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 The finca of Merardo Franco, department...

Group Title: Economic analysis of small farms and livelihood systems
Title: Economic analysis of small farm in La Cordillera Department Paraguay
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00071948/00001
 Material Information
Title: Economic analysis of small farm in La Cordillera Department Paraguay
Physical Description: 22 leaves : map ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Breuer, Norman
Publication Date: 1998
Subject: Farms, Small -- Economic aspects -- Paraguay -- Cordillera   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Paraguay -- Cordillera
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaf 22).
Statement of Responsibility: Norman Breuer.
General Note: "December 8, 1998."
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: "AEB 5167, Economic Analysis of Small Farms, Dr. Peter Hildebrand."
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00071948
Volume ID: VID00001
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 - 75416137


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Table of Contents
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    The finca of Merardo Franco, department of La Cordillera - Paraguay
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Full Text

Economic Analyis of a Small Farm
In La Cordillera Department

Norman Breuer

AEB 5167, Economic Analysis of Small Farms

And Livelihood Systems

Dr. Peter Hildebrand

December 8, 1998



The "finca" or "chacra" (both words mean small farm) we will be looking at is located

only about 40 miles from the capital city of Asunci6n. It is situated in the Department

(administrative region) of La Cordillera- Literally "the Mountain Range" but more

realistically "The Hills." The owner of the land is Mr. Merardo Franco. Mr. Franco is

married and has five children: An older(18) daughter who works in Asunci6n as a domestic

servant, sends home around half of her monthly wage of 300.000Gs. to help her family;

two boys in their young teens (14 and 12); and two smaller girls, ages 9 and 7, help their

mother around the house. Only the two boys attend school and in order to do so they need

money for uniforms, school supplies and shoes. The greater part of this money is needed in

late February, just before the start of the school year, which runs from March through early

December. The fact that these young boys attend school, and have to walk there in the

morning, and back home under the hot noonday sun, limits the time they can spend helping

their father in the fields on a daily basis, although they may skip school during the intense

planting and harvesting seasons. This accounts for the fact that neither one of them has

passed the 6th grade yet and both brothers have repeated grades several times. The boys do,

however complete their daily chores in the afternoons including chopping grass or cane for

the oxen and helping their mother draw water from the well, as well as odd jobs and


"La Cordillera" is one of the earliest colonized regions of Paraguay and most soils are

exhausted from over 400 years of continuous use. This prolonged utilization, along with

the hilly topography of the region explain in great measure the state of extreme

deterioration of all natural resources today, which has been compounded by several

decades of solecropping. Another contributing factor to the poor overall situation has been

the fact that La Cordillera is and has always been a traditional provider of firewood, lumber

and charcoal for the capital city of Asunci6n. This region is almost completely deforested,

with only around 1.7% of the total area covered with native continuous forest in 1991.

What little is left today is seriously deteriorated as is the brush and secondary growth

woody vegetation that covers a large portion of the department.

One of the unique features of this area is that, in some lowlying areas of grazing land,

and in almost all farm plots, there is a medium to high population of the Paraguayan

coconut palm (Acrocomia totai), whose small round nuts (about the size of a ping pong

ball) are collected from the ground and sold to local industries where they are transformed

into soap and cattle feed, as well as cooking oil. The demand for these coconuts has been

declining in recent years even though it is a recognized fact that the soap made from its

pulp is among the finest and most natural available anywhere. Most farms also have

several other species of trees native to the zone and managed in a traditional way by the


La Cordillera is blessed as is most of the Eastern Region of Paraguay with a great

abundance of streams, rivers, springs etc., which are underutilized and poorly taken care of

(if at all) at present. Many springs and water courses are drying up due to heavy

deforestation and the accompanying erosion. Some basins are silting up, depriving the

local residents of formerly crystal clear cool and clean water. Irrigation is a very rare

practice and with the exception of two or three very experimental farmers one can say that

it is nonexistent.

Another characteristic of this region is its division into very small plots or

"minifundios," a great number of which are less than one hectare in size, and have poor to

very poor soil. This situation provoked massive migration away from the area either to new

forested regions to the North and East, or to the ever increasing poverty belts around

Asunci6n, and in many cases Buenos Aires, Argentina, where people have migrated in

search of a better livelihood.

The population of La Cordillera department is 206,097 according to the 1992 census

(1982 census: 194,011) The population has remained relatively stable due to the high rates

of migration. There are also some 237,974 head of cattle, although these are not necessarily

in the hands of the "campesinos" or small farmers, who may own a few milking cows and a

pair of oxen for draught work. Most large herds belong to medium to large ranchers who

usually reside in Asunci6n as absentee patronses" In the population breakdown one can

see that the great majority of the population is made up of the elderly, women and children,

as young men of working age have mostly migrated elsewhere.

According to the 1992 Agrarian Census, there are 22,362 fincas or farms in La cordillera

(1981:20.842), of which 60 % are less than 5 ha in size. The process of "Minifundizaci6n"

or the breaking up into smaller and smaller farms, has many contributing factors among

which are the growth of larger ranching units, the expansion of suburban Asunci6n towards

the farming areas for recreation or week-end farms, and the slow growth of the population.

