Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Additional training materials of...
 Evaluation sheet
 Volume I: Organization of...
 Introduction, A: What is FSR/E...
 Introduction, B: FSR/E agricultural...
 Unit I: Putting together the FSR/E...
 Unit II: Modelling the farming...
 Unit III: Getting started in the...
 Unit IV: Grouping farmers: Developing...
 Unit V: Gathering information for...
 Unit VI: Using existing information...
 Unit VII: Informal surveys for...
 Unit VIII: Formal surveys for getting...
 Unit IX: Setting an agenda for...

Group Title: FSR/E Training units: Volume I
Title: Diagnosis in farming systems research and extension
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053835/00001
 Material Information
Title: Diagnosis in farming systems research and extension
Series Title: FSR/E Training units: Volume I
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Farming Systems Support Project
Frankenberger, Tim ( Technical editor )
Affiliation: University of Florida -- Farming Systems Support Project -- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: Farming Systems Support Project, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publication Date: 1987
Subject: University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Agriculture   ( lcsh )
Farm life   ( lcsh )
Farming   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00053835
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: oclc - 17763100

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Additional training materials of interest
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Evaluation sheet
        Page ix
        Page x
    Volume I: Organization of manual
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Introduction, A: What is FSR/E?
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Introduction, B: FSR/E agricultural research and extension, and the scientific method
        Page 5
        Page 6
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    Unit I: Putting together the FSR/E team: Interdisciplinary interaction
        Page 26
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    Unit II: Modelling the farming system
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    Unit III: Getting started in the farming community
        Page 56
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    Unit IV: Grouping farmers: Developing recommendation domains
        Page 64
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    Unit V: Gathering information for FSR/E: Choosing methods that work
        Page 98
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    Unit VI: Using existing information in FSR/E
        Page 128
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    Unit VII: Informal surveys for data gathering in FSR/E
        Page 166
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    Unit VIII: Formal surveys for getting started in FSR/E: Some simplified procedures
        Page 186
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    Unit IX: Setting an agenda for on-farm trials
        Page 211
        Page 211a
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Full Text


SyosSpotP I"t
FS/ rkf nt
Paiipat a



Farming Systems Support Project
International Programs
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

Technical Editor second edition:
Tim Frankenberger, University of Arizona

Technical Editors first edition:
Steve Franzel, Development Alternatives, Inc.
Malcolm Odell, Synergy International
Marcia Odell, Synergy International

Coordinating Editor: Lisette Walecka, University of Florida

2nd edition DECEMBER, 1987

The Farming Systems Support Project (FSSP) is a cooperative
agreement between the University of Florida and the United States
Agency for International Development, Cooperative Agreement No.
DAN-4099-A-00-2083-000, Project number 936-4099.



PREFACE................................................................... i

AKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..........................................................ii

VOLUME I: ORGANIZATION OF MANUAL .......................................xii

INTRODUCTION, A: What is FSR/E?........................................1
INTRODUCTION, B: FSR/E Agricultural Research and Extension, and the
Scientific Method......................................5

UNIT I: Putting Together the FSR/E Team:
Interdisciplinary Interaction................................27

UNIT II: Modelling the Farming System.................................43

UNIT III: Getting Started in the Farming Community .......................57

UNIT IV: Grouping Farmers: Developing Recommendation Domains.............65

UNIT V: Gathering Information for FSR/E:
Choosing Methods That Work.....................................99

UNIT VI: Using Existing Information in FSR/E...........................129

UNIT VII: Informal Surveys for Data Gathering in FSR/E..................167

UNIT VIII:Formal Surveys for Getting Started in FSR/E:
Some Simplified Procedures..................................187

UNIT IX: Setting an Agenda for On-Farm Trials.......................... 211


One of the major objectives of the Farming Systems Support Project is
to provide training and support for training activities in FSR/E
methodology. This collection of training units has been produced in
response to an absence of available training materials which could be used
in training practitioners in the skills necessary for implementing the
FSR/E approach to agricultural development. The development, testing,
review, and revision process has been rapid due to the demand for training
materials and the limited time remaining for the project. These training
volumes are not error free. We encourage your scrutiny. As you work with
the training manuals and if you have comments, additions, adaptions,
corrections, or suggestions please let us know.

This collection of training units is not a course. Rather, it is a set
of resources which supports FSR/E courses. It is an attempt to provide the
trainer and practitioner trainee with a wide variety resources for teaching
and learning specific content and skills needed for implementing FSR/E

Volume I, Diagnosis in FSR/E, contains nine units for introducing
trainees to various diagnostic steps in the FSR/E approach. It stresses,
but is not limited to, initial diagnosis. Volume One also contains units
which detail on-going, or continuous, diagnosis throughout the FSR/E
process. Links between social and biological science disciplines are
stressed, as are considerations of intra-household and socio-cultural
issues. The final unit focuses on problem identification and
prioritization, a step leading toward appropriate trial design.

Volume II, Design Techniques for On-Farm Experimentation, contains five
units which detail the farm trial design, layout, and management process.
The links between biological and social science disciplines in on-farm
research are considered, and, like Volume One, intra-household and
socio-cultural issues are addressed. This volume begins by focusing on the
importance of establishing clear evaluation criteria before designing a
trial and culminates with a discussion of practical implications of
managing on-farm experimentation.

Volume III, Analysis and Intetpretation of On-Farm Experimentation,
establishes a framework for analysis reinforcing the importance of the
establishing evaluation criteria early in the design process. It provides
basic statistical and analytical techniques useful for on-farm
experimentation and ties all volumes together by introducing the concept
of integrated analysis.

A Trainer's Manual accompanies these three volumes, and provides notes
for the trainer which accompany the variety of activities presented in each
volume. One of the objectives of this series of training materials is to
provide participatory activities which will involve the participant
directly in the training in a "hands-on" fashion. It emphasises group
discussions and role play as well as other types of activities.

This is the second edition of the training units, and the revisions
which were made were based on comments from a variety of sources, including

specific reviewers, participants in shortcourses, individual users of the
training manuals, and others. We have tried to address the majority of the
concerns voiced. Major revisions included integration of livestock issues
and expansion of economic analysis material. Emphasis has also been placed
on presenting material in a "how to do" fashion.

The units have not been developed to be exhaustive texts of the the
topics presented. Rather, they have been developed to convey basic
information in a format as complete and concise as possible. It is our
hope that both trainers and trainees will search out more information on
specific topics covered in the training units. The learning objectives and
key points focus on the main essence of the unit or section. A common
glossary gives all the definitions in one place, since many terms are used
in more than one unit or section. Many units are divided into sub-units,
sections and sub-sections, each with its own set of learning objectives,
key points, list of terms, and discussion. Suggested learning activities
accompany the units or sections and each activity has separate instructions
for trainers.

The units are not thought to be the "final word." Rather, they have
been developed as the foundation of developing training units in FSR/E.
Your comments, adaptations, additions, and suggested activities are
welcomed and encouraged. The best measure of the usefulness of a product
is given from those who use the product. The best way to improve a product
is to listen to the users. At the end of this introduction you will find a
one page evaluation sheet. We hope that you will use this form to send us
your comments. This is not meant to limit your comments (and we encourage
detailed comments) but rather to encourage you, the user, to let us know
what you think and suggest.


Throughout the development process of the FSR/E training units, from
the planning, writing, initial editing, reviewing, testing, revising, to
the final production, and second edition, many individuals have been
involved. FSSP would like to acknowledge their efforts. The individuals
are listed below with their affiliations at the time of their

Technical Editors:

Volume I: Tim Frankenberger University of Arizona
Steve Franzel Development Alternatives, Inc.
Malcolm Odell Synergy International
Marcia Odell Synergy International

Volume II: John Caldwell Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Volume III: John Caldwell Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Volume III, Economic Analysis sections:

Dan Taylor Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Initial Planning:

Emanuel Acquah
Lorna Butler
Steve Franzel
Dan Galt
James Jones
Susan Poats
Federico Poey
Lisette Walecka

University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
Washington State Univeristy
Development Alternatives, Inc.
University of Florida, FSSP
University of Florida, FSSP
University of Florida, FSSP
Agricultural Development Consultants, Inc.
University of Florida, FSSP


Jay Artis
Emanuel Acquah
Kenneth Buhr
Lorna Butler
John Caldwell
Cornelia Flora
Steve Franzel
Dan Galt
Martha Gaudreau
John Hammerton

James Jones
Kenneth McDermott
James Meiman
Malcolm Odell
Ramiro Ortiz
Donald Osburn
Susan Poats
Kenneth Sayre
Jerry Van Sant
Robert Waugh
Peter Wotoweic
Peter Hildebrand
Dan Taylor
Henk Knipsheer
Al Hagan
Don Osburn
Marilynn Prehm
John Lichte
Jim Oxley
Mark Kujawa
John Russell


Ron Knapp

Dan Minnick
Robert Tripp
Janis Timberlake
Clive Lightfoot
Ly Tung



[ichigan State University
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
University of Florida
lashington State University
virginia Polytechnic Institute
Kansas State University
developmentt Alternatives, Inc.
University of Florida, FSSP
University of Minnesota
:aribbean Agricultural Research and I
University of Florida, FSSP
University of Florida, FSSP

Development Institute

Colorado State University
Synergy International
Agricultural Development Consultants, Inc.
University of Florida, FSSP
International Agricultural Development Service (IADS)
Development Alternatives, Inc.
Colorado State University
University of Florida
University of Florida
Virginia Polytecnic Institute
Winrock International
University of Missouri
U.S. Agency for International Development
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
University of Florida
Colorado State University
Colorado State University
University of Florida

Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Cornell University
Visayas State College of Agriculture, Philippines

Training Consultants:

Kathy Alison Office of International Cooperation, & Development (OICD)
Peg Hively Office of International Cooperation, & Development (OICD)

The FSSP would like to thank CIMMYT Economics Program and CARDI for
permission to include portions of their work in economic analysis and
on-farm experimental design respectively.


The draft edition of the Volume Two, Techniques for Design and Analysis
of On-Farm Experimentation, was used for the first time in the FSSP/Gambia
Agricultural Diversification workshop on On-Farm Experimentation in May,
1985. Parts of Volume One, Diagnosis in FSR/E, were used for the first time
in the Jamaica Farming Systems Research Workshop, June, 1985. Feedback
received during this initial testing was used, along with other feedback,
in the revising effort.

Richard Bernsten, Michigan State University, presented the FSSP
training units for review at the "Farming Systems Research Socio-Economics
Monitoring Tour/Workshop," held September 16 28, 1985, at IRRI, Los
Banos, Philippines, at the request of Marlin Van Der Veen, IRRI. Comments
from that session, as well as detailed comments by Richard Bernsten, were
very useful in revising both volumes. Susan Almy, Rockefeller Foundation,
also provided very detailed comments. Additional review comments were made
by Peter Hildebrand, University of Florida. Martha Gaudreau, University of
Minnesota, played an important role in the revision of the Diagnostic Unit.
Klaus Hinklemann, Virgina Polytechnic Institute, provided valuable
consultation on some statistical aspects of the units.

Specific reviewers for the volumes included Hal McArthur (University of
Hawaii), Roque de Pedro (Viscaya State College of Agriculture, The
Philippines), Cornelia Flora (Kansas State University), John Lichte
(University of Florida), Eric Crawford (Michigan State University).
Valuable comments were also offered by Janis Jiggins and Federico Poey

The FSSP acknowledges the above contributions and those of others who
may have been inadvertently omitted. I would like to gratefully
acknowledge the patience, hard work, and general support of the FSSP
secretaries, Lana Bayles, Shirlene Washington, and Jack Weiss throughout
the training unit development process. I would also like to thank Donna
Long, secretary senior at Virginia Polytechnic Institute for her valuable
and patient assistance throughout the revision process.

Lisette Walecka
Coordinating Editor
December, 1987


The statistical interpretations and explanations in volume II of this
series is based on the statistical tables in (Rolf and Sokal, 1969), other
tables may be slightly different. We recommend:

F. James Rolf and Robert R. Sokal, State University of New York at
Stonybrook, 1969, Statistical Tables, W. H. Freemand and Company, San

CARDI, April, 1984, "On-farm Experimentation: A Manual of Suggested
Experimental Procedures.

CIMMYT, revised November, 1985, "Introduction to Economic Analysis of
On-Farm Experiments", Draft Workbook, CIMMYT Economics Program,

FSSP, 1985, "Bibliography of Readings in Farming Systems, volume i,"

Poey, F. et. al, 1985, "Anatomy of On-Farm Trials: A Case Study From
Paraguay", FSSP.

Hildebrand, P. and F. Poey, 1985, On-Farm Agronomic Trials in Farming
Systems Research and Extension", Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., Boulder

The FSSP has developed and initially tested a case study based on
Dominican Republic data from the Las Cuevas region which gives trainees the
opportunity to interview farmers and develop research priorities.

