Title: Analysis of Mixed-Crop Farming Systems in Jamaica: Toward
Optimizing Farmer Returns.
The Hillside Agriculture Project (HAP) of Jamaica has been
working with agroforestry and other mixed-crop farming systems
(MCFS) commonly found in rural Jamaica. One of the difficulties
encountered to date in realizing the full benefits from these
projects is the lack of a comprehensive effort to analyze their
operational constraints and economic benefits. To begin with,
standardized criteria are lacking at present for evaluating the
different cropping systems, particularly those involving one or
more tree crops. Analytical tools and easily adoptable methods are
needed for assessing a particular MCFS's ability to meet farmers'
goals, especially optimization of returns to labor and/or cash
inputs, and for comparing the systems with one another. Such a
comprehensive analysis would enable us to refine the existing
technology packages for extension recommendations.
It is therefore proposed that HAP/USAID conduct a detailed
analytical assessment of various subprojects within their areas of
operation, focusing on those MCFS which include one or more tree
crops as part of the overall farming system. The proposed
assessment would utilize analyses of the MCFS' productivity
(combined output optimization), sustainability (external input
minimization), and adoptability (farmer acceptance) attributes. The
analyses of diverse systems, based on such comparable criteria, can
be used to identify those systems which function most effectively
under given conditions, as well as the advantages and disadvantages
of choosing any particular system. The results from such broad-
based procedures can assist project managers in refining the
technology packages currently being advocated, and in making
recommendations to farmers about choosing appropriate systems and
managing them for optimum benefits on a sustainable basis.
2. SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES
The proposed activity has three objectives:
1) to develop and apply an appropriate field-based
analytical methodology to assess the productivity,
sustainability and farmer adoptability of Jamaican mixed-
crop farming systems (MCFS);
2) to identify farmers' criteria for assessing improvements
to current MCFS; and
3) to apply the above in identifying optimization pathways
for farmer returns from MCFS.
The proposed research is an analytical assessment of mixed-
crop farming systems in Jamaica. The results will be used in
devising recommendation domains for potential MCFS improvements and
adoption. A detailed analysis of each Hillside Agricultural
Project area's farming systems would require many surveyors and
several years to complete. This is infeasible. We propose a two-
tiered "targeted systems" approach which involves using secondary
data on all HAP project activities, and primary data on selected
Existing HAP base-line data, supplemented with information
from other sources, will provide a contextual framework for the
analysis. Specifically, each MCFS' agroecological adaptability,
relative importance within the agricultural economy, and both
direct and indirect benefits derived can be established. This
information will lead to identifying target systems for more
detailed analysis, based on current efforts toward improvement.
Mixed-crop farming systems so targeted will be analyzed
according to the attributes listed earlier: productivity,
sustainability and adoptability. Optimization of returns to labor
and/or cash inputs, as well as productivity changes with time for
each of the selected systems will be worked out, and based on
these, extension recommendations on each system will be developed
Each of the analytical attributes is now examined more
The combined output of an MCFS, measured against current
yields (either combined or sole) gives an easily quantified gauge
of production efficiency. Agronomists call this the land equivalent
ratio (LER) if used for comparison of intercropping to monoculture.
Because tree crops and multiple species of intercrops are not
accounted for with LER, its usefulness is limited. Comparative
resource-use efficiencies might be a more pertinent standard for
MCFS assessment. Accordingly, resource-use efficiencies of each
component of the selected systems will be measured/assessed in
quantifiable and comparable terms.
Much has been discussed recently concerning the long-term
impacts of land-use decisions. While argument persists concerning
a quantifiable definition of sustainability, consensus is forming
that reduction of external production inputs may be an important
component. That is, moves toward self-sufficiency are apt to lead
a system away from many practices destructive to the resource and
socioeconomic base supporting them.
Quantification of this aspect might be a ratio of input cost
to value of outputs, including non-market outputs consumed on the
farm. While this does not consider internal practices potentially
destructive to the resource base (e.g. soil degradation through
erosion or lack of fertility maintenance), minimized negative
externalities is a useful interim measure of sustainability.
Without farmer acceptance, any "improved" technology becomes
an interesting shelf piece for researchers, but useless to those
trying to meet real demands for increased agricultural production
from shrinking resource bases. Examples of these abound. Measures
of adoptability, however, are less common. One possibly helpful
gauge is technology extension rates from farmer-to-farmer, as
opposed to more formal extension fora. The assumption here is that
neighbors will not recommend to their fellow tillers a new variety
or technology without first having tried it, adapted it to local
conditions, and deemed the results worthy of passing on.
1. Select prominent mixed-crop farming systems, especially
those including one or more tree crops, in Jamaica.
2. Prepare an analytical framework for the study as
3. Review the available data sets on these systems from HAP
projects and other cooperating agencies.
4. Collect additional data that are crucial for the analysis
of selected farming systems through on-site
5. Undertake the analysis on three broad categories:
Productivity Sustainability Adoptability
6. Repeat the analysis by an iterative procedure for field
7. Determine the optimization patterns of returns to labor
and/or cash input.
8. Evaluate the productivity changes with time for each
system under specified conditions.
9. Develop/refine extension recommendations based on these
10. Conduct training(s) of local researcher counterparts on
use of the methodology and analysis of results.
5. EXPECTED OUTPUTS/BENEFITS
1. Analytical procedures for comparing the different mixed-
crop farming systems.
