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FSSP Presentation a.m.
We will talk about the farming systems approach to agricultural research and extension.
There are two primary ways you can go when you think in terms of farming systems.
Farming systems very breifly means: getting a real understanding of the farm system
you are doing research for or working with)before you start coming up with solutions
(for what ever kind of solutions you are talking about). Very briefly, it involves
getting very well acquainted with the farming system and working within a farming
system (a identified system). To do that you can work either in the broad aspects
which are the policy levels, the market channels etc. where you have a high degree
of variables relative to the number of parameters. Parameter are those things which
you consider fixed and you can't change and variable are those things that you can
work with help to come up with solutions. On the other hand what we are concentrating
more with here at the University of Florida, at the present time, is the dissemination
and development of improved technologies for the farmers themselves, on the farm,where
you have a high ratio of parameters to variables. You tend to take such things as the
existence or non-existance of credit systems as given and you don't work within developing
a credit system. So briefly what we will be talking about here, more, is on-farm tech-
nology rather than solutions to problems involving marketing, credit and other aspects
which we don't minimize but which at the present time we are not concentrating on heavily.
FSR/E is an applied client orientated agro-biological research supported by socio-
economic scientists. So it is biological research largely, supported by the social
scientists, including economics, and a team effort. That is very important and enhanced
by extension responsibilities. This is the bottom line when we are talking about
family farms, we are really talking about the livelyhood of the farmers. It is intimately
involved with the farmer.
For whcm is FSR/E Dr. Popenoe mentioned small farms this is a term frequently
Dr. Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
used and abused,no one understands it and they always want it -defined. Limited
resource farms is perhaps a little better definition but that is difficult also
I think possibly a better definition is farms which refer to home rather then refers
to business. They're the ones you cannot just provide a business answer because a
farmer that is risking his home is not apt to make decisions like a manager of ;a
business, where if it goes bad he is not looseing his home. So/tIRtkiy factor
in here, it involves the family much more so than just a business.
Why must technology be generated specifically for the small family farm. Again,
Dr. Popenoe mentioned that we find we have alot of things now that aren't X&IN
research. This farm,irrigated tobacco, obviously has a whole different
picture to work from then this tobacco farmer. These are both in North Florida.
Taken very few miles apart. They're different kinds of farmers and they simply
require different approaches to technology. solution to problems their problems
are different. Three factors are important in making the small family farm different
from the farm that is first a business. These factors affect the appropriateness of
biological technology. Quantity and quality of physical resources.We find alot of
differences both in quantity and quality of the resources of the small family have.
Diversification of enterprises, they usually have a lot more enterprises they are
managed so their management time is scattered out. And the quantiy and quality
of management, simply because of that and also because they are also very often
parttime farmers. They are not farming full time. If we look in an economic sense
this a production response curve. I think most of you have seen it. Input and
Response. If we consider a farm that has very few resources we actually start
putting in input down here. A farm that has a lot of resources will have residual
fertility and other aspects so when he starts applying, he's applying from there.
So what you get from added inputs a small farm will face this kind of response
a good resource farm will face this kind. So if you think in terms of half a unit
you get very little response and in the case of poor resources put a half unit here
Dr. Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
and you get alot of response to a farm with good resources to start with. So
the quality of the resources on the farm is very important and you can't make
Another factor which is very important is the learning curve, the learning
aspects, you don't learn immediately how to use new technology you've got to study
it and work with it. So that eventho you think here's the potential of a new
technology of theirs with the potential of the present technology you try it.
You don't necessarily get those results the first year. We have three learning
curves here shifting the curve to the left so that you learn very fast its
either simpler technology or you've got a faster learner. A faster learner could
be a person who is a full time manager. Maybe he has a college education etc.
Shifting to the right where you take alot longer to learn and meet potential it is
either more complex technology or a slower learner. Slower learner in the sense
that he is not full time managing. He doesn't have the time to devote to studying
all the technology. Economically you have,with present technology, gross income,
and the cost, and the net income potential from that and then the farmers
facing this as potential productivity of the new technology. So what happens if
he has difficulty learning and using it,he can make a loss at first before he begins
to get the benefits of new technology.