Intra-Household Dynamics and Farming Systems Research and Extension: Case
Studies in Agricultural Development. The Population Council and The Farming
Systems Support Project hacvce developed a set of seven teaching cases which
directly address the relationship between an understanding of intra-household
dynamics and the design and extension of new technologies for improving farm
production. Each case, in two or three sequenced sections, provides trainees
with information drawn from actual project experience with which they can
analyze relationship of gender roles and intra-household dynamics to the
farming system and make decisions about future project activities. The seven
cases, described below, are accompanied by background papers, a conceptual
framework for analyzing the cases, guidelines for studying a case, and
teaching guidelines.

Base- on the work of the Adaptive Research Planning Team in Central Province,
Zambia, the material includes initial diagnostic surveys, labor survey,
on-farm trial protocols and results and special studies on decision making and
female headed households. It is a good beginning case and can be used alone
or with other cases for either short term training or a longer term classroom

Improvement in the production of staple cereals and other crops was the
objective of the Purdue Unversity and the Semi-Arid Food Grain Research and

Development project (SAFGRAD) in three villages of the Mossi plateau of
Burkina Faso. The case includes initial diagnosis, the results of three years
of on-farm trials, and labor studies. This case is particularly suitable for
a longer term training situation and for audiences with technical interests.

This case covers eight months of an on-farm testing project for varietal and
fertilizer technology components conducted by the International Center for
Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Center for Fertilizer
Development (IFDC) in Pescador, Colombia. The material includes a description
of the composition and objectives of the multidisciplinary research team,
successive stages of information generated to design and evaluate the
experimentation phase, design of on-farm trials and the generation of
additional information regarding women's activities related to production and
consumption in the farming system. This case works well in both short and
long term training and with general and technical audiences. it is
particularly useful for looking at different disciplinary perspectives towards
technology design, innovative approaches in diagnostic research, and the
inclusion of consumption considerations.

This case describes diagnostic surveys and a proposed intervention undertaken
in the Mabouya Valley of St. Lucia by the Caribbean Research and Agricultural
Development Institute (CARDI). The area is dominated by plantation
agriculture on the valley floor and small farms and subsistence farms at
higher elevations. Seasonal and long term migration of males is
characteristic. The three parts the diagnostic surveys, case profiles, and
proposed interventions may be used in several ways in both short and long
term training. It is best used as a second case in a series of cases.

Tis case describes an agroforestry research and extension project undertaken
by a non-government organization, CARE/Kenya, with assistance from the
International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICARF) in the Western
Province of Kenya. Diagnostic and extension activities are done with groups
and individual farm households. Material includes initial diagnosis, the
training for and methodology used by field personnel to insure that both women
and men were included, the results of formal trials and further research, and
on-farm design activity. This case is particularly suited for looking at
methodologies for working with groups and for applying benefits analysis to
technology choice. It is suitable for both short term and long term teaching

The primary objective of TROPSOIL'S multidisciplinary team is the development
of techniques for soil management in Sitiung, a transmigration site in Sumatra
which includes migrants from Java as well as indigenous peoples. Thecase
includes technical information on soils and forages, procedures and results of
the initial sondeo, on-farm trials, time allocation studies, nutrition and
income studies, and forage trials. Both ethnic and gender differences
influence farmer preferences and technological possibilities. This case is
particularly rich and is best used in a long term training situation.

This case depicts a project to improve arable production in the Mahalapye
District of Botswana, an area with low and erratic rainfall, an economy
dominated by cattle and a high percentage of female headed households.
Included are a summary of the technical and socio-economic research during the
first three years of the project with increasing specification of household
characteristics and dynamics, the fourth season's trails and farmer
evaluations, and additional diagnostic work targeted on poorer predominantly
female households. This case is best used in a longer training situation.

Written Materials: For use by trainers and trainees or for self study.
Volume I: Case material
Background articles on Gender Roles and Farming Systems and on Farming
Systems Research; Conceptual Framework for analyzing household dynamics
and farming systems; Introduction to the Case Study Method; and Individual
Case Studies
Volume II: Analysis and Teaching Notes
Teaching by the Case Study Method and examples; Best uses for each case;
and Analysis and Teaching Notes for individual cases.
Experienced consultants for training, case writing, or project assistance
One day or two day pre-conference workshops
One week course on Intra-household Dynamics and Agricultural Research and
One week course on developing own case materials
Training of trainers

For more information contact: Hilary Sims Feldstein, Managing Editor
RFD 1 Box 821
Hancock, New Hampshire 03449

Dr. Susan Poats
FSSP/ University of Florida
3028 McCarty Hall
Gainesville, Florida 32611



Your comments are encouraged. Please feel free to write your comments
and send them to the FSSP at the address listed on the back of this form.
Being specific about the unit, sub-unit or sections which you are
discussing will assist us in our efforts to provide quality materials.

(optional) NAME:



1. How did you find the units most/least useful?



2. How was the content most..........



3. Was the level of presentation appropriate?

4. Was the volume organized appropriately?

5. In the future editions what would you want to see......





6. How useful were the existing activities provided in the unit?





This volume presents concepts and tools useful in the diagnostic phase
of FSR/E. During diagnosis an interdisciplinary team works together with
farmers to describe the farming system and identify farmers' problems. The
team suggests possible solutions and opportunities to improve the farming
system that can be addressed by on-farm research or other interventions.

There are several ways an FSR/E practitioner can gather and analyze
information necessary for diagnosis. These units provide FSR/E team
members with a basic understanding of appropriate techniques and of some
underlying concepts of diagnosis.

Unit I. Putting Together the FSR/E Team: Interdisciplinary Interaction

When farmers allocate resources among their various enterprises, they
are integrating knowledge from several disciplines. FSR/E teams can gain a
better understanding of the farming system and farmers' strategies if they
are interdisciplinary in their activities. Interdisciplinarity is one of
the main characteristics which differentiates FSR/E from other approaches
to research and extension. This unit helps team members appreciate the
contributions of other disciplines to diagnosis and the other stages of

Unit II. Modeling the Farming System

Models are used to describe and analyze systems and their component
parts. Both structural models and process models help FSR/E team members
describe farming systems and analyze farmers' management strategies.
Utilization of these two types of models is demonstrated in this unit.

Unit III. Getting Started in the Farming Community

Getting to know the local community within which an FSR/E team will be
working is very important. The FSR/E team must obtain the endorsement of
local leadership and the range of local farmers in the community. This
unit provides information which will be useful for the FSR/E team in
preparing to begin work in a farming community.

Unit IV. Grouping Farmers: Developing Recommendation Domains

Extension recommendations based on geographical or ecological factors
alone may not be appropriate for every farmer in an area. Since it is not
practical to conduct research on the problems of individual farmers, it is
useful to define farmer groups or recommendation domains. This unit
examines the concept of recommendation domains, their dynamic nature, and
the criteria, both natural and socio-economic, used to identify these
groups of farmers.

Unit V. Gathering Information for FSR/E: Choosing Methods That Work

There are many ways to gather data for diagnosis (for example, using
secondary data, conducting informal and/or formal surveys, experimentation,
case studies, etc.). The selection of a method depends on the situation
and the type of information needed. This unit provides an overview of the
various methods available to an FSR/E team.

Unit VI. Using Existing Information in FSR/E

Team members can use secondary data to acquaint themselves with the
area in which they will work. Data are also useful for identifying topics
to be included in the informal survey. This unit presents various types of
secondary data sources and techniques for more effectively using them
during diagnosis.

Unit VII. Informal Surveys for Data Gathering in FSR/E

Informal surveys provide a rapid way of gathering information about
farmers' circumstances and problems. They are commonly used during
diagnosis. Good interviewing skills and preparation of topic outlines,
two of the techniques that permit practitioners to plan and conduct
effective informal surveys, are among several covered in this unit.

Unit VIII. Formal Surveys for Getting Stated in FSR/E: Some Simplified

Formal surveys during diagnosis are most effectively used to verify the
findings of an informal survey. The pros and cons of using formal surveys
versus informal surveys, the complementarity of these two methods, and the
strengths and weaknesses of formal survey as a tool for diagnosis are
treated in this unit.

Unit IX. Setting an Agenda for On-Farm Trials

This unit addresses the linkage between diagnosis and design of on-farm
experiments. Since initial diagnosis usually reveals more farmer problems
than a team can address, it is necessary to establish research priorities.
This unit helps practitioners differentiate between problems and solutions,
and provides them with tools for evaluating possible solutions and
establishing research priorities.



FSR/E is an approach which enables agricultural research and extension
to deal more effectively with the problems of agriculturalists. It is
particularly effective in addressing the problems of specific groups of
farmers with defined characteristics, such as low resource farmers. This
approach was developed in the 1970s in response to the observation that
groups of small-scale farm families were not benefiting from mainstream
agricultural research. Although a number of terms and concepts have been
used over the last 15 years to describe this approach (e.g. FSR, FSR&D,
FSR/E, FSIP, FSAR, OFR/FSP, etc.), there is now general consensus on the
basic assumptions, methodologies and objectives. FSR/E is used in this
training manual because it explicitly addresses the need for linkages among
researchers, extension workers and farming systems (Poats, 1986).

A good definition of FSR/E has been provided by Shaner et al:

"...an approach to agricultural research and
development that views the whole farm as a system and
focuses on 1) the interdependencies between the
components under control of members of the household,
and 2) how these components interact with the physical,
biological and socio-economic setting not under the
household's control. Farming systems are defined by
their physical, biological and socio-economic setting
and by the farm families' goals and other attributes,
access to resources, choice of production activities
and management practices (1982:13)."


The major attributes and basic assumptions embodied in the FSR/E
approach are the following (mostly taken from Merrill-Sands, 1985).

a. FSR/E is farmer oriented FSR/E targets small-farm families as the
clients for agricultural research and technology development. It involves
an emphasis on farmers' priorities and tapping the "body of knowledge"
possessed by farmers.

b. FSR/E is holistic FSR/E views the farm in a holistic manner and
focuses on interactions between components. A comprehensive view is taken
of both human and natural environments of the farm. Research focuses on
production subsystems, but the connections with other subsystems are
recognized and evaluation of research results explicitly takes into account
linkages between subsystems (Baker and Norman, 1986).

c. FSR/E is a dynamic, iterative and problem solving approach FSR/E
first identifies technical, biological and socio-economic constraints at
the farm level and then proposes technologies or practices which are
feasible for targeted farming households to adopt to alleviate constraints.
Adjustments are made in technology design as understanding and

Volume I: Introduction, A
page 1

communication with small farmers improves.

d. FSR/E is interdisciplinary Collaboration among agricultural
scientists of various disciplines and social scientists is needed to
understand the conditions and constraints under which small farmers operate
and to develop or introduce improved technologies suitable to those

e. FSR/E compliments mainstream commodity and disciplinary agricultural
research; it does not replace it FSR/E draws upon the body of knowledge
of technologies and management strategies generated by basic and commodity
research programs and adapts them to specific environments and
socio-economic circumstances. FSR/E also provides a feedback mechanism for
shaping priorities for basic and commodity research programs.

f. FSR/E recognizes the locational specificity of technical and human
factors Farmers are often grouped on the basis of ecological and
technical differences to facilitate technology transfer (Lightfoot, 1980).
These groupings are often called recommendation domains. Once grouped, the
constraint most limiting to each group becomes the focus of research.

g. FSR/E tests technologies in on-farm trials On-farm experimentation
allows for farmers and researchers to collaborate, provides a deeper
understanding of the farming system among researchers, and allows for the
evaluation of the technologies under the environmental and management
conditions it will be used.

h. FSR/E provides feedback from farmers FSR/E provides feedback from
farmers regarding their goals, needs, priorities, and criteria for
evaluating technologies. This feedback is directed to station-based
agricultural researchers as well as to national and regional policy makers.


There are generally recognized stages involved in the FSR/E approach
that can be delineated as follows (taken from Norman and Collinson, 1985)
(See Figure 1).

a. The descriptive or diagnostic stage During this stage, the farming
systems are examined in the context of the total environment. Researchers
determine the constraints farmers face and ascertain the potential
flexibility in the farming system in terms of timing, slack resources, etc.
An effort is also made to understand the goals and motivations of farmers
that may affect or influence efforts to improve the farming system. During
diagnosis, various methods of informal, formal, quantitative, and
qualitative data collection are used.

b. The design or planning stage During this stage, a range of
alternative intervention strategies are identified which may be appropriate
in dealing with the constraints delineated in the descriptive or diagnostic
stage (Gilbert, Norman, and Winch, 1980). At this stage, heavy reliance is
placed on obtaining information from the "body of knowledge" of past
research. This information is derived from experiment station based
research, researcher and implemented type on-farm trials, and the knowledge

Volume I: Introduction, A
page 2

of farmers. This stage involves ex ante evaluation of a technology or
practice with regards to technical feasibility, economic viability, and
social acceptability for a targeted area.

c. The testing stage During this stage, a few potential recommendations
derived from the design stage are examined under actual farm conditions.
This is done to evaluate the suitability and acceptability of the improved
practices in the existing farming system. This stage usually consists of
two steps: 1) researcher managed but farmer implemented tests, and 2)
testing totally under the control of the farmers themselves.

d. The recommendation and dissemination (extension) stage During this
stage, successfully tested technologies or practices are made available to
other farmers with similar circumstances.

