Some common sense about recommendation...
 Statement of the representatives...
 Extension workers and FSR/E in...
 Available resources
 Identifying opportunities for agricultural...

Title: Farming Systems Support Project newsletter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071908/00012
 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: VID00012
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
    Some common sense about recommendation domains
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Statement of the representatives of the IARCs workshop on farming systems research
        Page 4
    Extension workers and FSR/E in Lesotho
        Page 5
    Available resources
        Page 6
    Identifying opportunities for agricultural development in the South Pacific region
        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text

IARC s Unite Behind FSR/E...
see statement on page 4


Farming Systems Support Project Newsletter


Robert Tripp*

The term recommendation domain was introduced
in 1976 by Perrin et. al. and has since been taken up
and widely used (and misused) in farming systems
research. It has been widely used because it helps one
to think about a key element of applied research-
targeting (Shaner, 1984). And it has been widely mis-
used, or at least misunderstood, because its relatively
simple definition rests on a research process which has
not always been made explicit. The purpose of this
note is neither to defend not to redefine the term, but
rather to review its function in the research process.
The reader may decide whether or not, or at what
point, to use the term. Recommendation domains
are an efficient way of grouping farmers for an applied
research program. They force one to continually ask,
"For whom is the research being done?" Whether one
decides to employ that question, the term recommen-
dation domain, or some other term, is a matter of
personal preference. Agreement about what is "really"
a recommendation domain is not nearly as important
as agreement about the conduct of research.

1. The dynamic nature of the research process
Probably the principal difficulty with recommen-
dation domains is that they are used throughout the
research process, and their definition changes accord-
ingly. The research process includes the following
stages: 1) An analysis of farmer circumstances and
practices, 2) an identification of priority problems,
3) a selection and testing of possible solutions, and
4) the development of recommendations, i.e. inform
tion that farmers can use. The concept of recommen-
dation domain can be used at each of these stages: to
define groups of farmers with similar circumstances;
to specify which farmers have the same production
problems; to identify possible solutions appropriate

*Economics Program, CIMMYT, Mexico. Thanks are due to Larry
Harrington, Steve Franzel and Derek Byerlee for useful contributions
to an earlier version of this note.

for particular groups of farmers and so select sites
for their testing; and to make recommendations to a
well-defined clientele.
A recommendation domain is "a group of roughly
homogeneous farmers with similar circumstances for
home we can make more or less the same recom-
mendation" (Byerlee, Collinson, et. al. 1980). This
begs the question of how to recognize such a group.
The recommendation is, after all, the last step in the
process. The answer is that the definition of the do-
main is always tentative, until the recommendation
is made.
Many people are uneasy with a term whose defini-
tion is so flexible. Some practitioners prefer to use
the term only for the initial grouping of farmers that
share similar farming systems (Norman and Collinson,
1985). Later refinements which lead to more precise
targeting of recommendations can be accommodated
without redefining the domain. Other practitioners,
with equally persuasive logic, point out that the actual
definition of the recommendation domain comes
relatively late in the research process, after the analysis
of experimental data. They prefer to use the term
recommendation domain only at that point, using
"research domain" to delineate groups of farmers at
earlier stages of the research process (Hildebrand, 1984;
Hildebrand et. al. 1985).
The important point here is that these practitioners
will probably conduct their research in similar ways,
following similar steps. Reference to particular terms
may vary, but the questions that are asked at each step
of the process should be equivalent.

2. The progressive definition of recommendation
We do not identify recommendation domains
simply for the sake of classification. We do so to make
explicit our thinking at each step of the research pro-
cess. The following situations will serve to illustrate
the point:

...ask, at each step in the
Process,"For whom is this
research being carried out?"