There are also more complex background historical causes for this process which are quite

complex and are not the object of this report to discuss.

On the positive side, the proximity of La Cordillera to the main consumer market, that

is, the city of Asunci6n, has turned it into one of the largest, and most natural, providers of

food and produce to the Capital. It is also, and has always been, the principal provider of

building materials (bricks, roofing tiles etc.) and firewood. This last item has led the SFN

(Servicio Forestal Nacional) to calculate that more than 900 ha of forests are needed

annually just to provide Asunci6n and the building materials industry with enough firewood

yearly. This represents a great advantage for this region if and when it can begin to

produce firewood sustainably. Another advantage for the region is the fact of its proximity

to the capital for providing fresh produce with a relatively low cost for trucking. Whether

the incorporation of modern irrigation equipment to the farming systems would be

profitable remains to be studied; however, it is safe to assume that for most produce crops,

as well as fruit and flowers, irrigation would provide a "guarantee of production" as well as

year round income, and higher prices obtainable from early or late season production.

Soils in La Cordillera Department are sandy or sandy loam resulting from the

decomposition of the hilly area's bedrock which is sandstone. These sandy soils are the

most common in the higher areas and on hillsides. The lower areas, used almost

exclusively as grazing, are sandy to a depth of about 50 cm, with an underlying stratum of

black impermeable clay. It is this clay that is used as raw material for the many brick and

tile factories in the area. Land that is devoted exclusively to agricultural use has suffered

most since traditional cultivation methods exclude trees and other cover vegetation leaving

the soil bare and exposed to the elements for a period of several months a year. The

common practice of burning stubble after the harvest compounds this situation.

A trend towards the implantation of more perennial crops has been noticed in recent

years which allow better soil conservation, especially on slopes. This change in attitude has

been heavily influenced by the "Centro de Promoci6n de Campesinos de la Cordillera"-

CCCP (Center for the Promotion of Small Farmers of the Cordillera), whose basic objective

is to reintegrate trees onto the farm and avoid the total disappearance of what little natural

forest remains. Merardo Franco is a founding member of this NGO.

To this end, The Paraguayan Ministry of Agriculture implemented the "Program of Land

Utilization," through the auspices of GTZ (International Development Agency of

Germany), and the General Office of Planning. This project began in 1984 and from 1989

through 1992, several sites in La Cordillera Department were added to the project through

the coordination of the CPCC, an organization which, aside from land use, was aiming at a

holistic approach to improving the lives and livelihoods of small farmers in the region. The

project had different rates of success in different areas, with the community projects having

obtained the poorest results. The aspect of reforestation and diversification of crops,

however, proved to be ground-breaking and an awakening to other small farmers on the all

important issue of erosion control through intelligent land utilization. The small farm of

Merardo Franco, was part of the above mentioned project, and is the object of this study.

Agricultural production in the region involves a range of traditional crops along

with some recently introduced ones. Some of the principal crops grown in the area are:

Maize: white flint and yellow flint as well as yellow dent are grown mostly for family

consumption and to feed the poultry and pigs on the farm. In the nearby town of

Valenzuela there is a farm which produces certified maize hybrid seed. Maize is planted in

small parcels, generally intercropped with beans cowpeaa) and/or mandioca (cassava).

Beans: cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata) and some fava beans are generally grown for self

consumption. Many times they are associated with maize where they are useful for ground


Mandioca (cassava): as in the rest of the country, mandioca is the traditional product for

family consumption. It is in fact the daily bread. Whatever is not consumed by the family

is sold at the market as fresh mandioca. Industrialization to transform cassava into starch is

insignificant, even though in the department of La Cordillera there are many "Chipa

(Paraguayan scone) factories" which consume large amounts of cassava starch. As much as

176 tons are needed each year according to a market study undertaken by a firm interested

in installing a starch factory in the area. The average yield of cassava is low, averaging 13

tons/ha, except in a very few newly cultivated areas. Since this crop is so traditional, many

ancestral methods of cultivation and varieties are used. The cassava growers developed

their own science which was enriched over the centuries. Due to this, most small farmers

handle from 3 to 5 varieties at the same time, enabling them to provide the "daily bread"

almost all year round. There are more than 200 varieties and ecotypes known in the

country which differ in taste, size, time to maturity and resistance to disease and pests.

Peanuts: Traditionally, peanuts are for family consumption; however, recently they are

becoming more of a cash crop. As with mandioca, a large number of varieties and ecotypes

are handled.

Sugar Cane: Most farmers have at least a small plot for cattle fodder during the winter

months. In and around the city of Piribebuy there are several molasses factories which

consume large amounts of sugar cane. The price however, has become unattractive to

farmers recently and they have been replacing it with other crops. Many farmers have gone

Schematic Representation of the

Farming System (Phase III)


Elephant Grass &
Sugar Cane

Coconut Oil/Soap
(only market)



bankrupt in the past due to the ruinous prices paid by the sugar mills.

Coconuts: These are the best example of silvopastoril and agroforestry systems in the

region. All small farmers keep and take care of these trees as they provide cash income

around Christmas time, and the leaves and other subproducts are used for animal fodder.