In practice, there are no clear boundaries between the various stages nor
is it necessarily linear. The research process is recognized as being
dynamic and interactive, with linkages in both directions. Research staff
will be designing some technologies and testing others, while new problems
will need to be diagnosed as our understanding of the farming system
becomes more fine-tuned.


The primary objective of FSR/E is to improve the well being of farm
families by increasing the overall productivity of the farming system in
the context of both private and societal goals, given the constraints and
potentials of existing farming systems (Norman and Collinson, 1985).
Productivity can be improved by the development of relevant technology
(FSR/E), or the implementation of appropriate policy and support systems
(FSIP). Although the training manual focuses primarily on FSR/E, it is
important to understand the differences, inter-relationship and
complimentarity of these two approaches. FSR/E is a research strategy that
is often project focused, and usually involves the development and
dissemination of improved agricultural practices and/or technologies at the
farm level (Norman, 1982). Thus, the principal product of FSR/E is
technology and the primary clients are limited resource farmers (Hildebrand
and Waugh, 1983). FSIP, on the other hand, is an approach to small farm
development planning which operates at a more macro level than FSR/E, and
attempts to analyze and influence policy and/or the progress of
institutions which may affect small farmers (Norman, 1982). The principal
product of FSIP activities have important implications for both production
and consumption patterns of farm families. It is beyond the scope of the
manual to discuss these in any detail.

Volume I: Introduction, A
page 3



1. Problems of Agricultural Research and Extension
2. Key Characteristics of a Scientific Method
3. FSR/E as a Scientific Method for Linking Agricultural Research and


I: Introduction, What is FSR/E ?


Agricultural research assistant
Extension technology verification assistant


After completing this section the participants will be able to:

1. Identify applied agricultural research and extension problems which can
be addressed using a scientific method.
2. Define key characteristics of a scientific method.
3. Explain how to apply elements of a scientific method in FSR/E.


1. The strength of a scientific method is its ability to predict events.
2. Key characteristics of a scientific method include:

a. Description of conditions for an event;
b. Formation of a hypothesis about what conditions will result in the
occurrence of an event;
c. Testing of the hypothesis;
d. Documentation of how the testing was done;
e. Accepting or rejecting the hypothesis based on the testing;
f. Reproduction of the test by others;
g. Comparison of results of the same test obtained by different

(1) If others also obtain the same results from the test,
consensus that the conditions under which the test was done
do in fact result in the general or repeated occurrence of
the event as predicted by the hypothesis.
(2) If others do not obtain the same results from the test,

(a) Comparison of the conditions under which each test has
been done;
(b) Formation of a new hypothesis about which different
conditions will result in the different results obtained

page 5

in the previous tests;
(c) Repetition of the cycle of testing, documentation,
reproduction by others, and comparison of results.

3. The FSR/E team approach provides a mechanism for research and extension
personnel from different disciplines to become a scientific community for
determining the expected responses of farm households to new agricultural


art diagnosis
consensus design
event testing
prediction extension
randomness research
reproductibility station trial
science on-farm trial
scientific community
scientific method



What problems do agricultural research and extension personnel face
in their work? Obviously, there are many. Here are some:

1. Low salary;
2. Lack of fuel;
3. Lack of supplies for trials;
4. Lack of supplies for the laboratory;
5. Farmers don't follow recommendations;
6. Farmers change recommendations;
7. Recommendations don't give the same result on farmers' fields as
they give on the station;
8. Recommendations don't give the same result on farmers' fields when
farmers try the recommendation on their own, as they give on
demonstration plots on the fields of a few farmers whom we work
closely with;
9. Recommendations don't give the same result from year to year;
10. We can't work with every farmer;
11. Many people have different opinions on what types of trials we
should do on-station;
12. There are more types of crops and animals, and different problems
with each, to work on than we can handle given our budget and time;
13. We are not sure what information farmers need the most from
14. People say our station and laboratory research is really
meaningless for extension and farmers;
15. People say that research is a waste of money, the government should
shut down the research service, and it should use the savings to
subsidize fertilizer, build wells, provide credit for animal
traction, etc.

page 6

Which problems are of the same type? The first four problems (problems
1 through 4) are all similar. They all involve inadequate resources. We
know what we want to do, or what we are supposed to do, but we don't have
the resources to do it. These are logistical problems. How do we solve
logistical problems? We solve them (or at least attempt to solve them)
through requests to administration.

Problems 5 through 9 are different from problems 1 through 4. These
are problems of unexpected events. In each case, what happens is not what
we first expected. These unexpected events happen because we really don't
understand well what farmers will do. They also happen because we really
don't understand well how recommendations will work in different places and
different years. That is, we don't really understand well under what
conditions (what type of farm household, how much rainfall, how light a
soil, how much experience with a single-ox plow, etc.) a given
recommendation will work, and under what other conditions the same
recommendation will not work.

The result for us when recommendations don't work is uncertainty. We
are less confident in our ability. We are less "at home" in our work with
farmers in their fields.

How do we solve problems of unexpected events? One way is to
accumulate experience. Over time, an individual sees more and more
different conditions for the same recommendation. The individual sees
different types of farmers or farm households use the same recommendation.
For example, a researcher sees different farmers in different gardens use a
new lettuce variety with thicker leaves. The researcher sees which farmers
cool the lettuce with water immediately after picking, and which farmers
handle the lettuce more carefully. The researcher sees how the lettuce
holds up indifferent markets, some closer to one village, others further
from other villages. The researcher gradually develops a "feel" for how
many hours the old and the new lettuce will hold up from the garden to
market before each type of lettuce becomes unsaleable. The researcher also
hears opinions from different farmers on the taste of the thick leaf
variety. Gradually, over several years, the researcher develops in his or
her mind a "picture" of the many different conditions under which the
researcher has seen the recommendation tried. Then, when another new
variety comes in, using this picture, the researcher may be able to make a
good judgment as to which villages, and for which types of farmers the new
variety might be a good variety to introduce.

When a research or extension person with many years of experience is
transferred to a different region, becomes an administrator, leaves for
another job, or perhaps retires, what do we do? Do we just have to wait
for the new person to accumulate the same experience?

Obviously, training is another possible approach. How do we convey the
experience of the first person to the new person? How does the new person
become convinced of what the first person says? These questions are
questions of method and documentation of experience. These are questions
for which a scientific method may be a solution.

Problems 10 through 13 are again a different type of problem. They are

page 7

not exactly logistical problems like problems 1 through 4. With those
first four problems, we knew what we wanted to do, but lacked the
resources. With problems 10 through 13, we also lack resources, but it is
not that we lack specific resources for what we know that we want to do.
Rather, our problem is that in general our resources are limited, and we
must decide from many possibilities what we want to do given only limited
resources. Often, this also means we must choose from among many demands
as to how we might use those limited resources. These are problems of
prioritization. A scientific method may also be one way to help solve
problems of prioritization.

Problem 14 and 15 are also problems of prioritization. The difference
is one of cause and effect. Problems 10 through 13 are problems of how to
prioritize. Problems 14 and 15 are problems can occur due to poor
prioritization.. A method which can help us better decide how to
prioritize, can also help us avoid these problems that poor prioritization
can cause.


Problems 5 through 15 are all problems of linking agricultural research
and extension. We are suggesting that a scientific method may be
useful in solving these problems. If so, we first need to look at what we
mean by a scientific method. What are the key characteristics of a
scientific method?

When we think of "science," what types of work come to mind? In
particular, when we say "agricultural science," what examples come to mind?
Here are some common examples:

1. Biotechnology research using recombinant DNA in rice, with the
objective of transferring genes with the ability to fix nitrogen to
2. A laboratory sweet potato physiology experiment in which C tracer
is introduced and the C status of different plant parts is
monitored periodically;
3. A station tomato irrigation trial in which the volume of water is
measured for 3 frequencies and amounts of irrigation, any rainfall
recorded, and tensiometer readings taken periodically for
measurement of soil moisture level.

What makes each of these examples of agricultural research
"scientific"? What do these 3 examples have in common? One person might
say, they are all "high tech," or at least use technical instruments and
procedures: recombinant DNA in the rice example, or C in the plant
physiology example, or tensiometers in the irrigation trial. Another
person might say, "they all involve careful measurement, such as of the
amount of C in each plant part, or of soil moisture level.

Let's consider the measurement of soil moisture. Why is the researcher
interested in measuring soil moisture? What is the researcher trying to
find out? Let's suppose the 3 irrigation frequencies and amounts are as

page 8

1. No irrigation;
2. Irrigation 1 time per week @ 300,000 1/ha each irrigation;
3. Irrigation 3 times per week @ 100,000 1/ha each irrigation;

Most likely the researcher thinks that irrigation increases yield. The
researcher may also think that it is better to irrigate 1 time per week, as
opposed to dividing the same amount of water used 1 time per week into
one-third amounts that are put out in 3 irrigations per week. The
researcher wants to know if these ideas are in fact true.

So why not forget about moisture readings? Why not just take the
yields of the 3 different irrigation plots, and make conclusions from those
yields? After all, it is not the yields that will determine which
irrigation frequency and amount is best?

Suppose, indeed, that the researcher only takes yields. Let's suppose
that the following are the yield results:

Treatment Mean yield
1. No irrigation 100
2. Irrigation 1 time per week 210
@ 300,000 1/ha each irrigation
3. Irrigation 3 times per week 205
@ 100,000 1/ha each irrigation

The researcher concludes that it is better to irrigate (confirming what
the researcher thought before the trial), but that either frequency of
irrigation is as good as the other (contrary to what the researcher thought
before the trial: that 1 time per week would be better than 3 times per

Suppose that we hear about the results of this trial. Are we prepared
to make a recommendation based on these results? Do we accept this
researcher's judgement based on this trial? We remember problem no. 7:
recommendations don't give the same result on farmers' fields as they give
on the station (at least not always). We probably want to know more about
what happened in this trial, that is what were the conditions of the trial,
like for example:

1. How much rain fell during the trial?
2. What was the soil type where the trial was done?
3. How long does that soil hold water?

Perhaps we go to the researcher and ask these questions. The researcher
gives us a report. The report shows the yields, the amount of rainfall,
the soil type and texture, and the soil tensiometer readings.

We might also ask the same types of questions of about the farmers for
whom we would like to make a recommendation based on this trial:

1. How much rain falls on their fields?
2. What are their soil types?
3. How long do their soils hold water?

page 9

If the farmers get more rain, maybe irrigation will not increase yields so
much. Or, if the farmers have lighter soils that drain faster and do not
hold water as long, maybe yields will not be so good with irrigation 1 time
per week.

Perhaps the researcher offers to help. This researcher has a lot of
experience. The researcher says, "let me come out and visit a few of your
farms 3 days after a good rain, and look at the soils." So you do that,
and the researcher takes a couple of handfuls of soil at each farm, makes a
ball, and looks at how easily the ball crumbles. Finally, the researcher
says after the last farm, "if all the farms in your area have soils like
these, your farms will get the same results. One irrigation per week is
good enough, because these soils also hold water well, like in the trial.
Farmers can save themselves the trouble of irrigating 3 times a week, and
still get the same yields."

How willing are you to base a recommendation on that researcher's
experience? Can you repeat what that researcher has done with the soil
ball on the next farm, in the same way?

Perhaps you decide to compare soil types. You take soil samples from 6
farms in the area and have textures determined by the soils laboratory.
Then you compare the soil sample textures with the texture of the trial
soil as shown in the researcher's report.

Also, perhaps the researcher says, "Let's repeat the experiment on a
farm in your area. I will loan you the tensiometers." The researcher then
shows you how to use an auger with a mark on it to dig a hole 15 cm deep
for each tensiometer, how to make a mud slurry to put in the bottom of the
hole to get good contact between the tip of the tensiometer and the soil,
and how to pull a good suction on the tensiometers initially, up to 80
centibars. The researcher also points out a red mark on 2 tensiometers
which actually read 10 centibars too high.

Later, when you start to set the tensiometers up, however, at first you
have trouble with the mud slurry. It's too sticky, and the temsiometers
won't go in easily. Also, you have a hard time pulling a suction as high
as the researcher recommended. Most of the time, about all you seem to be
able to get is up to 65 or 70 centibars. You wonder if you've installed
the tensiometers correctly.