a) An area is composed of small farmers and large
cooperatives. Their practices and circumstances
are so different that they can be considered two
separate domains.
b) The small farmers on sandy soils have fertility
problems in their maize, while farmers on heavier
soils do not have such problems; there are thus
two domains with respect to the fertility problem.
On the other hand, all these small farmers have
serious weed problems; this is a simple domain
with respect to the weed problem.
c) A possible solution for the weed problem is atra-
zine, but some farmers grow a following crop of
melons. Therefore the crop grown after maize
distinguishes two domains with respect to this
possible solution.
d) Experimentation on the fertility problem on sandy
soils uncovers quite different responses on slopes
and on flat fields. An analysis of the experimental
data serves to distinguish two domains with respect
to slope.'
So in this example we have an initial domain that is
divided up according to problems, redivided by possible
solutions, and again partitioned on the basis of experi-
mental results. If the reader is uncomfortable with such
overlapping and changing of domains (including the
possibility that a farmer with several land types will
belong to several domains simultaneously) then he or
she will not be blamed for confining the use of the
term to one part of the process, or abandoning the
term altogether. What cannot be abandoned is the
commitment to ask, at each step of the process, "For
whom is ths research being carried out?"
A further qualification is in order. The prospect of
several different problems, multiplied by several differ-
ent solutions to each, conjures up the prospect of a
tangled web of overlapping and crosscutting domains
that would be almost impossible to deal with. For-
tunately, it usually doesn't work out this way. There
is often a considerable correlation among various
problems and their solutions. In the example cited

SIt is worth pointing out that It is unlikely that this type of difference
will emerge from the experiments unless selection of experimental sites
has specifically taken it into account. There are always serendipitious
discoveries, but a shotgun approach to site selection which does not
specify possible factors that might distinguish domains is not very

above, the farmers who grow melons after maize are
precisely those who farm heavy soils, so the experi-
mental work on weeds and fertility may in fact be
carried out using the same domain definitions.

3. How to define a recommendation domain
In order to be useful, a recommendation domain
must be defined as simply as possible, in terms which
allow researchers and extension agents to say, with
high probability, that a particular farmer is eligible

... In order to be useful,
a recommendation domain
must be defined as
simply as possible...

for a given recommendation. Because domains are
determined by practices and problems, and ultimately
by solutions, and because these in turn are generally
determined by farmer circumstances, it is these cir-
cumstances that serve as a starting point for domain
definition. A list of possible circumstances to aid in
domain definition is presented in Harrington and
Tripp (1984).2
Examples of tentative domains may be: all maize
farmers who have access to irrigation and work land
that is between 1,500 and 2,000 meters in altitude;
or all farmers who have between 1 and 5 hectares and
whose wheat suffers grassy weed competition. The
latter example is interesting because it presents a
natural circumstance (grassy weeds) which is also a
research problem. In order to search for possible
solutions, an understanding of the cause of the prob-
lem is important. For instance, are grassy weeds found
under all rotations, or only under a specific one? If
they are found only under a particular rotation, then
that rotation defines the domain with regard to this
problem. If they are found under all rotations, then
there is a single domain (unless, of course, the solution
depends on rotation, or some other factor). And if the
weeds are found more under one type of rotation than
another (i.e. rotation appears to be one contributing
factor to the incidence of grassy weeds), a decision has
to be taken as to whether the relationship is strong
enough to target the the research towards the weed
problems of that one rotation, or weak enough so that

A serious omission from that list is rotations and intercrops. One can
argue about whether these are really circumstances or rather practices,
but it is a fact that they often serve to determine domains.

...the concept of

recommendation domain
is a research tool,
not a policy instrument...

it makes more sense to look at all farms with the weed
problem, regardless of rotation. The decision will de-
pend on the relative incidence of the weed problem
under the different rotations, the possible solutions
proposed, and the research resources that are available.
But merely having a statistically significant correla-
tion between weed incidence and a particular rotation
is not sufficient to define a domain.

4. The limits of recommendation domains
The concept of recommendation domain is useful
in much of the research process (assuming the reader is
still favorably disposed to the broad definitioni, but
it has its limits. Often times domains are defined to be
ignored. For example, the vast majority of farmers in
an area may use tractors, while a few use draft animals.
If the problems they face are different, it may be that
the latter group will not be a focus of research, because
of its small size.
A more important issue is the fact that the concept
of recommendation domain is a research tool, not a
policy instrument. Thus female farmers, small farmers,
or malnourished farmers3 cannot be, a priori, recom-
mendation domains. There may be a policy decision
to concentrate on, let's say, female farmers in an area.
With this in mind, researchers follow the same process,
asking if all female farmers have the same circumstances,
the same problems, the same possibility of utilizing a
given solution. A negative answer in any case leads to
the formation of distinct domains (each composed of
female farmers). And of course if the research target
is instead the rainfed farmers of a given region, it may
be found that male maize farmers and female maize
farmers belong to different domains. But this emerges
from diagnosis and experimentation.

