INSTITUTIONAL ASSESSMENT FOR
IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEMS APPROACH
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
A WORKING PAPER
R. K. Waugh
J. K. McDermott
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A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO RESEARCH AND
Characterization and analysis of existing national
programs and institutions is useful in determining the
potential for implementing a systems approach to
agricultural research and extension (R/E). The purpose is
ot to evaluate existing institutions in the usual sense,
ut to inventory a given situation in such a way that
aximum use can be made of existing structures, resources
nd other organizational conditions, as well as to identify
changes and modifications that might make research and
extension more effective. Such assessment cannot be
entirely objective. Qualitative criteria must be used, and
o one set of criteria will be adequate for all situations.
he following guidelines are meant to direct and assist
These guidelines are presented in two parts: Part I,
NSTITUTIONAL ASSESSMENT, is oriented to determine what
organizational infrastructure exists within a given country
or agricultural research and development and (b) Part II,
DWARD IMPLEMENTATION, is meant to give some ideas on what
ight be the function of what already exists or what might
The criteria for assessment (Part I) are embodied in
three sets of questions to describe the present institution
r institutions in a country. This checklist is directed
award (a) the general conditions of an institution and its
environment, (b) management and operational aspects and (c)
he nature of the technological functions and methodologies
f research and extension.
It is not expected that all questions can be answered
or all situations. Furthermore additional observations
should be made when the reviewer believes that they are
1. How is national planning organized?
2. What organizations conduct research and extension?
(a) What are the mandates of each?
(b) How are these mandates funded?
3. What is the national policy regarding agricultural
research and extension?
(a) Is there an identifiable policy?
(b) To what extent is policy written?
(c) Does the nolicv contain inconaruencies that make
? the ranges of salaries fo
(b) What is the policy about salaries?
lENT AND OPERATIONAL SITUATION OF RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
:hecklist, Part II)
Does management manage or just supervise and control,
based on a set of administrative rules and regulations?
.What are the channels of authority?
(a) Are these understood?
1. To what extent does management define and delegate
responsibility, authority and the assignment of
I. What are the major points of internal policy?
(a) How is policy communicated within the research and
(b) Do the professional personnel largely ignore
(c) Is internal policy elaborated by management or
management and technical personnel together?
(d) Is internal policy based largely upon long
5. What kind of technical information system is used for
collection, storage and dissemination of information?
(a) What are the mechanisms for linking to external
sources of information such as the International
Agricultural Research Centers (IARC's),
universities and worldwide science?
(b) What are the major sources of external technical
6. How is planning conducted within the research and
(a) How are research priorities set?
(c) Are research results from the immediately prior
harvest used as a basis for developing the work
plan for the subsequent season?
(d) Who participates in research and extension
(e) How are work plans reconciled with available
(f) What provisions are made for scheduling the use of
equipment and facilities?
What provisions are made for continual monitoring of
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relate to conventional researchers?
(j) How does the research entity work with the
extension service or any other entities dealing
(k) What linkages does the research entity have with
other technology sources? (IARC's, foreign
universities, national entities)
Describe the Extension-diffusion programs) of the
(a) What are the entities doing extension or
extension-type work? List.
(b) What is the organizing concept of each one?
(commodity, service, geographic, supply, market)
(c) How do these entities work with national research
(d) Where else do they look for technological
(e) How does each mobilize, organize, and handle
information for its own purpose?
(f) What services or functions other than technology
do they perform?
(g) What testing does each do to verify or validate
(h) What is the importance of the result demonstration
as an extension method?
(i) What other methods are significant?
(j) In what forms do these entities state their annual
(k) How do extension workers perceive their role?
LLIue ne TecUnncal services avaliaoDe.
What is the seed supply situation for farmers?
How do new or tested varieties get to farmers?
How much time does it take?
Characterize the farm input situation with respect
to availability, quality, appropriateness,
timeliness, price and service for such inputs as
seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, tools.
What kind of linkages does research have with the
seed industry? With other input suppliers?
What linkages does extension have with input
To what extent are laboratory services (soil
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The concept of the farming systems approach held by
rent people varies considerably. Some view it as a
tic change; others view it simply as a new dimension and
)ach. Hildebrand and Waugh state farming systems
irch and extension (FSR/E) is applied, farmer oriented,
-biological research, supported by the socio-economic
ices in a team effort which includes extension
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IliaCy cjxencs are farmers.
There is no magic formula to determine the scope
le of systems approach. It is logical that not a]
mers need the same support system, and thus the sj
eloped to understand the farmers' situation and tc
erate and deliver relevant technology should be ve
'ording to conditions.