2. Knowledge by local practitioners in use of the analytical
3. Information on the most promising and adoptable ways to
manage the systems to optimize returns to the farmers and
ensure long-term sustainability of the resource base.
4. Refinement of existing technology packages and approaches
for improving the systems, based on critical information
derived from the analyses.
One of the outputs will be a field manual on the methodology,
approaches and recommendations derived from the case studies. This
manual will aid HAP extension personnel by summarizing the research
results and experience of assessing the productivity,
sustainability and adoptability attributes of MCFS in Jamaica. With
standardized methods of data collection, it will be possible to
compare different systems using similar criteria. The emerging
patterns from such comparisons will indicate the factors that
affect farmer returns most, and therefore the most appropriate
pathways leading to optimization of returns according to farmer-
selected criteria. HAP field extension personnel could use the
procedures in this manual to develop recommendations for economic
optimization and long-term sustainability of any of HAP's on-going
or future initiatives. Several of the results of the study are
expected to be available during the life of the project, so that it
should be possible to incorporate the relevant aspects into
existing technological packages and recommendations even before
completion of the study.
6. STRATEGY AND TIME FRAME
The study will be undertaken through a grant to the University
of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS),
with Dr. P.K. Nair, Professor of Agroforestry, as the principal
investigator. A grant period of three years, effective April 1,
1993, is envisaged. The principal investigator will be assisted by
three or four University of Florida (UF) graduate research
assistants. Potential collaborators identified to date include
various HAP field personnel, IICA specialists, graduate students of
University of West Indies (UWI), and the College of Agriculture,
Jamaica (through Dr. Hastings). Details of collaborations with
these and other possible collaborators in Jamaica will be worked
out as the activity gets under way.
7. SPECIFIC TASKS
The activity will be subdivided into three stages, each with
several specific tasks. At least one UF graduate research assistant
will be fully involved in each stage. These follow the course of
procedures outlined above. The following tasks and time frame are
1. 1993: Methodology Development Stage: Defining the overall
research domain and tentative specific recommendation domains;
analysis of primary systems.
Graduate Researcher: Todd R. Johnson (UF)
Tasks: 1) Identify target MCFS including, but not limited
to, those utilizing one or more tree crops;
2) Review secondary data on target systems and
conduct preliminary verification through extension
agent interviews and informal surveys;
3) Collect and analyze data on the most widely used
MCFS crop mix and pattern (e.g. fruits/spices/nuts
with root crops) according to their productivity,
sustainability and adoptability attributes;
4) Provide preliminary recommendations on
optimization pathways for mixed-crop producers.
5) Prepare the outline of the field manual.
2. 1993-1994: Case Studies of Technology Development: Evaluation
of targeted systems according to their productivity,
sustainability and adoptability attributes.
Graduate Researcher: Donald Mee (UF)
Based on the available information and experience, a few
potentially promising technologies will be identified for detailed
case studies. These will be evaluated according to the
productivity, sustainability and adoptability criteria and
analytical procedures developed in Stage 1. A candidate technology,
for example, could be the use of multipurpose tree species (MPTS)
as live support for yam cultivation. The following tasks are
identified for such a case study:
Tasks: 1) Screen local and introduced species with use
2) Conduct establishment trials of selected
3) Collect and analyze data on productivity,
sustainability and adoptability attributes of
4) Provide preliminary recommendations on
optimization pathways for target systems'
5) Prepare technical input (case study) to the
preparation of the manual.
UWI graduate students could be involved in similar studies on other
3. 1994-1996: Integration and Iteration
Graduate Researcher(s): Terry Jantzi (MS) and/or Frank Merry
Tasks: 1) Establish the parameters of a comprehensive
sustainability analysis of Jamaican MCFS based on
work done to date;
2) Select two prominent MCFS; analyze the databases
relating to them according to the model;
3) Collect additional data if needed and complete
4) Prepare a comprehensive model integrating the
5) Develop/refine recommendations.
6) Complete the manual.
Specific and detailed programs of work for each of these stages
will be prepared by each of the graduate researchers under the
supervision of the P.I.
8. SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES
* identify target
* analyze primary
* outline of
Todd R. Johnson
Case Studies of
* target syst.
* analyze target
* recommend. re:
* case study for
Donald Mee /
* parameters for
* analyze 2 MCFS
* integrate model
* completion of
T. Jantzi (MS) /
F. Merry (PhD)
9. PROPOSED BUDGET
1993 1994 1995 Total
Salaries and Wages
for graduate students 12,000 12,600 13,230 37,830
Travel/transporation/per diem 3,500 3,675 3,850 11,025
for graduate students
Field expenses(research costs 5,000 5,250 5,500 15,750
Travel for Dr. P.K. Nair 2,000 2,100 2,200 6,300
Supplies and communication 1,000 1,050 1,100 3,150
Annual Direct Costs Subtotal 23,500 24,675 25,880 74,055
Indirect Costs at 20.7%
(base: Yr 1 = $20,500; 4,244 4,456 4,674 13,374
Yr 2 = $21,525; Yr 3 = $22,580)
Indirect Costs at 45%
(base: Yr 1 = $3,000; 1,350 1,418 1,485 4,253
Yr 2 = $3,150; Yr 3 = $3,300)
TOTAL (US$) 29,094 30,549 32,039 91,682
Notes: This indirect cost rate is the federal negotiated rate with the University for research expenses within the US. Included
in the base are Dr. Nair's travel and supplies and communication costs associated with the project. Years subsequent
to 1993 include 5% inflation allowance. Involvement of UWI sutdents, if any, is not included here.