5. Conclusions
The value of the concept of recommendation
domain is in its improvement of the research process,
not its contribution to the vocabulary. Researchers
who do not use the term because they do not find it
congenial will lose nothing, if they are able to ask the
following questions during research in a given area:

3The relationship between recommendation domains and nutritional
goals is discussed in Tripp (1984).

a) What are the principal circumstances that dis-
tinguish groups of farmers?
b) What are the principal production problems, and
who are the farmers that are affected?
c) Are all of these farmers likely to.benefit from the
same solution?
d) What types of fields and farmers should be sought
for on-farm experiments, to represent those farm-
ers identified in (c), and to test possible ways of
further subdividing these groups?
e) Are experimental results consistent, or are there
ways of distinguishing groups of experimental
sites on the basis of a characteristic that an
extension agent can recognize?
A final point: It should be obvious that efficiency
requires attention to each of these questions in their
turn. Consideration of possible solutions before agree-
ment on the importance of a problem, or using an
experiment to test a solution whose feasibility would
be called into question by a simple examination of
farmer circumstances, is not a good use of research
resources. a

...The value of the concept
of recommendation domain
is in its improvement
of the research process...

Byerlee, D., Collinson, M. et. al. 1980. Planning Technologies
Appropriate to Farmers. Concepts and Procedures. CIMMYT,
Harrington, L. and R. Tripp. 1984. "Recommendation domains:
A framework for on-farm research" CIMMYT Economics
Working Paper 02/84, Mexico.
Hildebrand, P. 1984. "Modified stability analysis of farmer-man-
aged, on-farm trials" Agronomy Journal 76: 271-274.
Hildebrand, P., E. Martinez, R. Ortiz. 1985. "Generalized organ-
ization of FSR/E regions and field teams". Farming Systems
Support Project Newsletter 3(2) 1-3.
Norman, D., and M. Collinson. 1985. "Farming systems approach
to research in theory and practice". Paper presented at Inter-
national Farming Systems Research Workshop, Hawkesbury
Agricultural College, Hawkesbury, Australia, May, 1985.
Perrin, R., D. Winkelmann, E. Moscardi, J. Anderson. 1976.
From Agronomic Data to Farmer Recommendations. An
Economics Training Manual. CIMMYT, Mexico.
Shaner, W. 1984. "Stratification: An approach to cost-effec-
tiveness for farming systems research and development".
Agricultural Systems 15: 101-123.
Tripp, R. 1984. "On-farm research and applied nutrition: some
nutrition and agricultural research". Food and Nutrition
Bulletin 6(3):49-57.



This note summarizes the views of
official representatives of ten IARCs
who met at ICRISAT in February
1986. The consultation aimed at
comparing and contrasting objectives,
strategies, and methods in order to
facilitate inter-center understanding
and cooperation, especially in work-
ing with national agricultural research
and extension systems.
Clarifying the Concepts
It was agreed that the essential
underlying concept is that farming
systems research is an approach to
agricultural research. A farming sys-
tem approach has the following
1. Problem solving research which
explicitly recognizes the farmer
and other agents in the food
system as the primary clients of
agricultural research systems.
2. Research which recognizes inter-
actions between different sub-
systems in the farming system
and which may often require a
a multi-commodity approach.
3. Research with an inter-disciplin-
ary approach that requires close
collaboration among technical
scientists (physical and biologi-
cal) and social scientists.
The farming systems approach
aims to improve the efficiency and
relevance of the agricultural research
system, especially in terms of in-
creasing the productivity and income
stability of small farming households
while preserving the resource base. A
farming systems approach is best in-
corporated through complementary
on-farm and on-station research with
farmers perspectives playing an inte-
gral role in technology design and
development. In a farming systems
approach, on-farm research is con-
ducted with farmer participation in
order to understand existing farming
systems, identify problems and re-
search opportunities, test appropriate
solutions, and monitor acceptance of

