1984 farming systems symposium...
 A new on-farm research project...
 Farming systems research & development...
 Summary of FSR/E participant, activities,...
 Motivating small farmers, scientists...
 Why do farmers do what they do

Title: Farming Systems Support Project newsletter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071908/00004
 Material Information
Title: Farming Systems Support Project newsletter
Alternate Title: FSSP newsletter
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Farming Systems Support Project
University of Florida -- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Publisher: The Project
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1983-
Frequency: quarterly
Subject: Agriculture -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- International cooperation -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 1 (spring 1983)-
Issuing Body: Issued by: Farming Systems Support Project, which is administered by: Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
General Note: Title from caption.
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00071908
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 10387162
lccn - sn 84011294

Table of Contents
    1984 farming systems symposium - Botswana researchers seek your views - Farming systems research news - Evolving FSR
        Page 1
    A new on-farm research project created in the Ivory Coast
        Page 2
    Farming systems research & development and/or agroforestry
        Page 3
    Summary of FSR/E participant, activities, products and time frame
        Page 4-5
        Page 6
    Motivating small farmers, scientists and technicians to accept change
        Page 7
    Why do farmers do what they do
        Page 8
Full Text

VOL. 2 NO. 1

Farming Systems Support Project Newsletter

1984 Farming Systems
Call for Papers
The 1984 Farming Systems Re-
search and Extension Symposium
entitled Farming Systems Research
and Extension: Implementation and
Monitoring will be held at Kansas
State University October 7-10. The
theme of the meeting will be the
fielding of interventions for small
farming systems in the FS format.
We will look in a detailed manner at
projects which have attempted to
implement on-farm research that will
identify technological innovations
that impact the entire farming
system. Preference will be given to
projects that include measures of
impacts on total farming systems,
including animals. We are looking
for papers that deal with case studies
and analyses of problems and success
in the institutionalization of farming
systems research and extension in
national programs. We are giving
particular attention to the use of a
farming systems approach in exten-
sion. Papers are welcome that bring
empirical experience to this issue.
Please submit abstracts of papers to
Cornelia Butler Flora, International
Agricultural Programs, Kansas State
University, Manhattan, Kansas
66506. Abstract submissions will be
received until June 15, 1984.

Botswana Researchers
Seek Your Views
Tractors appear to account for a
significant percentage of draught
power requirements in many African
countries. We would be interested to
share the experience of other re-

searchers into this field particularly
the importance of tractors, the
reasons for the increased use of
tractors, the economics of tractor
use and formation of tractor groups/
pools where tractors are made avail-
able (perhaps at subsidized rates?) for
hire to traditional farmers. Contact
Tom Farrington, Farm Management
Economist, EFSAIP, Private Bag
0033, Gaborone, Botswana.
The legume witch weed Alectra
vogelii is a difficult weed problem on
cowpeas in south Eastern Botswana.
Little information is available on the
occurrence of this parasite elsewhere
in Africa. We would be interested to
hear from researchers who come
across it in field trials or who are
working on this problem. Contact
Charlie Riches, Agronomist, EFSAIP,
Private Bag 0033, Gaborone, Bots-

Farming Systems
Research News
The FSSP Newsletter announces
its support of a new publication and
congratulations on a job well done.
Farming Systems Research News
is published by the ICARDA (Inter-
national Center for Agricultural
Research in the Dry Areas) Com-
munications Department for the
ICARDA Farming Systems Research
Program. The newsletter was first
published October 1983 and covers
farming systems in the Middle East
and Africa.
Since ICARDA's beginning, in
1977, their goals have been farming
systems research oriented. The
ICARDA newsletter's main objective
is to improve communications among
scientists in the region, whose

interest lies with FSR. ICARDA also
is interested in building a network of
farming systems researchers in the
Middle East/African region.
For additional information con-
tact: Paul Neate, Editor
P.O. Box 5466
Aleppo, Syria