Some experts predict the end of the coconut industry with the coming of MERCOSUR.

Squash (and also melons and watermelons): are traditional summer crops and useful as

groundcover while intercropping.

Medicinal herbs: most small farmers have a small garden for family consumption which

saves on formal medical treatment. Due to the large population in Asunci6n, some plants

have become limited cash crops.

Livestock: livestock is considered a sort of savings account as well as providers of traction

on the farm. Management is done in small padocks, in silvopastoral (with coconut) and on

the stubble of harvested crop. The area utilized is generally small and overgrazed. In the

past, common grazing areas were very much in use. At present, farmers tend to grow cut

and carry forrage such as elephant grass (pennisetum purpureum) and sugar cane. The

Franco family owns two oxen.

Pigs and Poultry are raised mostly for consumption and rarely sold in cases of extreme

need or when surplus is available. The family owns two mother sows and twelve piglets of

different sizes.

Details and Constraints:

Mr. Franco's plot is divided up into the following categories:

1)Windbreaks of shrubs and small trees.....................0.4 Ha

2)Agroforestry: Coconut palms, citrus and crops........1.44 Ha

3)Bamboo Patch (where beehives are located)............0.12 Ha

4) B ananas........................................................... ....0.04 H a

5)Family Tree Nursery...............................................0.06 Ha

6)Enriched and managed Forest (with Yerba Mate)....0.72 Ha

7) Elephant Grass/S Cane f7 cut and carry fodder........0.16 Ha

8) Natural Grass (paddock)........................................0.17 Ha

9) Grass with Fruit Trees........................................ 0.10 Ha

10) M edicinal herb garden.......................................... 0.10

11) House and Yard................................................... 0.52 Ha

Total.......................................... 4.00 H a

The objective of this analysis is to simulate reality as closely as possible without getting

bogged down by very small or insignificant details. As will be discussed below, some

activities were at first included in the model and later dropped as they seemed to have little

or no effect on the system. An example of this was the handling of small animals (piglets

and chickens). Some apparently important figures, such as the amount of beginning cash

required to start the crops in each semester, when tested, turned out to have little impact on

the over-all result, aside from slightly diminishing the total end cash.

Inclusions for Matrix

We will only be considering the crops that are actually being harvested at this time since

this will not be a multi-year matrix. The crops harvested to either be sold or consumed

are: beans (vigna unguiculata), maize, peanuts, squash, coconuts, cassava,

medicinal herbs, honey, sugar cane and elephant grass. The livestock that will be

considered are: the two oxen that are used for draft work. Two activities besides raising

crops will be built-in. These are a selling activity for each sellable crop product, and a

grocery buying activity which goes on monthly. Items that are bought in the local stores

include first and foremost meat, along with "galleta," a kind of hard-tack bisquit, rice,

noodles, tomato paste, powdered milk, cooking oil, propane gas, matches and cigarettes.

An additional input to the system will be remittances sent by the 18 year old daughter.

Labor: As on many other small farms in Paraguay, most of the actual field work is done

by the father. That is, plowing, harrowing (Mr. Franco owns an ox-drawn disc harrow but

does not wish to invest in any further equipment as this would "only lead to more

poverty"), weeding, raising ridges, spraying etc. The single most important tool on the

farm is the hoe, followed by the ever present machete. The number of days required for

labor on each crop can be seen in Table 1.

Mrs. Franco does much work that is difficult to account for. Luckily, she lives close

enough to Asunci6n so that she can use bottled natural gas for cooking, and although this is

not the general rule for all of rural Paraguay, it does save quite a bit of time on not having

to gather firewood on a daily basis. The negative side of this, of course, is that each 10 kg

tank of gas sells for Gs 16000, and it is difficult to use less than two tanks per month. Mrs.

Franco spends some time each day drawing water from the well. This water is taken to the

house in plastic buckets about 15 liters at a time. Water is also hauled to the oxen, pigs and

chickens. Additionally, Mrs.F. carries several bucketfuls per day to her medicinal herb

garden, and 1 or 2 buckets to the family nursery. A good portion of the day is consumed by

household chores, especially sweeping, washing clothes and dishes and caring for the two

The Franco Family

* Mr. Merardo Franco
* Mrs. Franco
* 18 year old daughter
* 14 year old son
* 12 year old son
* 9 year old daughter
* 7 year old daughter

* Housework
* Feeding
chickens and
* Planting
* Harvesting
* Herb garden
* Shucking
* Shelling

* Gathering
* Housework

* Chopping fodder
for oxen
* Gathering
* Planting
* Harvesting


little girls, whom, although no longer babies, still require looking after. All this leaves the

mother with limited time for field work, although she always participates at planting and

harvesting time, and when Mr. Franco may need a hand, such as hauling water to him when

he is fumigating, or when there is an extra strong weed infestation that requires urgent

taking care of. The actual 7 hour days that Mrs. Franco has left over for working in the

fields is 40 days per year.

The two teen-aged boys, work on average only about one hour per day doing mostly

chores and especially chopping elephant grass (in summer), and sugar cane (in winter) for

the family's pair of oxen. On average, each brother is only able to contribute 20 seven hour

workdays per year including extra time put in during harvest, and collecting coconuts from

the ground.