improved technologies.
It was recognized that the farming
systems approach is not in itself new
to agricultural research. Successful
research has almost always embodied
the elements described above. How-
ever, because a lack of farming sys-
tems approach has often limited the
effectiveness of many research sys-
tems, it was felt that there is a need
to formalize the inclusion of a farm-
ing systems approach as defined
above in the programs of both
national and international research
On-farm research should largely be
implemented through national sys-
tems with effective feedback mechan-
isms to on-station research in national
and international research institutes.
International Centers often have a
comparative advantage in developing
methods and in training for incor-
porating a farming systems approach
in national programs. International
Centers should also continue to have
direct involvement in implementing
some on-farm research programs in
order to refine methods and to ensure
that scientists at International Centers
themselves are exposed to farmers'
It was agreed that IARCs with a
mandate for a broad agro-ecological
environment may experiment with
farming systems which differ radically
from existing farmer practices, in
order to explore the potential pro-
ductivity and stability of the resource
base in that environment. Such re-
search need not always have a farm-
ing systems approach, but is often
an important supporting research
activity with distinct objectives.
Impacts and Lessons from the Past
A farming systems approach is now
being adopted and incorporated by
many research systems. This is
reflected in increased contact be-.
tween scientists with farmers, a
greater sensitivity of scientists to the

complexities of small farmer systems
and changes in attitudes of scientists
toward addressing farmer problems
(both in national and international
research systems). Results of on-farm
research have been particularly valu-
able in feeding back information to
on-station research and changing
priorities accordingly. At the same
time, as the farming systems approach
matures in many programs, there is
growing evidence of acceptance of
technologies being generated.
Experiences gained over the last
ten years have also provided guide-
lines for incorporating a farming
systems approach in research systems.
These include: a greater need to
cement linkages between on-farm
research and on-station research with
scientists involved in both types of
research activities; the need to have
clearly defined objectives and term
for the various research activities
which comprise a farming systems
approach; the need for commitment
and continuity of personnel for
effective research; and finally realistic
expectations that several years are
needed before research will have an
impact on farmers.
Looking to the future, the group
sees continued emphasis of the Inter-
national Centers in training and
support for incorporating the farm-
ing systems approach in national
programs. Considerable work is need-
ed to further develop methods for
on-farm research and especially to
formalize linkages of on-farm research
with on-station research and with
policy analysis. The International
Centers should seek to improve
collaboration among themselves, es-
pecially in sharing information on
methods and in coordinating work
with national programs and in jointly
conducting training programs. It wae
noted that collaboration has been ih
creasing and that this has been bene-
ficial to both International Centers
and national programs.,

Extension Workers

and FSR/E

in Lesotho

David Youmans*
Much is said and written about the
role of extension workers in the
FSR/E process. Some practitioners
make efforts to include extension
personnel in the on-going dynamics
of farming systems research, and
others simply assume that the
national extension services will run
with the ball once researchers have
released it. Both positions fall short
of extension's true potential in the
FSR arena. It is now recognized that
extension professionals can provide
vital linkage and feedback channels
between on-farm researchers and
cooperating farmers, but even that
role is somewhat modest as compar-
ed to maximum input extension
workers are prepared to contribute.
Washington State University fac-
y members in Lesotho, together
.Vith national colleagues from the
Ministry of Agriculture, anticipated
the maximization of FSR potential
by taking two early steps. First, they
integrated the expatriate on-farm
research effort fully into the on-going
activities of the national Research
Division. And second, they develop-
ed an extension unit within the same
division to liaise with other ministry
divisions, develop linkages with the
national extension service and the
agricultural college faculty, and ad-
dress the critical question of farmer
organization. Further, the research
extension unit was to conduct pro-
grams in farmer education and see to
the dissemination of research results
through publications and the radio
network. One expatriate extension
specialist and three nationals were
attached to the division itself and
three other nationals were deployed
to prototype areas in order to parti-

'David Youmans is Extension Specialist with
Washington State University's Farming Systems
Research Project in Lesotho.

cipate in FSR dynamics at every
state and at all relevant points.
It remained, however, that for
the FSR thrust to have an impact
beyond those prototype areas and
wider adoption of innovations by
farmers to be enhanced, national
extension service workers and sub-
ject matter specialists needed to be
involved. Based on both assessed and
ascribed needs, the research extension
unit developed and conducted over
five years, of a seven year interven-
tion, instruction and training for
these district based extension work-
ers. To enable and equip such person-
nel in becoming active partners in
the field process, education was
provided in farming systems research
philosophy and procedure, innovative
agricultural subject matter, and a
wide variety of extension methods
and techniques.
Evaluated in 1986, using a reflec-
tive appraisal of programs method,
the outcomes demonstrated that
instruction in extension education
methods strengthened the profes-
sional versatility of persons earlier
trained in technical 'subject matter,
while instruction in agriculture in-
creased the knowledge and skills of
general extension workers. In both
cases, the "up-date" nature of the