Evolving FSR
by Dan Gait*
The FSR experts invited to review
the on-farm trial efforts of the CIAT
Bean Program (Michael Collinson,
Peter Hildebrand, David Norman,
Michael Sayre and Antonio Turrent)
brought some 50 years of FSR ex-
pertise between them from three
continents. These practitioners focus-
ed on assisting CIAT Bean Program
FSR personnel redefine their research
priorities by reviewing their respective
state-of-the-art experiences.
Few, if any, methodological dif-
ferences exist between these FSR
practitioners. When the major client
of the FSR methodology is perceived
as the farmer and the farm house-
hold-the focus of all five experts-no
significant differences exist between
the regional methodologies regarding
the FSR process or the importance
of involving agronomic and social
scientists in actual interdisciplinary
teams focusing on farmer-identified
problems and priorities. This agree-
ment can be summed in one word:
However, these participants point-
ed out that such methodological
consensus should not be allowed to
mask several difficulties, which lie
*Dan Gait is Associate Director, FSSP and
Coordinator for Technical Assistance.

ahead, specifically for the CIAT
Bean Program and generally for
future and on-going FSR projects.
Some critical issues include: (1) how
the FSR team, and individual mem-
bers, fit research priorities and
budget time, (2) the difficulties
encountered, and the lag time
necessary, to institutionalize FSR
methodology into host country agri-
cultural research institutes, and (3)
the unique problem involved in in-
troducing FSR into African national
programs. Additional issues to be
considered by the IARCs and FSSP
Network are: (1) Network/commun-
ication facilitation for practitioners
who feel isolated working overseas
and between different IARCs; (2)
Sensitizing future FSR practitioners
to host country concerns, constraints
and political realities in implement-
ing the whole FSR process, and (3)
Facilitating the involvement of more
people in FSR who have no prior

experience but plenty of interest and
enthusiasm (the multiplier effect).
In conclusion, state-of-the-art dis-
cussions have evolved from general
methodological discussions to con-
sideration of fine tuning differences
required to institutionalize FSR on a
case-by-case or country-by-country

Systems Group Wins...
The University of Kentucky Farm-
ing Systems Group received an Honor-
able Mention Praxis Award at the
meeting of the American Anthropo-
logical Association in Chicago,
November 17-20, 1983. The Praxis
Awards are sponsored by the Wash-
ington Association of Professional
Anthropologists for "...projects, pro-
grams, or activities which illustrate
the translation of anthropological
knowledge into action."

The Farming Systems group was
honored for their contribution to
goals of the International Sorghum
and Millet Program (INTSORMIL).
INTSORMIL is an AID-funded Co'
laborative Research Program that has
the general goal of increasing the pro-
duction and utilization of sorghum
and millet on a world-wide basis. The
success of the International Sorghum
and Millet Program in Honduras and
Sudan has been enhanced by socio-
economic and nutrition diagnostic
farming systems research carried out
by the Kentucky Farming Systems
Group. Billie R. DeWalt (Anthro-
pology), Co-director of the Honduras
research; Kathleen M. DeWalt (Be-
havioral Science), Co-director of the
Honduras research, and Edward
Reeves (Rural Sociology), Field
director of the Sudan research, and
many Anthropology graduates stu-
dents have been involved in the work.

A New On-farm Research Project Created in the Ivory Coast by Mamadou Diomande*

FSSP activities in West Africa,
particularly the Ivory Coast, will
undoubtedly be felt more and more
in months to come. The Ford
Foundation recently has agreed
to fund an On-Farm Research
project in the Ivory Coast (OFRIC)
for two years, hopefully extendable.
As mentioned in the first FSSP
Newsletter (No. 1), a team of seven
Ivorian Scientists participated in the
March 1983 workshop at IITA in
Nigeria. Following that workshop,
the OF R IC project was created as an
interdisciplinary, interinstitutional
pilot project with three multidisci-
pinrary teams, each of five to six
members. Each team is to work on
one site in one of three zones (North,
Center and South). The OFRIC
project will deal with Research
Institutes, Development Societies
(SODE) and the peasant farmer on a
national basis, and will be interna-
tionally linked to FSSP, IITA,
WAFSRN and various farming sys-
tems research projects in the sub-
Team members are from different
research institutes of the country:
CIRES (Ivorian Institute for Eco-

nomic and Social Research), IDESSA
(the Savanna Institute), I R FA (Fruit
and Citrus Research Institute), IRHO
(Oil and Oil-seed Research Institute),
and ORSTOM (Overseas Scientific
and Technical Research Office). The
project may receive assistance by
scientists from any of these institutes,
or others, to carry out a given task if
In the Ivory Coast, Development
Societies are government-funded agri-
cultural organizations created to
promote agricultural production in
specific areas on specific crops.
Traditionally, they perform the
transition in the transfer process of
component technologies from re-
search institutes to farmers; they are
in charge of extension and production
programs. CIDT (Ivorian Textile
Development Company), in the
North, is in charge of cotton and
food crop production. SATMACI
(Society for Technical Assistance in
Agricultural Mechanization), in the
Center, is responsible for coffee and
cocoa production and food crops
which are attempted to be inter-
cropped with them. SODEPALM
(Palm Development Society), in the