The two younger daughters, help the mother feeding the chickens and cleaning up around

the house but otherwise contribute nothing as to field labor except for helping gather

coconuts from the ground. For practical purposes, as these two girls take away more time

and work than anything noteworthy that they could contribute at this time, they are not

considered in the breakdown of labor.

The 18 year old daughter who works as a domestic servant in Asunci6n contributes

nothing of labor, but does send around Gs. 1.800.000 or $643 annually, on a monthly basis.

(Exchange rate: 1 U$D = 2800 Gs., November, 1998).

Summary of Labor Available per year:

Merardo Franco: 240 days

Mrs. Franco: 40 days

Teen-aged Boy 1: 20 days

Teen-aged boy 2: 20 days

Others : 0 days

Total workdays: 320 days


Maize Cassav Peanut Squa Honey Cocon Grass Nurser Herbs


Male 30 29 27 30 12 5 12 24 6


Fem. 4 10 8 4 0 12 0 12 24


Boys 4 14 8 10 0 24 26 6 6

Total 38 53 43 44 12 39 38 42 36

The total number of workdays required is: 345.

The total number of workdays available is: 320

Conclusion: While total labor is not constraining using these data, when broken up into

gender it is clear that adult female labor is constraining (a deficit of 20 workdays), as well

as adolescent male labor (a deficit of 27 days).

The Intercrop Numbers

The tables and man-hours listed above correspond to each crop cultivated separately.

Upon deeper inquiry, it was found that most of the crops in this area are intercropped in

fields that are sparsely populated by the Paraguayan coconut palm. Maize is the principal

crop, planted about one meter apart sometimes more allowing for the intermediate rows

of cassava, cowpeas, squash or peanuts. The labor required for this variable mix was

obtained from colleagues (agronomists) who knew the area and this type of work. The

following Table was set up for this intercrop:

Workdays Required for the Intercrop Table 2

Coco,maize, Elephant Honey Medicinal Tree

peanut Grass and herbs Nursery

squash,beans Sugar cane

Adult Male 24 4 12 14

Adult Fer. 8 22 4

Teen Boys 4 20 8 4

Total 36 24 12 30 22

The number of days required for cropwork has been drastically reduced, not by half, but by

three quarters. Although this information appeared dubious at first, it was later confirmed

from separate sources. Intercropping then, is much more than an environmentally better

way of growing things that small farmers use seeking the benefits of pest control,

improved fertility and crop complementarity, it is actually a fantastic labor-saving device

known and passed down for countless generations. If during one walk to the same field a

farmer can perform several separate operations such as planting one crop, thinning another

and weeding still another, the total amount of time saved although the total work may be

the same is enormous.


A)Labor: The structure of labor input needs to be looked at and some work has to be re-

allocated to the teen-aged boys (as the mother is physically unable to), or hiring of off-farm

help should be considered.

B) Cash: Although a substantial amount of cash is needed on a monthly basis, for meat,

cooking gas and other groceries; as well as in a greater amount for the beginning of the

schoolyear, the amount received for the sale of such low value items as cassava, maize and

squash barely covers the bill. Honey, and remittances from the daughter, as well as cash

from coconut collection fill in a substantial portion of the gap. Bee keeping should be

carefully studied as a simple, on-farm alternative for producing a substantial amount of

cash through the sale of honey. A more long term approach would be to embark upon the

production of higher value added crops such as vegetables, flowers, strawberries and

certain medicinal herbs, as well as increasing the number of beehives if possible. Before

making definite recommendations however, market studies conducted by professional,

reliable technicians must be undertaken in order to assure or at least confer a higher

probability of success on any "wonder" crops (strawberry, flowers. "kaA he6" or others),

which have proved a let down to small farmers in the past. Truckloads of luscious fruit and

vegetables have literally been dumped to rot in the past due to lack of market or weak

prices, leaving farmers out in the cold and skeptical as to any future recommendations that

technicians could make to them regarding how to obtain higher incomes. Farming is

back-.breaking work, and any studies of how to improve livelihoods should be conducted

with the highest degree of seriousness and focus on reality. Unfortunately, this has not

always been the case in the past. The setting up of a forest tree/fruit tree nursery should be

encouraged as an interesting side occupation, although it cannot be expected to add large

amounts of cash to the system. Dairy cattle for fresh milk and cheese are also a feasible,

small-scale but permanent source for cash. Perennial crops such as citrus, mangoes and

"yerba mate" or paraguayan tea could also prove valuable.

c) Infrastructure: In order for any of the improvements mentioned above to be possible,

both on-farm and off-farm infrastructure must be improved. On-farm irrigation could be an

excellent project to look into. It would, however, require a substantial leap in technological

level from the present situation and if forced upon this particular farmer or his community

through a project, it would not be rare to see it fail. Off-farm refers mostly to the improving

of local roads so as to make them usable year round on a daily basis. Price supports are an

unlikely scenario in a country that is bankrupt at the moment. Education and healthcare are

other off-farm inputs that merit study. They are obviously lacking as iri most developing

countries. A way of including these external factors into a matrix for analysis is something

that needs to be looked into but is unfortunately too broad a subject to be addressed in this

term paper.