programs was valuable. Since new
knowledge and skills among exten-
sion workers are only as meaningful
as the use to which they are put,
further inquiry was made into the
practice change rqalm among the
same participants.
It was gratifying to learn that ex-
tension field workers in Lesotho had
put into practice a great deal of learn-
ing associated with FSR extension
education. Examples included the
establishment of fodder crops, sup-
plemental feeding of livestock, con-
struction of poultry houses, introduc-
tion of improved seeds and fertilizers,
and implementation of erosion con-
trol measures. Others involved dem-
onstrations of mulching, intercrop-
ping, weed control, planting, and
ox-drawn machinery techniques. Still
others were woodlot planting, rota-
tional grazing schemes, treatment of
common animal diseases, and utiliza-
tion of manure. Lastly, several exten-
sion methods adopted included farm
walks, home visits, campaigns, organ-
ization of farmer contact groups, and
construction of visual aid materials.
It is significant that in the Lesotho
experience, extension workers have
not only been included in the FSR
process but have also been trained to
perform their roles well. 0

Extension in Farming Systems
M. Swisher*

In the traditional research and
extension paradigm, extension agents
are viewed as passive recipients of
research results, which are forwarded
to them in the form of recommenda-
tions; Educating agents about new
technologies is viewed as a separate
step in the process of information
dissemination. One result of this
paradigm is that considerable energy
and money is spent on agent educa-
tion-sometimes on topics that the
agents do not see as useful or inter-
esting. Another result is that agents
often regard recommendations with

*Dr. M.E. Swisher is multi-county extension agent
for small farms: Florida Cooperation Extension
Service at the Live Oak Agricultural Research
and Education Center, Live Oak, Florida.

skepticism because they do not know
how the recommendations were de-
rived or whether they will prove
valid under local conditions.
The farming systems approach to
research and extension alleviates
these problems. The agent is inti-
mately involved with researchers and
with the research process. One result
is that their awareness of new tech-
nologies is ensured. Agent education
becomes part of a continual, on-going
process. Further, because agents help
develop research questions and be-
cause they can see the results of
research trials under local conditions,
their confidence in making recom-
mendations to growers is greatly
(Continued on page 8)

Resources on Developing Coun-
tries, Kansas State University, has
completed microfiching non-copy-
righted documents cited in two
collections; A Farming Systems
Research Bibliography of Kansas
State University's Vertical File
Materials (1982 Cumulation) of A
Farming Systems Research Bibliog-
raphy of Kansas State University's
Vertical File Materials (1985 Sup-
plement). The first collection con-
tains approximately 1250 entries;
the supplement contains approxi-
mately 300 entries. Both bibliog-
raphies have been printed in the
Kansas State University Farming
Systems Research Paper Series No.
4 and may be purchased for (US)
$5.00 through the following office:
Distribution Center
Umberger Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Anyone wishing to request a
copy of a document contained in
either of the bibliographies, either
a hard (paper) copy or a microfiche
copy, may do so. Submit U.S. re-
quests directly to the Interlibrary
Loan system at your home institu-
tion, which will in turn secure the
desired document from Farrell
Library at Kansas State University.
Requests from outside of the U.S.
for copies of documents should be
sent directly to:
Resources on Developing Countries
Farrell Library
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Libraries and Documentation Centers
interested in exchanging collections
or in purchasing the entire microfiche
collections (both collections noted at
the beginning of this article) should
direct inquiries to Resources on
Developing Countries, at the above
An Africa-Specific Bibliography
has been compiled from citations
listed in these two bibliographies.
There are more than 485 listings
in the Africa-Specific Bibliography,
contained in approximately 95
pages. It is available in hard copy

only, through Interlibrary Loan,
or by purchase through the Dis-
tribution Center noted above, for
(US) $5.00. Purchase orders from
within the U.S. may be sent
directly to the Distribution Center.
Requests for purchase from out-
side of the U.S. should be directed
to Gretchen Graham at the Re-
sources on Developing Countries
address noted above.
The compliation of these bibli-
ographies and microfiching of the
collections has been supported by
the Farming Systems Support
Project, University of Florida
and through the Office of Inter-
national Agricultural Programs
and Farrell Library at Kansas
State University.
Many people have helped this
documentation effort and many
benefit from it. Contributions
are greatly appreciated. Please
continue sending written materials
such as reports, papers, workshop
or seminar presentations to be
consideration for inclusion in
future FSR bibliographies and
to add to the growing body of
FSR literature. Suggestions for
additional documents to be added
to the collection can be mailed to:
FSR/E Bibliography
Department of Sociology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506
Documents that you send in
will also be considered for the
FSSP's Bibliography of Readings
in Farming Systems, which is
automatically sent to FSSP News-
letter recipients. Each volume of
this bibliography contains 100
items that have been carefully
screened for their content and
utility. Volume Two of this series
has recently been issued. Addi-
tional copies of either volume of
the Bibliography of Readings in
Farming Systems are available
free of charge through the FSSP.
FSSP Bibliography
IFAS International Programs
University of Florida
3028 McCarty Hall
Gainesville, Florida 32611

