in helping them to make better predictions about welfare and production effects of alternative policies. It would also be very useful for farming systems practitioners to understand how policy reforms impact on the technologies they are working with. To our knowledge, little empirical work has been done in this area.
B. Priorities for Future A.I.D. Support of Farming Systems
Should USAID decide to continue financial and intellectual support to farming systems worldwide, there is a need to establish

priority work areas, of greatest interest to AID, and to establish mechanisms through which support can be channeled.
It is obvious that different groups with legitimate interests in farming systems work will have different sets of priorities for future activities. Such groups include, but are not limited to, A.I.D. Field Missions, A.I.D. Regional Bureaus, U.S. Universities, private firms and individuals who participated in the FSSP Support Entity Network. Other groups, perhaps with stronger interests, .are the national research and extension systems that have received assistance in establishing and operating-farming systems projects and programs, and other donors committed to support farming systems efforts such as IDRC. Since budget limitations dictate that A.I.D. can neither support all activities nor place equal emphasis on those activities supported, it is necessary to make choices. The following is a suggested course of action for A.I.D., based upon information provided by some of the interested groups, taking into account the limited resources available to A.I.D for farming systems activities.
1. Mechanisms for future support
It seems clear that whether or not USAID/S&T takes any action at this time regarding funding of farming systems activities, work in

this area will continue for the foreseeable future. First, there are several projects with farming systems components, currently underway or in the planning stages, supported by A.I.D. as well as other donors. Second, as A.I.D./S&T support for farming systems work is decreasing, support by other organizations--such as World Bank, IDRC, and the International Centers--is either stable or increasing. Within A.I.D., the Africa Bureau continues to place priority on farming systems work as an integral part of its plan for support to agricultural research systems. Third, the products of work during the previous five years, especially the training materials, are just emerging, providing the opportunity to further capitalize on previous investments.
At this point, the following four basic options are available to A.I.D./S&T to be considered with respect to future support of farming systems.
a. Discontinue support
An argument could be made that the farming systems
approach, has matured, has developed a widely accepted
set of concepts and operating procedures, is currently
being supported by other donors, and thus requires no
further support from-S&T. However, farming systems

practitioners as well as other donors agree that there is a number of areas in which farming systems work need improvement--as outlined in a previous section of this paper. Thus, given A.I.D.'s leadership role in promoting and supporting farming systems early on through bi-lateral projects, synthesis of experiences, and funding of the FSSP, it seems logical that at least a modest amount of support should continue to be provided.
b. Maintain support at previous levels
Given the continuing importance of the farming systems approach as a strategy for development and transfer of agricultural technology to limited-resource farmers, it may be wise to fund a follow-on project to FSSP at similar funding level but with a different scope of work. Questions arise -regarding the nature of the design of the follow-on such as! what activities are to be undertaken, the concentration of efforts in a region o.r regions, and who should implement the project. Most important is the availability of resources to fund such an effort in an apparently ever worsening budget situation. Given that available

funds are already programmed, there would be a considerable lag period before a new project could get underway--perhaps as long as three years.
c. Fold farming systems into other projects
The basics of the farming systems approach are applicable to other subject areas as well as complementary to more general initiatives in agricultural technology generation and transfer. Thus, it may be possible to continue to support farming systems work under the "umbrella" of another effort. Two possibilities currently under consideration are'relevant. First, Congress has mandated increased attention to the sustainability of current and future agricultural systems--with regard to resource use and conservation, and consistent with maintenance of acceptable family income levels. Conceivably, many elements of the farming systems approach could be used to concentrate on sustainability issues, especially with respect to the limited-resource farmer client group.

Another possibility would be to specifically include farming systems in a new effort, the Agricultural Technology Initiative, now being designed (concept paper stage) for possible funding and implementation by S&T. The purpose of the initiative is to assist AID field missions and developing countries in the improvement of national systems for agricultural technology development, transfer and education. Work already done on farming systems would certainly make a significant contribution to the achievement of this objective, as well as provide continuity from previous efforts.
d. Establish a farming systems secretariat
Based on an estimated modest budgetary support ($100,000 to $300,000 per year), it would be possible to set up an independent secretariat which would act as an information clearinghouse and promotor for future farming systems work. The secretariat would consist .basically of a small professional and administrative staff: a Program Leader (preferably a farming systems expert with broad experience), a Data Base Management Specialist, a Grantsmanship Advisor,