South, is in charge of coconut and
oil palm production, cassava and
other food crops. In addition,
SODEFEL (Society for the Devel-
opment of Fruit and Legumes)
and SODEPRA (Society for the
Development of Animal Production)
have special tasks throughout appro-
priate areas of the country. All of
these structures have worked out
strategies for dealing with farmers in
their areas; the OFRIC project will
benefit from their experience.
The small farmer in the Ivory
Coast is typically illiterate and, as in
most less-developed countries, prac-
tices traditional agriculture with
hand labor and hand tools. Many
types of cropping combinations can
be found in different parts of the
country. It is hoped that the OFRIC
project will contribute to a better
understanding and an improvement
of such cropping practices. From this
standpoint, OFRIC workshops will be
periodically held, bringing together
various experiences of working with
small farmers.

*Project Coordinator, OFRIC 08 BP 1295



Farming Systems Research & Development and / or Agroforestry

by Fred Weber and Marilyn Hoskins**

The vast majority of people in non-industrialized
areas of the world live in rural environments and are
involved in farming or livestock rearing to meet basic
daily needs. These rural residents are preoccupied by
food and water issues and many focus on risk aversion
for family survival during periodic droughts or times of
other ecological stress.
Many of the goods necessary to the well being of
these farm families come from islands of indigenous
vegetation (trees, shrubs or forbs). Natural vegetation
provides food for humans.and animals, construction
material for shelter, fiber for clothing, supplies for
traditional crafts (including charcoal for metal work
and tanning material) and ligeneous material for
Farming Systems Research and Development (FSR
&D) and Agroforestry (AF) are both terms for relative-
ly new ways of assisting local farmers and herders to
meet these needs more effectively. FSR & D addresses
farm-level problems by focusing on improving crop and
livestock production. AF does not ignore these goals
but also addresses issues of sustainability and conser-
vation of available land, water, natural vegetation and
wildlife by focusing on the trees and wood shrub
components of land-use systems.
Compared to other extension attempts to increase
rural production, the FSR & D approach offers two
distinct advantages:
1) Technicians and experts solicit
local participation in some phases
and aspects of decision making.
All members of the production
unit are considered. Exchanging
ideas with men and women farmers
is an obvious improvement over
expatriates and/or host country
agents giving residents only pre-
conceived ideas of local problems
and how to resolve them.
2) The complete FSR & D package
includes an area analysis of com-
posite needs and constraints before
planning specific activities. This
integrated view can result in a
more balanced program and in
more rational use of both local
and introduced resources.
AF advocates work much more closely with farm
families than plantation forestry agents. Agroforestry
is sometimes defined as management of natural vegeta-

*Professor, Department of Forestry.
**Director, Participatory Development Program, Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia.

tion and/or growing trees and shrubs along with crop
and/or animals on the same unit of land, either by
combining or rotating these various land uses. In con-
trast to other forestry approaches, the total number
of trees in a given farming and/or grazing area is more
important than the extent of surfaces specifically
covered by and managed as forests. This means that in
a park-type landscape, so typical for large portions of
semi-humid Africa, less forest land is required to meet
the total demand, provided a sufficient number (the
right kind and mix) of trees and shrubs are dispersed
throughout the landscape (By no means does this
eliminate the need for forest reserves, parks, etc. which
serve a more general nation-wide purpose and are
needed to provide protection as well as forest products
on a larger commercial basis ).
Regardless of the approach or methodology chosen
in resource planning for increased production, the
problem of a finite physical resource base persists.
Collective or individual farmers or herders have limited
resources; there is only so much water, land and residual
vegetation to supply both basic and development
needs. While food and water are readily apparent first
priorities, other needs are also essential to sustaining
natural vegetation and soil fertility.
Natural vegetation is important as it serves not only
as a major food source for residents and their livestock
but also the:
major source for woodfuel, cook-
ing and heating energy;
sole habitat for wildlife;
sole source for "tertiary" forest
products including fiber, dyes,
cosmetics, etc.;
sole source for traditional medic-
inal products;
major and often only source for
building and construction mater-
ials; and,
only fall-back reserve to a hunting-
gathering mode during times of
extreme drought or other catastro-
As natural vegetation is removed and farming is
intensified, soil fertility becomes a major concern
becasue of:
continuing decline of fertility
(productivity) of traditional farm
soils due to intensified use retard-
ing natural soil formation; and,
increasing wind and water erosion
leading to soil losses in excess of
(continued on page 4)