The goal of the paper was to see if a complex small farm could be replicated to a high

degree so that it could later be manipulated to test different alternatives for obtaining higher

levels of discretionary cash for family use. In order to analyze the many variables, attempt

to simulate the existing farm as closely as possible and to test various alternate schemes for

improving the livelihoods of the Franco family, linear programming was used as a tool

which turned out once mastered to a certain degree to be an effective means of

achieving the stated goals. The specific methodology involved the use of Quattro Pro 6.0

spreadsheet. Activities were put into columns. These included crops raised for

consumption and sale, forrage crops, the production of honey (in some models), a tree

nursery, a medicinal herb garden, selling activities, remittances (in some models), a

grocery buying activity (including meat) and cash transfers. Rows were filled with

constraints on the system and these included: land, labor, consumption of various crops,

accounting rows and beginning cash for each quarter of the year. The term "beginning cash,

with a row for each quarter, refers to the cash needed to start off the cultivation of that

particular crop. Since the Franco farm has been exposed to certain technologies which

lessen the need for money to purchase insecticides, herbicides and in most cases, seed,

these amounts are low. The objective function was, in all cases, the maximization of end-

year cash since the area where the Franco farm is located is one where a cash economy has

replaced the purely susbsistance one quite some time ago. The term "End Year Cash" is

different from "Total Income." The latter term describes the gross total of all in-coming

money from sales and other sources, while the former refers exclusively to the amount of

money left over, after expenses are paid, for discretionary spending, or the purchase of

"luxury" items. That is, things which are not strictly indispensable for survival. The year

was divided into four quarters for closer simulation and these were as follows: First quarter

January, February, March a somewhat "relaxed" time as far as field work is concerned,

as most crops are in a vegetative stage and maize has already grown too high for weeding.

This quarter, however, is important because near its end there is an important cash

requirement for the purchase of school supplies and uniforms. Second quarter: April.May.

June is harvest time. It is here that labor is constrained. The third quarter: July, August and

September in which soil preparation is the main activity, and the fourth quarter: October,

November and December where planting and weeding are the main activities and the

grocery bill goes up due to the Christmas holidays.


1. The basic farm without honey or remittances, in which total end cash amounts to

Gs. 1,312,722.

2. The farm without remittances but with honey, in which total end cash amounts to

Gs. 2,333,605.

3. The farm without honey but with remittances, in which total end cash amounts to

Gs. 3,740,267.

4. The farm with remittances and honey, in which total end cash amounts to


1 U$= 2,800 Gs. (End Cash varies from 469 to 1,688 U$).

The results of these situations can be seen below as LP 1, LP2, LP 3 and LP 4.

When honey and remittances did not come into the equation, the program adjusted by

having the farmers use more land for the intercrop. This figure rose from 0.88 ha to 1.82



In all four cases the program was able to run and give a feasable solution. The

variation that occurred as remittances and/or honey were blocked out in the optimizer

was an increase in area cultivated in the intercrop (see Graph 1). In the program,

very low yields were used for each of the crops, as these numbers more closely

simulated the real farm. Also, the government standards for consumption of staples

were raised nearly 20 % in order to put the issue of food security to the test. It proved

to be a surprising result when, even with low yields and normal to low prices, the

family met their objective of feeding themselves while obtaining some left-over cash

for discretionary spending at the end of the year.

Limits Built Into the Optimizer

Land for medicinal herbs and the tree nursery was limited to one tenth of an ha each.

This was done so that the model would be as real as possible. When this constraint was

removed, the result was the planting of two ha of medicinal herbs. This is an unlikely

situation as the market for herbs is precarious at best and if several "campesinos" decided

to plant three ha each, the already low price for each "mazo" of herbs would very quickly

drop to zero.


The major constraining factor on the system is labor and the time of year when this affects

the farm's production most notably is during the harvest quarter. The choice of the Franco

family was apparently a fortunate one. With two young adolescent boys, soon to be able-

bodied young adults, and two small girls who are no longer toddlers and will soon be old

enough to contribute to the family work pool, this family is probably on the "edge." That

is, they are past the extremely labor stressing time of rearing small children, and they have

not yet arrived at the relatively wealthy status that occurs when young males can contribute

more significantly to total income or go away to earn cash that will be sent

home, and when girls cease to be all consuming on the mother's time. For this reason,

alternate family compositions were not tested. An interesting "shock" to the system that

should be tested, is what happens when the eldest boy reaches 16 years of age and has to

go away for 18 months to complete his military service.