and a Secretary. The activities of this core staff would be overseen by an Advisory Board consisting of highly-respected farming systems practitioners and donor representatives. The functions of the secretariat would be as follows:
-Act as a central clearinghouse for farming systems-related information.
-Strengthen and expand the new Farming Systems Network to include all individuals-.and institutions interested in continuing farming systems development work worldwide. Membership in the Network should include the IARCs, RARCs, NARS and others who have made significant contributions to the development of farming systems methodologies-*and are in a position to collaborate on future efforts.
-Establish and maintain linkages with AID and other donors to assure continued financing for maintenance of the secretariat core activities and support for specific initiatives as well.
- Help coordinate the-supply of and demand for expertise in farming systems by:

a. Assisting Farming Systems Network members to encounter
funding sources from among the interested donor
community to support farming systems development and
networking activities such as: Annual FSR/E
Symposium, regional-Workshops, and newsletter.
b. Maintaining a data base of individuals and
institutions with proven farming systems expertise.
c. Stimulating the demand for farming systems expertise
by promoting the farming systems approach among the
- donor community and the potential adopters of farming
systems methodologies.
d. Stimulating the demand for training in farming systems
by promoting both the training manuals and the
Training for Trainers Strategy developed by FSSP.
e. Strengthening existing regional Farming Systems
Although, in global terms, the secretariat is envisioned as a coordination mechanism rather than an implementation mechanism as was FSSP, it could provide limited support to A.I.D. field missions in the design and evaluation of FSR/E project and programs. It
*should, as far as possible, try to maintain an impartial and independent stance regarding implementation and funding, with all interested and capable parties recbi-ving equal access to information and consideration for tasks that the secretariat may help generate.

2. Recommendation
The major ideas and concepts underpinning farming systems work continue to enjoy strong support and acceptance from both the international donor community and the cadre of individuals and institutions that have been involved in farming systems activities in recent years. Given A.I.D.'s leading role in promoting and funding the implementation of the farming systems approach, as well as the original ten-year scope of FSSP, S&T would be remiss if some level of sUpport for the effort were not forthcoming. On the other hand, budget realities and a reduction in political support for a high level activity in farming systems would tend to preclude a follow-on to FSSP. Furthermore, given the level of activity in terms of bi-lateral FSR/E projects and given the strong interest of other donors in this approach--as reflected in current levels of support to on-going'activities--may not justify another large project.
The farming systems approach should definitely be considered for incorporation as a component in new projects and programs dealing with agricultural technology generation and dissemination, and with issues relating to limited-resource farmers. Specifically, the approach should be part of an overall technology development and transfer strategy that looks at all"parts of its continuum:

research, extension, evaluation, and adoption. It offers an avenue for conceptualizing and developing key institutional and informational linkages in the technology generation and transfer process which has not been present in traditional research-extension systems. Furthermore, farming systems methodologies could help in examining and resolving issues related to long-term sustainabilityof agricultural systems. Its client-oriented focus has the potential for providing valuable knowledge regarding farm family needs and behavior.
More than the survival of the term "farming systems," it is important that the experiences and lessons learned from implementation of the farming systems approach be incorporated into the standard operating procedures of agricultural research and extension systems. Indeed, there is a number of activities that need to be undertaken to fully realize the progress already achieved; also, there is a number of areas that needs further development to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the technology development process. A.I.D./S&T could provide leadership in implementing those areas and activities with a modest financial support. To ensure that those needs are satisfied, and taking into consideration S&T/AGR funding limitations, the recommendation
--strongly supported by the panel of experts and the Farming Systems Network--is that A.I.D. consider finding a Technical Secretariat.

Such a Secretariat will act as a focal point for on-going activities and networking related to farming systems, with a mandate as described previously.
Specifically, S&T could provide "seed" funding to enable the establishment of the Secretariat, which would require: rental of office space and equipment, employment of core staff, and operating expenses for-the first year. The proposed funding mechanism would be a grant. If A.I.D. resources are insufficient to fully fund this activity for a year, then it should solicit collaboration from other donors. In fact, even if funds are available, collaborative funding may be advisable in order to ensure broad interest and participation. The costs of starting up the Technical Secretariat could be reduced by placing it within another institution such as A.I.D., the CGIAR Secretariat, or an appropriate private sector institution. In any case, care would have to be taken to ensure the operational independence of the secretariat so as to encourage broad participation from all of the major practitioners as well as donors.
The primary initial task of the proposed Secretariat would be to ensure its longer run .survival by establishing self-financing mechanisms to be in place by the end of the first year. Such mechanisms could include:

o Establishment of Network membership dues
o Solicitation of long-term pledges of funding from
international donors and member institutions
o Establishment of a referral fee to be charged to-Network
member institutions which receive new business as a result
of the Secretariat's promotional efforts..
o" Proceeds from sales of subscriptions to network newsletters
and other publications.
C. Prioritization of future farming systems activities
This section is based on the premise that A.I.D. will indeed
continue supporting farming systems work in some form. It presents a set of priority activities for consideration, activities that derive from the views and opinions expressed by various parties interested in strengthening and fostering the farming systems approach. The appendices include specific information regarding the preferences expressed by the Support Entities of FSSP as well as a summary of A.I.D. field missions selected needs.
a. Conduct .of an impact assessment
Although many projects and programs have been and are undertaken utilizing the farming systems approach, information regarding their

impact on factors such as technology adoption, farm incomes, and national research and extension system performance are scarce. A comprehensive examination of the successes and failures of selected programs and projects should be undertaken to further clarify the expected benefits of the approach, and to provide additional guidance as to where further work needs to concentrate. Such a review should include not only A.I.D. projects, but efforts supported by-other donors and the activities of the IARCs as well.
b. Farming systems training
A great deal of the FSSP effort has gone into preparing training materials drawn from the collective experience of farming systems practitioners worldwide. There remains at the field-level substantial interest in receiving technical assistance in training: an assistance that is in place for delivery, because of the capability that FSSP and the IARCs contributed to create and build up. AID/S&T can further support training needs by facilitating publication and distribution of training materials, and by keeping field missions aware of where technical expertise exists that can be called upon as needed.. Provisions need to be made to facilitate updating of materials as new lessons are learned and to incorporate new areas of knowledge as they are developed.

C. Institutionalization of the farming systems approach
in national research and extension systems
Virtually all farming systems projects are linked with national research and extension systems in a variety of ways. More often, they are attached as independent units with separate budgets because of the high recurrent costs associated with on-farm field work and because of the danger of diversion of funds toward other activities. As projects terminate, farming systems units will have to find ways to compete for scarce resources with other components of the system. Decision makers will have to make difficult choices between employing larger numbers of people or maintaining a smaller force, but with adequate tools to do the job at hand. As mentioned previously, ISNAR is currently taking a look at current experience with this issue. The results of that exercise should be carefully examined to determine what steps need to be taken in the future.
d. Transfer of farming systems technology
To be cost efficient, the technological recommendations stemming from site-specific farming systems work should be transferable to other areas with similar ecological and socioeconomic conditions. Technologies developed in one country may in fact be applicable in other countries, and can be incorporated into the research-transfer

continuum at a later stage of development. What seems to be lacking at this point is a mechanism to properly catalog new technologies, including providing complementary information regarding the conditions under which they are effective. A.I.D. should look into. ways to catalog technologies so that they can be easily disseminated within countries, across borders, and perhaps even across regions.
e. Linkages between farming systems and policy analysis
In conducting farming systems research, practitioners often gather data and other types of farm-level information that is potentially valuable to agricultural policy analysts. In t he same vein, farming systems practitioners could benefit from a clearer understanding regarding how agricultural policies influence technology design and adoption. Although very little has been published in this area, there is currently available analytical tools such as the Policy Analysis Matrix (PAM) that could help in establishing linkages between these two groups. Nevertheless, additional efforts need -to be made to determine what else has been done and what can be learned from experience so far. From there, a conceptual framework c-ould be developed to demonstrate how these linkages could best be accomplished and their potential relevance and contribution both to farming systems work and agricultural policy analysis and formulation.

F. Communications among practitioners
The functions previously performed by FSSP, collectively called networking, served to keep practitioners and other interested parties informed about developments in the field: they provided an outlet for research results and other experiences. The mechanisms used were the trimestral newsletter, the annual symposium, technical publicationscalled networking papers, and "networkshops". The later brought together practitioners in a region to discuss specific topics of mutual interest. Such communication mechanisms require further support because they are essential for sharing individual experiences. In addition, they facilitate mobilizing group resources to work on pressing problem areas and targets of opportunity. These networking activities would best funded by a central organization such as S&T, given their nature as collective activities, and the difficulties associated with joint funding of such activities.
3-9-88, W4593e


