GUATEMALA FOOD PRODUCTIVITY AND NUTRITION IMPROVEMENT
PROJECT IMPACT EVALUATION NO.
J. K. McDermott, Team Leader
(Development Support Bureau)
(Bureau for Program and Policy Coordination)
Agency for International Development
The views and interpretations expressed in this report are those of the
authors and should not be attributed to the Agency tor International
y ^?- o-/"
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary 1
Project Data Sheet 6
I. Introduction: The Project 4a
Project Setting 4a
ICTA Concept and History 6
Design History 13
Project Description 15
Other Cultural Practices 26
Institutional Impact 28
Problems and Perspectives 32
Lessons Learned 34
Annex I Innovative Approach to Technology Innovation
Annex II Development of the Human Resource to Generate
Improved Agricultural Technology
Annex III Small Farmer Acceptance of ICTA Technology
Annex IV Crop Breeding and Improved Seed
In October 1979, the Administrator of the Agency for International
Development requested that some 30 projects be evaluated during the
next 12 months in preparation for an Agency-wide ex-post evaluation
system. The projects to be evaluated were chosen to represent the
several sectors of the Agency's program, and the evaluations were to
focus on impact. These impact evaluations are performed for the most
part by Agency personnel and were designed so that they would be
comparable, with the intent of accumulating data and analyses useful to
the Agency and to others in the development community. This study of
the Guatemala Food Productivity and Nutrition Improvement project,
selected from the agricultural research sector, was conducted in May 1980.
Later a report will summarize the findings of all the impact studies in
each sector and relate them to program policy and design requirements.
ICTA has earned a reputation as an open, nothing-to-hide agency.
Marc Antonio Martinez, of the Socio-economics Section, was assigned to
the team to facilitate access to both ICTA information and ICTA and other
Agency personnel, as well as the farmers cooperating with ICTA and its
sister agencies. The team took full advantage of this courtesy and spent
considerable time with the regional directors and all levels of staff of
ICTA, DIGESA, and BANDESA; with personnel of the national commodity support
teams; and with ICTA executives; with AID-ICTA contractors; and with 30
some farmers who are cooperating with these agencies. We are grateful to
all of these persons for their collaboration. It was not only effective and
efficient but it was accorded in such a way that all of our experiences were
pleasant. So many persons were involved we don't dare attempt listing names,
except for Marc Antonio, who helped in so many ways beyond his assigned task.
Finally, we are grateful to the Mission for the 1001 things it did to make
the task a pleasant one.
Banco de Desarrollo Agricola (Agricultural
Centro International para Majoramiento de Maiz y
Trigo (International Corn and Wheat Improvement
Regional Agricultural Development Committee
Direccion General de Servicios Agricola (General
Agricultural Services Bureau)
Institute de Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricola
(Agricultural Science and Technology Institute)
InterAmerican Development Bank
0.7 of a hectare, about 1.7 acres
A CIMMYT project in Puebla, Mexico, that pioneered
in methodologies of working closely with the farmer
in technology innovation.
Guatemala currency unit, equal to one dollar
Texas A. and M. University
inta Cruz del Ouiche
0 25 50
0 25 50
50 100 Miaes
502473 1-76 (541403)
Lambert Conformal Projection
Standard parallels 9020' and 14040'
Boundary representation is
not n~eesslally aulhorlaIve
0Original Project Sites
- 6 -
PROJECT DATA SHEET
1. Country: Guatemala
2. Project titles, numbers, and dates:
Rural Development (loan)
Agriculture Development (grant)
Food Productivity and Nutrition
3. Project Fundings:
Predecessor Projects: 018
Food Productivity and Nutrition
U.S. grant funds
4. ICTA Budget
- 1 -
The Instituto de Ciencia y Technologia Agricola (ICTA) has shown
exceptional promise as an organization since its creation in 1973. That
promise is much closer to being realized. ICTA's annual impact on
Guatemalan agriculture appeared to be substantially greater than its
cost, after less than six years of life, and with good prospects to
increase. Unmeasured is the value of an improved methodology of small
farm technology generation and technological breakthroughs, both of
which can be used around the world, and some of which already is.
ICTA is a genuine innovation in national agricultural research
system organization. Designed specifically to develop an intense
interaction with the farmer in the process of technology generation it
addresses one of the most serious problems of LDC's, the de facto
isolation of the research organization from farmers, especially the less
Innovative though it is, ICTA built firmly on agricultural research
traditions and experience and is making its greatest impact through the
most common of technologies, namely improved seed. ICTA traces its
roots to the Puebla Project (now known as Plan Puebla in Mexico). ICTA
took full advantage of international resources both in science and
technology and experience and judgment. ICTA is an indigenous
institution, not imposed by donors. Yet two donors, USAID and
Rockefeller Foundation, played major roles both in developing the
concept and in implementation. USAID was particularly active in the
conceptualization-planning phase and has maintained steadfast support
via the project under review chiefly with contract and technical
- 2 -
Even with the excellent conceptualization, making it operational was
not easy. The model ICTA uses today is virtually that conceptualized.
It borrows heavily from the international stock of agricultural
technology and science and especially the germ plasm stock. This is
screened on the experiment station. Then the process moves to farmers'
land, for more testing and also for adaptation and the development of
new technologies. Another on-farm activity, conceptually different, is
the on-farm testing which aims to test with the farmer those
technologies, including new varieties, which the ICTA personnel judge to
be acceptable. Sounds simple, and now it is, but it took ICTA several
years to make it work. This core process is supported by reconnaissance
surveys, farm records, and the interaction with the farmer that occurs
when technology generation and testing takes place on his farm.