The Population Council, an inter-
national scientific and professional
organization, has prepared a series of
five case studies and two monographs
on women's roles and gender diffe
ences in development. These mater
are of special relevance to Africa; all
of the case studies are based on Afri-
can examples. The monographs pro-
vide significant commentary about
development processes in Africa.
One deals with the impact of agrarian
reform on women, and the other
with the impact of male migration
on women in farming. Titles in the
series include:
Sex Roles in the Nigerian Tiv Farm
Household, by Mary E. Burfisher
and Nadine R. Horenstein,
Agricultural Policy Implementation
-A Case Study from Western Kenya,
by Kathleen Staudt,
Kano River Irrigation Project, by
Cecile Jackson,
The Ilora Farm Settlement in Nigeria,
by Heather Spiro,
and three titles, The Nemow Case,
The Impact of Agrarian Reform on
Women, and The Impact of Mal/
Out-Migration on Women in Farr
ing, by Ingrid Palmer.
The series addresses the question:
Why should development planners
and scholars be concerned about
women's roles and gender differ-
ences? The series demonstrates, with
substantial empirical data, that de-
velopment efforts would be improved
if the differential impact on both
class and gender groupings were
Under a grant from the Ford
Foundation, the Population Council
is able to distribute (free of charge)
copies of each of the case studies and
monographs to selected institutions
in Asia and Africa. Write to:
The Population Council
One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
New York, New York 10017
Learning Centers in the United
States and Western Europe may
obtain purchase order informant'
Kumarian Press, Inc.
630 Oakwood Avenue, Suite 119
West Hartford, CN 06110



J. B. Hardaker and E. M. Fleming*

In most countries in the South
Pacific region smallholder agriculture
is the chief economic activity in terms
of output and employment. Conse-
quently, governments in the region are
concerned about the future develop-
ment of this mode of production. The
Australian Centre for International
Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is
funding a two-year project to study
constraints on smallholder develop-
ment. The project is being undertaken
by researchers from the University of
New England, Armidale, N.S.W., Aus-
tralia chiefly in two South Pacific
island states-the Kingdom of Tonga
-d Solomon Islands.
While the problems of smallholder
agriculture within particular countries
(and, indeed, for particular groups
within each country) are unique, both
countries share with most other South
Pacific countries the problems of frag-
mented land area, remoteness from
markets, small size and a system of
agriculture based on tropical root
crops often in association with coco-
nuts. Analysis of the opportunities
for development of smallholder
agricultural systems in these two
countries should lead not only to
recommendations relevant to those
countries, but also to some ideas for
improvement applicable to the whole
The principal hypothesis being used
to guide the research is that the pro-
ductivity and incomes of South
Pacific smallholders can be appreci-
ably increased through feasible im-
Yovements in economic incentives
ch as better marketing and pro-

*Department of Agricultural Economics and
Business Management, University of New
England. Armidale, N.S.W. 2351, Australia.

vision of improved technologies (with
associated inputs). The alternative
hypothesis is that smallholders in the
region are so constrained by socio-
cultural factors and are so disadvan-
taged by remoteness from markets
that this mode of production has no
potential for meeting the income as-
pirations and production needs of the
peoples concerned-the conclusion
of a regional agricultural survey con-
ducted by the Asian Development
Bank in 1979.
Conceptual Framework
The overall conceptual framework
for the project is indicated in simpli-
fied form in Figure 1. Smallholder
economic behaviour is observed and
judged in terms of its degree of con-
formity with national development
goals or other criteria of social desir-
ability. Differences between what is
and what should or could be form
the basis for recommending changes
in policies that affect the economic
signals received by smallholders, or
changes in research and extension

activities to improve the technologies
available to farmers. In subsequent
rounds, the effects of changes in
incentives or technologies on small-
holder behaviour are observed, and
so on. The proposed project is of
course a relatively short-term one
and, in the context of the system of
Figure 1, should be seen in association
with other work of a similar nature
in each country, both in the past and
in the future.,
The crucial stage of Figure 1 of sug-
gesting improved policies or priorities
in research requires an ability to pre-
dict how smallholders will respond to
changed incentives or opportunities.
A part of the project is therefore di-
rected to understanding smallholders'
behaviour in response to economic
Data Gathering
Three methods of data collection
are being used:
(a) Sample surveys of smallholders in
the study areas, to collect details
of resources available and their
use, and of other constraints, for