A. Support of On-going Farming Systems Activities 1
1. Training 2
2. Networking/Newsletter 3
3. Farming Systems Symposia 3
B. NewDirections in Farming Systems 4
1. Periodic Reappraisal 4
2. Linkages between Farming Systems and Policy Analysis 6 3. Technology Transfer 7
C. Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Farming Systems Work 8
1. Cost/Benefit Analysis 8
2. Integration of the Farming Systems Approach
into Local Institutions 9
Sample of Questionnaire sent to Missions 10
Rank Order of Priority Interests of A.I.D. Missions in Farming Systems Activities 11
Indications of Support to A.I.D. Missions of Current and Future Farming Systems Research Activities 12

This appendix contains information regarding activities that
could be implemented in future farming systems efforts. As part of the concept paper preparation process, each AID mission was asked to provide information about the following topics:
1. what farming systems activities they consider important for
their program;
2. whether or not they would be willing to financially support
efforts in each activity; and
3. how they would rank in importance each activity.
A sample answer form and tables -summarizing mission response are included in this appendix.
A. Support of On-going Farming Systems Activities
This section presents some ideas regarding activities that are currently being undertaken by the Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP) and others to promote the adoption of the farming systems approach in LDCs. All. A.I.D. field Missions were queried as to the prior ities they would place on each of the activities.

1. Training
Over the past few years, considerable progress has been made in operationalizing farming systems research and extension in developing countries and in the United States as well. However, in many parts of the world, the process of learning and applying-the farming systems approach is just beginning. Because of that, and because it is desirable to capitalize on the considerable investments already made in developing training materials and trainers, it may be appropriate to continue to provide both formal and in-ser'uice training.
o In-service training programs, in the form of short courses
workshops and seminars, could orient and assist local
professionals working-in agricultural research and
extension toward more effective involvement and service to
farmers. Such courses would either introduce the basic concepts of farming systems, or build upon the already
existing knowledge and experience base. Ideally, the
training would occur periodically on a regular basis, with
the content of the courses changing as local institutions evolve and become able to adopt new methods of technology
o Formal training could be targeted toward potential
researchers and extensionists through local agricultural

trade schools and universities. Rather than dealing
directly with trainees, support in this area would
concentrate on training faculty and staff as trainers so
that, over time, most of the training functions would
become self-sustaining-with minimal outside support.
2. Networking/Newsletter
Farming systems research as a methodology of technological
development is constantly evolving, encountering new constraints and finding ways to address them. As such, farming systems practitioners worldwide are required to build and mai ntain communication linkages so that joint learning can take place, and people can be informed of new developments. Thus, support should be given for communication activities such as newsletters (regional, national, worldwide), and also for strengthening existing networks of practitioners who, by sharing information among them, help advance the state-of-the-art of the farming systems approach
3. Farming Systems Symposia
Since 1981, the Annual Farming Systems Symposium has brought together farming systems professionals from all over the world to share experiences, report on new developments, and renew and

maintain personal and professional contacts. The yearly increasing number of participants to this event is, perhaps, the best indication of its acceptance and recognition as "the single most relevant event in farming systems activities." The Panel of Farming Systems Experts, and professionals participating at the 1986 Annual Farming Systems Symposium, strongly recommended supporting this yearly event. Both groups also recommended supporting the organization of regional symposia in order to promote bet- er communications among farming systems professionals working under similar environmental and cultural conditions.
B. New Directions in Farming Systems
Experience in undertaking farming systems projects has revealed areas of weakness in the farming systems approach as a tool contributing to reach the goals of increased food availability and rural incomes. This set of topics deals with new directions in which farming systems work could be examined and addressed to improve the effectiveness of the farming systems approach in the technology transfer process.
1. Periodic Rapid Reappraisal
one of the drawbacks of most developmental projects is that once

a project is designed and technical assistance is fielded, it is difficult to add activities to address unanticipated constraints preventing attainment of project objectives. In order to address this problem, it is desirable to promote a periodic rapid appraisal approach to examine--besides farm-level technical and socio-economic constraints--conditions with respect to access and efficiency of agricultural markets, access and cost of credit, and the general price policy environment. Such an approach could be undertaken in specific regions of interest to A.I.D. Missions. It would have two main purposes:
(a) to determine whether there is scope for significant
technological and productivity improvements, and
(b) to assess whether or not changes in productivity would
likely result in increased household incomes, enhanced
availability of food, and better management of the existing
natural resource base.
Support in this regard could be provided to Missions in the form of multidisciplinary teams to perform the rapid appraisal and offer guidance as to which factors are most limiting and how should be treated by establishing linkages among existing projects and activities (e.g., between a farming systems research project and other projects dealing with the technology transfer process: Marketing, rural financial markets, and agricultural policy analysis among others).