(FSR&D and AF-continued from page 3)

the natural reconstitution proces-
While the accent of the FSR & D is on increasing
agricultural production and productivity as rapidly as
possible, AF activities can help provide conservation,
protection and restoration functions.

FSR & D and AF both recognize the inseparable
interactions between technical, economic, social and
cultural realities that determine activities of local farm
or livestock managers. AF and FSR 8D are focused on
many of the same issues, both based on a holistic
approach to analyzing existing situations and con-
straints, and are both directed by inputs (reactions,
experience, suggestions, value judgement, etc.) from

the women and men who depend upon these systems
for their livelihood. Ideally AF and FSR & D could
then overlap until they are just two names for total
resource planning and development. In reality, however,
) a distinction between the two terms has evolved. FSR
& D is oriented toward agriculture; agroforestry is more
oriented toward forests or trees. This leads to two
important different vantage-points:

FSR & D's primary input-output
rationale is geared toward produc-
tion and productivity, while AF,
though containing a number of
vital production potentials as well,
focuses on risk aversion and on
(continued next page)

Summary of FSR/E Participant, Activities, Products and Time Frame

by Peter E. Hildebrand*

The following figure summarizes
the procedure basic to the FSR/E
approach to technology development.
The main participants in the process
are policy makers, infrastructure
managers (including research and
extension managers), the research
.and extension technicians (including
all levels) and the farmers. The
formulation of preliminary project
objectives is usually carried out by
policy makers and managers of the
infrastructure involved. In the usual
FSR/E project this will include
research and extension managers, but
may also include managers of credit
institutions, product and input mar-
keting institutions, processing plants,
irrigation systems, etc. Research and

extension technicians, who along with
farmers will be the primary actors,
play a lesser role at this stage of the
process. The time frame for this
segment of the process is indefinite,
depending on sources of funding,
and competing policy considerations,
and may take several months or
years in the initial stages.
The second phase of the procedure
can be called the initial characteriza-
tion of the area selected. The primary
activity is the rapid reconnaissance
survey, or Sondeo. Research and
extension technicians and farmers
are the primary participants in this
activity, with equal emphasis given
to the bio-physical and the socio-
economic sciences among technicians.

The product of the Sondeo (the
Sondeo report) is transmitted to
relevant policy makers and infra-
structure managers. The former are
advised of the findings and recom-
mendations that come from the
Sondeo, but usually do not partici-
pate in refining project objectives.
This activity is primarily carried out
by managers of relevant infrastructure
and by technicians who are involved
in the Sondeo and other technicians.
Both the bio-physical and the socio-
economic scientists equally partici-
pate in this phase.
The third phase is the Sondeo pro-
duct utilization and refined objectives.
Policy makers and infrastructure
managers can use this information to

determine the situation's effect of the
target farmers' specific policy or in-
frastructure availability and will be
able to evaluate appropriate changes.
The research and extension techni-
cians, working with farmers, use the
information to design alternative
solutions to the problems encounter-
ed in the Sondeo. Once again, the
choice of alternatives is transmitted to
the policy makers and infrastructure
managers for their information. The
technicians then are ready to locate
llaborators and, along with them,
design trials that will be used to test
alternatives selected for evaluation.
Technicians, with the appropriate
infrastructure managers, allocate re-
sources to various aspects of research

and extension activities. The time
span for these activities can vary, but
can be accomplished in one or two
months after the refined objectives
have been formulated. These activities,
and those which follow, are heavily
oriented toward the bio-physical
sciences. However, socio-economic
technicians must participate through-
out this phase, as they do in all phases,
in order to bring their perspective
into the constant evaluation and
characterization process.
The first three phases discussed
are all preliminary to the main
activities of research and extension
technicians. The fourth phase is
actually an annual cycling of infor-
mation gathering, evaluation and

redefinition. The primary actors are
technicians and farmers. Following
each annual evaluation, results are
transmitted to policymakers and
infrastructure managers so they are
updated on results and can act upon
recommendations when and if neces-
sary. New policies or new infrastruc-
ture can influence types of alterna-
tives considered by technicians and

*Adapted from: Hildebrand, P.E. 1983, The
Farming Systems Approach to Technology
Development and Transfer. Prepared for the
Water Management Synthesis II Project, Inter-
national Irrigation Center, Utah State University
September 1983.


