A METHODOLOGY FOR EVALUATING INSTITUTIONAL CONSTRAINTS
TO AGROFORESTRY DISSEMINATION
Mark B. Follis and P.K.R Nair
Agroforestry Program, Department of Forestry
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611
Paper presented at
Farming Systems Research-Extension North American Symposium
University of Florida
October 12-16, 1993
In many developing countries there appears to be little
cognizance of the necessity of political and institutional
support for sustainable agriculture. In practice, institutions
and their policies have been usually treated as external elements
rather than as factors directly affecting the internal
functioning and performance of agricultural projects.
With regard to agroforestry, low farmer adoption has been
often attributed to insecure land tenure, insufficient extension,
inadequate credit and few marketing opportunities. Nevertheless,
these are mostly assumptions because serious policy studies have
seldom been undertaken based on actual field circumstances.
A methodology is presented to help identify important
institutional constraints to agroforestry dissemination from
national and regional perspectives as well as that of individual
farmers. This methodology is then tested through an evaluation
of the institutional and political environment for agroforestry
dissemination in lowland and highland Ecuador.
The gains in productivity witnessed in the Third World since
the Green Revolution have primarily occurred on lands
biophysically favored to agriculture. Since almost all such
areas are now in production, future increases in agricultural
output must come essentially from technologies that are not only
productive but also protective of the natural resource and land
Recent research and long-term experience have conclusively
confirmed the ability of trees and shrubs to reduce soil erosion
and other problems associated with unsustainable agricultural
practices. Indeed, as reported by Nair (1993), trees and shrubs
have featured prominently in tropical farming systems precisely
because of their environmental qualities.
Consequently, agroforestry, which involves complementary
biophysical and economic interactions between trees, shrubs,
crops, and livestock, is receiving much current attention not
only as a sustainable land use practice but, increasingly, as a
comprehensive rural development program especially suited to the
circumstances of small farmers (King 1989; Nair 1993). Research
to-date has indicated that the intercropping of perennials and
-make more effective use of land, water, and sunlight than
sole or monocropping;
-provide distinct advantages by growing legumes and non-
legumes in conjunction; and
-as a cumulatively result, can enable higher and more
From the socio-economic perspective, agroforestry may
diversify farm output, provide continuous income between annual
crop harvests, and improve the distribution of the demand for
labor. In short, longer-term forestry and perennial investments
can be balanced and supported by the more immediate returns from
traditional agriculture. In addition, the on-farm production of
lumber, poles, and firewood can perhaps reduce future clearing
pressures on remaining forests.
Unfortunately, it has become apparent in recent years that
agroforestry implementation is being hampered in many countries
by a lack of appropriate and supportive policies and
institutions. Prinsley (1990) and Mercer (1992), among others,
have attributed low adoption by targeted farmers to insecure land
tenure, insufficient extension and research, credit constraints,
poor rural infrastructure, and a lack of marketing opportunities.
Despite the increasing realization of the importance of
supportive policies and institutions to agroforestry diffusion,
few, if any, serious studies have been undertaken based on actual
biological, economic, and political circumstances. Therefore, we
are in the process of developing a methodological framework for
analyzing and evaluating important agroforestry institutional
issues based on the experiences of two large agroforestry
projects in Ecuador. The results of an initial analysis are the
primary topic of this paper.
We believe that this Ecuadorian case study is relevant to
agroforestry dissemination throughout the tropics for two
reasons. First, the macroeconomic and agricultural policy
framework of Ecuador is not that different from that found in
other developing countries. Second, the two projects examined in
the study offer examples of agroforestry interventions in two
distinct ecological and social settings.
2. The Methodology
The dissemination of agroforestry to small farmers is nested
in several arenas or settings. These include international
influences, the national setting, the agricultural sector, and
the project or farm setting itself (Figure 1). Our methodology
is, therefore, divided into three principal parts. The first and
second investigate the impact of policy and institutions on
agriculture and agroforestry development at the national and
sectoral levels, while the third component focuses on these
issues from a project or individual farmer perspective.