Research personnel have come to like the process and to take pride
in the farmer contact. Contract personnel, with considerable experience
in traditional experiment station research and relatively sophisticated,
respect the ICTA system and claim It makes it possible to release
technology, especially varieties, earlier and with more security than
they had experienced earlier.
With donor support ICTA has emphasized graduate training outside the
country and has devised a comprehensive pre-service training program.
Unfortunately, much of this quality manpower is being lost because of
ICTA's greatest impact is in seed, a convenient means of packaging
and delivering technology which is embodied in the seed. The value of
ICTA-bred seed which was put through the ICTA inspection-processing
system in 1979 was 10 million quetzales, 250 percent of ICTA's budget of
The calculation underestimates the impact to the extent that seed
can be saved for subsequent years, that some entrepreneurs are selling
second generation ICTA seed and that some first generation ICTA seed
does not go through the ICTA system.
The impact is likely to grow. Production of seed corn is programmed
to triple over the next few years. ICTA kas released three new
varieties each of sorghum and beans since 1979 all with outstanding
characteristics. These two crops hardly figured in the 1979 impact.
ICTA has been developing such other technologies as weeding,
multiple cropping, insect and disease control, spacing, plant
population, and time of planting, although they have not yet had the
impact of seed. ICTA research has enabled both farmers on the Coast and
the Agricultural Bank to save money on fertilizer and has just come up
with other fertilizer efficiency technology that is almost sure to
effect millions in savings in the Highlands.
In spite of the positive tone of this evaluation, ICTA has had and
still has enough problems to make it believable. One serious problem is
rigidity of salaries which can not be adjusted in response either to
individual performance and productivity or to the technical-professional
requirements of technology generation. This results in a high rate of
loss of trained personnel and leaves ICTA at a disadvantage in filling
in behind the experienced contract personnel responsible for so much of
the progress. The project did train replacements but retention has been
ICTA still has awkward linkages with the extension service of the
Ministry of Agriculture (DIGESA). To some extent this is an
institutional inadequacy of both ICTA and DIGESA. However, the process
that involves intense interaction with the farmer in technology
generation is also putting research and extension into a new type of
relationship which ICTA and DIGESA haven't yet fully understood and made
- 4a -
INTRODUCTION: The Project
Guatemala's agriculture conforms to the stereotype of an LDC
agriculture. A few large farmers occupy the best land and produce
largely for the export market -- sugar, coffee, cotton, bananas, sesame,
and cattle. Small farmers in general are crowded into the less
favorable areas, are involved in the production of the basic grains,
historically relatively low profit crops, and face the ubiqitous
problems of markets, inputs, technological services, and communication.
Guatemala has some characteristics which are not so common. The large
and medium farm operators tend to be of Latin origin while the smallest
farm operators tend to be of Indian and are concentrated in the
highlands, where the climate is pleasant, and much of the soil is
relatively favorable. However, the land is steep, the growing season is
short, and crops take a much longer time to mature. Corn, for example,
by far the most important crop, must be planted ahead of the rains in
order to beat the frost. The highland farmer is poor, largely because
of the man-land ratio. He is generally a good farmer, industrious and
frugal. One-fifth of the farms in Guatemala have an average size of
less than one acre, and these are concentrated in the Highlands. Over
the centuries the Indian farmer has developed corn varieties so well
adapted to his ecology that agricultural researchers are hard pressed to
come up with markedly superior material.
Population pressure causes seasonal migration of the highland Indian
to work in agriculture of the hot lowlands, largely in relatively few
areas of the Pacific coastland. Mountain volcanic soils are deficient
in phosphorous, and the terrain complicates fertilizer supply.
A major assessment of rural Guatemala in the late 1960's indicated
that food production was just barely keeping pace with demand and that
income level and productivity were stagnant. Production was advancing
slightly more rapidly than population growth, mostly from added land and
labor, not increased productivity. Bean production, for example, had
doubled between 1960 and 1970, but acreage was up almost three times.
Corn yields had barely edged ahead during the decade. Rice production
was the exception, with production up five times on about twice the
acreage, as a result of imported technology.
In Guatemala, however, corn is by far the most important food crop,
with more than ten times the production of either rice or beans. While
the export subsector of agriculture contributed $211 million of foreign
exchange in 1972, well above the $21 million agricultural import bill,
the country still had to import corn and beans, two principal food crops.
In 1970 Guatemala issued its 1971-75 development plan which for the
first time allocated significant public funds for rural development and
food production rather than for commercial export production. The plan
also called for some fundamental changes in the structure of public
agencies serving the small-farm, food-producing sector. The Instituto
de Ciencia y Tecnologia Agricola (ICTA) emerged in this restructuring
along with entities to handle natural resources, credit, and marketing.
These entities were semi-autonomous, i.e. they were organized outside
the Ministry of Agriculture, each with its own board of directors. The
Minister chaired all boards and thus became the rector of the small-farm
sector. Remaining within the Ministry was the Direccion General de
Servicios Agricolas (DIGESA), which retained the responsibility for
Extension. This restructuring consolidated functions, reducing the
number of small-farm agencies, and provided for some decentralization of
control. ICTA, the last of the semi-autonomous entities to be
organized, was created in May 1973. AID supported this restructuring
initiative energetically with both loans and grants, starting in 1970.