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(FSR&D and AF-conclusion)
conservation, protection and res-
toration of the available natural
Short-term-long-term benefits
FSR & D success is measured in
terms of immediate, tangible,
economic results (more food as
cheaply and as quickly as possible),
AF is striving for an ecologically
stable balance with a more future
oriented use of the available
Little is gained by trying to decide which of the two
views is more important. Without adequate supplies of
food and water, human lives are quickly placed in
jeopardy. Yet, if the available land and water resources
are over-used, the base is destroyed and production
ceases regardless of availability of technological or
capital inputs. An important common reference point
for FSR & D and AF is the concept: "Applied ecology
is nothing else but sound long-term agricultural econ-
In mid-1983 representatives of the Sahelian coun-
tries gathered in Niamey, Niger to define the potential
of agroforestry for the Sahel. The purpose was to
consider appropriate revision of training programs for
technicians who would work in a participatory holistic,
multidisciplinary approach addressing environmental
and production problems (see "agroforestry in the
Sahel", SECID/VPI; Weber/Hoskins, 1983, Department
of Sociology, VPI&SU, Blacksburg, Virginia).
Participants in this AID/SECID sponsored workshop
pointed to a series of specific interventions in the Sahel
of proven technical and social soundness which are
available for replication and more advanced farm-trials.
These pilot projects successfully incorporate trees and
shrubs into the farm-park landscape in the form of
windbreaks, farm-park plantings, live-fences, shade
trees, and vegetation strips (see Weber/Hoskins: "Soil
Conservations Tech Sheets", University of Idaho,
1983). Participants believe results of such expanded
activities will leave no doubt that AF can:
-produce valuable "bush" products
that otherwise are becoming in-
creasingly scarce;
-not only conserve (that is: reduce
wind or water erosion), but in-
crease traditional farm soil fertil-
ity (lower surface temperatures,
add organic matter, fix nitrogen);
and thus
-become an important component
of overall farm or herd systems
specifically targeted and designed
to be compatible in the existing
economic, social and cultural

The positive effect of trees, shrubs or other perman-
ent ground-cover in this regard is well known to
technicians and to local Sahelian farmers and herders
alike. However, it is only now that the natural vegeta-
tion has become so stressed in the Sahel that its
sustainability is questioned unless special new measures
are taken. As one experienced Sahelian foresters
observed: "Without trees, the Sahel is dead, no matter
what other progress may occur."
It appears logical to suggest that the major thrust of
FSR & D activities should continue to be on farm and
herd productivity while AF should concentrate on
complementing and assisting these efforts by providing
unique additional benefits in the form of long-term
rational management of the limited available resources.
Sahelian seminar participants pointed out that it is
less a question of how important trees and shrubs are
compared to other elements in a given farming system.
It is a matter of balancing multiple needs for water,
food and forage, energy for cooking and other forest
related products. Experiences vividly described by
people taking part in the seminar illustrated that
increasing one of these elements at the expense and
possible elimination of others is counterproductive.
As competitive uses for land areas increase, forest
plantations as well as remnants of indigenous natural
forests or bush come under increasing and inescapable
pressures. Over-grazing, over-cutting and agricultural
expansion all play a part. Uncontrolled fires may cause
additional losses each year. Agroforestry advocates are
now saying it may well be easier, more acceptable ano
less costly, to incorporate a number of individual or
small groups of trees into traditional farm-homesteads
than it is to establish and maintain enough forest
surfaces to supply forest product needs (German and
Swiss projects in Rwanda are based on this concept).
Trees will not attract more rain as some people
believe, nor will they increase the base flow in creeks
and rivers. But they will and can add a unique protec-
tion and conservation element in the balance of an
area's natural resource base and also continue to
provide forest products and other goods for which
local people currently have no available substitutes.
Agroforestry, in relation to Farming Systems, has its
own specific "vertical" role to play (production of a
series of important products not furnished by agricul-
ture). In addition, integrated into FSR&D efforts, AF
should also assume a "horizontal" responsibility for
maintaining, conserving and in some cases restoring the
area's natural resource base.
FSR & D has methodologies useful for those working
in AF and AF practitioners have techniques useful for
those working in FSR& D. The best results for farmers
in areas with limited available natural resources can
come from working collaboratively. Farming systems
and agroforestry together offer the largest possible
range of technical options from which local families
can select and which they may adapt to their own
needs within the socioeconomic and political realities
in which they live.