The National Setting
A brief presentation on the size and location of a country
and population characteristics and trends can help to establish
the broader biophysical and socioeconomic background in which an
agroforestry project will be situated. Useful information for
this task will include geographical and ecological data,
contemporary land use trends, and environmental problems and
their causes, particularly as they relate to policy and
institutional arrangements (Figure 2).
An important step in agroforestry encouragement is the
modification or elimination of existing policies and
institutional structures that contribute to the land use problems
that it is intended to address. Therefore, this part of the
methodology entails a brief but relevant examination of a
nation's agricultural sector. Important topics would include the
sector's present status in relation to a country's economy, its
historical role in national development, and an overview of
important sectoral institutions (Figure 3). In addition, an
insight into the rationale behind contemporary agricultural
policy and development priorities can be acquired by reviewing
policy trends under past internal and external political and
social pressures. Subtle but perhaps important linkages with
other economic sectors may also emerge.
Specific institutions responsible for the formulation and
implementation of agricultural policies affecting agroforestry
are identified at the next stage of the sectoral review. In most
developing countries this will include those agricultural
institutions related to land tenure, research and extension,
product pricing, subsidies, and credit.
The Project Setting
This section of the methodology begins with a brief synopsis
of the principal objectives of a project. This should include
information on project location, its size and scale, and primary
activities (Figure 4). Hildebrand and Poey (1985) suggested that
such a description be augmented with brief, but relevant
information on area climate, soils, topography, land use trends,
and prevalent farming systems. Any indigenous agroforestry
systems in the area or previous intervention attempts should also
Economic Viability and Farmer Adoption Rates
To generate farmer and policy maker support, some
quantifiable indicators must establish that the projected
benefits of an agroforestry intervention will warrant the
required expenditures of capital, labor, and natural resources;
information on physical parameters alone may say little as to
whether a project will be of long-term benefit to participants.
Likewise, small farmers, not to mention policymakers, may have
difficulty appreciating biological information on sustainability-
-organic matter accumulation, nutrient recycling, nitrogen and
phosphorous availability--no matter how relevant that it might be
to natural resource decisionmaking (Ascher and Healy 1990).
Project evaluation and selection should, therefore, be based
in part on costs and revenues, the implications of which would be
readily apparent to all involved parties. Likewise, the
calculated monetary consequences of alternative agricultural
activities can offer a standard for measuring feasibility and
viability (Gittinger 1982). As addressed in Prinsley (1990), the
underestimation of costs or the overestimation of revenues can
and has had disastrous consequences on the outcome of
In all agricultural development projects there invariably
exist important effects that are essentially unquantifiable.
Given this reality, one of the best measures of the
appropriateness of an agricultural system may be the rate at
which it is adopted by targeted groups. Therefore, this
methodology assumes that, in addition to economic viability, the
suitability of an agroforestry technology to a particular
biophysical and socioeconomic setting can be validated by the
degree of farmer adoption.
Once the performance of an agroforestry system has been
deemed valid, the next step in our methodology is the
identification of specific policy-related institutional
constraints to its dissemination. Given the information
constraints in most Third World circumstances, this methodology
places great emphasis on combining quantitative and qualitative
methods, secondary data, and surveys in a deductive, but
This section characterizes the prevalent land tenure regimes
that are present in a particular locale as well as identifies any
specific tenure-related constraints that may affect agroforestry
encouragement. These constraints can include short-term leases,
inaccessibility to productive land, or the lack of farmer rights
to trees and their products. Such information may be gathered
from background literature, personal conversations or, better,
through surveys and interviews with project administrators, state
and private extensionists, and--most importantly--the farmers
Research and Extension
Farmers and extensionists should be interviewed to
ascertain, first, the effectiveness and adequacy of agroforestry
extension efforts and, second, to acquire suggestions for
improvement. If new research and field activities are warranted,
the availability of staffing and logistical support should be
Interviews or surveys as well as secondary data will be
useful for identifying specific marketing opportunities or
constraints that will affect the financial viability of
agroforestry. Particular attention should be paid to any
infrastructural inadequacies that might impinge on the marketing
of agroforestry products.