ICTA Concept and History
ICTA is of special importance in this report. It was at once both
the implementing agency and an object of the project under review. AID
has always had a special interest in ICTA and was present at the
creation. This section tells you a bit about it.
- 7 -
ICTA was a genuine innovation in agricultural research system
organization and could turn out to be one of AID's top successes in its
continuing effort to help LDC's build their own institutional
capacities. ICTA was organized around an innovative concept and style
of operation, that has come to be called "Farming Systems Research"
(although ICTA itself makes almost no use of that term.) This operating
style brings the research entity into much closer contact with the
farmer-client than does the traditional LDC research operating style.
The ICTA style accomplishes two things. By helping research personnel
to know and to understand the farmer, it enables them to direct their
research efforts to seeking technology improvements that are relevant to
his system. Since ICTA was assigned the small farm operator as a
client, it directs its efforts toward generating technology relevant to
small farm systems. Secondly, innovations are tested in small farm
systems before being released or recommended for use on small farm. The
style involves on-tarm research, along with experiment station
research. ICTA estimates that 75 percent of its research is done on
farms, including technology generation as well as testing. On-farm
research utilizes conventional methodologies as well as special
methodologies, some of which ICTA had to develop for itself.
There are two distinct types of Farming Systems Research. The ICTA
type seeks to understand the existing system and to generate technology
that is relevant to it. The other type aims to develop a distinctly new
system to replace the existing system.
Figure 1 portrays the ICTA concept. It starts with "Agro
Socio-economic Information," an activity designed to help know the
farmer and what he is doing and to understand why he does it. The
understanding of "why" beyond knowing "what" is essential. This
information feeds into ICTA and the "Agricultural Sector," a sort of
misnomer for the set of public agencies that serve the small farmer, and
is used to select problems and decide on the type of work to do.
The innovation process itself includes a heavy dependence on the
International agricultural science and technology resource, as well as
borrowing from other national institutions. This input feeds into
conventional experiment station work. On-farm experimentation, under
control of ICTA personnel, is a major part of the concept. Experiment
station research has been reduced somewhat in importance since this
chart was designed.
The next step involves much less ICTA control and is used after
station and on-farm experimentation have indicated that a new technology
will be useful. On-farm testing is (a) under farm conditions and (b)
involves the farmer as part of the test. It constitutes another part of
the ICTA innovation. This system appears to be fully institutionalized,
i.e. ICTA has worked it into its institutional doctrine and its
personnel accept it as commonplace as do contractor personnel.
Processes in this model are reinforced by reconnaissance surveys,
crop records, acceptability surveys, and the general interaction with
farmers provided by all the various activities in the process.
Eva I iuat ion
Agr cul turi'
22 cs c== =i
IEEDIACK OF IIIFORIMATION
The ICTA Concept
- 10 -
In order to implement the concept ICTA has organized itself along
two axes. (See Figure 2) One of these is constituted by the regional
production teams and the other by the national commodity programs. The
production teams (farming systems teams) concentrate in areas in which
they are responsible for all ICTA activities. Seven commodity programs
cover the entire country--corn, beans, wheat, rice, sorghum,
horticulture, and sesame. ICTA started in three of the six regions of
the country. It is now operating in all six, but on a reduced scale in
two. Production and commodity work is supported by units in soils,
socio-economics, and training. All of this work is under the
supervision of the technical director, a post filled first by a
Rockefeller Foundation technician, later by an AID contract technician,
and for several years now by ICTA personnel.
The ICTA system de-emphasizes the experiment station. It has no
central station and its regional stations, called "production centers,"
are neither large nor elaborately equipped. The maintenance of genetic
purity and most of the variety crossing are done on station. Almost
everything else is done on farms. Laboratory facilities are also
The ICTA design called for two delivery systems. Since much of the
new technology can only be delivered in improved seed, the design called
for a seed handling system that would remove it from government agencies
where it had not been successful.
OD @ GANO IN ZAT 1Ol N O IF H C TA
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
^ ^ __ 3_ -cJ I
wp -j swT m 6.0.11"J*'l^ l^T^r-~rln^8
"LABOR OVAl LE"
RLtGION II AND II I
PHtUIUCI ION CErf LR
"LA MAQUINA "
PRODUCT I O CENTER
AND "SAN JERONIMO"
"EL OASIS" AND
I~-I~ (IIJIUAI I'I~ ~ *'
Figure 2. The ICTA Organization
KTrmrm-nn l~araiunii m;n3~rmer
Si CORN 0
) BEANS z
oz cT HEAT -
z C, 6, Vn
R RICE I-
O HORTICULTURE -
"' 3 SWINE ra
S) 0 S uA
*, < SESAME ca 0-
-- r -1
- 12 -
The second provision was the transfer of extension from DIGESA to
ICTA at a later date. In anticipation of the transfer, however, DIGESA
personnel were secunded to ICTA in three regions. Fortune frowned on
this association. ICTA was new, its personnel were better paid, it had
good logistic support and new vehicles, and it was the center of
national and international attention. Meanwhile DIGESA personnel were
laboring under Ministry regulations from which ICTA had just been freed,
so recently, in fact, that it had no more technology to offer than the
old Ministry Research Service did.