Motivating Small Farmers, Scientists and Technicians to Accept Change
(Requisities of Multidisciplinary Teamwork)*

First, it is necessary to define some
terms which must be used, but which
are vague or carry several connota-
tions. The term smallfarmer will mean
all farmers, regardless of the size of
their land holdings, who are not pri-
marily commercial farmers, and most
whom, in devleoping countries,
,edominantly still use traditional
technology. Since we are concerned
here with technology, this is a much
more utilitarian definition than one
limited to size. Appropriate, as used
in "appropriate technology," is nec-
essary and desirable to use, but it is
not used in the accepted or more
commonly understood context. Ap-
propriate technology will mean that
technology (or change): (1) can be
put into practice immediately and
under farmers' current agro-socio-
economic conditions and (2) is
acceptable to target farmers. The
first criterion is a necessary, although
insufficient, condition to be "appro-
priate;" the second reflects the
difference between a third person's
interpretation of farmers' agro-socio-
economic conditions and the farmers'
own interpretation of the same
things and reflects the farmers'
thinking, not macro- or imposed
"icro-considerations, as interpreted
outsiders. Agro-socioeconomic
*Adapted from: Hildebrand, P.E. 1980. Motivat-
ing small farmers, scientists and technicians to
accept change. Agricultural Administration 8
(1980-1981) 375-383.

conditions are all those agro-climatic,
economic, social, cultural or infra-
structural factors or constraints
which condition whether a farmer
needs, desires, or can adopt any
given change.
The reason for resistance by small
farmers to accept change is not one
of motivation, but of not having
available technology, which is ap-
propriate from these farmers' own
points of view. Because of the
location specificity of agro-socio-
economic conditions of small farmers,
and because they are not subject to
the homogenizing influences of trac-
tors and capital, it is a greater chal-
lenge to develop technology, which
farmers will be motivated to accept,
than it is to develop technology for
commercial farmers. The most effic-
ient way is through a strong multi-
disciplinary team who live and work
in each area and who orient technol-
ogy taken for small farmers in their
zone. This implies a drastic change in
the traditional role of many scientists
now working on technology develop-
ment and probably will not meet
with a small amount of resistance
on their part. Scientists, technicians
and farmers may need to be motivated
to accept change.
The title of this paper suggests that
small farmers do not accept change at
"adequate" rates. "Adequate" could
be defined in several ways, but it is
not necessary for our purposes. The

ability these farmers have for chang-
ing their technology as rapidly as
larger, commercial farmers is evident
and also will not be discussed.
Presented is an interpretation of the
reason small farmers in developing
countries do not accept changes in
their current technology at rates
which scientists, extensionistes, poli-
ticians, academicians, bureaucrats
and others deemed adequate. Changes
are proposed which can significantly
modify this rate of acceptance. How-
ever, some of the suggested changes
may meet with the same resistance
small farmers exhibit when presented
with new ideas that would drastically
modify their way of thinking and
The above discussion commences
from the premise originally proposed
by Schultz, which is widely, although
not universally, accepted: small
farmers are efficient in the utiliza-
tion and allocation of available
resources among known technologies
if they have been farming under
stable conditions for some time. This
implies that small farmers will-and
do-accept change when the available
resources base changes or new and
appropriate technology becomes
known. Otherwise, they could not be
efficiently adjusted to the alternatives
they now have. This efficient adjust-
ment, which is important to under-
stand, is in terms of the farmers' own
understanding and intrepretation of