Pricing and Subsidies
At this point the proposed methodology examines how the
political or institutional background for agricultural pricing
will affect the profitability of agroforestry. Special attention
should be given to the presence or absence of agricultural price
supports or controls. This information can be obtained through
interviews with farmers, extensionists and other project
personnel, or secondary data.
As in traditional agriculture, the provision of credit may
be critical to the diffusion of agroforestry technologies. This
can be ascertained, again, through surveys and background
literature. Attention should be paid to the experiences and the
present financial status of credit agencies which are now or have
previously functioned in the relavent area.
Synthesis and Conclusions
The final activity is the formulation of conclusions based
on the acquired information. If policy and institutional issues
present major hurdles to the agroforestry adoption by targeted
groups, institutional constraints should be prioritized with
respect to the severity of their impact. One method suggested by
USAID (1989) for use in data-poor information environments is to
develop a ranking or scorecard that expresses net institutional
impact as a number from -2 (very negative) to +2 (very positive).
These ratings may be based on informed judgements by the analysts
conducting the evaluation or, if resources permit, by more
Farmer adoption of agroforestry is ultimately dependent on
national and sectoral influences as well as those present at the
actual farm setting (Figure 5). While the methodology presented
in this section is intended to be flexible, it involves several
Important elements with regard to the national setting are
the country's location and size, population trends, geographical
and ecological background, and environmental degradation trends
and causes. Pertinent data on the agricultural sector include
land use, efficiency of resource consumption, and historical and
contemporary policy as it pertains to land tenure, research and
extension, marketing, pricing, subsidies, and credit.
Once agroforestry has been validated in terms of the
expected economic impact and/or the extent of farmer adoption,
the next step is to evaluate the relevancy of the institutional
issues mentioned in the previous paragraph to the farmer in the
field. The step of the methodology includes the synthesis of
data in a deductive process and the development of conclusions.
3. Agroforestry Dissemination in Ecuador
Continental Ecuador is situated on the western coast of
South America between 740 and 81 W. longitude and 2* N. and 6*
S. latitude (Figure 6). It has a population of over 11 million
people in an area of 270,699 km2, about 41 inhabitants per km2,
making Ecuador the most densely populated country in South
America (Whitaker 1990). Extreme poverty affects 20 and 25% of
the rural and urban population, respectively (Southgate 1990).
Ecuador's mainland consists of three distinct geographical
regions: the Costa, the Sierra and the Oriente. The narrow
Costa, averaging 130 km in width, is bounded by the Andes on the
east and the Pacific on the west. Regional climatic conditions
range from arid to subhumid. The highlands of the Sierra are
delineated by two parallel mountain chains containing more than a
dozen peaks surpassing 4800 m. These twin ranges enclose a
series of intermontane valleys, typically 50 to 75 km in width
with elevations ranging between 1500 and 3000 m, possessing soils
and rainfall well suited to agriculture. To the east of the
Sierra, on the western edge of the Amazonian Basin, begins the
Oriente. Representative elevations in this region are only 300
m. As rainfall and temperature are high throughout the year,
tropical rainforest comprises the predominant ecological feature.
Historically, agriculture has been the single most important
element of the Ecuadorian economy. Nevertheless, agricultural
productivity is extremely low when compared to other countries in
the region and sector-related ecological and environmental
degradation is rapidly accelerating. As related in Southgate et
al. (1992), the major limitations to the sustainable development
of Ecuador's agricultural and natural resources appear to be
primarily of an institutional nature. Many institutions and
their policies now encourage an effective, if unintentional,
discrimination against sustainable activities, particularly with
respect to adoption by smaller farmers.
The Coca Agroforestry Project
Until the early 1970s, the Oriente's population consisted
primarily of 85,000 to 100,000 indigenous inhabitants living by
shifting cultivation, hunting, and fishing (Hicks 1990). This
changed radically with the construction of petroleum service
roads which facilitated rapid migration from densely populated
areas of the Costa and Sierra.
Although tropical rainforest continues to cover most of the
region, some 36% of the area has been claimed by agricultural
colonists (Southgate 1990). Most of these farmers have continued
to practice production methods which are more appropriate to
their region of origin than for the biophysical conditions
present in the Oriente (Cabarle et al. 1989). This has led to
rapid soil exhaustion and acute pest and weed infestations on the
majority of recently established farms (CEDIG 1986).