Figure 1 A conceptual framework for the project

different categories of farms.
These surveys are the main data
gathering components of the
(b) 'Field studies' and subsidiary or
ad hoc surveys used to collect
data on the physical, economic
and institutional conditions under
which smallholders operate.
(c) Intensive case studies of a few
smallholders to elucidate the
relationships between the farm
production system and the farm
household as a decision making,
consuming and input supplying
Data Analysis
The data collected are being an-
alysed to achieve the tactical objec-
tives of the research, which are:
1. To provide an accurate and
quantified description of the
present smallholder systems at
the study sites in terms of the

MSTAT Training Series
Introduction to MSTAT is one in
a series of training tutorials produced
by The Institute of International
Agriculture at Michigan State Uni-
versity and the Division for Global
and Inter-Regional Projects, United
Nations Development Program. It
introduces a microcomputer statis-
tical program and an integrated
research design and management

Extension... (continued from page 5
Too often, extension agents func-
tion almost entirely in a reactive
mode, responding to both opportun-
ities and problems as they arise on
an ad hoc basis. This hinders the
agent's ability to prioritize his or
her own activities. The end result
is often that agents are unable to
achieve significant impact in any
given sector, even though they may
be very helpful to many farmers

resources available, resource pro-
ductivity, present technologies,
economic behaviour, and goals
and objectives. Such information
is immediately relevant to the
design and implementation of
improvements to the farming
systems, in particular to apprais-
ing prospective technologies or
policy changes.
2. To identify and assess the impor-
tance of social and economic
factors affecting system perform-
ance, such as access to input and
output markets, levels of prices
and costs, land tenure consider-
ations, community norms, risk
and risk aversion, and access to
information. Such information is
needed to judge what policy
changes are needed and to assess
the acceptability of improved
technologies introduced within
the existing socioeconomic frame-

tool (MSTAT) that can contribute
to effective agricultural research.
This introductory modular instruc-
tional package consists of an audio
tape, a slide set and an instructional
There are 52 additional subpro-
grams for MSTAT that are designed
especially as aids to agricultural
researchers doing variety trials, ferti-
lizer application trials, crop/environ-
ment interaction studies, pesticide

and even though their time may be
fully occupied.
For successful program imple-
mentation-to achieve measurable
impact-a proactive stance is re-
quired. This requires setting both
long-term and short-term goals, pri-
oritizing activities in order to achieve
those goals, and developing measur-
able objectives by which success can
be measured. The farming systems
approach to agricultural development

3. To identify and assess the impor-
tance of physical and biological
factors affecting system perform-
ance, such as soil conditions, cli-
mate (including climatic hazards
available cultivars and planting
materials, and diseases, pests and
weeds. Such information is need-
ed in assigning priorities in agri-
cultural research.
4. To identify and assess the scope
for improving system performance
using, for example, evidence of
underutilised resources, between-
farm differences in productivity,
observed responses to economic
stimuli, budgeting, programming
or econometric modelling studies
of system performance, and re-
sults of testing improved technol-
ogies on experiment stations and
farms. Such information leads
directly to recommendations for
policy changes or to prescrip-
tions for extension programs. 0

and herbicide evaluation experi-
ments, economic analyses, plant
breeding programs and many other
laboratory and field experiments ii
which accurate, expeditious record
keeping is essential.
Introduction to MSTAT is avail-
able by writing to:
MSTAT/Crop and Soil Sciences
324B Agriculture Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1114

aids in this process because it enables
the agent to function as part of a
larger team which supports the
agent's efforts. Acting as a member
of a larger team with well defined
priorities and objectives, the agent's
ability to prioritize his or her own
educational efforts is enchanced and
the tendency for the agents to be left
as a single individual, reacting to their
environment on an "on-demand"
basis is reduced. E

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