his situation and is not necessarily
efficient according to the perceptions
of well meaning, but incompletely
informed, third parties. Since these
third parties do not make the choice
of technology and resource allocation
decisions in a free society, farmers'
actions need not reflect third party
solutions, unless decisions are based
on a near perfect conception of the
farmers' situations.
A second characteristic of small
farmers, gradually being recognized,
is the high degree of location specif-
icity of their agro-socioeconomic con-
ditions. In commercial agriculture,
the tractor and a strong capital
base are effective homogenizers of
what is otherwise a complex milieu.
To persons trained or accustomed to
producing widely acceptable, tractor-
based technologies, this characteristic
represents a strong barrier, which
hinders their effectivity in producing
usable and acceptable results for
small farmers. But this is also a cha-
acteristic that must be considered
explicit in any developing system
producing technologies, which small
farmers will be motivated to accept.
If small farmers are not changing
their production methods because
they are not being offered appropri-
ate technology, when so many people
are working to produce it for them,
what is the problem? If we agree that
small farmers are efficient in the
allocation of their resources to known
and appropriate traditional technol-

ogies, then they have been motivated
in the past to accept change. Thus,
the problem is not one of motivation,
but one of offering "changes" which
are not appropriate as perceived by
the farmers themselves. No difference
is made to a farmer how a third
party views any specific technology.
If the farmer does not feel this to be
appropriate, he will not be motivated
to accept a specific technology.
The problem stems from (a) having
most top-level technology "gener-
ators," who are agriculturally trained
and "product" oriented, working on
experiment stations or in other
highly controlled conditions where
only a limited number of variables
are considered; (b) most of the
"transfer mechanism" generators,
trained in the social sciences and are
"cause," but no product oriented,
struggling with the vast quantity of
variables that condition acceptance
or rejection of technology at the
farm level and (c) "goal-oriented"
agricultural economists in the middle,
complaining that agricultural scien-
tists do not consider enough variables
in their work, but ignoring the pleas of
the social scientists that only include
quantifiable variables, also is not
sufficient. The situation is further
complicated because agronomists
primarily work with soils and plants,
which they are convinced are the most
important components of agricultural
production; sociologists and anthro-
pologists work with farmers, whom

are obviously the most important
components for them, and econo-
mists work with computers studying
means of achieving specific and
frequently unrealistic goals. The
unfortunate extension or "change"
agent, not surprisingly, has little to
offer small farmers, although he may
be supported by an elaborate experi-
ment station and an extension net-
work operated by high level techni-
cians. Even less amazing is the fact
that small farmers are not motivated
to accept many changes coming from
such a system.

The FSSP newsletter is published
quarterly by the Farming Systems
Support Project (FSSP), which is
funded by AID Contract No. DAN-40
99-A-00-2083-00 and administered by
the Institute of Food and Agricultural
Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida,
Gainesville, Fla. 32611. IFAS is an
Equal Employment Opportunity
Affirmative Action Employer.

The FSSP Newsletter encourages
the contribution of stories, pictures
and ideas, which should be sent to
FSSP Editor, 3028 MCCarty Hall, Uni-
versity of Florida, Gainesville, FL

This public document waspromulgated
at a cost of $102230, or .26 cents per
copy, to provide information on farm-
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program administration.

Why Do Farmers Do What They Do

Economists, agronomists, and planners of late
Have discovered a new way to pontificate
Beyond mere jargon, like "success enhancement,"
"Integrated development "rural advancement"
Working in all their infinite wisdom
They're trying to define a "farming system"
To answer the question for all of you
"Why do farmers do what they do?"
At universities and experiment stations 'round the globe
In offices, labs, and on farms they probe,
Through consultancy surveys in developing nations
Upstream and downstream experimentation
With yield rates, inputs and multiple regressions,
Attempting to explain that profoundest of questions
With the diverse hypotheses they each eschew
On why farmers do what they do.

Variability and generalization,
Indigenous knowledge and maximization,
The issues discussed, the factors controlled,
Computers click, theories unfold.
Papers get published, conferences convened
Projects are funded; it becomes obscene
When predictably they conclude in the Final Review
That a more generous grant might give them a clue
As to why farmers do what they do.
Somewhere farmers plow and plant,
Milk their cows, work and chant.
After the interviews, trials and calculations,
The experts retire to their research stations
And the farmers continue to grow their corn,
While old women die and children are born.
The men swap stories and drink their brew,
And they scratch their heads and wonder anew,
"Why do scientists do what they do?"

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