Agroforestry is now being actively encouraged in the region
as a viable agricultural alternative to inefficient and
unsustainable cropping and livestock systems. Nevertheless,
results to-date have been somewhat disappointing. Several
evaluators, including Ramirez et al. (1990), Peck and Bishop
(1990), and Orellana et al. (1991), have pointed to institutional
constraints as important elements of this circumstance.
The Coca Agroforestry Project (CAP) was initiated by the
Ministry of Agriculture and the National Forestry Directorate
with substantial technical and financial support provided by the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The
primary objective of the project, which functioned from 1985 to
1990, was to increase the wood, coffee, and livestock production
of 30,000 area colonist families. Principal activities included,
first, the incorporation of commercially valuable native timber
species (primarily Cordia alliodora and Jacaranda copaia) in
coffee (Coffea canephora var. robusta) and pasture. Second, new
pruning and management practices for coffee were encouraged that
could promote growth and facilitate harvest. These included
shoot removal, the bending and layering of upper branches, and
sprout management on older trees. Third, the legume Desmodium
ovalifolium was promoted as a forage crop to reduce compaction
and overgrazing and as a groundcover in coffee to ameliorate
rapid nutrient leaching and weed infestation.
Peck and Bishop (1990) reported that, as a result of the
project, participating farmers were able to recognize and protect
naturally-regenerated seedlings of commercial tree species.
Moreover, many farmers began to utilize enrichment planting
techniques to improve the population densities of desirable
species. Coffee farmers who cultivated D. ovalifolium as a
ground cover were able to reduce weedings and also benefitted
from the enhanced soil fertility.
Similarly, Ramirez et al. (1990) found that the promoted
agroforestry practices increased yields and simultaneously
reduced chemical and labor requirements: the average annual
yields of coffee under the improved practices were 63.2% higher
than that of the control, herbicide applications were reduced by
91.8%, and insecticide use was decreased by 33.3%. The
cumulative impact of the promoted practices was to extend the
productive lifespan of coffee trees by an estimated four years.
Institutional Support for Agroforestry in the Amazon
A survey was conducted in December 1992 and January 1993
with the help of the USAID/CARE SUBIR Project (Uso Sostenible de
los Recursos Biologicos) and extension agents from the Ministry
of Agriculture (MAG) to evaluate the impact of the project two
years after official termination. Specific questions on key
institutional topics were included in the survey for the benefit
of this study.
The survey found that 29 of the 31 farmers sampled were
still practicing at least some of the CAP agroforestry practices
(Table 1) for the reasons presented in Table 2. Furthermore, 83%
of those interviewed felt that these techniques had been of
benefit to their farming operations.
Land Tenure: As mentioned, the great majority of farms in the
CAP area were created as a result of colonization programs.
These programs allocated approximately 50 ha of forested land to
each farm household. Consequently, when questioned whether land
tenure was a problem, only two of the 31 respondents (6%) replied
in the affirmative.
While access to land did not seem to present a major problem
for the interviewed, other tenure-related institutional issues
may constrain agroforestry dissemination in the region. Tenure
policy in the Oriente has historically required that up to 80% of
a forested plot be cleared during the first two years of
occupation to avoid dispossession. Although this regulation is
now under review, many local officials continue to insist that at
least half of a parcel be deforested prior to claim legalization.
In actuality, Estrada et al. (1987) determined that, 15
years into the colonization program, the average colonist in the
CAP area had only cleared about 16 ha (32%) of an average 46 ha
allocation. These figures were closely corroborated by those
from a sample of 180 area farms obtained by Ramirez et al.
This leads to a second tenure-related concern. Given low
animal weight gains and sparse stocking, Uquillas et al. (1991)
found it difficult to justify in economic terms why farmers would
devote an average of 43.2% of their cleared area to pasture. As
pointed out by Fundaci6n Natura (1988), the attractiveness of
livestock production might lay partly in its status as an
acceptable land use under present tenure legislation.