What steps have we followed in trying to use the results of this
experiment? Let's list these:

1. We are trying to understand the conditions under which the station
trial gave higher yields with irrigation, but essentially no
difference in yields depending on frequency of irrigation;

2. We are trying to compare those conditions (in the station trial)
with the conditions on the farms;

3. We have an idea about what differences in yields among the 3
irrigation methods we expect to see on the farms;

page 10

4. We want to see if, in fact, we can get the same results in the
trial on one of the farms, as the first researcher got on the

In the steps just outlined, we have gotten much closer to the key
characteristics of what makes this example scientific. We are now ready to
summarize those key characteristics using this example:

1. Description of conditions for an event:
This included amount of irrigation, and also rainfall, soil type,
and soil moisture holding ability. We saw 2 ways to describe soil
moisture holding ability: tensiometers, and the soil ball
technique. The researcher used tensiometers in the original

2. Formation of a hypothesis about what conditions will result in the
occurrence of an event:

A hypothesis means an idea that we have. In the original
trial, the researcher thought that higher yield (an event) would
occur with irrigation (the condition for the event) than without
irrigation. This was the researcher's first hypothesis. The
researcher also had a second hypothesis. The researcher thought
that higher yield (an event) would occur with irrigation 1 time
per week (the condition) than with irrigation 3 times a week.

c. Testing of the hypothesis:

The researcher carried out the trial to see what yields (what
events) would in fact occur under the 3 different irrigation
treatments (3 different conditions).

d. Documentation of how the testing was done;

The researcher took measurements of how much water the researcher
actually put out, and recorded rainfall and tensiometer readings.
These were included in the report.

e. Accepting or rejecting the hypothesis based on the results of the

The researcher accepted the first hypothesis, that higher yield
does occur with irrigation than without, because that is what
happened in the trial. The researcher rejected the second
hypothesis, that higher yield occurs with irrigation 1 time per
week than with irrigation 3 times per week. Rejection of the
second hypothesis was because that hypothesized event didn't
happen in the trial.

f. Reproduction of the test by others;

This is what we are trying to do with the trial on one farm.

g. Comparison of results of the same test obtained by different

page 11


This is what we would do after the trial on the farm. We would
reach one or the other of 2 possible conclusions:

(1) If we also obtain the same results from the test (for example,
higher yield with irrigation), we will have a consensus (at
least between us and the researcher) that the conditions under
which the test was done (irrigation versus no irrigation) do
in fact result in the general or repeated occurrence
of the event (higher yield) as predicted by the (first)
hypothesis. With this consensus, we can predict the
occurrence of the event. We also try to explain why the event
occurs under those conditions (soil moisture holding

(2) If we do not obtain the same results from the test (for
example, for the comparison of irrigation 1 time per week
versus 3 times per week),

(a) Comparison of the conditions under which each test has
been done (for example, did less rainfall in the test
done on farm, or did the farm household members weed less
frequently than at the station);
(b) Formation of a new hypothesis about which different
conditions will result in the different results
obtained in the previous tests (perhaps that with less
frequent weeding, more frequent irrigation is necessary);
(c) Repetition of the cycle of testing, documentation,
reproduction by others, and comparison of results (by
doing another trial).

Now we can see what makes the station irrigation trial scientific. It
is not the use of tensiometers themselves, for example. What makes the
trial scientific is how well we can describe the conditions for the event
we hypothesize, and whether others can reproduce the same test of that
event. Thus, tensiometers may help in describing the conditions for higher

We may not be able to use tensiometers as well as the station
:researcher. We may be unsure whether we have installed the tensiometers
the same way. Here is an element of art: skill (in how well we make the
mud slurry) acquired by experience. But we can all agree on how deep we
placed the tensiometers (the red mark on the auger). We can all agree that
we see the needle point to the same number on the guage. Thus, the more
systematic the means of describing the conditions of the test (using the
same red mark for depth, using a guage), the easier it is to reproduce the
test. And the easier it is for someone else to reproduce the test, through
systematic rules and techniques, the more scientific is our method.

Certainly there are times when we may not be able to use a more
scientific method. We may sometimes rely more on art (skill acquired by
experience), and less on reproduction of tests. Perhaps the station
researcher really has the experience to judge whether or not irrigation

page 12

will give higher yield, just by doing the ball test on several farms. This
may be useful if we don't have the time or budget to do a test ourselves.
But if we can, we probably will be more confident in making a
recommendation to farmers if we can do the same trial ourselves, and our
trial gives us the same results as the station researcher.


Earlier, we looked at problems of linking research and extension. We
considered 2 types of problems.

1. Problems of unexpected events:
Recommendations that do not work as we expect, because we do not
understand well the conditions of farm households under which a
recommendation will work, or not work.

2. Problems of prioritization:
There are many more needs for agricultural research than we can
meet with limited budget, personnel, and time.

We have suggested that a scientific method may help in solving these 2
types of problems. We have now also looked at key characteristics of a
scientific method. We have condensed a series of steps into these 3

1. A scientific method is a systematic means of describing conditions
for an event;

2. A scientific method is a systematic means of conducting tests
of our ideas (hypotheses) about what conditions lead to an event;

3. The objective of this systematic method of describing conditions
and testing our ideas is to see if we can all reach a consensus on
a prediction about what actually happens, and an explanation for
why it happens.

What kind of systematic method can help us solve the problems of
linking research and extension? FSR/E is one systematic method developed
with this objective. Let's look at FSR/E from the perspective of the key
characteristics of a scientific method outlined above:

1. Description of conditions for an event:

FSR/E begins by trying to describe the conditions under which
farm households may accept new technology. This is what FSR/E
calls diagnosis.

The systematic method of FSR/E for describing conditions
(diagnosis) consists of the procedures of the informal team survey
(sondeo, or rapid rural appraisal): the mixing of disciplines,
and the techniques for eliciting the perceptions and goals of farm
household members. Volume I of these manuals explains these

page 13

b. Formation of a hypothesis about what conditions will result in the
occurrence of an event:

FSR/E develops hypotheses about which conditions may lead to
acceptance of a new technology. This is what FSR/E calls design.

The systematic method of FSR/E for forming hypotheses
(design) consists of 2 key steps:

a. Grouping of farm households into groups with similar
conditions for acceptance of new technology (domains);
b. Comparing activities and goals of farm household members
in each grouping (domain) with knowledge from previous
agricultural research, to develop hypotheses about what
new technology may be acceptable. These hypotheses are
called interventions. Unit IX of Volume I and Units I and
II of Volume II explain these procedures.

3. Testing of the hypothesis;

FSR/E tests hypotheses about what new technology may be
acceptable (interventions) through on-farm trials. This is what
FSR/ E calls, quite simply, testing.

The systematic method of FSR/E for testing its hypotheses
consists of 2 key steps:

a. Developing a plan to compare the intervention with current
farm household production technology, and assess if there
are any real differences between the two, for a number of
farm households in a given grouping (domain). The plan
often also allows us to assess whether the differences
between the intervention and current farm household
production technology are similar or not from one farm
household to another. This plan is called the
experimental design. Units II:II and II:III of Volume II
of these manuals explain various procedures for making
such plans (experimental designs);

b. Implementing the plan together with farm household
members. Unit II:IV of Volume II of these manuals
explains these procedures for joint implementation of the

4. Documentation of how the testing was done;

FSR/E documents all the conditions of the testing of a hypothesis about
what technology may be acceptable to farm households. These conditions
include biological, economic, and social conditions. This is also part of

The systematic method which FSR/E uses for this documentation involves
recording measurements and observations during the on-farm trial. The plan
(experimental design) is the basis for determining which measurements and

page 14

observations to take. These measurements and observations form a data set.
Unit II:IV of volume II explains how to take and record these measurements
and observations to make the data set for a trial.

5. Accepting or rejecting the hypothesis based on the results of the

FSR/E draws conclusions about the hypothesis by using the data set
obtained from testing according to the plan (experimental design). This
is the last step in testing.

The systematic method which FSR/E uses to accept or reject a hypothesis
consists of a series of analyses of the data set:

a. Biological analysis based on comparison of:
(1) the effect of the intervention:
the difference between the intervention and current
farm household agricultural production technology;
(2) random variation that always occurs in agricultural

b. Economic analysis based on comparison of the costs and
benefits of the intervention versus current farm household
agricultural technology.

c. Social analysis based on a comparison of who pays the
costs and who receives the benefits from the intervention
versus current farm household agricultural production

d. Acceptance.or rejection of the hypothesis that the
intervention will be acceptable based on integration of
the 3 types of analysis: biological, economic, and

Volume III of these manuals explains how to do these analyses.

6. Reproduction of the test by others:

FSR/E does not make a conclusion about whether an intervention will be
acceptable to farm households based on only one on-farm trial. Rather,
FSR/E uses a sequence of trials to reproduce the test of the intervention.

The systematic method which FSR/E uses to reproduce the test is to have
farm household members conduct the test entirely on their own at the end of
the sequence. This is called validation testing. Farm household members
are thus the key persons who determine if, in fact, there is a consensus
among researchers, extension personnel, and farm households: a consensus
about what conditions result in acceptable new technology.

Units II:I and II:II of volume II explain the sequence of trials; units
II:II and II:III of volume II explain experimental designs for validation
trials; and of volume III explains methods for research extension personnel

page 15

to learn the results of validation testing obtained by farm household

7. Comparison of results of the same test obtained by different people:

(1) If others also obtain the same results from the test, consensus
that the conditions under which the test was done do in fact
result in the general or repeated occurrence of the event as
predicted by the hypothesis.

In FSR/E, if farm households obtain the same results in
validation testing as research and extension personnel obtain in
earlier on-farm trials, action is taken on the consensus: the
intervention is promoted as a recommendation for all farm
households with similar conditions. This is what FSR/E calls

FSR/E does not have a unique systematic method for extension.
FSR/E uses techniques that are basically similar to the methods
used by extension personnel to promote recommendations based on
station research or judgements based on experience. The
difference is in the systematic method that FSR/E uses to generate
the recommendation, as described above.

(2) If others do not obtain the same results from the test,

(a) Comparisons of the conditions under which each test has been
(b) Formation of a new hypothesis about which different conditions
will result in different results from those obtained in the
previous tests;
(c) Repetition of the cycle of testing, documentation,
reproduction by others, and comparison of results.

FSR/E considers negative results of on-farm trials to be
positive, valuable information. Research and extension
personnel on an FSR/E team use this information to design new
trials to test new hypotheses. FSR/E calls this series of
steps iterative diagnosis and design. The procedures that
FSR/E uses are the same as for initial design and testing.
The only difference is that the information from the original
informal survey is now supplemented with information from the
trials that led to rejection of the initial hypothesis, and
formation of a new hypothesis.

Thus, through the above process, the FSR/E team approach
provides a mechanism for research and extension personnel from
different disciplines to become a scientific community for
determining the expected responses of farm households to new
agricultural technology.


page 16

Hempel, Carl. 1966. Philosophy of Natural Science. Prentice Hall,
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

A standard reference, but with examples more from the physical

Kuhn, T.S. 1970. The structure of scientific revolutions. University
Press, Chicago.

This work contrasts "normal" science with science at times of
great change. One important issue in FSR/E is how to develop
methods of on-farm design that both are truly
farmer-participatory, and at the same time allow for statistical
inference to many farmers. Existing methods of trial design used
in station research can be seen as part of "normal" science.
Development of new methods of design for on-farm trials in FSR/E
may be an example of the development of science at a time of

Popper, K.S. 1965. Conjectures and refutations: the growth of scientific
knowledge (second ed.). Harper and Row, New York and Evanston.

Popper is difficult to read but has had great influence on the
development of an understanding of the principles of a scientific
method. The following chapters are of most relevance:

Ch. 1, "Science: conjectures and refutations."
Ch. 2, "The nature of philosophical problems and their roots
in science."
Ch. 10, "Truth, rationality, and the growth of scientific

page 17



page 19



After completing this exercise, you will be better able to:

1. Identify the total number of potential research possibilities in your
country or region.

2. Explain how grouping farm households and farm household members reduces
the number of research possibilities.

3. List bases for grouping farm households and household members.

4. Show graphically in matrix form how grouping reduces the total number
of potential research priorities.


Part A: Potential total number of producing units

1. Write across the top of a blackboard (or on a piece of paper turned
sideways) the names of all the administrative units (either extension
or political) in your region or country, that are largest in size.

2. Write underneath each name of the largest units all the names of the
next largest subunit. Count up how many total subunits there are in
the whole region.

3. Determine approximately how many villages there are in the whole region
or country, and in each subunit, based on either:

a. The total number of villages in the whole region:
Divide that number by the number of subunits in the whole region, to
obtain the average number of villages per subunit; or

b. The number (average or range) of villages in each largest unit:

(1) Divide that number for each unit by the number of subunits in
each unit, to obtain the average number of villages per subunit
in each unit;

(2) Add up the numbers of villages in all the largest units,to
obtain the total number of villages in the whole region;

c. Each subunit on an individual basis;
Add up the numbers of villages in all the subunits, to obtain the
total number of villages in the whole region;

page 21

Then number, as an example, under one subunit in each unit:
1, 2, 3, .. n;
where n is the number of villages in that subunit, obtained by either
calculation method a, b, or c above.