Whether there is a cause and effect relationship or not, troubles in
that first ICTA-DIGESA association have tended to persist. There have
been continuous efforts to improve relationships, and at the time of
this study there was evidence that linkages are being built, but still
Since the ICTA style and concept were new, personnel needed training
in addition to conventional graduate education. Based on Rockefeller
Foundation experience in both IRRI and CIAT an in-service training
program was devised that extended through a research cycle and provided
actual experience in field operations as well as classroom work. This
program was located in a region headed by an AID contract technician,
and the trainees actually staffed the regional production team. This
training has been effective. However, it cannot turn out the numbers
needed, especially with rapid personnel turnover. This course has been
modified for extension personnel as part of the ICTA effort to build
- 13 -
ICTA also worked with the national agricultural college, which
requires a thesis for the Ingeneiro Agronomo degree. ICTA provided
facilities and supervision for the thesis work of selected students,
helping itself recruit as well as train.
ICTA is neither an accident, nor the result of an autonomous
evolution. It was carefully and thoroughly designed to address four
specific problems its founders had identified. These were: (1) The
lack of an adequate technology for the small farmer, (2) inadequate
testing of technology being recommended, (3) no evaluation of farmer
acceptance of a recommended technology, and (4) lack of researcher
knowledge of farmer problems and insufficient contact with the extension
agents. These problems were associated with the generalized image of
traditional technology innovation being in the hands of two distinct
entities and involved in two discrete processes--experiment station
research and extension.
Planning for ICTA took two years; involved five work groups and many
people, including Guatemalans, others from Latin America, and personnel
of both AID and the Rockefeller Foundation; and included trips to CIMMYT
in Mexico, the Foundations in New York, and AID in Washington.
Innovative though it was, ICTA took advantage of experiences, tradition,
and existing international resources.
Some of these antecedents can be identified. Experiences of Plan
Puebla in Mexico was particularly important. This was the pioneer
effort in bringing research into closer contact with both the farmer and
extension. CIMMYT helped launch Plan Puebla in part because its maize
varieties were no better than indigenous varieties in one high altitude
area of its homeland of Mexico, and it wanted to explain its frustration
and to find out what could be done. The project involved researchers
working closely with farmers, studying farming systems, and doing
on-site research. The project was fairly widely copied with
modifications in other countries.
Another antecedent was the old Guatemala Point IV program which
helped establish a research service in the Ministry of Agriculture. The
success of this project was limited by some of the problems identified
above, but it had chalked up some accomplishments, one of which was its
wheat program, in which it collaborated with CIMMYT. Guatemalans out of
this research-education tradition played a major role in the creation of
Two donors, particularly, played key roles. One was AID, which has
a better record of institutional innovation in Latin America than is
commonly recognized. The other was the Rockefeller Foundation, which is
noted for its work in initiating and promoting agricultural research in
LDC's around the world.
Cutting, fitting, and piecing all these inputs into a national
research service that hangs together and serves the farmer has
demonstrated imagination, good judgment (maybe even genius), persistence
and dedication, and probably a considerable amount of good luck.
- 15 -
The "Food Productivity and Nutrition Project" was approved in 1975,
for start up in 1976 as a five-year project. Via a series of seven
grant and loan projects, AID had supported Guatemala's five-year plan
including its participation in the creation of ICTA and support to
operations since its initiation in 1973. General sector support
including training at all levels, credit, and marketing and storage of
staples, in addition to the work in technology. Mission estimates that
pre-project support to ICTA amounted to over $950,000 from two earlier
projects. That included almost 10 person-years of technical assistance
in beans, vegetables, and regional research and extension coordination
from four persons.
The project was first conceived to concentrate heavily on high
lysine maize, which contained a genetic quality that significantly
improved the quality of maize protein by increasing the content of the
amino acid, lysine. This maize was under intensive testing by the AID's
Technical Assistance Bureau (TAB), CIMMYT, and others, and at the time
was the subject of much enthusiasm by its proponents. It did show
promise, and both TAB and CIMMYT were eager to subject it to trial in a
country program. Guatemala appeared to be an ideal country for such a
test, and the TAB Offices of Agriculture and Nutrition were involved in
development of the project as early as 1973. In its original form the
project would have created a special unit in ICTA to work on high lysine
High lysine maize was de-emphasized considerably in the final
project for two reasons. No genetic material was available for the
highlands, and the lowland material was not proved and transferred into
stable varieties. On the other hand, conventional maize is by far
Guatemala's predominant food crop and most important staple food. Yet
little improvement work had been done on it in recent years, and maize
was still being imported. High lysine maize did figure in the final
project. It was to be thoroughly tested and utilized to the extent
justified, but no special ICTA unit was to be created, and conventional
maize was to receive attention. This was a fortunate decision. The
high lysine promise has not materialized anywhere in the world. In the
meantime the integrity of ICTA has been maintained, and there has been
considerable progress in conventional maize technology.
The project aimed to serve two purposes: To increase the production
and nutritive quality of basic food crops in Guatemala and to strengthen
and develop ICTA. Improvement in nutritive quality was to come through
increased production and use of high lysine maize as well as through the
increased production of beans, an important source of quality protein.
A total of some $1,730,000 was obligated for the project, and
estimates are that $1,700,000 will be disbursed. This will bring the
Mission's total contribution to ICTA to about $2,650,000.
Of most importance was the technical assistance input. Technicians
on the ground from the old projects were continued in this one, and most
of them served in line positions. For example, two leaders of the three
- 17 -
original regional production teams were Mission supported contract
personnel. One of them was later transferred into the position of
technical director, where he supervised all technical operations. The
other served as training supervisor as well as production team leader
before becoming leader of the national sorghum program. Both were
replaced as production team leaders by Guatemalans, and all teams in the
newly activated regional programs were staffed by Guatemalans.