With small units, small farms, it takes along time to amoratize this big loss
here, with future added income. These things all add up to let us know that we do
have to have probably simpler technologies for small family farmers, then we need
for large commercial farmers with full time management etc.
How do we work with this type of a situation, when we are working on farms?
Whether its in Malawi, and these happen to be natives from Malawi, or in any other
country. You have a whole lot of different enviornments on farms. Enviornment in
this context, I won't go technically in to how it is derived, but this represents
a better enviornment for whatever reason for raising this crop. This represents a
poorer enviornment for whatever reason for raising this crop this happens to be
Dr. Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
corn. Poor enviornment could be poor soils or it could be, for instance, a widow
who is trying to farm and doesn't have the strength to do much of a good job of
farming even though she is on good soil and one of these dots represents one
like that Overhere you can have.a young male farmer, full of energy and
even though he is on poorer land he creates and enviornment that's better for
raising corn. So looking at farm data, on-farm data, you can get an indication
of what happens two different enviornments on different kinds of farms.
At experiment stations, these are the experimental data from the same trials on the
station at the Chitedze experiment station in Lilongwe, are generally speaking on
superior enviornment. Now that doesn't mean that this is completely separate from
on-farm research. Many people have thought that on-farm research or farming systems
research means that you separate the two. What it really means is that this
enviornment is added information. You can utilize experimental data, and on-farm
data to get a better range and therefore make better estimates.
Research, on-farm and station research is a sequence where you move from
exploring different alternatives to looking and searching for those that are
better and finally getting down to the point where you let the farmers themselves
really look at it and help you decide. You define recommendation domains which are
types of farms within which a particular technology is superior. You can get -
this is the response of one technology. You can have another technology that might
have this kind of a response so that for poor farms this technology is better and
for the farms with the better enviornment this technology is better. So you can
partition or refine recommendation domains by working with research on farms.
Basically what we are talking about is compressing research, extension cr//frm
into an area where we have all three, researchers, 4% X~K#X and farmers working
together, in farming systems research and extension.
Dr. Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
Now as you mentioned breifly, IrJA in Guatemala, this is one of the few
institutions, national institutions, and possibly the only one that is organized
completely on a farming systems approach. It is sequencial from experiment~X
station you move to farm experiments managed by researchers to farmers test
experiments managed by farmers to promotion and production. There is a cycling
through here where you have agro-socio-economic information coming back and
feeding in at all aspects. This is an entire national institute that is
organized that way.
Let's look quickly at an expamle, from Guatemala of what this involves.
This is an area in Eastern Guatemala that's broken depository, it is fairly
dry, it is not high range about 700 meters. The basic system is
corn, sorgum interplanted with beans. That is also their basic food supply
and feed. Sorgum is used both as an animal feed and as a human feed.
Animals are important in the system but the animals belong predominantly
to the owners of the land rather then to the renters, so you have to take
that into consideration. Whether the type of farmer is a land owner or a
Also, the soils are such that they can't do much in the way of land preparation.
They gather up the residue from the previous crop and burn it. That's about all
they can do before planting.
I mentioned that the farming systems approach identifies problems in specific
systems. So first of all you've got define the system and then identify problems
within that system so that you know exactly what you are working on.
That's applied research.
In this area one of the important characteristics during the growing season,
is a two to four week period without any rain-that is very critical. It means a
you've got a short growing season before that and another extended one beyond that.
What that creates is a shortage of labor at planting time.. That we found out
was one of the most important limiting factors in this farm system. When it rains
Hildebrand (Contd.) a,m,
everybody plants as fast as you can. They quite planting because they know
if they continue planting they won't be able to harvest anything because of the
S_, so they have to plant very rapidly. Therefore labor more
than land is a limiting factor for them. This is common in much Africa for
Another factor that we found was that bean seed is limiting. They have very
poor-storage facilities, the yield is low to begin with, they eat it, they sell
it, as you get close to planting time, of course the price goes up and there
is a tendency to sell it. So when it comes time to plant they have very little
bean seed available. So that means that the productivity of the seed is more
important then the productivity of the land on which they plant the seed because
again, they don't have time to plant more land then what they can get planted
in a very specific period of time.