4. Determine approximately how many households (average or range) there
are in each village.
Multiply that number by the total number of villages, to obtain the
total number of households in the region.

5. Finally, determine the average number of household producing units
(male farmers with their own land or animals; female farmers with their
own land or animals; joint male and female farmers together managing
the same land or animals; etc.) per household.
Write, as an example, under a couple of households in a couple of
villages, symbols for each producing unit

Multiply the average number of household producing units per household
by the total number of households for the entire region or country,. to
obtain the total number of potential kinds of producing units.

Part B: Potential total number of research-and extension possibilities

1. Write down the blackboard (or down the piece of paper) the different
kinds of:

a. Resources (land; labor; capital: implements, wells, etc.);
b.' Crop production activities (e.g., sorghum, rice, tomatoes, etc.);
c. Animal production activities (e.g., cattle, goats, poultry, etc.);
d. Household activities (e.g., food preparation, fuelwood gathering,
basket weaving, etc.);
e. Socio-economic environment (e.g., market access, access to
government or private voluntary extension personnel, etc.).

2. Count the total number of:

a. Crop and household activities:
Multiply that number by the total number of producing units, to
obtain the total number of agricultural production activities which
research and extension produce information for;
b. Resources, house hold activities, and socio-economic environment;
Multiply that number by the total number of producing unit, to
obtain the total number of support activities which research and
extension produce information for;
c. Add the results of the 2 calculations (a and b above), to obtain
the total number of activities which research and extension produce
information for.

Part C: Grouping to reduce the total number of agricultural research and
extension activities

1. For each type of producing unit, check those agricultural
production and support activities which are important for that
particular producing unit.

page 22

2. Draw vertical lines linking activities of the same producing unit
which are connected;

3. For each type of producing unit, star that activity which
important the livelihood of that type of producing unit;
around the activity which is the greatest constraint;

is most
Put a box

4. Look for similarities in types of activities, type of linkages
between activities, and priorities and constraints;

5. Count how many groups of producing units with similarities;
Compare that number with the total number of activities which
research and extension produce information for.

6. Discuss:

a. The implications of this difference in numbers;
b. What research and extension personnel need to know to do valid

page 23




W. Division
N. Lower
N. Upper
B. Lower
B. Central

N.B. Division
K. North
K. South
K. East
K. West
F. Br.
F. Bo.

L.R. Division
Kg. West
Kg. Central
Kg. East
Ja. West
Ja. East

page 25


Volume I


1. What Is Interdisciplinarity?
2. What Are the Characteristics of an Effective Interdisciplinary Team?


After completing this unit participants will be able to:

1. Know how an FSR/E team should be constituted.

2. State how their own specialty, as well as the specialties of others,
may contribute to the diagnostic process.

3. Identify the functions of each discipline at each stage of the
diagnostic process.


1. The FSR/E approach brings together a diversity of disciplines or
specialties in addressing the problems of agricultural development in
the Third World.

2. FSR/E demands not only that these disciplines be represented but that
they work together in an effective manner.

3. FSR/E teams should be organized adequately to plan, execute, evaluate,
and follow-up activities.


Multidisciplinary: involving scientists from several disciplines but the
effort is planned, executed, and evaluated by each person separately.

Interdisciplinary: involving input from several disciplines and with the
effort mutually planned, executed, and evaluated.

Disciplinary: of or relating to a particular field of study.



A key feature of farming systems research and extension is its
interdisciplinary nature. Shaner, Philipp, and Schmehl, (1982) define
interdisciplinary as "involving frequent interactions among those from
different disciplines who work on common tasks and come up with better
results than had they worked independently." The definition focuses on
working together on common tasks, and indeed, assisting farmers to increase
their productivity is always an interdisciplinary task. This is because
the farmers' own activities are interdisciplinary. Farmers act as plant

Volume I: I
page 27

breeders in selecting crop varieties, as animal scientists in feeding their
livestock, as economists in allocating their limited resources among
diverse enterprises, and as sociologists in participating in the social
institutions and heritage of their culture. FSR/E teams need the expertise
of both agricultural and social scientists to develop an understanding of
the farming system and to test interventions which increase productivity
that are feasible and acceptable to the farmer.

The respective roles of different disciplines in FSR/E are highly
complementary. The agricultural scientist identifies technical production
constraints and proposes technologies to increase productivity. The
agricultural economist identifies resource constraints and evaluates the
profitability and feasibility of proposed improvements. The sociologist/
anthropologist analyzes the social context within which the farm family
operates and evaluates the acceptability of proposed interventions. On the
methodological side, the social scientists contribute the survey methods
for diagnosing farmer problems and the approach for working with farmers to
search for solutions. Agricultural scientists contribute the experimental
methods for testing the proposed solutions. All participate in evaluating
the results of these tests.

Building an interdisciplinary team is extremely difficult. Gilbert,
Norman, and Winch (1981) distinguish between a multidisciplinary team and
an interdisciplinary team. In a multidisciplinary effort the team members
work on their own research, which is designed, conducted and evaluated by
themselves or their own disciplinary peers or superiors. In
interdisciplinary research, team members establish a common research agenda -
and collaborate effectively at all stages of the activity. Unfortunately,
it is common to find FSR/E teams where the social scientists conduct the
surveys and the agricultural scientists lay out experiments, with little
interaction between the two groups. This is clearly an example of a
multidisciplinary effort and is not as effective as an interdisciplinary
effort would be.


Shaner, Philipp and Schmehl (1982) offer a pumpkin as a model
illustrated on page 185 of their text. The essential components of this
model are:

a core of competent, dedicated, and agreeable team members;
fleshed out by adaptive and balanced leadership,
held together and enhanced by collaborative teamwork and frequent
and supported by an institutional framework that understands and
rewards the extra time, effort and costs associated with successful

The team should also interact adequately with other institutions (i.e.
universities, other government agencies, etc.)

a. Competent, Dedicated, and Agreeable Workers

These characteristics are important for any successful endeavor, but

Volume I: I
page 28

are of even more importance in an interdisciplinary program, such as FSR/E.
FSR/E often involves compromising the accepted procedures of one's
discipline in order to work effectively with other disciplines towards
meeting the team's goals. For example, conducting experiments on farmers'
fields reduces the degree of control over the variables the researcher is
measuring. Team objectives may require that experiments take place on
farmers' fields to ensure that responses will be significant under the
farmers' own conditions. Individuals who are competent in their field will
feel less threatened by working interdisciplinarily.

Dedication to the goals of the interdisciplinary team is crucial
because narrowly defined disciplinary goals may be irrelevant to the team's
commonly defined, problem-solving goals. For example, an economist may
wish to conduct a costly, lengthy farm survey in order to generate complex
analyses suitable for publishing journal articles. The team may decide
that the benefits of such techniques are not worth the costs, and that
rapid reconnaissance methods are more appropriate.

Finally, an agreeable personality is critical to participation in
interdisciplinary teamwork. Team members must be respectful of, and
willing to learn about, the disciplines of others and be forthright in
sharing information from their own disciplines. In addition, they should
be able to interact with and learn from the farmers themselves.

b. Sensitive and Balanced Leadership

"The team leader's success depends largely on the ability to bring
together the unique perspective and competency of each member to common
goals" (Shaner, Philipp, and Schmehl, 1981). Therefore, it is necessary
that the team leader have a basic understanding of the potential
contribution of each member's discipline and be sensitive to differences
among disciplines. Different disciplines often have different mental
frameworks, tools, specialized vocabulary, etc., for approaching problems.
The team leader must establish the common ground among the
different disciplines for establishing common goals and identifying
appropriate methods for achieving the goals.

c. Collaborative Teamwork and Frequent Communication

Collaborative teamwork is essential to the success of the FSR/E team.
Common task assignments are an important means to-ensure that teamwork is
really a collaborative effort. A frequent problem of FSR/E teams is that
there is excessive specialization; social scientists are assigned to
conduct the surveys and agricultural scientists conduct the experiments.
That the agricultural scientists review the questionnaire and that the
social scientists do an economic analysis of the experimental data is
presented as evidence of interdisciplinary work: Much more is required.
Agricultural scientists must actively participate in the survey effort as
partners with the social scientists; similarly, social scientists have an
important role to play in the design and implementation of experiments, not
just their evaluation. In an effective FSR/E team, joint work assignments
are the rule rather than the exception in implementing the work program.

Open and continual discussion among team members and among teams is

Volume I: I
page 29

also essential. The team leader must encourage informal interaction and
establish periodic group reviews of program progress. Team members must
have the time and space for interaction and for team work to be effective,
all team members should be based in the same location. Encouraging
collaborative teamwork between social scientists based in capital cities
and agricultural researchers based at rural research stations is sometimes
problematic. A way to lessen this problem is through scheduling meetings
during which sondeos, workplan sessions, and the analysis of results could
be conducted.

d. Effective Institutional Support

Logistically, it is ideal for all team members to be attached to the
same institution. Often, this is not possible. In such cases,
collaborating institutions must be willing to delegate most of the
responsibility for administration and evaluation of the team members'
activities to the team leader. Collaborative efforts in which there are no
separate budgets for team activities and for which there are no incentives
for the team members to participate are not likely to succeed.

Interdisciplinarity is also a key feature of the interaction between
FSR/E and other components of the overall research and extension system.
An FSR/E team operating in isolation from the established research and
extension institutions will not be effective. Strong collaborative
linkages between FSR/E teams and the other components, e.g., station-based
research and the extension service, are vital. The FSR/E team requires the
cooperation of research and extension specialists of various disciplines to
diagnose and suggest solutions to specific problems: Similarly station
specialists need the FSR/E team to advise them on farmer problems, on how
to modify available technologies to solve these problems, and to help them
identify future research initiatives. This implies that all participants
in agricultural research and extension must have an appreciation for the
complementary roles that station researchers, field extension personnel and
FSR/E team members play in the development process.

Interdisciplinary approaches often take more time and resources to
implement than do disciplinary approaches. Since farmer problems are
almost always interdisciplinary in nature, an interdisciplinary approach to
solving these problems gives more satisfactory results.


Bartlett. C., and J.A. Akorhe. Interdisciplinary cooperation to identify
innovations for small farmers: The role of the economist. III A.
"Linkages Between the Extension Branch and the Adaptive Research
Planning Team", Adaptive Research Planning Team, Zambia.

McArthur, H, Philip, Wilson, and Yost. 1985. A Training Package
Simulating FSR and D Site Survey, Sondeo, and Research Design
Activities. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
University of Hawaii at Manoa. (See Module II).

Rhoades, Robert. 1983. Breaking new ground: anthropology in agricultural

Volume I: I
page 30

research, International Potato Center.

Russell, Martha G. (ed). 1982. Enabling interdisciplinary research
perspectives from agriculture, forestry and home economics. Misc. Publ.
19, Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Minnesota.

Shaner, W. et al. 1982. Farming systems research and development:
guidelines for developing countries. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

Tripp, Robert., "Anthropology and On-farm Research", 1984. Accepted for
publication in Human Organization.

Volume I: I
page 31







Volume I: I
page 33

Volume I:I


After completing this activity participants will be able to:

1. Assess the role of each discipline at each stage of the FSR/E process.


1. Trainee handout I:I Activity One #1, "FSR/E: Disciplines and

2. Paper, pencils, blackbord and chalk or flipchart and markers.


1. Divide into small working groups for discussion and select a reporter.

2. Complete the table "FSR/E: Disciplines and Responsibilites" with as
much information as you can about the role/tasks of different
disciplines at various stages of FSR/E. Summarize your findings on a
large sheet of newsprint or blackboard.

3. During your discussion, consider the extent of interdisciplinary
interaction that is occurring in your group.

4. Each group will be asked to share its findings in a plenary session.

Volume I: I
page 35

Volume I:I




Policy &









Livestock Extension Local/Key
Scientist Specialist Informant

Volume I: I
page 37

Volume I:I


After finishing this activity participants will be able to:

Better appreciate the contributions several disciplines can make to the
FSR/E process.


1. Trainee Handout I:I Activity Two #1, "Case Study: Murewa District in


1. Read the case study on agricultural production in Zimbabwe. The
case study is provided in trainee handout I:I Activity Two #1. As
you read the case study think about possible solutions to the

2. Follow the instructions given
read the case study.

3. Consider your own reaction to

verbally by the trainer after you have

working with persons from another

Volume I: I
page 39

Volume I:I

Case Study: Murewa District in Zimbabwe

Murewa District in Zimbabwe is an area with significant agricultural

- The average farm family consists of six children and two adults with a
three hectare farm.

