Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Chapter 1: Introduction
 Chapter 2: The small-scale family...
 Chapter 3: Economic characteristics...
 Chapter 4: Initial characterization...
 Chapter 5: Designing alternative...
 Chapter 6: Technology development...
 Chapter 7: Organization for...

Title: Perspectives on farming systems research and extension
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072280/00001
 Material Information
Title: Perspectives on farming systems research and extension
Alternate Title: Farming systems research and extension
Physical Description: xiv, 167 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E
Publisher: L. Rienner
Place of Publication: Boulder Colo
Publication Date: 1986
Subject: Family farms   ( lcsh )
Farms, Small   ( lcsh )
Agricultural innovations   ( lcsh )
Agricultural systems   ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work   ( lcsh )
Agricultural systems -- Research   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographies.
Statement of Responsibility: edited by Peter E. Hildebrand.
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: UF00072280
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000894800
oclc - 13457045
notis - AEK3365
lccn - 86010029
isbn - 093147793X :

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
    Chapter 1: Introduction
        Page 1
        The need for new strategy
            Page 1
            Page 2
            Page 3
            Page 4
            Page 5
            Page 6
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
        Farming systems research and development
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
            Page 15
            Page 16
    Chapter 2: The small-scale family farm as a system
        Page 17
        Human society
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
        Hierarchical agricultural systems
            Page 29
            Page 30
            Page 31
        Defining a farming system
            Page 32
            Page 33
        Prevailing farming systems by regions
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
        Characteristics of selected systems
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
        The concept of "homogeneous systems" and its usefulness
            Page 52
        Hierarchy of constraints to system productivity
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
    Chapter 3: Economic characteristics of small family-farm systems
        Page 57
        Economic characteristics of small-scale, limited-resource family farms
            Page 57
            Page 58
        On the non-neutrality of scale of agricultural research
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
        The puzzle: Panajachel, Guatemala
            Page 66
            Page 67
            Page 68
        Unforeseen consequences of introducing new technologies in traditional agriculture
            Page 69
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
        Response to technological change
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
            Page 77
            Page 78
            Page 79
            Page 80
    Chapter 4: Initial characterization of farming systems: Comprehending and utilizing what we see and hear
        Page 81
        Anthropological perspectives on contemporary human problems
            Page 81
            Page 82
        The art of the informal agricultural survey
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
        The sondeo: A team rapid survey approach
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
        Comparing informal and formal surveys
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
            Page 102
    Chapter 5: Designing alternative solutions and improved practices
        Page 103
        Necessary and sufficient conditions for adoption of improved practices
            Page 103
        Human problems in technological change
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
        Prescreening potential technological components
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
            Page 112
            Page 113
            Page 114
            Page 115
            Page 116
        Infrastructural support for technological change
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
        Design of technology
            Page 121
            Page 122
            Page 123
        Examples of planning on-farm experiments
            Page 124
            Page 125
            Page 126
            Page 127
        Empirical results of farming systems research
            Page 128
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
    Chapter 6: Technology development and continuing characterization
        Page 133
        Enterprise records (A form of multiple visit survey)
            Page 133
            Page 134
            Page 135
            Page 136
        Types of on-farm trials
            Page 137
        Research to test the value of recommended practices
            Page 138
            Page 139
            Page 140
            Page 141
            Page 142
            Page 143
            Page 144
            Page 145
            Page 146
            Page 147
        Farmer-managed trials
            Page 148
            Page 149
            Page 150
            Page 151
            Page 152
            Page 153
            Page 154
    Chapter 7: Organization for development
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        FSR/E regions and field teams
            Page 162
            Page 163
            Page 164
            Page 165
            Page 166
            Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
Full Text
Perspe c t i v e s on
Edited by Peter E. Hildebrand

Pers p e c t i ves on
Edited by Peter E. Hildebrand

Perspectives on

Published in the United States of America in 1986 by
Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.
948 North Street, Boulder, Colorado 80302

a 1986 by Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved

Library of Cq ress atalogg-i'PbhliatHm Data

Perspectives on farming systems research and

1. Agricultural systems. 2. Agricultural systea--
Research. 3. Agricultural extension work. 4. Agricul-
tural innovations. 5. Family farms. 6. Fanrs, snall.
I. Hildebrand, Peter E.
S494.5.S95P47 1986 631,5 86-10029