An interesting conclusion arrived at by using trial and error for crop yields, was that the

matrix only began looking like the real farm when government statistic for average yields

were halved and then halved again. This served to substantiate the notion that small

farmers tend to expect a lot less from their fields than most government researchers take

into account. An additional explanation for low yields is that in an intercrop on terraced

land, swaths from 3-5 meters wide are plowed in alternate strips, with much loss of land to

ridges, coconut trees, termite hills and other obstacles. In other words, a small Paraguayan

farmer who usually plants Only 12,000-15,000 maize plants per ha ( recommended: 45,000-

55,000) usually winds up with only half or less, as he is not really using the entire


As far as cash is concerned, it is not a constraint on the system. This is proved by the fact

that the program continues to be feasable even without remittances from the daughter or

cash income from the sale of honey. In these cases, end cash is reduced but does not

disappear. As greater awareness of the consumer economy exposes the family to new

"necessities" such as electronics, appliances, nicer clothes and tennis shoes, etc., a greater

strain on the cash flow can be expected and will surely become a constraining factor before

land does.

The small family owned farm studied in this paper although far from being wealthy

by developed nation standards produces enough food to feed the family and

different levels of discretionary cash at year's end. When compared to small farms in

other areas of Paraguay, or situations in Latin America and Africa it is relatively well

off, even when heavy stresses on extra income are tested on it.


Like most studies, this one possesses inherent strenghts and weaknesses. By identifying the

issues involved in replicating a small farm as closely as possible, others who use linear

programming may have the benefit of referring to works which could both save time and

increase effectiveness, especially in differentiating the details that truly affect systems.

This study was done using real data. There were three separate sources for these:

Publications from government and non-government sources in Paraguay, data sent from

colleagues who were asked specific questions by post or electronic mail, and personal

knowledge from having worked the better part of the decade in the Paraguayan countryside.

This experience allowed me to screen out information that seemed off target, and sometimes

even preposterous. As in any algebraic equation, in order to identify the unknown variable

"x," all other variables have to be known. Thus, if enough precise data are available, linear

programming may be used for induction as well as as deduction. That is, with end results

known, one can look back within the matrix and learn which data are wrong. This may

prove especially useful for seeing through government statistics and getting to the real

numbers that the small farmers use and rely upon.

An objective critique shows more weaknesses than strengths. Principle among these was

the fact that the model only accounted for one year. Just as a look at a snapshot only shows

one instantaneous picture, a static model does not account for changes that occur from year

to year. Some of this can be compensated by the use of input tables for variables such as

prices and yields, however, a snapshot is not as good as a film that is no matter how

closely a one year model tries to simulate reality, it can never be as close as a dynamic,

multi-year approach. Defining who handles cash in the household proved most difficult.

Most persons interviewed seemed to think that this was exclusively the man's domain.

There were, however, conflicting answers, and the truth or at least the greatest tendency

may only be discovered by living with this particular family over a period of time. The

description of the Franco family as being on the dividing line between stressed and

unstressed families, comes from past studies that identified types of families as tending to

be either stressed or unstressed. This study did not approach family composition and is

thus confined to this specific family during one specific year, and can therefore never

represent any sort of mean, average or trend in the study area or anywhere else.




Maize Yields






0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000
kg / ha


The Farm of Merardo Franco
Area '= 4 ha
Department of La Cordillera, Paraguay


MLabor lt quor days
ML.abo 2nd quar days
Mabor 3rd quar days

MLtbr 4th uar days

MToonL.borlOQ days
MTrfnLabor2ndQ days
MTeenLabor-rdQ days
MTeenLbor4thQ days
Maie Consump kg
Maie i cca a.s
Camsva connam Ik
CesmWv sotg Ga.
Peanut Consum kg
Peanut Account Go
Squah consum kh
Squash Ac-oun Go
coconut scg GOa
Honey acctg Os
Nur'Tree Iact aaplings
MedNeramooS mazos
OraMsscae con kg
Oroa/cane aect Os
Forest Use ha
BegCaah latQ 0a.
leo Cah 2ndQ Os
lgCo h 3rd Oa
Ng Cash 4th0 as

MzE*Ca Honey Fruit and Medicinal Forest
bean*pnt Forst Herbs
squash Honey Nursery
cacomnst Tree
1.827762 0 1 1.61E-05
1 0 0

4 2 3
6 2 4
8 4 3 0
6 4 4
0 1 6
4 1 4
2 1 6
2 1
0 0
1 1 2
2 1 2
0 1 2
1 1 2






54000 48000



Elephant Feed
GrOss pair of
& Sugar Oxen

.. .. a.o"lk -u, i.. .. / :. .... .. I -.o .


0 0003871 10 2323258 3422129 2957449 767 599 5995749 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
0 0 0 0

-75000 -70


-260 -180

-80 -70 -8500

Norman Breuer

Buy Buy Buy Buy cash Cash cash cash
Meat Meat Mea Meat transfer transfer transfer transfer
and and and and Ist quar- 2ndquar- 3rdquar- 4th quar.
Groceries Grorocer oceries Groceries 2nd quar 3rd quar 4th quar end year
0 0 0 0 0 871117.9 811240.2 1312722