S Two hectares are typically planted in maize which is both a cash crop
and a food staple.

- One hectare is typically planted in a mix of groundnuts and secondary
crops such as pumpkins, cowpeas and sweet potatoes.

- The key problems in the area are related to maize. Farmers apply their
fertilizer three weeks later than recommended by extension for three
reasons. First, fertilizers are expensive and the farmers can not get
credit to purchase fertilizer in a timely manner. Second, Extension
recommends that fertilizer be applied during planting when there is a
labor shortage. Third, rainfall is variable and the farmers want to
assure that the crop will germinate before applying fertilizer to avoid
the risk of wasting valuable fertilizer.

The farmers also manage, on average, to weed only once during the
growing season and that tends to be late when the weeds are tall.
Extension recommends an early weeding about three weeks after planting
and again six weeks after planting. Labor is a constraint on weeding.
There is a conflict between continuing to plant or going back and
weeding the first field planted. Weeding competes, therefore, with
having a larger area under cultivation.

Volume I: I
page 41


Volume I


1. What is a Model?
2. The Structural Model
3. The Process Model


After completing this unit participants will be able to:

Construct and use the process and structural models to describe and
analyze farmers' circumstances and decisions.


1. The use of models helps researchers to summarize large amounts of
information about the farming system.

2. Models help researchers visualize key aspects and interactions of the


Model: A means of describing and summarizing reality designed by the
researcher to help him/her analyze reality. A tentative description of
a system that accounts for all its known properties.

Process model of a farming system: A qualitative analysis of a farm
household's management strategies, based on an analysis of its
environment, objectives, resources, and constraints.

Structural model of a farming system:
resources, enterprises and outputs
the interaction among all of these

A diagram presenting the principal
of an individual farm household and
different elements.

Hierarchical model of decision making: A tree diagram presenting decision
criteria farmers use in their decision making calculation.



A model
where there

is a means of describing and summarizing a system and its known
It helps researchers understand what they are studying and
are gaps in their knowledge.

Volume I: II
page 43

Let's look at a very simple, quantitative model:

y = 5x

where y = kg. of sorghum and x = kg. of nitrogen

This model describes the response of sorghum production to nitrogen
inputs. It says that adding one kg. of nitrogen increases sorghum
production by 5 kg.

In FSR/E, our objective is to describe in a holistic manner, not only
the farm production system but also human behavior in order to develop an
understanding of how farmers manage their farms. Modeling human behavior
is obviously much more complex than modeling fertilizer response and some
other aspects of production. In this unit, we will examine two kinds of
models which are useful for describing and understanding the farming
system: (1) the structural model and (2) the process model. Both of these
models are qualitative models. The models deal with qualitative aspects
rather than quantitative aspects of the system. Given the complexity of
farming systems, it makes sense to begin our analysis focusing on
descriptive and qualitative aspects. Quantitative models, such as
econometrics and linear programming, may be useful at later stages of
analysis (see Volume III).


The structural model, as presented by R.E. McDowell and P.E. Hildebrand
(1980), focuses on the levels of interaction and integration among the
various crop, livestock, and off-farm enterprises of a farm family. Figure
I:II.1 shows a system from the highlands of Central America. The principal
components of this system include the household, crops and animals.

McDowell and Hildebrand point out that the household (the farm family)
is the focus of the farm unit. Principal emphasis in the model is given to
labor use, the roles of crop and animal enterprises, and sources of human
food, household income, and animal feed.

The solid arrows depict strong flows or linkages (for example, the
sales of crops accounts for more than 20 percent of total income). Less
important linkages are shown by broken arrows (for example, the
contribution of forest resources to animal feed).

The model represents a first step in describing a farming system and is
by no means exhaustive. Off-farm activities could be included in the model
shown in Figure I:II.1 if they are seen to be important. Further, the
linkages between each crop and animal enterprise and other components could
be drawn out instead of lumping enterprises into the two categories of
crops and livestock.

The structural model is important for orienting and guiding the work of
an interdisciplinary team. Understanding the whole context within which
new technologies are to be promoted will help the team evaluate the
potential of the proposed technology. For example, the model shows that
crops are not only produced for food and sale, they are also produced for

Volume I: II
page 44

construction materials, ritual purposes, animal feed, animal bedding, and
mulch. In assisting the farm family to increase its production of grain
for food and sale, the team must ensure that other critical uses of grain
are not sacrificed.

Figure I:II.1 Central American highlands,
integration of crops and animals (animals
McDowell/Hildebrand, 1980.

permanent cropping, high-level
herded or confined) Source:

Source: McDowell and Hildebrand, 1980

Volume I: II
page 45


The process model is used to develop an understanding of farmer
management strategies, that is, the way farmers go about managing their
farms. The model focuses on four types of information:

a. Farmers' Objectives and Priorities

The first priority of farmers is often to assure a stable supply of
preferred foods at all periods of the year. Other objectives and
priorities are influenced by cash requirements and the level of risk with
which farmers are willing to live. These will affect the tradeoffs farmers
make in their investments; whether they will invest in production or spend
for home consumption; whether they will invest in farm or non-farm
enterprises; and how they will allocate their resources among their

b. Environment (natural and socio-economic)

How does the environment influence the manner in which a farmer manages
his/her farm? Such physical factors as soil, rainfall, and altitude must
be considered. The socio-economic environment in which the farmer works
includes such factors as land tenure, household composition and labor
patterns by sex, markets, and access to inputs and credit. Farmers are
affected by institutions outside their control such as rural development
organizations and government agencies which establish agricultural

c. Resource Availability and Use

Land, labor, capital, and management practices are used by farmers to
attain their goals and objectives. What types of land are available and
how are they used? What is the total and seasonal availability of labor?
What is the composition of the labor force? Do farmers have access to cash
when needed, access to machinery or draft power, access to other inputs
such as seeds and chemicals?

d. Principal Constraints

It is important to identify the constraints which farmers face.
Constraints may be linked to resource availability such as peak season
labor requirements, or cash for purchasing inputs. They may be linked to
environmental factors such as soil fertility, rainfall distribution and
variation, lack of markets, and land tenure issues.

The researcher uses this information to develop an understanding of
farmer management strategies. That is, to understand how farmers use their
resources to meet their objectives in the environment in which they live
and given the constraints with which they are faced. These strategies
include selection of enterprises and the relative importance of each in the
system and cultural practices used. Often these reflect the ways farmers
minimize risk (See Gladwin, 1979, 1980).

Volume I: II
page 46

Why is it important for us to understand farmer management practices?
Farmers possess a great amount of knowledge about their own environment and
enterprises. It is important that the stock of indigenous knowledge, as
well as that of modern science, be brought to bear on any given problem.
In most instances farmers recognize their problems and have ways, which
vary in effectiveness, for dealing with these problems. Our objective is
to work together with them to improve their ability to deal with their
problems. Tapping their knowledge will help researchers identify
evaluation criteria for screening technologies which are acceptable to
farmers. Understanding the current situation is necessary before we can
determine how to modify it. (Refer to II:I Planning for Evaluation for more

Another way of modeling farmers' management strategies has been
developed by C. Gladwin (1979, 1980). She has posited a methodology for
empirically studying farmers' adoption decisions (Shaner et. al., 1982).
She argues that farmers tend to use procedures that simplify their decision
making calculations, and that this can be modeled. Hierarchical models on
trees with decision criteria at the branching points of the tree can
represent such procedures (See Figure I:II. 2). Decision criteria can
either be ordering alternatives on the basis of some dimension (e.g. cost),
or they can be constraints (e.g. access to labor). These criteria are
discrete rather than continuous. Thus a decision tree is a sequence or
series of discrete decision criteria, all of which have to be passed along
a path to a particular outcome or choice. In the example provided in
Figure I:II. 2, fertilizer must pass both cost and productivity criteria
for the farmer to try fertilizer. The major methodological concern in this
approach is to find the specific aspects and constraints farmers are using
in their decisions.



Stable supply
of food (maize
& and beans).
Produce enough
maize & beans
to sell so as
to have cash
for purchases.

I MILTnT.r KTTNYA"M K__N_-______

Low level of
Rich loam
Good market

2-3 ha.farms
Family labor.

Very little
cash avail-
able. Only
about 30%
own oxen.


Short rainy
Lack of oxen.
Oxen unavail-
able at land

No-till planting
(low yield, heavy
weed infestation).
IHire or borrow oxen
Ito plant before rainy
Season (risk of longer
germination, due to
high soil temp, and
ant damage. Hire or
borrow oxen after
rains begin
(Risk of planting late
because oxen
Preparing land and
planting with
hoe (very slow and

Volume I:
page 47



a. What is the general finding? First
priority is stable supply of
preferred foods at all periods of the

b. To what extent is cash important?

c. What degree of risk are farmers
willing to assume?

d. What are the tradeoffs? Investing in
production vs. spending for
consumption, between investing in
farm and non-farm enterprises,
trade-offs in resource use among

a. How does the environment influence
the manner in which the farmer
manages his/her farm?

Physical environment: soils,
rainfall, altitude, etc.

Social environment: land tenure,
sexual division of labor, household
composition, etc.

Economic environment: markets for
output, access to inputs, credit,

S Institutional environment:
institutions involved in rural
development and their effectiveness.

a. What are the available resources and
how are they currently used?

Land. Types, uses of each,
rotations, etc.

Labor. Total available, composition,
use in different seasons.

Capital. Cash available,
seasonality. Access to draft power,

a. What are the principal constraints
facing the farmer?

- Resource: peak season labor?, cash
for purchasing inputs? animal
traction? etc.

Environmental: lack of markets? soil
fertility? Risk of early end to
rains? Land tenure?

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This is really a synthesis of the
information. How do farmers use their
resources to meet their priorities in
the environment they live in and given
the constraints they face.

a. What enterprises are selected and
to what degree of importance.

b. What cultural are practices
pursued. Why? How do these
compare with recommended
practices? Why doesn't farmer
pursue recommended practices?

c. How does farmer minimize risks
and constraints which face

It important for us to understand
farmer management strategies for at
least two reasons:

1. Farmers possess a great amount
of knowledge about their own
environment and enterprises. It
is important that the stock of
indigenous knowledge, as well as
that of tcdern science, be
brought to bear on any given

2. In most instances, farmers
recognize their problems and
have ways, which vary in
effectiveness, for dealing with
these problems. Our objective
is to work together with them to
improve their ability to deal
with their problems.
Understanding the current
situation is necessary before we
can determine how to modify it.




Cost of Fertilizer


Yields using >


Yields using

Cost of Manure


Stick to Manure


Stick to Manure

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Gladwin, C.H. 1979. Cognitive Strategies
Study of Non-adoption of an Agronomic
Development and Cultural Change 28(1):

and Adoption Decisions: A Case
Recommendation. Economic

Gladwin, C.H. 1980. A theory of Real Life Choices. Applications to
Agricultural Decisions, in P.F. Barlett (ed) Agricultural Decision
Making: Anthropological Contributions to Rural Developemnt. New
York: Academic Press.

Hart, R.D. 1983. Using the Concept of Agroecosystem Determinants to Link
Technology Transfer and Technology Generation to Form A Farming
Systems Research and Extension Process. Seminar on the Role of Crops
and Animals in Farming Systems. University of Missouri, Columbia.

Hart, R.D. and Calixte George. 1983. Guidelines for the Design of
Farming Systems Projects: A Case Study from the Eastern Caribbean.
Proceedings of the Farming Systems Symposium. Oct 31 Nov 2, 1983.
Kansas State University, Manhattan.

McDowell, R.E. and P.E. Hildebrand. 1980. Integrated crop and animal
production: making the most of resources available to small farms in
developing countries. The Rockefeller Foundation Working Papers, New

Norman, D.W. 1980. "Defining a farming system", In the Farming Systems
Approach: Relevancy for the Small Farmer. MSU Rural Development Paper
No 5. Michigan State University, East Lansing.

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201 Introduction to the Economic Characteristics of Small
Scale, Limited Resource, Family Farms and Their
Implications for Technology Development (15 Minutes) 24

203 The Small Scale Family Farm as a System (12 minutes) 38

204 Land Tenure in Upper Volta (20 minutes) 78 slides

Volume I: II
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Volume I:II


After completing this activity you will be able to:

1. Develop a structural model of a farming system.


1. Pencil and paper..

2.. Flip chart, blackboard and chalk.


1. Divide into small working groups. Interview one group member about
farming in his/her area.

2. Be prepared to present a three minute summary of your findings from the

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Volume I:II


After completing this activity you will be better able to:

Analyze farmer management strategies from the farmers' point of view to
understand the rationale behind the practice and alternative practices.