2. Linkages Between Farming Systems and Policy Analysis
one of the criticisms that has been leveled at the farming $ystems approach is that it tends to take restrictive economic conditions (such as difficult access to credit and markets, low product prices, high input prices) as given and static. one of the possible roads to improved productivity is to relax economic constraints so that existing technologies can be adopted--or more productive technologies can be developed for a less restrictive environment. This points out the need for improved communication between farming systems researchers and planners/policy makers.
In the process of implementing farming systems research
activities, information about farms and farm households is generated which could help policy makers understand the income and output effects of current policies as well as help policy analysts predict response to policy changes. if so, efforts could be undertaken to help establish and maintain communication linkages so that farm and village-level information is available in a usable form so that decision makers can make better, more informed policy decisions.
The recently-developed Policy Analysis Matrix Methodology, which explicitly uses the micro-level cost and returns information commonly gathered by farming systems researchers, may be able to provide with those linkages. The M6'del is designed to permit easy communication of methods and results between analysts and policy

makers, and between analysts and farming systems practitioners. It estimates the degree of competitiveness of the systems by estimating "private" profits at the farms, marketing, and processing levels, and also it takes into account concerns of economic planners by estimating "social" profits. Is this later that identifies the priority investments for bringing about the most efficient allocation of a country's resources for farming the products that are more suitable to its systems technology and agro-climatic zones.
3. Technology Transfer
Though the farming systems approach incorporates concepts and
methodologies relating to both agricultural research and extension, there is a continuing concern regarding the means for passing new technologies from the research community to the ultimate users, the farmers. INTERPAKS, a centrally-funded project looking at agricultural knowledge transfer systems, is developing an Analytical Framework for the diagnosis and the identification of potential constraints to the technology transfer process in any type of political economy. By emphasizing on field work, it may be desirable to test and-help develop new means and methods of effective technology transfer.

C. Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Farming Systems Work
This section presents two topics of interest in determining how effective farming systems work has been in the past, with a view to ratifying its strategy or suggesting modifications which might bring about better results in the near future.
1. Cost/Benefit Analysis
Many researchers believe that the recurrent costs of farming
systems research and extension are generally higher than those fo~r on-station research. To test this assertion, a possible initiative could be undertaken t o examine whether the added benefits of a farming systems approach, in which the clients are heavily involved in the technology transfer process, compensate for the added institutional and financial costs. This issue could be explored using a case study approach to document costs and benefits, not only in financial term but also in social terms: the equity with which technological change benefits farmers as well. as the effects of technology on the natural and cultural environments.

2.* Integration of the Farming Systems Aipproach into Local
Farming systems efforts have been on-going in various levels of intensity for several years. Has the farming systems approach been integrated into the standard operating procedures of local institutions, or is it a breed apart dependent on outside funding for its existence? How c~'n the farming systems approach be integrated into national agricultural research and extension systems in order to improve the performance and responsiveness of the overall system? How has the responsiveness of the national agricultural research institutions toward small farmers changed? How are the multidisciplinary issues being handled in the various countries given the trained manpower shortages? These and other related questions could be explored using a case study approach.
W4594e, 3-21-88

1. How do you view the importance and relevance to your Mission of each of the above types of proposed services and research issues? Would the Mission be willing and able to share costs?
LOW PRIORITY Al A2 A3 B1 B2 83 C1 C2
2. Pleaserank order functions according to their importance to
your Mission.
Networking/Newsletter Symposium
Periodic appraisals
Policy linkages
Cost/Benefit Analysis Integration into local institutions Technology Transfer Emphasis

THE GAMBIA 4 6 7 8 1 5 3 2
KENYA 2 3 4 7 6 8 5 1
SOMALIA 1 2 5 4 3
ZAM~ I1A 4 7 6 5 1 8 3 2
REOSO/ESA 1 4 8 6 5 7 3 2
RANK 2 5 6 7 3 8 4 1
SCORE 2.40 4.40 6.00 6.50 3.40 7.00 3.50 2.00
BURMA 1 5 4 2 3 8 7 6
EGYPT 2 8 5 4 3 7 6 1
FIJI 1 3 2
PAKISTAN 2 3 1 5 4
PHILIPPINES 5 8 5 5 1 1 1 1
THAILAND 8 2 1 5 4 6 3 7
RANK 3 7 2 5(TIE) 1 8 5(TIE) 4
SCORE 3.33 4.29 3.20 4.00 2.75 5.-o0 4.00 3.40
BELIZE 1 7 8 2 3 6 4 5
BOLIVIA 3 7 8 6 2 1 4 5
ECUADOR 1 2 8 3 4 7 6 5
EL SALVADOR 1 7 5 8 4 6 2 3
HAITI 2 4 3 1
HO URAS 1 8 7 2 5 6 3 4
JAMAICA 4. 7 6 8 5 3 2 1
RANK 1 7 8 5(TIE) 4 5(TIE) 2 3
SCORE 1.86 6.33 6.57 4.83 3.71 4.83 3.14 3.43
OVERALL RA. 1 5 7 6 3 8 4 2
OVERALL SCORE 2.50 5.00 5.41 5.07 3.38 5.60 3.53 3.00