The project used a variety of contractors, each of which made a
major contribution. The sorghum breeder and several other technicians
were provided through Texas A. & M. University. Two corn breeders were
contracted from CIMMYT, and a CIAT contract provided two bean breeders.
The plant breeding experts provided access to the world's best stock of
germ plasm as well as other support. The technician promoted to the top
technical position in ICTA was provided by a Puerto Rican consulting
Most AID resources went to support ex-patriate technical assistance,
almost $1.2 million. It is the consensus among ICTA personnel that this
assistance was crucial. It performed several functions. One it
provided manpower to staff ICTA while its own people were being trained
and accumulating the experience necessary to man some of the positions.
Second, it provided ICTA with both technical competence and help in
making its new concept operational, and finally, it facilitated the
development of linkages with the international agricultural research
- 18 -
centers and U.S. centers, which serve as repositories of the world's
stock of commodity technology. Parenthetically, the work in Guatemala
fed back into these world-wide entities to their own benefit.
Most contractors performed well. Texas A. & M., at one time unable
to provide a bean breeder, was criticized. However, by not filling the
post with a breeder of marginal quality, it left open the opportunity to
contract with CIAT in what turned out to be a fortunate liaison. This
project provided some $140,000 for the training of ICTA personnel.
Other donor agencies were important to the project, and the Mission
assumed its share, at least, of the responsibilities in orchestrating
those efforts. The Rockefeller Foundation was heavily involved in the
original design of ICTA, and just as important, its personnel played key
roles in resolving problems in making the concept operational. The
Foundation provided a special consultant to the director general and an
experiment station development specialist, both from its permanent
staff. It provided the chief of the socio-economics section for four
years and the technical director for two years. The success of the AID
project owes much to this group. All these people played key roles.
Collaboration between the Foundation and AID efforts was almost ideal.
Rockefeller was also liberal in its support of personnel training.
The InterAmerican Development Bank handled the seed program, one of
the originally designed delivery systems, via a loan for facilities and a
grant for technical assistance. The Mission had contingency plans to
pick up the seed component until the Bank's plans were firm.
- 19 -
The seed plan was simple. It virtually took the State out of the
seed business. ICTA developed tests and releases new varieties.
Private growers multiply them under ICTA supervision for the first
generation to maintain both genetic purity and freedom from weed
contamination. ICTA provides processing and storage facilities to the
growers for a fee, and seed can be labelled "ICTA Certified". ICTA
never takes ownership. Growers are responsible for merchandising. The
plan may be too simple. No public agency has responsibility or
authority to regulate the seed industry and maintain quality safeguards,
beyond the first cycle after ICTA release. Still the system works and
other components can be added. There is confidence in ICTA seed, so
much, in fact, that unregulated seed is now appearing on the market
under brands and labels associating it with ICTA. This is in contrast
to the previous situation in which seed often had to be burned (because
of insecticide treatments) because it would not sell through the State
system in which farmers had no confidence.
This project has been evaluated annually by AID and once by the
Rockefeller Foundation. Two major problems were identified in those
evaluations, which were consistent in the view that ICTA was innovative
and dynamic and that it held great promise, although yet to be
realized. One problem was the extension liaison, and the other was
administration. Although ICTA was a relatively simple organization and
well managed, it never did succeed in achieving the administrative
requirements needed to take full advantage of the administrative
flexibility promised in its semi-autonomous status. Guatemalan
- 20 -
procedures are more sticky than most, and it has been difficult to
determine if this limitation was due to lack of skill in ICTA management
or was simply a function of the administrative environment. This, in
turn, resulted in a serious loss of personnel because ICTA could not
adequately exploit the salary flexibility potential said to be possible
under its charter.
This paper makes no attempt to isolate the impact of this project,
in part because it would serve little purpose and in part because it
would be a difficult, it not impossible tack. Rather it deals with
several inputs which were blended into a single integrated effort over a
decade. This includes the contributions of AID, CIMMYT, Rockefeller
Foundation, and Guatemala in the ICTA design; the accomplishments of
Guatemala in restructuring the sector, the support of the Mission to
that effort in general, and the pre-project support of ICTA; this
project, a companion implementation by Rockefeller Foundation, and
financial input from the InterAmerican Development Bank; and the very
great effort of ICTA itself. This project would have amounted to
considerably less without the other efforts. On the other hand, the
project did contain many pay-off activities, without which the other
efforts would have been frustrated. Without this disclaimer, the paper
may tend to overstate AID's contribution, at least by implication.
However, it is also clear that AID's contribution is considerably
greater than its direct support to ICTA from this project.
- 21 -
The upshot of all this is that ICTA is the centerpiece, and its own
development as an organization and its performance in serving its
designed function will be treated as impact. This leaves to wiser
analysts the task of making attribution of credit.
This paper also lays little claim to precision because it is not
relevant and so very difficult. If ICTA turns out to be a successful
institutional innovation, the benefits will so far exceed costs that
costs are hardly relevant. If its success is so limited that it takes
precise analysis to determine it, the project will be a failure.
This paper does present as much data as we could find that seems
relevant and some anecdotal evidence, from which inferences can be drawn.
Even though ICTA is a genuine innovation in agricultural technology
generation and works on various technologies, its greatest contribution
has been and will continue to be in a traditional area -- plant breeding
and improved seed, demonstrating once again the high payoff for
A calculation based on data provided by ICTA indicated that seed
developed by ICTA was worth at least $10 million to Guatemala
agriculture in 1979, compared to the ICTA budget of $4 million. This
calculation pertains only to that part of the ICTA genetic material
which flowed through the ICTA seed system. The data and calculation are
shown on Table 1.