Extension: When asked whether agricultural extension assistance
was adequate, 28 of the 31 farmers surveyed (90%) answered in the
negative. The particular topics for which they most desired
assistance are listed in Table 3. When specifically asked if
they desired more agroforestry-related extension 28 or 90%
Future agroforestry dissemination in the Oriente will
clearly require greater government-sponsored extension. This
will be difficult given present national spending priorities--the
Amazon region received less than 2% of national agricultural
investments during the first half of the 1980s (Hicks 1990).
Federal expenditures that were made in the Oriente were focused
almost exclusively on the petroleum industry.
Marketing and Pricing: The great majority of the 31 farmers
interviewed in the survey were experiencing problems with the
marketing of their products (Table 4). Indeed, 61% of landowners
previously interviewed by Uquillas et al. (1991) had had to
pursue alternative income sources largely because of seasonal
variations in coffee prices.
The lack of an adequate transportation infrastructure in the
Oriente also promotes the adoption of less sustainable
agricultural practices. Fundaci6n Natura (1988) has pointed out
that inadequate transportation and related marketing risks has
favored relatively inefficient livestock production; if
necessary, cattle can be moved to market on foot.
Credit: Only two (6%) of the farmers interviewed in the 1993
survey had received any agricultural credit during the previous
two years. Twenty-two (71%) felt that this was an important
constraint to farm productivity. In addition, the lack of credit
directly influences farmer selection of agricultural activities
in the Oriente. One of the primary reasons for the popularity of
livestock production is that it generally require less capital
and labor than does crop cultivation (Fundaci6n Natura 1988).
Furthermore, the government has intentionally promoted the
raising of livestock through preferential credit for cattle
production by the state Banco Naci6nal de Fomento.
A threefold increase in population since 1950 coupled with
farm miniaturization and the widespread utilization of
inappropriate agricultural practices, particularly on steep
slopes, have resulted in serious wind and water erosion problems
in the Sierra. As a consequence, the total cultivated area in
the region has declined by one-third since the early 1970s
(Southgate et al. 1992). At the same time, pasture area--often
degraded cropland--has more than doubled. Indeed, most of the
3.15 million ha currently undergoing degradation in Ecuador are
located in the Sierra (de Noni and Trujillo 1986). As a
cumulative result, the production of many important Sierran
staples has declined dramatically in recent years (Tschirley and
Riley 1990), while shortages of fuelwood, construction materials,
and fodder are becoming increasingly serious.
In the early 1960s the government subsidized large-scale
plantings in the Sierra of Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus
to develop a domestic pulp and paper industry (Garrison and Pita
1992). This endeavor ultimately failed because of tree diseases,
insufficient labor, and other management-related problems.
Consequently, a number of projects were conceived during the
1980s to re-orient reforestation from an industrial to a more
social forestry focus. As discussed in Carlson and Ahazco
(1990), it was hoped that this would simultaneously increase
timber and agricultural production and improve the social and
economic plight of the region's smaller farmers.
In 1986, CARE and the Ministry of Agriculture initiated
Proyecto Manejo Del Uso Sostenible de Las Tierras Andinas
(PROMUSTA), funded by USAID, to promote soil conservation and
agricultural sustainability on steeply sloping lands. Its
primary goal has been to increase the income and productivity of
marginal farmers in eight Andean provinces (Figure 5), all of
which are now seriously affected by rapid deforestation and soil
Along with soil conservation and improved water management,
agroforestry dissemination has played a prominent role in
PROMUSTA. Specific accomplishments in agroforestry dissemination
have included 190,800 m2 planted in windbreaks and as farm
borders and 102,700 m2 in agroforestry contour strips.
More than 80% of the 133 farmers interviewed by CARE (1990)
considered the project to be succeeding. Specific reasons for
this opinion included the effectiveness of promoted soil
conservation strategies, improvement in farmer socioeconomic
status, and the provision of agricultural credit. CARE (1991a)
itself has reported yield increases on project farms of up to
216% for barley, 47% for beans, 80% for onions, 421% for peas,
and 260% for potatoes.