RHS Resource

55.344477 MLabo
60 MLabo
18.270982 Mlabor
15.715497 MLabo




16 6.1722384 MTeenLaborlstO
8 8 MTeenLabor2ndQ
8 4.3444767 MTeenLabor-rdQ
8 6.1722384 MTeenLabor4thQ
1 0
-280 -280 Maize Consump
0 1 998E-13 Maize acctg
-260 -260 Cassava connsm
0 -1 79E-13 Cassava acctg
-80 -80 Peanut Consum
0 -382E-14 Peanut Account
-50 -55 467 Squash consume
0 -1 38E-13 Squash Acctoun
0 -1 88E-13 coconut acctg
0 0 Honey acctg
0 -444E-14 NursTreeacctg
0 1.518E-16 MedHerbacctg
-29.2 -292 Grass/cane con
0 -3 33E-16 Gress/cane acctg
0 0 Forest Use
1 1 Beg Cash Ilt O
1 1 Beg Cash 2ndQ
1 1 Beg Cash 3rd Q
1 1 Beg Cash 4thQ
0 1312722 3 Tot Cash and year




The Farm of Merardo Franco
Area '= 4 ha
Department of La Cordillera, Paraguay

MLabor lt quar days
MLabor 2nd quar days
Mliabor 3rd qur days
MI.abor 41h quar days
MLenlaborlt days

MTeenLabor2ndQ days
MTenLaborrdQ days
MTeenLabor4thQ days
Maie Consump kg
Maize acctl a
Casava connam kg
Casava aaeog OG.
Peanut Consum kg
Peanut Account Os
Squash eonsum kg
Squah Acctoun as.
coconut accia Os.
Honey sacg Oa.
NursTree dg saplings
MrdMerbsaeig mazoo
Orauewcone con kg
Oneolom/ann a s.
Paret Use ha
fagtCshlstO Q(
kag Cah 2ndg O
g CMh rdQ Os.
g Csh 4th O*


Mze+Caa Honey
squash Honey





Fruit and
3 1
0 0

Medicinal Forest


Elephant Fooed
rass pair of
& Sugar Oxen
0 0.645889

t Sa 1 tfel 's 8t 1- '

0 0003871 10 2828725 3422129 2957449 7676699 6995749 135
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0.01 0.01 0.01
0.01 0.01 0.01
0 0 0


54000 48000





-75000 -70

-260 -180

-850 -70 -8500

uy Buy Buy Buy
eat Meat Meat Meat
id and and and
rocerl Groceries Groceries Groceries
0 0 0 0

cash Cash cash cash
transfer transfer transfer transfer
1st quar- 2nd quar- 3rd quar 4th quar-
2nd quar 3rd quar 4th quar end year
0 744500.8 484622.9 2333605


66.399146 MLabor 1 t quar
64.058921 MLabor 2nd quar
30.270982 Mlabor 3rd quar
27,715497 MLabor 4th quar
8.31114 8

6.1722384 MTeenLaborlstQ
8 MTeenLabor2ndQ
4.3444767 MTeenLaborrdQ
6.1722384 MTeenLabor4thQ
-280 Maize Consump
-386E-13 Maize acctg
-260 Casava connsm
-6 81E-13 Cassava acctg
-80 Peanut Consum
2.152E-13 Peanut Account
-50 Squash consume
-51 5E-12 Squash Acctoun
-3 63E-13 coconut acctg
0 Honey acctg
-4 44E-14 NursTree acctg
-1 63E-17 MedHerbsacctg
-29.2 Grasslcane con
1 11E-15 Grass/cane acctg
0 Forest Use
1 Bg Cash 1st Q
1 Beg Cash 2ndQ
1 Bag Cash 3rd Q
1 Beg Cash 4thQ
2333605 t t Cash end year

RHS Resource







I '.

The Farm of Merardo Franco
Area '= 4 ha
Department of La Cordillera, Paraguay


MLabor at quar days
Mabor 2nd quar days
Miabor 3rd quar days
MTeenLabor1tr days

MTeenLbor2ndt Q days
Q days
MTuentJborlsQ days
M'T nLLabor2ndQ days
Mtnl.aborrdQ days
MTeenLabor4th days
Maite Consump kg
Maize accg Ga
Caouave connm kg
Cesava acctg Ge
Peanut Consum kg
Peanut Account Oe
Squash cownumI kg
Squash Actoun Os
coconut acctg as
Honey accg Ga
NurTree aceg waplings
MedHerbeacg mazos
rOma/ocans con kg
Onram lans ctg Ga
ar nt Us ha
Ile Cash let 0 as
kOCNhlmtQ Oa

g Cash ndQ Ga.


Mze+Cas Honey Fruit and Medicinal Forest
bean*pnt Forest Herb
squash Honey Nurery
coconuts Traes
0.88888 0 1 0.850694
1 0 0

4 2 3
6 2 4
8 4 3 0
6 4 4
0 1 6
4 1 4
2 1 6
2 1 6
0 0
1 1 2
2 1 2
0 1 2
1 1 2




54000 48000




Elephant Feed
Gras pair of
& Sugar Oxen
0 684167

e .. eS t S 1 i t l: z : ".
xvp ti"

0 2041667 10 1350 1253333 0 3733333 2066667 0 280
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0.01 0.01 0.01
0.01 0.01 0.01
0 0 0


-75000 -70

-260 -180

-850 -70 -8500

Buy Buy Buy Buy cash Cash cash cash
Meat Mea Meat Meat transfer transfer transfer transfer
and and and and st quar- 2ndquar- 3rdquar- 4th quar
Groceries Groceries Groceries Groceries 2nd quar 3rd quar 4th quar end year
0 0 0 0 397257.9 1650601 2958466 3740267

< w





-1 1~c
1 1'.