Table 1. ICTA-Supervised Production of ICTA-Developed or Tested
for which adequate, Resultant Increased Production and
Seed, Production Area
*Not all ICTA developed seed flows through this system, one company produces corn outside the system, and the well
organized accociation of wheat growers handle much of the seed. All data in this table comes from ICTA.
Calculations made by authors.
*Mz=Manzana; which is0,7 of a hectare, about 1.5 acres.
*The Guatemala Quetzal in equal to one dollar.
- 23 -
In general this table probably understates the contribution of ICTA
seed. However, in one respect, it may overstate the case. The increase
in yield from improved seed refers to increase over traditional,
unimproved seed. Perhaps not all of ICTA seed used is replacing that
quality of seed.
Even if this calculation were discounted as much as 60 percent, the
ICTA seed alone available for planting in 1978 (when ICTA was barely
five years old) compensated Guatemala for the resources to put into
ICTA. In 1980, only two years later, much more and better material is
available especially in beans and sorghum which hardly show up in
Understatement of the impact stems from these causes:
1. ICTA field trails have helped increase the use of improved seed from
all sources. On the coast, data indicate that 85% of the farmers use
improved seed compared to about 50% in 1975.
2. Much of ICTA genetic material does not pass through the ICTA
system. One large seed corn producer is licensed to produce
independently, and the wheat producers handle seed through their own
3. Farmers save seed and sell to other farmers, and entrepreneurs are
selling second generation ICTA seed on a commercial scale without use of
the ICTA seed system.
4. We can account for the sale of 40,000 pounds of sorghum seed sold in
one area before 1978, enough for 3400 acres. Much of that genetic
material may still be producing.
- 24 -
The future impact of ITCA seed will almost certainly be far greater
than the impact shown in Table 1. The increase will come from these
1. An increase in the number of seed producers and seed produced. ICTA
has a goal of 3,800,000 pounds of seed corn production in 1980 for
planting in 1981 and hopes to produce 6 million pounds per year by 1985,
compared to less than the 1,800,000 pounds in 1978 shown in Table 1.
2. ICTA corn seed quality improves steadily even without the release of
new varieties, because of the CIMMYT recurrent selection breeding system
in use in Guatemala.
3. Breeding advances already made in sorghum and bean varieties
released in late 1980 may constitute authentic "technological
breakthroughs". In sorghum the break through is the Tropical
Adaptability gene which enables the plant to compensate for the shorter
day length of the tropics. In beans the break through is golden Mosaic
tolerance. Both of these developments, if they turn out to be as good
as they now seem, will have impact beyond Guatemala.
- 25 -
ICTA has two major accomplishments in fertilizers, but it is
difficult to quantify them. They do show that improved technology
does not always require more input, but may actually save inputs. In a
Pacific Coast Region, the Regional Credit office required borrowers to
use fertilizer, for which it used about 30% of its funds. After ICTA
showed it simply did not pay, this practice was discontinued increasing,
in effect, its loan portfolio almost one-third. That office made $2.2
million in loans in 1980. Savings to farmers were modest, since they
could recover most costs.
The second accomplishment has not made its impact yet, but
foreshadows an important impact. In the highlands, where fertilizer is
essential and costly, farmers have been using a fertilizer containing
equal parts of phosphorus and nitrogen. In order to provide enough
nitrogen farmers waste phosphorus. One farmer we visited estimated that
by using ICTA technology--spacing, rate of seeding, and nitrogen
fertilizer--he doubled production with half the fertilizer cost. It
seems safe to anticipate that the impact will be substantial as nitrogen
becomes available. Given the high cost of inputs and the small farm
operator's financial condition, efficiencies of this scale and nature
are an important ICTA potential. Savings in social costs are also
Other Culture Practices
Impacts of ICTA's work on cultural practices--density (plant
population) and time of planting, spacing of plants, methods of
multicropping, and weed and insect control--are almost impossible to
estimate especially given ICTA's short history. Practices vary from
area to area both in substance, in value to the farmer, and in the
farmer acceptance of them and there are no convenient input sales (such
as in seed) to help monitor acceptance. Further, they are often used
with recommended fertilizer practices and improved seed varieties, and
thus it is difficult to assess their impacts, even on the individual
farm. Finally, cultural practices require more skill and sometimes more
labor or a different pattern of labor than do fertilizer and seeds, and
for this reason together with their less dramatic impact can be expected
to spread more slowly than seed and fertilizer technology.
The only measure we could use for cultural practice impact was
ICTA's Acceptance Index (AI), which was not designed for impact
evaluation. The AI measures the ICTA cooperator's acceptance of a new
technology the year after he has tested an ICTA technology with ICTA
advice and counsel. In the next year, ICTA does not provide advice but
does check with cooperators to see what they have accepted. The AI is
the percentage of cooperators still using the technology multiplied by
the percentage of their land they are using it on.
An analysis reported in Annex III indicates that ICTA technology
fares rather well and that more recently the AI's have been going up.
The analysis seems to sustain the expectation that cultural practices
will have a steadily increasing impact.
- 27 -
ICTA is recognized, virtually around the world, as a leading example
of a Farming Systems Research Institution. It is always cited as a
pioneer institution in the development of farming systems research and
has been an important factor in its growing popularity.
Curiously, we hardly heard the term "farming system" in our visit.