Institutional Support for Aaroforestrv in the Andes
While PROMUSTA is generally viewed as one of the most
effective natural resource conservation projects in the Sierra
(Orellana et al. 1991), it has encountered numerous obstacles to
implementation. Many of these are believed to be rooted in
policy and institutional issues (personal communications with
project officials and participants).
In order to examine these topics from the actual perspective
of PROMUSTA participants, we undertook an analysis based
primarily on two CARE internal documents. The first, the
Autoevaluaci6n (CARE 1990), conducted in late 1990, was composed
of three separate surveys: 133 project farmers in five provinces,
40 of 43 project extension agents, and 21 project supervisors and
administrators. The second, Evaluaci6n Formativa: Proyecto
PROMUSTA (CARE 1991b), was held in November 1991 and consisted of
numerous, less formal interviews with farmers and project
Land Tenure: Despite the agrarian reforms of the 1960s and
1970s which were intended to eliminate large and unproductive
estates, the greatest part of the fertile, relatively flat areas
of the Sierra is still in the possession of large cereal, cattle,
and dairy farmers (Lynch et al. 1988). As a rule, only marginal,
hilly lands have been redistributed to smaller producers. This,
combined with rapidly increasing population, has led to the
creation of very small farms on slopes of up to 80%. According
to Mosher et al. (1988), the actual number of small farms in the
region increased from 252,000 in 1974 to 346,000 in 1984, 145,000
of which had an average cultivable land area of less than one-
half hectare. Under such circumstances farmers cannot fallow
land, and windbreaks must be sacrificed or foregone in order that
every square meter of available land be cultivated. As a result,
many farms can no longer biophysically support even subsistence
This situation will not improve as long as small farmer
access to additional land is limited by institutional obstacles.
During the mentioned land reforms, for instance, large blocks of
land in the Sierra were transferred from private to community
ownership. Much of this land, according to Camacho and Navas
(1992), is now either underutilized or abandoned. Since
Ecuadorian law does not now allow the sale of community-held
property, the quantity of land that is saleable is reduced; land
prices are thus pushed well beyond the means of most small
farmers. As a consequence, invasion of government or privately
held parcels becomes, the only means for land acquisition;
Garrison and Pita (1992) have noted that many Sierran farmers now
illegally graze their livestock on state forestry plantations.
Other tenure-related problems are rooted in the poor state
of rural property registries. PROMUSTA farmers have specifically
mentioned the difficulty of securing loans because of the lack of
a proper legal title for their farms (CARE 1991b).
Research and Extension: Seventy-nine percent of the farmers
surveyed in the Autoevaluaci6n had a favorable opinion of the
project's extension program (Table 5). Reasons for this included
extensive community presence and the frequency of demonstrations
and field days. Consequently, when project farmers and
administrators were asked how the impact of PROMUSTA extension
might be enhanced, the responses from both groups centered around
more frequent farm visits and training activities (Tables 6 and
7). In reality, a significant expansion in PROMUSTA extension
would require many more than the 85 extensionists and assistants
engaged in the project in 1991. Indeed, almost one-half of the
extension personnel felt that their personal area of
responsibility was already either large or very large (Table 8).
Ultimately, as pointed out by Mosher et al. (1988), Albrecht
(1991), and Orellana et al. (1991), the continuity of extension
efforts for sustainable agricultural practices in the Sierra
depends on adequate support from the Ministry of Agriculture
(MAG). However, when project administrators were questioned on
the major problems facing PROMUSTA, the most common reply was
this very lack of MAG support (Table 9).
Among PROMUSTA extensionists themselves, there exists a wide
range of opinions about the caliber of MAG assistance. One-half
of those surveyed in the Autoevaluaci6n seemed relatively pleased
while the rest expressed somewhat less satisfaction (Table 10).
To improve MAG support for PROMUSTA, extensionists made the
suggestions reported in Table 11.