LESOTHO H/N M/R LINt L/ M/IN H/ft H/ft H/ft
MAL I Hi? HI7 H/17 H/? 7/7 H/? M/7 H/?
SOMALIA H/ft 7/ft 7/ft ?/ft fl/N Lift LIN H/ft
ZAMBIA MIN H/IN H/ft ft/ H/ft LIft H/ft ft/
HIGH PR!ORIT,! (H) 5 .2 3 13 2 4 4
MEDIUM PRIORITY (l 2 4 2 3 2 1 2 3
L014PRIORITY (L) 0 0 1 2 1 3 1 0
COST SHARE? (Y) 2 3 3 1 1 1 2 2
COST SHARE? (N) 4 3 3 5 5 5 4 4
SURMA -H/ft L/ft L/ft Lit L/ft LIft If LIN
FIJI flT H/ft L/T L/ft LINf L/N L/ft L/ft
PAKISTAN HiT fl/Y H/T 7/7 L/7 L/7 H/T HI?
SRI LANKA H/7 fl/f H/ft
THAILA140 L/t ft/f HIT L/fN L/t L/ft H/ft
HIGH PRIORITY (H) 5 a 2 0 1 2 2 2
lEDItMPRIORITY H) 1 4 1 1 1 0 2 3
LOW PRIORITY(1.) 1 3 3 3 4 4 2 2
COST SHARE?( 0 4 2 5 2 2 2 3 2
COST SHAMEI(t 2 5 1 2 3 3 3 4
ECUADOR H/Y H/ft L/fN H/T H/T LIt H/ft H/T
EL SALVADR ?/ H/7 H/ft
HAITI H/7 L./7 M/7 L.17 H/T H/7 HiT m/7
HONDURAS. liY L/? H/7 N/V fl/7 H/Y fl/7 K/7
JAMAICA HIT L/ft L/N H/ft ft/f MNf H/ft HIT
HIGH PRIORITY (H) 5 0 0 3 2 1 4 2
MEDIUM PRIORITY (M) 1 3 2 2 4 4 3 4
LOW PRIORITY (L) 1 4 5 2 1 2. 1 1
COST SHARE? (Y) S 5 3 3 3 3 4
COST SHARE (N) 15 2 3 3 4 1
HIGH PRIORITY (H) 1s 2 5 4 6 5 10 8
MEDIU PRIORITT(M) 4 11 .5 6 7 5 710
LOW PRIORIUT(L) 2 7 9 7 6 9 4 3
COST SHARE? (Y) 13 5 9 10 10 10 10 10
COST SHARE? (H) 7 13 9 9 11 11 19

Several members (20) of the FSSP Support Entity Network were asked to respond to a questionnaire that contained open-ended questions related their perceptions regarding FSSP performance and their views as to what activities should be included in a possible FSSP follow-on project. The questions asked in this regard are as follows:
Do you think there should be a follow-on tb FSSP?
If not, why not? If so, what would some of the
areas/activities that should be incorporated or focused on?
Twelve responses to the questionnaire were received. The following is a listing of the responses, with the numbers in parenthesis indicating the frequencies of each response. As is clear, the majority of responses indicated strong preference for maintenance of activities associated with communications and networking, especially the newsletter, domestic networks and the symposium. The major substantive area frequently mentioned was the continuation, of training in farming systems methodology.
o Newsletter (10) o Networks (10)
Domestic (8) Regional (2)
o Training (7) o Symposium (5)
o Library (1)
o Institutionalization (1)
o Regional Networks (2)
o Policy Linkages (1)
o Livestock (1) o Perennials (1)
o Evaluation of FSR/E (1) o Farmer participation (2)
o Technology Information Bank (1)
o Roster of FSR Experts (1)
W4594e, 3-21-88