So those are the two constraints that you really have to work with on a
farm situation like this in this case. Generate alternate solutions to these
specific problems. That is where your agronomic research really comes in.
We were looking here, for instance, for ways of spreading labor out at planting
time. Planting beans before the rain and then after it rained planing the corn and
the sorgum. This turned out to be to risky because although it worked quite well
they could loose their bean seed if there were light rains, began to germinate,
and then dry again before it really started to rain.
However, we did find that we could increase the productivity of the seed of bean.
Incerase the productivity of the maize per acre for ? in this case,
without decreasing production per unit of land area the beans by spreading out
the area in which you planted beans. (As one of the things we were looking at)
Page 7 Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
Test tentative solutions under farm conditions. After first working under more
controlled conditions where we were managing the project the research we began
to get on a larger plots where the farmers had much more interaction.
Here, one of the systems that looks very good to us is corn and sorgum planted
in twin rows and beans planted here. After the researchers have decided from the
basis of all the information they have gather, what they think is probably going to
be the best alternative for the farmers, under their conditions, this situation
here was used in the local maize, the local sorgum, the local beans no fertilizer
all in accord with what the farmers were actually doing. They were doing it because
they didn't have improved corn available to them, or improved sorgum (or the kind
that they liked for food) there were no better beans available so this is it. They
didn't fertilize, except very rarely, so it was in that system.
Then evaluated the exceptability to the farmers get the farmers actively
involved in farmer managed research.
This is one of the plots where we had on farms the farmer planted it, we
instructed him how, that was all. He is actually doing it. If they have to buy
fertilizer, if they have to buy insecticides, for one of the possible alternatives,
they have to do" that. So they know what problems there are Can I get the fertilizer
- Can I get the insecticide etc.? Then the real test is not what says, He says
"Ya that looks real good." but will he do it nest year on his own. So you come
back the next year to look and see. Has he done that on his own? That is active
evaluation. Here you can see the corn and the sorgum and the beans. This man
planted his entire one monsana ,/ fRhi'sa ahreha ~ d three-quarters into this system
this year because he liked it the year before that is active acceptance. They like
it. So we created an acceptability index which helps us to predict adoption in the
future. If we have a high acceptability index we have the extension
efforts then will be successful in extending the kind of technologies that are
Page 8 Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
Here at the University of Floirda the FSR/E is also being institutionalized.
It has a structure, its working with the county extension people, the state
extension people and other researchers in the system.
How did it come about? Why was Florida interested in FSR/E?
It seems to me that if we go back in history and look at the early stages of
land grant institutions we had departments they were very few in number they
had broad mandates and they were staffed by people from farms. (with a farm background)
They knew what took place on a farm what kind of problems farmers had what
involved farmer decision making. As we developed as a land grant institution,
we began to get more and more departments more and more specialized and people
within the departments became more and more specialized. This if following our
development process it is nothing to be alarmed about it is just simply what
was taking place. Bill Schmehl mentioned to me the other day that 20 25 years
ago it was not even to popular to talk about production research. For a period
of time we had a lot of agriculture surplus so people weren't thinking in terms
of production in a farm sense, they were thinking in terms of other things quite
narrow and that is what took place. You begin to lose communication with each
other and with the client, The farming systems approach utilizes scientists in
different disciplines to supply the division formerly supplied by farmer
a ?scientists. Now very few of our scientists are farmer a scientists.
Communication among scientists and between scientists and farmer returns.
The FSA ? approach is not a substitute for what exists. What exists is a very
very powerful institution. It is very very effective in working with commercial
agriculture. Rather is provides the necessary element for problem solving, client
orientated institutions that is disappeared, to work with the small scale family
farm. Which we all thought was disappearing also. That has been the trend that
is the way this whole thing has developed. Now we find it is not it is increasing
in importance and in number and certainly the world over it is a very important
institution that we have not been to effective in helping.