Distributed outside of North and South America and Japan by
Frances Pinter (Publishers) Ltd, 25 Floral Street,
London WC2E 916 aEgland UK ISN 0-86187-669-5

Printed and bound in the United States of America

The paper used in this publication meets the
requirements of the American National Standard far
oPenmence of Paper for Printed Library Materials


Chapter 1 Introduction

Fro mhyte, Willian F. "Participatory Approaches to Agricultural Research
and Development: A State-of-the-Art Paper," vol. 3, no. 1. Ithaca, New York: Rural
Development Caurittee, Center for International Studies, Carnell University
(1981): 1-6. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
rom Hildebrand, Peter E., and R.K. Waugh. "Farning Systems Research and
Development." SSP Newsletter vol. 1, no. 1 (1983): 4-5. By permission.

Chapter 2 The Smal-Scale Family Farm as a System

Excerpted from Shapiro, Harry L., ed. Man, Culture, and Society. Copyright
o 1956, 1971 by Odford University Press, Inc.; renewed 1984 by Hary L. Shapiro.
Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Excerpted fram Shaner, W.W. Readings in Farming System Research. Copyright
o1982 by Colorado State University. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press. Reprinted
with permission of the publisher.
Frcm Norman, D.W. "Dhe Farming Systems Approach: Relevancy for the Smll
Farmer," MSU Rural Develo nt Paper No. 5. Fast lansing, Michigan: Michigan State
University (19M0): 2-4. By permission.

romn mcuoau, R. E., and P. E. Hildebrand. "Integrated Crop and Animal
Production: Making the Mbst of Resources Available to Small Farns in Developing
Countries." The Rockefeller Foudation Working Papers. New York: The Rockefeller
Foundation (1980): 9-15. By penmisssion.
Fran McDowell, R. E., and P. E. Hildebrand. 'Integrated Crop and Animal
Production: Making the Most of Resources Available to Snall Farms in Developing
Countries." The Rockefeller Foundation Working Papers. New York: The Rockefeller
Foundation (1980): 17-25, 36-39, 51-56. By permission.
Excerpted from Hildebrand, P. E. Working Paper, Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), International Programs, Farming Systems Support
Project. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida (1983). By permission.
Excerpted front Hildebrand, P. E. The Farmin Systems Approach to Technology
Development and Transfer. Water Managemet Synthesis II Project, International
Irrigation Center. Logan, Utah: Utah State University (1983): 31-35. By permission.

Chapter 3 Econaomc Qaracteristics of Snall Family Farm Systems

First two readings front Hildebrand, P. E. IWrking Paper, Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), International Prograns, Farming Systems Support
Project. Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida (1983). By permission.
Excerpted from Schultz, Theodore W. Transforming Traditional Agriculture.
New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press (1964): 33-35, 41-44. Reprinted with
permission of the publisher.
Fran Hildebrand, P. E., and Edgar G. Luna. Paper presented at Session No. 5,
Public Investment in Research, Fducation, and Technology, Fifteenth Conference of
Agricultural Economics. Sao Paulo, Brazil (1973). By peradession.
Excerpted front Wharton, C. R., Jr., ed. Subsistence Agriculture and economic
Develobent. Ocago: Aldine Publishing Copany (1969): Chapter 7. Reprinted with
permission of the publisher.

Chapter 4 Initial characterization of Farming System

Excerpted fran Bodley, J. H. Anthropoloy and Contenporary Humn Problems.
Menlo Park, California: The Benjami/mOmJugs Publishing Company (1976): 10-12.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
From Rhoades, R. E. Training Document. Social Science Department,
International Potato Center, Lima, Peru (1982).
Fram Hildebrand, P. E. Cacbining Disciplines in Rapid Appraisal: The
Sondeo Approach." Agricultural Administration 8. (1981): 423-432.
From Franzal, Steven. paringig the Results of an Infornal Survey with
Those of a Formal Survey: A Case Study of Farming Systems Research/Extension
(PR/E) in Middle Kirinyaga, Kenya." Paper presented at the Farming Systes
Research and Etension Symposium, Manhattan, Kansas (1984).