The PROMUSTA experience with MAG does not appear that
different from the findings of a study by Van Crowder (1988) of
41 government extensionists responsible for small farmers in
Imbabura, a PROMUSTA Province. Forty percent of those
interviewed said that their vehicles were in poor condition while
58% stated their gasoline allocation to be insufficient for the
size of their territory. Unfortunately, the state of Ecuador's
depressed economy and public expenditures politically more
favored sectors seriously restrict MAG's current extension budget
Marketing and Pricing: When project extensionists were asked in
the Autoevaluaci6n for their suggestions to enhance PROMUSTA
effectiveness, better product marketing was listed second only to
improved water management (Table 12). Project farmers have quite
rationally resisted the production of perennial and annual crops
of low commercial value no matter how conducive their cultivation
might be to soil fertility and conservation (CARE 1991b).
As detailed in Tschirley and Riley (1990), poor quality and
a fragmented distribution system affect the marketing of all
Sierran agricultural production; product prices that are
uncompetitive with other regions are typical largely because of
high marketing costs and seasonal frost and drought losses. In
addition, farmer exposure to domestic and foreign competition has
grown considerably since petroleum earnings were used to improve
regional transportation infrastructure. Likewise, farmer
incentives to produce cereal grains, traditional mainstays of the
Sierran agricultural economy, have declined dramatically over the
past quarter century primarily due to currency overvaluations and
subsidized wheat imports (Southgate et al. 1992).
For these and other reasons, it has long been recognized
that financial incentives or subsidies may be required to
encourage farmer participation in sustainable activities in the
Sierra (USAID 1982). In reality, state financial support for
small farmer agricultural activities is, for all practical
Credit: Credit provision was originally conceived to serve as
an important incentive to the adoption of PROMUSTA technologies
and initial results of credit operations seemed highly promising.
According to Mosher et al. (1988), as of June 1988, successful
repayment rates had reached 90% of loans granted and only one of
the remaining 10% were judged unrecoverable.
Unfortunately, the viability of the credit program has since
markedly deteriorated, a fact reflected in the number of loans
granted: the number of successful loan applications dropped from
236 in 1989 to 97 in 1990 with a slight recovery to 149 in 1991
(CARE 1991b). Indeed, operational problems became so serious in
Cotopaxi Province that the credit program was actually suspended.
CARE (1991b) has advanced several reasons for the poor
performance of the program. These include the expansion of
PROMUSTA from four to eight provinces and rapid background
inflation. PROMUSTA's credit guarantee fund has only earned at
16% per annum while it has maintained its loan rate of 24%, which
is at least 15% below that of commercial rates. As a
consequence, the guarantee fund has rapidly lost value. There
have also been severe administration problems in the field.
These include minimum interest in following up tardy loans and an
absence of farmer property title and acceptable collateral.
Despite such problems, CARE evaluators have recommended that
a modified credit program be maintained to encourage farmers to
adopt sustainable practices and at the same time progress toward
economic self-sufficiency. These modifications include increased
program manpower and training. It has also been recommended that
borrowers be able to demonstrate the long-term profitability of
Although agroforestry is being actively encouraged in both
the Oriente and the Sierra of Ecuador, current programs and
projects are not realizing their full biological and economic
potential. This is largely due to the lack of appropriate
national and sectoral policies and institutions. Institutional
support for agroforestry in the Oriente is particularly weak in
the areas of extension, marketing, and credit provision (Table
13). In the Sierra principal constraints to agroforestry
dissemination include legal obstacles to obtaining productive
agricultural land, extremely inadequate extension, little state
financial assistance, and limited access to affordable credit
It is unlikely that the experiences of agroforestry in other
countries would be very different from those found in Ecuador.
Nevertheless, policy and institutional analyses are seldom
considered during project planning or implementation. We
therefore argue that policy and institutional analysis should
become an essential aspect of agroforestry dissemination efforts.
Another important point that emerges from this study is the
location specificity of institutional issues in the context of
agroforestry diffusion. For example, while access to land was
not found to be a constraint, per se, in the Oriente, it is
perhaps the most critical institutional issue in the Sierra.
Nor are standard procedures for policy analysis likely to
emerge that are applicable to all situations. This study
involved a thorough information search and a prolonged
familiarization process which involved close interactions with
donors, project administrators, and participating farmers. This
may not be feasible in other circumstances because of time,
financial, or personnel constraints. Nevertheless, while
flexibility is demanded, "quick fixes" or shortcuts may be of
limited value if agroforestry policy evaluations are to reach
meaningful and practical conclusions.