Existing institutional structure and mandate may
luence the scope of farming systems programs. Wha
ical or feasible in one instance may not be in anc
LIZATION ABOUT ORGANIZATIONAL UNITS
principal organizational groups needed to impleme
teams approach to agricultural research and extensi
Id consist of something similar to the following (
bably'are minimal for successful sustained operate
Component (discipline and commodity) research gr
On-farm research teams assigned to farming areas
Extension agents assigned to farming area
These groups or units do not necessarily need t
:luded within one institution. For example it may 1
>edient to have research and extension in different
systems mode with common objectives when in different
Another important group that should be integrated into
:he system is farmers who should play an important role in
:he selection, generation, integration, evaluation and
transferr of technologies. Although farmers are not, per se,
integrated into the research/extension institution they are
>asic to a system approach to research and extension.
therefore, when structuring institutions or developing
projects, it is important to be cognizant of the role of
farmers in order that programs can be developed from the
farm level upward rather than strictly from top down.
Z ORIENTED RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
The accompanying diagram I is more illustrative of
systems function rather than organization. These functions,
schematically presented, help to visualize the activities of
:he organizational groups needed to implement a systems
approach to agricultural research and extension.
Component research is represented by block 1, on-farm
:eams by blocks 2 and 3, and extension by block 4.
There are two aspects of the functions as
DIAGRAM I. SCHEMATIC OUTLINE FOR THE GENERATION AND TRANSFER OF
CLIENT ORIENTED RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
COMMUNICATIONS; AGRO-SOCIGECONOMIC INFORMATION GATHERING & DATA HANDLING;
REVIEW AND PLANNING
EVALUATION OF TECHNOLOGIES
IN FARMING SYSTEMS BY
AND FARMERS (INITIAL
d TRANSFER TO THE MASSES
Administrative services: Administrative procedures
should develop the framework which guides the
operational functions of the institute in support of
institutional objectives. Administration should be a
Information gathering and data handling (an information
system): Characterization of farming areas, updating
characterization an, technical information, data and
information handling, data and information storage and
retrieval, and feedback and feed-forward of
Planning: Planning takes on more importance in FSR/E
than in traditional research. Planning should be done
in a coordinated manner by all groups and not
unilaterally by individuals or small groups. This
planning requires interpretation of policy, review of
updated research results and cultural-economic
information for the elaboration of strategies and work
plans. It also requires information of resources
because work plans must be reconciled with resources
Component and discipline research: Biological research
is focused on commodities and is national in scope. (A
country, usually, needs only one maize program).
Research by biological disciplines such as plant
pathology might well be integrated into commodity
programs (The IARC's have used this system.), while the
socio-economic disciplines focus upon specific farming
areas in collaboration with on-farm teams.
Farm level research: This is both biological and
economic-cultural*. It integrates production components
into farming systems, studies alternatives and
validates technologies under farming conditions with
farmer participation which in part is researcher -
managed and in part is farmer managed with
supervision by research and extension. This validation
(evaluation) is both biological and economic.
Acceptability of technologies to farmers is evaluated.
Micro-economic studies may be conducted to collect
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immediate technological back-
!ransfer (extension): Transf
:he masses is the major respo
extension should always work
farmers in the evaluation of
identification of farmers' pr
services functions: Service
developed as needed. Some of
that they function in a coordinated manner compatible
:h and supportive of the systems approach to research and
ile 2. Functions conducted by organizational group that are
Lally found or not found in national agricultural research and
:ension programs that are important to implement a systems
ictions usually found to : Functions usually not well
structured and organized* : organized and planned
: Information and data handling
: systems; characterization and
: analysis of farming areas
: Review and planning
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nmodity and discipline
: Integrative research at farm
: level and study of alternatives
: Farm level evaluation by
: researchers, extensionists and
:hnical services such as
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ae fact that these functions are listed as "usually found to be
ructured" is not intended to imply that they are functioning wel
difications may be key to the successful implementation of the r
roach to research and extension.
In Table 2, two list of functions are presented: one
sts those that are commonly found in many countries; the
her lists functions that will probably need be added.
Ideally, the farming systems approach would be
plemented as a new approach to research, which involves
rrent resources, including manpower, in a new dimension
their than make total, radical changes or establish special
rming systems units or projects.
It is unlikely that research would already be in a
stems mode, especially if there have been no on-farm
ams that have been functioning. It is likely then that the
ganizational functions will need more change or
dification than the organizational groups. Component
search is very likely being conducted which emphasizes a
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