RHS Resource

2.8 1.5730558
1 0
0.1 0.085064
0.1 0.1
60 29.934722 MLabor 1st quar
60 32.7125 MLabor 2nd quar
60 10.795278 Mlabor 3rd quar
60 12.159187 MLabor 4thqur
10 8.1458333
10 10
10 9.9236111
10 9.9236111
1 1
16 7.1111111 MTeenLaborlstO
8 8 MTeenLabor2ndQ
8 6.2222222 MTeenLabor-rdQ
8 7.1111111 MTeenLabor4thQ
1 o
-280 -280 Maze Consump
0 -5.79E-13 Maize acctg
-280 -260 Cassava connsm
0 -7.19E-13 Cassava actg
-80 -80 Peanut Consum
0 -5.57E-13 Peanut Account
-50 -50 Squash consume
0 -1.52E-12 Squash Acctoun
0 -2.79E-13 coconut aoctg
0 0 Honey acctg
0 0 NursTree acctg
0 -3.73E-12 MedHerbaocctg
-29.2 -29 2 Grae/carre con
0 -1 5875 Grass/cane acctg
0 0 Forest Use
1 1 Beg Cash ld 0
1 1 Beg Cash 2na
1 1 Beg Cash 3rd 0
1 1 Beg Cash 4thQ
0 3740267 1 Tt Cash and year


The Farm of Merardo Pranco
Area 4 ha
Department of La Cordillera, Paraguay



br let qar days
MLabor 2nd quar days
Mlabor 3rd quw days
MIaboar 4Wt tar days
Me a days
MTanlaba Q days
MITsnLabrlar1O days
MVrees bor2nda days
MTeentabor-rdQ days
MTeenLtbor4thO days
Maige Consump kg
Maize acct Ga
Cammva connsa kg
oCamave actg Gs.
Penut Caonumr kg
Peanut Account OG
Squash consum kg
Squash Act.oun Oa.
coconut accig Ga.
Money acctg Oa
NuraTree ao tg saplings
MedMerbeacctg mazoa
Ornea eae son kg
Oram/eane scar Ga.
Foret Use ha
gon Cash lt Ga.
lag Cash 2udQ Os
"e ChnltoodO Oa

Nq Cash 4rQ Go

Mr.+Cas Honey
squash Honey





Fruit and Medicinal Forest Elephant
Forest Herbs Grass
Nursery & Sugar
Treea Cane
3 1 0.85094 0 0..64167
0 0 1

pair of

.. '. '
0 2041667 10 1350 1253333 0 373 3333 206 6667 135
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01 0.01
0 0 0 0 0

54000 48000






-75000 -70

-260 -180

-850 -70 -8500

Buy Buy Buy Buy cash Cash
Meat Meat Meat Meat transfer transfer
and and and and 1st quar- 2nd quar-
Groceries Groceries Groceries Groceries 2nd quar 3rd quar
0 0 0 0 397257.9 1488601

cash cash
transfer transfer
3rd quar- 4h quar-
4th quar end year
2796466 4725767

RHS Resource

1.5730556-- --
35.934722 MLbor st quar
38.7125 MLabor 2nd quar
22.795278 Mlabor 3rd quar
24.159167 MLabor 4h r
7.1111111 MTeenLaborlstQ
8 MTeenLabor2ndQ
6.2222222 MTeenLaborrdQ
7.1111111 MTenLabor4thQ
-280 Main Consump
1.994E-13 Maize acotg
-280 Cassava connsm
1.807E-13 Cassava acctg
-80 Peanut Consum
2.722E-13 Peanut Account
-50 Squash consume
-1.11E-13 Squash Acctoun
9.29E-13 coconut acctg
0 Honey acctg
-1.78E-13 NursTree atg
-1.07E-12 MedHerbacctg
-292 Orosscane con
-1 5875 Grass/can acctg
0 Forest Use
1 Beg Cash 1t
1 Bag Cash 2ndQ
1 Bag Cash 3rd Q
1 Beg Cash 4hQ
4725767 1 tt Cas and year





1 4m


-Brack, Wilibaldo and Weik, Jorg H, Experiencias Agroforestales en el Paraguay. MAG -

GTZ, Asunci6n, Paraguay 1992

-Chambers, Robert, Who's Reality Counts?, Intermediate Technology Publications. ISBN

1 85339 386 X, Bath Great Britain

-Fretes, Amulfo et al. De la Organizaci6n Campesina al Desarrollo Rural Sostenible. Serie

Debate No. 14, Asunci6n, Paraguay 1993

-Hildebrand, Peter. Economic Characteristics of SmallFamily-Farm Systems (Course


-Rengifo, Grimaldo and Sanchez, Marcos. Hacia una Agricultura Sustentable. MAG-


Asunci6n, Paraguay 1992

-Skjonsberg, Else. Kefa Speaks Out, Kumerian Press. ISBN 0-931816 57-2, 1989

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