ICTA is not aiming to develop alternatives to current farming or
cropping systems. The ROCAP-CATIE multi-cropping project has one
researcher working in collaboration with ICTA. We did not visit him.
ICTA is recognized as dealing with "Farming Systems" because of its
efforts to know and to understand the farmer and his system of farming
and to test its innovations in that system. In the highlands, for
example, where farmers grow corn with beans and peas, ICTA tests its new
corn varieties with the other crops.
Its work, of course, will tend to modify "systems", but will do so
incrementally, not by quantum jumps. One of their cultural
recommendations is to space corn more closely together in a row and to
plant beans and peas in the row but in hills separate from the corn.
The traditional practice is to plant one meter part in rows one meter
apart, 8 kernels of corn and two or three each of beans and peas. The
farmers developed this system because they had to plant before the rains
so that the corn would mature before frost. Planting at this time they
had to dig down to moisture--a depth of about one foot. With that much
digging they tried to get as much utility from each hole as they could.
ICTA has challenged this tradition, recommending reducing the total
seed used by 25 percent and spacing that out at 60 centimeters in
one-meter rows and planting the beans and peas separately. We visited
farmers who were following these practices, and to this extent they had
changed their system. The first farmers we visited were very small
operators--who seemed to have more labor than land. Later, however, we
visited a farmer who hired labor. He was following the more even
spacing and told us that his laborers were using the practice on their
own small plots.
The Project also aimed to help with the comprehensive development of
ICTA as an institution. In contrast to the immediate product, or
output, the instutional impact can be regarded as an investment, and is
relevant to the long run future. See Annex II for more data and
analysis on the human resource.
We consider an institution in two senses. One sense is "collective
action in control of individual action". In this case individual action
is "controlled" by improvement in the environment in which the
individual acts. Farmers have a supply of technology that is both of
higher quality and more dependable than in pre-ICTA days. Their seed
supply is considerably improved, in part because the seed industry
environment has also been improved. Institution is also used in the
sense of an organization that has been formed and stabilized with its
own doctrine, role definition, program and procedures established and
somewhat protected from the whimsy of incumbents of key positions.
- 29 -
By the criteria commonly used to analyze institutions (in the
organization sense) ICTA is doing quite well.
Leadership was excellent in the beginning. On a one-time basis,
leadership could appear by chance. The perspective is considerably
enhanced by the fact that ICTA has produced from its own ranks quite a
good leadership. Guatemalans have replaced ex-patriates in leadership
positions and appear to have performed well.
ICTA seems in quite good shape to withstand the risks run by any
public agency of having appointed top management who do not understand
Structure of ICTA seems to be holding up well. The two dimensional
structure enabled it to protect the best of conventional research and to
incorporate the new function of coming to terms with the farmer. This
structure is reinforced by the practice of involving both dimensions
(the area production teams and the national commodity teams) both in the
evaluation of the past year's work and in planning next year's work.
Doctrine is the area in which ICTA has been exceptionally good.
There is a genuine credo that service to the small farmer is "good."
ICTA respects him and believes that collaboration with him is an
etticient way to work. Contractors voice optimism about this style,
even though it was new to them.
Resources are barely adequate, and this will be more of an
impediment in the future than in the past. While small and new, it
could not have handled more resources than it had. Now that its own
procedures are maturing, ICTA has both an absorptive capacity and a job
to do that significantly exceeds its resources.
- 30 -
Program results from the above. It is modest compared to need and
potential, although absolutely it is good.
ICTA is having impacts on other entities, another mark of
institutional development. We have recounted the story of BANDESA
changing its lending policies. DIGESA has also changed the
responsibility of many of its personnel, from loan supervision for
BANDESA to conventional extension. It may have other changes in store
as conventional extension adjusts to an innovative research entity, as
In part because of ICTA's collaboration with the international
agency, it has drawn a considerable interest from the rest of the world,
and bits and pieces of its story have been presented at various
international meetings. Through these channels, ICTA is having an
impact on institutions in other countries. This impact cannot be
measured but it will be significant.
An institution can also be evaluated in terms of its linkages with
the other entities whose performance is essential to its success. In
this area, ICTA presents a mixed picture. It has excellent linkages
with the international agricultural science and technology
establishment, and much of its success stems from the use of those
resources. It has also developed good linkages with the Guatemalan
Two types of linkages have given it trouble. One of these is the
enabling linkage--with those entities of government who provide both
authority and resources with which to operate. ICTA is in trouble, in
that it cannot obtain authority to pay salaries high enough to retain
its trained people. The project has done an excellent job of providing
training to ICTA personnel, but the loss rate is too high because of its
approved salary schedule and it low budget.
ICTA's problems in building an adequate program linkage with DIGESA
extension have been described earlier. It recognizes that this linkage
is important and keeps working at it.
We have no explanation for the enabling linkage inadequacies. In
part it may be that ICTA management has not developed the skills needed
to deal with the allocating agencies. It may be, however, that they are
up against a difficult task in the Guatemala environment. It may be
some of both.
There seems to be no structural explanation of the ICTA-DIGESA
linkage problem. In part it may be a lack of skill in both entities.
We have no evidence that ill will is widespread. It may be that ICTA's
style of working so closely with the farmer simply necessitates a type
of Research-Extension relation that is substantially different from the
traditional stereotype and that in the evolution of the ICTA style the
two entities simply haven't worked out these new relationships.