1. Paper and pen.
2. Blackboard and chalk, or flip chart and markers.


1. Divide into interdisciplinary groups.

2. Select an example of a recommendation known
area which is not followed by all farmers.
in an area, although it is recommended that
farms broadcast their sorghum.

to increase yield in your
One example might be that
farmers plant in rows, most

3. Prepare a process model of the farmer management strategy concerning
the practice selected in step two. TABLE I:II. 1 and TABLE I:II. 2
found in the discussion section of this unit will be helpful. Using
the recommendation you have selected, you should:

a. Think about farmers' principal objectives, environmental aspects,
resources, and constraints which may influence their decisions
concerning the practice. For example, labor constraint at planting
time and limited availability of oxen make it difficult to plant in

b. Explain farmer management strategy concerning the alternatives

c. Consider possibilities for improving any of the listed options
and/or introducing new options.

4. Be prepared to give a presentation on your group's findings.

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Volume I


1. FSR/E Operates in the Community
2. Examples of Local Institutions and Leaders
3. The Need for Local Endorsement and Support
4. Developing a Profile of Local Institutions and Leadership
5. Using Groups of Local Farmers and Leaders to Facilitate FSR/E


After completing this unit participants will be able to:

1. Make initial contacts in an FSR/E target community.

2. Operate effectively at the community level in all
phases of FSR/E.

3. Be knowledgeable of and sensitive to local institutions
and leadership, within the regional and national structure.

4. Be knowledgeable of regional and national policy strategies.


1. Local support of an FSR/E project is vital to its success.

2. Local leaders/influentials are an important component in obtaining
local support and, if not effectively involved, can undermine project

3. Local leaders can play valuable roles in FSR/E diagnosis, planning,
implementation/extension, and evaluation.

4. Regional and national policy strategies do have implications for the
FSR/E project.


Target community: farming community where an FSR/E program is proposed.

Power center (or power structure): key individuals or groups
opinion leaders which have substantial influence over local
decision-making in a community.



One of the distinguishing features of FSR/E is its need to operate at
the community level. Getting to know the local community within which an
FSR/E team will be working is very important. Under the traditional

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approaches to research and extension, most research to develop technologies
is conducted on experiment stations. The technologies are then given to an
extension service which promotes them among farmers. Using the farming
systems approach, the FSR/E team conducts research in farmers' fields and
farmers' livestock as well as on experiment stations. At all stages of the
approach, research is conducted in the community involving extension
agents, researchers, and farmers. Therefore, the FSR/E team must secure
and maintain the endorsement, if not the active support, of local
leadership and the range of local farmers in the community.


There are many kinds of local institutions and leadership structures
which have a great deal of influence in local communities. It is important
for the FSR/E team to understand these structures in the local area. The
following list indicates some of these groups and individuals. It is not
an extensive list and will vary from place to place.

a. Civil representatives of national, state, and provincial
governments. These include governors, municipal and provincial
authorities, agricultural research and extension officials, and
representatives of state development agencies.

b. Military and police officials. Some regions are under military
rule and governed by military law. Agricultural research and
extension activities may require these officials' approval.

c. Religious officials and institutions. Religious officials are
often extremely influential at the community level.

d. Indigenous institutions and.their representatives. Included in
this group are tribal councils, chiefs, headmen, clanheads, and
town councils.

e. Specialized institutions associated with the modern sector.
Organizations such as cooperatives and village development
committees, and livestock associations are included here.

f. Informal institutions and leaders. Communities often have
influential and powerful individuals who are not part of any formal
institution or structure. Such persons may be landlords, livestock
traders merchants, or recognized experts in some local activity,
such as the cultivation of a particular crop, women's
organizations, local development societies, and leading farmers.
These informal leaders and influentials are easily overlooked by
agricultural workers, especially during the early stages of work in
the community.

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Local endorsement and support of farming systems research and extension
activities are essential. There are many reasons. First, research and
extension personnel often cannot interact with local farmers without the
approval of community leaders. Sometimes they cannot enter the community
without such approval. Second, FSR/E is a process that produces results
over the long term, often over several years. This requires that local
support be continuous and that relationships between FSR/E personnel and
the community stand the test of time. Third, not only must the community
support local FSR/E activities, but it should assist with the promotion of
appropriate technologies once these are developed. The community should
assist with the extension function, for example, bringing new technology to
the attention of those farmers who can use it.

There may also exist institutions and leaders, locally based or not,
with which it may not be advantageous for the FSR/E program to become
associated. It is not always easy to identify these institutions and
apparent leaders which may not have the confidence of local people. FSR/E
personnel should be alert to their possible presence in the community and
seek to avoid becoming identified with them. Frequently, these individuals
may seek out FSR/E staff and attempt to speak for the local community in an
effort to increase their own legitimacy. Depending on local circumstances
and politics, these people may include feared police or military
leadership, exploitative or oppressive landlords, merchants, or
moneylenders; and leaders of splinter groups, factions, or minority
coalitions. Careful initial analysis should help identify such leaders.

In addition, not all influencial leaders are in a position to
contribute to the project. In many cases, individuals are influenced only
in one aspect of community life (i.e. politics, economics, farming,
religion, etc.). The task is to identify those leaders with which the
project should work.


Identifying local institutions and power centers in a community is one
of the initiating steps of FSR/E activities. Identification continues as
the activities continue, for not all institutions and leaders can be
discovered at the outset. Some are less visible and come to be known only
after FSR/E operations are well underway. In deciding what local
institutions and power centers are relevant, FSR/E personnel should be
guided by consideration of the potential of any given local institution or
power center to either promote or retard FSR/E activities-farmer surveys,
on-farm trials, and so on.

One way to begin to learn about these institutions and leaders is to
talk with people who know the local community. In some communities
extension agents are quite knowledgeable about such people and may be quite
helpful. Another way to learn about these centers of influence is through

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preliminary visits to a community to gather, in a discrete manner, the
required information. For some regions of the world, secondary materials,
including community surveys, research reports, or sociological/
anthropological studies, provide excellent descriptions of local
institutions, leaders, influentials, and other decision-making structures,
and how they function.

In identifying the local influencial leaders, the FSR/E team should be
aware of the regional and national structure, and how leadership ties
articulate with it. The FSR/E team should also attempt to find out the
major policy goals so that FSR/E activities are consistent with major
regional and national agricultural production stategies.


Working with local groups can greatly multiply the outreach and
effectiveness of FSR/E programs. Natural or informal groups such as the
extended family, neighborhood, age-mate groups, or labor exchange groups
are widespread and deeply rooted in most communities. Formal associations
such as marketing cooperatives, credit organizations, and political groups,
while not having as long a history as traditional groups, are frequently
active in local development. Identification of these existing groups can
provide access to important information and help introduce and legitimize
an FSR/E program.

A program Advisory Board may be developed from these existing formal
and informal groups members. This program Advisory Board could provide
policy guidance and feedback during the project. While it is unlikely to
represent the unique perspectives of the traditional small farmer, such an
advisory group can give FSR/E projects needed visibility in the community
and help in the two-way communication flow which the projects will need.

However, in some cases the Advisory Board might serve as a forum for
competing interests and actions, with factions hoping to secure their share
of the project benefits. Thus the precise role of the Advisory Board would
have to be established. Attention should also be given to the value such a
group has for the village and the individuals who serve it.

"Focus groups" consist of 5 10 people of similar backgrounds. They
complement the role of the Advisory Board, and reflect the problems and
concerns of the traditional small farmer very well. Group members,
selected from among those for whom the FSR/E program seeks to develop
recommendations (see I:II on Grouping Farmers), usually are chosen for
their knowledge, ability, and willingness to discuss one or more topics of
particular concern in an FSR/E program. Groups meet to discuss issues or
questions posed by a member of the FSR/E team. A discrete observer,
usually knowledgeable in the subject area under discussion, takes careful
notes on the group's insights and conclusions. Data from such sessions are
used effectively throughout the FSR/E process for building links with
farmers and the community, gathering basic information on existing and
appropriate new technologies, setting priorities for on-farm trials,
evaluating their success, and examining avenues for dissemination of
successful applications.

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Volume I: III
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After completing this activity you will be able to:

1. Identify the role of local institutions and leadership in FSR/E.
2. Describe institutions and leaders in their own region.
3. Analyze how these institutions and leaders can support an FSR/E


1. Read the discussion section of this unit.

2. In small groups, discuss the following points:

a. Name (or list) local institutions and leaders from your own

b. Name some informal leader from the regions) you know best. What
is the basis of this individual's power?

c. Discuss whether in the regions) you know best there are
institutions or centers of power with which an FSR/E operation
should not be publicly associated.

d. For the regions) you know best, consider which institutions or
leaders could retard FSR/E methods and appropriate technologies.

e. What institutions and leaders could best promote methods and
technologies in those regions?

f. How should FSR/E personnel approach each of these institutions and
leaders in order to obtain and maintain necessary endorsement and

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Volume I


1. Rationale for Grouping Farmers
2. Variables Used to Group Farmers into Recommendations Domains
3. Recommendation Domains: Issues to Consider


After completing this unit participants will be able to:

1. Explain the range of variables agro-ecological, socio-economic, and
institutional which may be used to define farmer groups.

2. Learn how to group farmers at all phases of the FSR/E process.

3. Select the critical farm family related variables appropriate to the

4. Distinguish between circumstances within households and among
households that are useful in grouping farmers.


1. The choice of variables/criteria for grouping farmers is critical to
project success. Socio-economic factors, as well as agro-climatic
factors, must be considered to group farmers according to their
problems and circumstances.

2. Grouping farmers must start early in the diagnostic process and become
the basis for developing the first hypotheses or questions to be
addressed by the FSR/E process.

3. Farmers must be regrouped as necessary on the basis of new
information from the research and extension process. FSR/E teams must
not become locked into initial decisions about farmer groups.

4. Underexploited resources (eg. land, labor) may be viewed as
opportunities that are not solutions to a perceived problem but rather
provide a chance to improve farmers' productivity and well-being.
These opportunities can be used as criteria for grouping farmers.


Recommendation: a solution proposed for groups of farmers that is based on
their problems and their circumstances

Recommendation domain: a group of roughly homogeneous farmers with
similar circumstances for whom more or less the same recommendations
can be made (CIMMYT/Byerlee 1980).

Research domain: a group of farms within a problem focused environmental

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range where solutions to a defined problem could be applicable and
could be applicable and could be tested (Wotowiec et. al., 1986).

Diffusion domain: interpersonal communication networks through which newly
acquired knowledge of agricultural technologies naturally flows
(Wotowiec et. al., 1986).

Hypothesis: a question to be answered or a tentative conclusion to be
tested in a formal or informal survey or experiment.

Opportunity: a favorable or promising combination of circumstances that
provide a chance for improving the system or solving a problem.



We have to group farmers when we are thinking about conducting
research. At one extreme, we do not have sufficient resources to carry out
a specific research program for every individual farmer. At the other
extreme, it does not make sense to try to develop a single research agenda
relevant to all farmers in a country. We must compromise between these two
extremes and plan research relevant to groups of farmers.

The purpose of groups is to highlight similarities within groups and
differences between and among groups. Similarities and differences are
important only with respect to our objectives: increasing agricultural
productivity by establishing experiments and generating recommendations.


Because farm families differ from one another, we need to distinguish
the variables on which they vary and how those variables relate to the
problems they have and the utility of solutions to those problems.

How do development agencies generally deal with grouping farmers? Some
research institutes divide their countries into agro-ecological zones and
develop packages of recommended practices and technologies appropriate to
each zone. Traditional approaches to grouping farmers have usually
involved geographical zoning using one or more variables, such as:

Amount of annual rainfall
Number of humid months
Crop potential
Eco-climatic zones

In many countries there have been cases of development projects
extending packages across large zones and finding that these packages were
appropriate to only a minority of farmers in the zone. Grouping farmers
according to the physical characteristics of a geographic area is often not
sufficient for delineating groups; different groups within the zone may
each require different research programs. For example, Kakamega and Kibos
are locations in the same agro-climatic zone in Western Kenya. Due to
different historical developments, one area has 20 hectare farms and the

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other 2-4 hectare farms. One has access to small tractors, the other to
oxen. Do they have the same problems? Would you solve them the same way?
Would you carry out the same research program to solve their similar
problems? Weed control is a big problem for the big farms. Land
preparation is the major problem for the small farms. Pasture is a problem
for the large farms, while the small farms have zero grazing. The big
farms have access to family labor all year round, while on the small farms,
the males migrate part of the year to earn cash.

Specific groups of farms require specific research programs to generate
recommendations which meet their needs. Do small vegetable farmers at the
outskirts of the capital city require the same vegetable research and
extension program as farms 300 kilometers away in the bush but in the same
agro-climatic zone? Would the same coffee recommendation be made for an
estate of 10,000 hectares as for a small farmer with less than one hectare
of coffee? It depends. A new variety of coffee may be beneficial to both
estate and small farmers in the same agro-climatic zone. Use of liquid
fertilizer which requires special equipment may only be useful to estate
farmers who have access to credit to buy the fertilizer and special

In FSR/E, we propose grouping farmers according to:

The similarity of their problems
Their expected response to solutions
of their production problems

Farmers with similar circumstances often have similar characteristics
in terms of objectives, resources and constraints, strategies and
practices. What kind of characteristics can we find that indicate that
farmers have similar circumstances?