Page 9 Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
This new element is even more powerful then the one that disappeared because
the FSR/E team comprised of scientists from different disciplines collectively can
provide both more breath and more depth then those individual farmer scientists
were able to provide in the early days of the land grant system. So in many ways
we are now coming back to the concept we originally had with a much more powerful
Here in Florda, we are combining work with scientists who are not involved
in the assistance program directly. USDA, you may recognize Bill Hofnaegle from
OICD, there is quite an effort now involved in the North Florida project an
example of the cooperative nature of our work, this is a grazing trial on winter
wheat which is conducted at the beef research unit, one of the experiment stations
of the University.
Here is one that was conducted on a farm. You don't have the kinds of control
on a farm that you do on a station obviously, some things you can do some you
can't. He is raising these cattle, so you can't play to much with them on the farm,
On an experiment station you can move them in and out and do other things with them.
We have also found in working in No. Florida alot of I#'t&P~0X0)05v(B 4WXX
similarities with farm problems, problems of the small scale family the world over
and alot of similarities. For instance, associated planting is very common through-
out the tropics, but we also find alot of associated plantings in Florida. These
are peanuts and corn as one example. Livestock are very important as this scene
in Guatemala and in No. Florida. Livestock withNxixixx whether it is swine or
cattle or whatever are also very important. Off-farm work is very important.
These are wood carvers in Kenya. This is the situation in Eastern Ecuador where
actually the petroleum industry is what sped much of the agricultural development
in the area and the colonization projectand they continued to work parttime.
Women are very important in contributing to the economy of the entire farm
- this weaver in Guatemala or this women making a quilt in north Florida to sell.
Page 10 Hildebrand (Contd.) a.m.
It is all the same thing. They contribute however they can. Many times they
are the primary farmer. MWIKKXI
Marketing is a problem for small farmers. Whether it is somebody who)0Xw(
has the in the Amazon or a small farmer in Northe Florida
trying to get together enough watermelons to attract a broker or a trucker.
Inputs in small quantities is always difficult. It is difficult in North
Florida the kinds and qualities of inputs that he wants just as it is for
somebody like this in Guatemala where they don't have anyway to purchase their
bean seeds. But they raise it. If they lose their bean seed they are really in
trouble because they have to go on the market they have no idea what kinds of
beans they are KIXMI buying there is no real control.
Irrigation frequently is not available on small farms either. In Kenya or
North Florida or any where else. Very few small farms have irrigation. Storage
is a severe problem. BElieve it or not this potatoes being %XX% stored in North
Florida this is corn being stored under a house in the Amazon area. Soils,
around the world small family farmers are on poor soils. We think this is also
the case, to a certain extent, in No. Florida. Although we haven't really identified
that, but we do know that many small farmers have very poor soils.
Make do, is another/ ~Hr ctrsticvery of small farmers. This is a handmade
sugarcane press that we saw in Easter Ecuador and this is typical of the kinds of
scenes that you see around North Florida on small farms. They don't go out and buy
all the new big new/air conditioned stereo/EARor they make due with the kinds of
equipment they have.
Credit is another very important constraint that small farmers around the world.
(Have) This in North Florida this ben was built in three stages. One two and
three as the farmer had cash to build it because he either couldn't or didn't want
to get involved with the credit program. So that is another very important constraint
that we find around the world.
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One thing that we find in common among the small farmers that we worked with
everywhere including No. Florida, is if you go out and you work with them in the
context of working with them to help them solve their problems rather then going
out and saying "look your doing it all wrong, I know better, this is how you should
be farming" then they are very willing to talk with you. To tell youttheir problems
and help you help them. That is common all around the world.
Just very breifly, some of the different kinds of situations in which we found
these things. This is Portugal where we have been working in a farming systems
program this is in the Amazon area, rain forest, completely different type -
this is one of the things we were looking at down there, hair sheep ? in the tropics
(the Wet tropics) are adapted and this can be a convenient source of meat that you
can move around in a canoe much easier than you can cattle.
This is in Honduras, again another completely different type of situation.
In Bolivia (in Eastern Bolivia). In El Salvador where we were searching for ways
to intensify land use. There land is very very restrictive and labor is very
abundant. And we were looking at ways to tremendously enhance the productivity
of the land and were able on a very small land holdings (less then an acre) to
create enough productive work for an entire family.