Traditionally, Research has had limited contact with the farmer. One of
Extension's most powerful tools is the result demonstration. The ICTA
on-farm test has all the appearance of a result demonstration. ICTA
invites farmers in to help it evaluate the technology's performance, and
- 32 -
that to all appearances is a Farmer Field Day, another extension
technique. At the interface ot this style ot Research and Extension it
is difficult to tell the difference between the two. Added to this is
the dynamic that exists in the farmer social structure.- A good and
simple to use technology, such as a superior variety is diffused by the
social structure without any help from Extension. This confuses even
the actors and has led some to think that the Research entity could do
all the extension that is needed. It is our judgment that in a
reasonable time it will be worked out. -We can visualize the possibility
that the two entities will be linked together in such a way that their
effectiveness will surpass current expectations.
It is not sate to be complacent about new institutions. The ICTA
perspective seems good. It makes steady progress in achieving the
promise it offered from the beginning. But like liberty, the prica nf
ICTA is eternal vigilance.
Problems and Perspective
This evaluation comes out positive, in some ways positive to the
point of straining credibility. The project has been evaluated every
year, and most evaluations exhibit the same characteristic.
ICTA has had some tough problems. Working out its procedures for
on-farm research and on-farm testing and maintaining the distinction
between the two was not automatic. Conceptualized from the beginning,
these components were not fully operational for several years. Not only
did leaders have to work out the techniques, but the rank and file had
- 33 -
to understand. Early in ICTA's history some of its field personnel made
almost no distinction between field research, on-farm tests, and
demonstration plots, at least in their conversations. This operational
problem seems to be solved.
It must be recognized fully that much of ICTA's success with crop
breeding is due to the presence of competent ex-patriate personnel,
highly qualified and linked directly to the international sources of
expertise. Personnel have been trained to replace them. Two problems
remain, however. One is that no fresh M.S. graduate is a seasoned
technician. He simply needs time in the field to apply his new trade,
learn its arts and develop his intuition to match his science and
technology training. There is no way to predict how quickly the newly
trained ICTA personnel can pick up the functions of the ex-patriates and
to what extent they can match ex-patriate performance. The linkages are
firmly established with CIAT and CIMMYT, with various U.S. institutions,
and through CIAT with IRRI. If these collaborations are maintained,
even with some erosion, ICTA's perspective is good.
Probably more serious is to what extent ICTA will be able to retain
its trained personnel. ICTA has not been able to develop adequate
administrative flexibility. This is probably the most serious threat to
ICTA's future, debilitating, if not fatal. For an institution such as
ICTA, personnel is the major resource. The problem is man made, and man
can correct it. Guatemala's public administration problems are alleged
to be tougher than in most countries, so this problem may be around for
If this project has not demonstrated the importance of some
guidelines, it has at least indicated some clear cut directions and
suggestions. Here are what we have gathered.
1. Do not risk money and Host Country effort and time on un-tested
technology. This project avoided a serious error in the decision to
reduce emphasis on high lysine maize.
2. The fundamentals of agricultural development, good technology in
general and improved seed in particular, still have a high payoff and
make an investment in R&D one of the best developmental opportunities
available to donors.
3. The wisdom of investing in human and institutional resource
development is clear. ICTA not only is a valuable resource to the
future of Guatemala, its existence and performance enabled the project
with a relatively small investment to have a widespread impact in a
relative short run. Investment must include some analysis and attention
to the institution itself and not simply to the substance of the
project. Recognition of the seed delivery problems of Guatemala, for
example, and provision of the seed unit in ICTA have been important
factors in the impact of the
crop breeding work.
4. A project can address both substantive, technical problems at
the same time it is addressing institutional development problems and
achieve results in a relatively short time. The seed unit was
completely developed within this project, many people were trained, many
- 35 -
of the original concepts were made operational, new varieties were
developed, institutional doctrine was firmly implanted, and farmers were
using technology from the project.
5. Importance of linkages was clearly established, both in the
positive and the negative sense. Linkages with the international
community were excellent and highly productive--not only as a source of
technology but also as a source of design and concepts. Some domestic
linkages were inadequate, and ICTA has paid for the weakness.
6. Importance of management functions has been demonstrated, but
AID does not give it proper attention in projects. It is not clear what
AID has to offer in this area; it is clear that AID needs to address
such problems as financial support, personnel development, and staff
management, along with technical substantive matters.
7. The value and the potential of the international agricultural
research centers and of U.S. centers of technology expertise was
demonstrated. Also demonstrated was the value of a national capacity to
draw on this technology and to make an important contribution back into
the centers. If the CIAT-ICTA bean varieties with golden mosaic
tolerance turn out to be as good as they now seem, this work will have
impact throughout Latin America, in large part through the CIAT
program. The same is true of the Tropical Adaptability gene in sorghum,
discovered and bred into varieties by an ICTA-Texas A. and M.
collaboration and which Texas A.and M. can use through its worldwide
network. Both AID as an Agency and each Mission need to evaluate these
international resources and determine means of making more use of them.
There literally is an AID Worldwide Research Network.
8. This project demonstrated the very great potential that AID has
or can mobilize in helping develop national institutions, especially of
this type. In helping with the design of ICTA, AID was able to call on
the U.S. research tradition, on its 35-year experience throughout Latin
America, on its earlier institutional development work in Guatemala, on
the varied experiences of the international agricultural research
centers of which it is the largest supporter, and on its own
imagination. In the several implementing projects it made use of all
these resources, plus the technological resources (germ plasm and
personnel) of the U.S. and international research centers. Underscoring
all of this is its ability to collaborate with other donors.
Annex I IV