The following examples illustrate some criteria that have been used in
past FSR/E work to define farmer groups or recommendation domains.

Example 1: Farmer practices

Access to irrigation: In Botswana rainfall is very irregular. Some
farmers have access to irrigation. Because it is difficult to predict
how often it will rain, the recommendation that the farmer plow and
plant immediately with the first rain was not followed. Experience had
shown farmers it is less risky to plant several times during the
growing season to insure that some seeds would germinate. Only farmers
with access to irrigation water followed the early planting

Mean animal population density: The diagnostic phase of a project in
West Java, Indoniesia determined that flock size of small ruminants
between highland and lowland farmers was different. Highland farmers
had 6 sheep while lowland farmers tended 6 sheep and 5 goats per farm.
Sheep in both systems graze freely while goats are managed under total
confinement. Farmers' problems were similar between areas, but
management practices differed as a result of different species (Van
Eyes et. al., 1985).

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Example 2: Biological and physical characteristics of farms

Altitude: In an area of Northern Rwanda, altitude was found to be a
critical variable in differentiating farmer groups. Farmers living in
areas above 2000 meters had higher rainfall and lower
evapo-transpiration rates. They thus had different crops beans
maize and irish potatoes --than farmers at lower altitudes who grew
sweet potatoes, beans and bananas. The principal problems of farmers
in the high altitude zone were wind and hail, in the lower altitudes
insects and plant diseases.

Example 3: Labor availability

Labor availability: In the Dominican Republic, a project to raise
tethered milk cows was started. Traditionally, the farm women had
raised goats which they let graze during the day and herded into sheds
at night. Because gathering fuel and carrying water required a great
deal of the women's time, they did not often have the time to gather
fodder for the tethered milk cow, nor to make sure the cow did not
strangle on the tether. Only those women farmers who already had tasks
associated with confined animals as part of their daily activities were
successful in raising the cows.

Example 4: Access to land, labor, and capital

Access to credit: In Colombia, farmers with low rice yields were
advised to apply nitrogen fertilizer. Only those farmers with clear
title to their land did so. The other farmers, having no collateral,
were unable to get credit.

No characteristic works every time in every situation. In each
situation, researchers must use their own judgement in deciding which
variables are most important in distinguishing farmers in an area. Those
variables which have the most to do with farmers problems and solutions to
these problems are the primary candidates for use in defining farmer

Fortunately, there is usually a high degree of correlation among
variables used for defining farmer groups. For example, in the Rwanda
example above, as altitude in the project zone-decreases, rainfall
decreases, evapo-transpiration increases, and temperatures increase. These
changes bring about changes in cropping patterns, planting dates, farmer
problems, and socio-economic status. Since these variables were all highly
correlated, it was possible for researchers to divide the area into just
two farmer groups, those living in high altitudes and those living in low
altitudes. Farmers in each group have roughly similar circumstances,
similar problems, and similar opportunities.


Several important issues arise in defining recommendation domains:

a. The dynamic nature of defining recommendation domains in the

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research process. Since the concept of farmer groups is used throughout
the research process, the way groups are defined may change according to
the task at hand. The following table, adapted from Tripp, 1985, shows how
the concept of grouping farmers is used at different stages of the research


Analysis of farmer circum- Define groups with similar
stances circumstances

Identification of priority Specify which farmers have
problems the same production problems

Selection and testing of Identify possible solutions
possible solutions appropriate for particular
groups of farmers and select
sites for testing

Develop recommendations Tailor recommendations to
needs and circumstances of
different farmer groups

For example, at initial stages of a research program in Kirinyaga
District, Kenya, all farmers farming red loam soils were defined to be in
the same farmer group. This was useful in the problem identification
stage, since all farms on red loam soils had a nitrogen deficiency which
limited yields. In the selection of possible solutions, some farmers in
the group could afford chemical fertilizers, one potential solution,
whereas others could not. At this stage, the original group, defined
because they farmed on red loam soils, was redefined into two
recommendation domains: farmers on red loam soils who could afford
fertilizer (high income farmers) and farmers on red loam soils who could
not (low income farmers). Fertilizer trials were set out for the farmers
who could afford fertilizer, trials using coffee pulp as a manure were set
out for the lower income farmers. This example shows how the concept of
defining farmer groups changes as the research task changes.

b. There is a fundamental difference between defining farmer groups
and defining agro-ecological zones. The difference is that farmer groups
are defined by farmer circumstances, practices, problems, and solutions,
while agro-ecological zones by the physical and biological characteristics
of geographical areas. Of course, farmers' circumstances and practices are
often determined by physical and natural circumstances. Nevertheless, it
is important to remember that it is people, not physical or biological
characteristics, that decide whether or not to adopt a given technology.
Thus, defining farmer groups forces researchers to continually ask, "For
whom is the research being done" (Tripp, 1985).

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c. Two farmer groups may be interspersed among each other in the same
zone. In the above case from Kenya, high income and low income farmers are
found in each village in the red loam soil zone. Similarly, even though
the hoe is the traditional tool for cultivation in much of W. Africa,
cattle are used in some regions of this area for ploughing as well as
planting and cultivation. In a vegetable research program in Guinea,
recommendations are relevant only to female farmers, since male farmers do
not cultivate vegetables. In fact, it is quite possible to have more than
one recommendation domain on the same farm. Grouping farmers by zone may
be a useful first step in defining farmer groups but we must be prepared
to redefine groups within a zone if circumstances require this.

d. The use of agronomic criteria to define recommendation domains may
not produce groups of farmers with different livestock problems. Farm size
is often used to stratify farmers according to problems with animal
productivity. Different size farms are assumed to have different feed
resources which results in unique levels of livestock efficiency. However,
farms which lack on-farm feeds may have access to off-farm supplies.
Therefore, the level of productivity may be similar between different size
farms and thus no difference between recommendation domains. Parameters
which directly reflect the goals of the research team should be used to
stratify farms.

e. The types of domains in which farmers and farms could be grouped
may differ according to the function the domain serves. Recently, it has
been suggested that farmers can be grouped into three types of domains
(Wotowiec et. al., 1986). Research domains target for variability, and
consist of a group of farms within a problem focused environmental range
where solutions to a defined problem could be applicable and could be
tested. Recommendation domains are homogeneous groups of farmers within
the research domain who can use the proposed technology. Diffusion domains
are interpersonal communication networks through which newly acquired
knowledge of agricultural technologies naturally flows (Wotowiec et. al.,

Volume I: IV
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Byerlee, D. M. Collinson, et. al. 1980. Planning technologies appropriate
to farmers concepts and procedures, CIMMYT, Mexico, P. 10-11, 52-54.

CIMMYT Eastern Africa Economics Program. 1979. Deriving recommendation
domains for central province, Zambia, demonstrations of an
interdisciplinary approach to planning adaptive agricultural research
programmes No.4, Nairobi.

Franzel S. 1981. Identifying farmer target groups in an area: methodology
and procedures. Farming Systems Newsletter, No. 4, CIMMYT Eastern
Africa Economic Program, Nairobi.

Franzel S. Farmer target groups in middle Kirinyaga, Kenya. CIMMYT eastern
Africa economics program, Nairobi.

Hildebrand, P. 1983. The concept of "Homogenous Systems" and its
usefulness". FSSP training workshop.

Shaner, W. et. al. 1982. Farming systems research and development:
guidelines for developing countries. Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
Appendix 4-A and 4-B, Pages 243-44.

Harrington, L. and R. Tripp. 1984. Recommendation domain: a framework for
on-farm research, CIMMYT economics program working paper.

Tripp, R. 1985. Some common sense about recommendation domains, CIMMYT
economics program.

Farming Systems Support Project, 1985. Animal Traction in a Farming
Systems Perspective. University of Florida. FSSP Network Report No.
Thomas, N.W. Mathius, and M. Sabrani. 1982. Small ruminants production in
West Java: methodology and initial results, p. 161-166. In J.C.
Fine and R.G. Lattimore (ed). Livestock in Asia: Issues and Policies.
International Develpment Research Centre. Ottawa, Ontario.

Eys, van J.E., S. Silitonga, I.W. Mathius, and W.L. Johnson. 1985.
On-farm trials of mineral supplementation for small ruminants in W.
Java, Indonesia. p. 153-172. In Research Methodolgy for Livestock
On-farm Trials. Proceeding of Livestock Research Methodology Workshop,
Allepp, Syria. 25-28 March, 1985. International Development Research
Centre, Ottawa, Ontario.

Wotowiec, Peter Jr., Susan Poats, and Peter E. Hildebrand. 1986.
Research, Recommendation, and Diffusion Domains: A Farming Systems
Approach to Targeting. Paper presented to the conference on Gender
Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extension. Feb 26 March 1.
Gainesville, Florida

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301 Defining Recommendation Domains Case Study of Sumpango,
Guatemala (6 minutes) 21 slides

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After completing this activity you will be able to:

Explain why geographic or physical factors alone may not be sufficient
for grouping farmers.


1. Text from I:IV

2. Paper, pencils


1. Read the discussion section of this unit.

2. Here are some common recommendations that are offered to farmers:

- Drought-resistant lowland maize highly responsive to N
- Short strawed, high yielding barley

Consider the following questions for discussion:

- What farmers would find the recommendations appropriate?
- Which kinds of farmers might find that such recommendations would not
meet their needs?

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After completing this activity you will be able to:

Define farmer characteristics of various kinds that are related to
farmer production problems.


1. Trainee Handout I:IV Activity Two #1, "Variables That May Be Useful in
Grouping Farmers"

2. Paper, pencils

3. Blackboard and chalk, or newsprint and markers


1. Divide into small groups. Think about the farmers you know in your
area. How do they, their families, and farms vary?

2. In small groups discuss and list, on a blackboard or newsprint, the
information which a FSR/E project might need to know about a farmer,
farm family, and farm in order to understand clearly how their problems
might be different from others' problems.

3. Review and refine your list after reviewing the handout from the

4. Answer the following questions:

a) What do these variables tell us about the circumstances farm
families face and the kinds of problems they might have?

b) What do these variables tell us about the kinds of resources farm
families can bring to bear to solve the problems they have?

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Temperature variation
*Rainfall pattern/quantity
Winds and hail
Solar radiation
Nutrient supply capacity

Crops grown
*Animals raised
Disease incidence
Pest incidence
Weed complex

Family composition by age and sex
Access to family labor and wage labor
Off-farm labor opportunities
Farm size
*Land tenure
*Access to credit
Access to cash
Access to irrigation
Access to markets and inputs
Power source for land preparation
Cropping practices
Food preference and diet
Nutritional status
Community customs and obligations

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After completing this activity you will be able to:

Link one variable that differentiates farmers to other variables that
are important in problem definition and solution


1. Trainee Handout I:VI Activity Three #1, "Farm Size in Pichincha,

2. Paper, pencils

3. Blackboard and chalk, or flipchart and markers


1. Divide into small groups.

2. Read the short paragraph and study the accompanying table provided in
trainee handout I:IV activity three #1, "Farm Size in Pichincha,

3. Discuss what farm size means in your own region. How do farms of
different sizes differ in your region?

4. List the key characteristics of farms of different sizes as they apply
to your region and answer the following questions.

a. Would farm size be a good way to begin to group farmers in your
area? Why? Why not?

b. Can you think of a recommendation which would be appropriate to both
small and large farmers in your area? A recommendation appropriate
to one group but not to the other?

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Even when soils are the same, land is not equally distributed within a
given agro-ecological area. Farm size often implies many different farming
practices and farming constraints. In Pichincha, Ecuador, although all the
farmers raise wheat, size has implications for how they raise it. What
does farm size mean in your region?

Here are the differences
Pichincha, Ecuador:


Area in wheat

Access to credit

% using certified seed

% using fertilizer

% using herbicide

Livestock species

in some practices that differ by farm size in

Small Farms

0.8 ha





small ruminants

Large Farms

47 ha






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After completing this activity you will be able to:

1. Identify problems in order to distinguish problems from solutions.

2. Identify the general types of problems farmers face that influence the
way farmers are grouped.


1. Trainee Handout I:IV Activity Four #1, "Problem Definition"

2. Paper and pencils

3. Blackboard and chalk, or newsprint and markers


1. Form small discussion groups.

2. Read Trainee Handout I:IV Activity Four #1, "Problem Definition".

3. Discuss the questions in the handout, and list your answers, with
reasons on a blackboard or newsprint. Be prepared to present your
group's ideas to the other groups.

Volume I: IV
page 85

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