Albrecht, T. 1991. Final report: Development Alternatives, Inc.-
CARE Agroforestry Project. August 1990-September 1991. CARE.
Quito, Ecuador. (unpublished).
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Figure 1. Influences on agroforestry dissemination.
: Project Setting : : "..
GROFORESTR DI E ... NATION
'i -- i .:.- .. ...' . i :
Location and Size
Geographic and Ecological
Trends and Causes
Figure 2. The national setting.
THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
Landuse Trends and Efficiency
Key Institutional Issues:
Research and Extension
Figure 3. The sectoral setting.
THE PROJECT SETTING
Regional Agriculture and
Key Institutional Issues:
Research and Extension
Figure 4. The project setting.
I AGROFORESTRY LIABILITY
Figure 5. Influences on agroforestry viability.
. . . . i~ ii . . . . . .t ~.ririt~ii~~iit~ii
. .. ... .. .. ... .* .I I.I *-%7.. .. .. .
. . . . . . ............j
. . . . . ...... .... ..
. . . ... .. .. ..
.. .. .
. . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . ....
. . . . . ... .
. . .. . .
. . .
. . . .
. .. .. .. .
. . .. . .. ::::::::::::
. . . . . .:::::::::::I
...- -. 0. *.*o0 o ..... .. .
Figure 6. Locations in Ecuador of the Coca and PROMUSTA
Table 1. On-going agroforestry techniques practiced
by interviewed farmers (n = 31).
Trees in coffee
Trees in pasture
Table 2. Farmer reasons for continued interest in
agroforestry (n = 31).
Animal and crop shade 61
Soil protection 39
General sustainability 35
Increase income 13
Table 3. Farmer opinions of most pressing extension
assistance needs (n = 28).
Tree management 18
Crop assistance 18
Pasture improvement 14
Animal production 11
Seed provision 11
Pest and parasite control 7
Table 4. Market-related problems of surveyed
farmers (n = 31).
Low prices 97
Lack of markets 65
Lack of transportation 65
Table 5. Farmer opinions of PROMUSTA extension
(n = 133).
Very Good 30
Source: CARE (1990).
Table 6. Farmer suggestions for improving PROMUSTA
extension (n = 133).
More time and longer days in the community
More training activities
More activity planning for farms
Source: Adapted from CARE (1990).
Table 7. CARE administrators' suggestions for
improving PROMUSTA effectiveness (n = 21).
More project activities
Improved farmer supervision
More training for field personnel
Better attitudes on behalf of farmers
Source: CARE (1990).
Table 8. Extensionists' views on the size of their
area of responsibility (n = 40).
Very Large 5
Source: CARE (1990).
Table 9. CARE administrators' opinion of most
critical problems facing PROMUSTA (n = 21).
Lack of MAG support 33
Lack of community cooperation 21
Poor interinstitutional coordination 18
Other reasons 24
Source: Adopted from CARE (1990).
Project extensionists' perspective on
MAG support for PROMUSTA (n = 40).
Source: CARE (1990).
Table 11. PROMUSTA extensionists' suggestions for
improved MAG support (n = 40).
An increased budget 23
Better coordination with PROMUSTA 21
Improved support for project goals 14
More technical training for MAG field
Adequate transportation 12
Better supply of equipment and materials 7
Other reasons 7
Source: Adapted from CARE (1990).
Table 12. Extensionists' opinions of needed foci
to improve PROMUSTA (n = 40).
Water management and retention 40
Marketing of project products 28
Improving community infrastructure 27
Organic farming 18
Source: CARE (1990).
A qualitative assessment of the impact
of institutional issues on the Coca
Land Tenure +1
Research and Extension -1
*Rated on a scale of -2 (very negative)
to +2 (very positive).
Table 14. A qualitative assessment of the impact
of institutional issues on PROMUSTA*.
Land Tenure -2
Research and Extension 0
*Rated on a scale of -2 (very negative)
to +2 (very positive).