Chapter 5 Designing Alternative Solutions and Improved Practices

From Norman, D. W. "The Farming Systems Approach to Research." Paper
presented at the Farming Systems Research Symposiun "Farmrng Systems in the
Field," Kansas State University, Manhattan,. Kansas (1982): 5.

Fran "Foreword and Introduction," by Alexander H. Leighton and Ediard H.
Spicer, respectively, in HuIan Problems in Technological Change: A Casebook edited
by Edward H. Spicer. 1952 by Russell Sage Foundation. Reprinted by permission of
Basic Books, Inc., Publishers.
From Planning Technologies Appropriate to Farmers: Concepts and Procedures.
Mexico: CIfIY (1980): Chapter 11. By permission.
Fran Zandstra, H., and K. Swanberg, C. Zulberti, and B. Nestel. Caque
Living Rural Development. Ottawa: International Development Research Center (IRC)
(1979): 255-258. Reprinted with pernlsssion of the publisher.
From Gilbert, E. H., D. W. Norman, and F. E. Winch. IJ Rural DevelopIent
Paper No. 6. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University (1980): 51-54. By
Fran Planning Technologies Appropriate for Farners: Concepts and Procedures.
Mexico: CIMAYT (1980): Qhapter 12. By permission.
Fran Norman, D. W. 'The Farming Systems Approach: Relevancy for the Small
Farner," MSU Rural Development Paper No. 5. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State
University (1980): 10-20. By permission.

Chapter 6 Technology Development and Continuing Characterization

Excerpted froa Shaner, W. W., P. F. Phillip, and W. R. Schmehl. Farming
Systems Research and Development: Guidelines for Developing Countries. Copyright
1982 by Consortium for International Development. Boulder, Colorado: Westview
Press: Appendix 5-x, 309-314. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Fran Hildebrand, P. E., and F. Poey. 'On-Farm Agroncmic Trials," Faming
System Research and Extension. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.
(1985): 6-8. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Excerpted from Zandstra, H., K. Swanberg, C. Zulberti, and B. Nestel.
Caqueza: Living Rural Development. Ottawa: International Development Research
Center (IIIC) (1979): Chapter 10, 160-189. Reprinted with permission of the
From Hildebrand, P. E., and F. Poey. '"n-Farm Agronanic Trials," Faring
Systems Research and Extension. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.
(1985): 115-147. Reprinted with permnrssion of the publisher.
Fran Hildebrand, P. E. 'b-Farm Research: Organized Camunity Adaptation,
Learning and Diffusion for Efficient Agricultural Technology Innovation,"
FSSP Newsletter, vol.3, no.4 (1985): 6-9. By permission.
Fran Hildebrand, P. E., E. Martinez, and R. Ortiz. generalizedd Organization
of FSR/E Regions and Field Teams," FSSP Newsletter, vol.3, no.2 (1985): 1-3. By

To Maria and Annie with love




The Need for a New Strategy William F. Whyte 1

Farming Systems Research and Development
Peter E. Hildebrand and Robert K. Waugh 12


Human Society Robert Redfield 17

Hierarchical Agricultural Systems Robert D. Hart 29

Defining a Farming System David W. Norman 32

Prevailing Farming Systems by Regions Robert E. McDowell
and Peter E. Hildebrand 34

Characteristics of Selected Systems Robert E. McDowell
and Peter E. Hildebrand 39

The Concept of "Homogeneous Systems" and Its Usefulness
Peter E. Hildebrand 52

Hierarchy of Constraints to System Productivity
Peter E. Hildebrand 53


Economic Characteristics of Small-Scale. Limited-Resource
Family Farms Peter E. Hildebrand 57


On the Non-Neutrality of Scale of Agricultural Research
Peter E. Hildebrand 59

The Puzzle: Panajachel, Guatemala Theodore W. Schultz 66

Unforeseen Consequences of Introducing New Technologies
in Traditional Agriculture Peter E. Hildebrand and
Edgar G. Luna 69

Response to Technological Change John W. Mellor 74


AnthropologicalPerspectives on Contemporary Human
Problems J. H. Bodley 81

The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey
Robert E. Rhoades 83

The Sondeo: A Team Rapid Survey Approach
Peter E. Hildebrand 93

Comparing Informal and Formal Surveys Steven C. Franzel 98


Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Adoption of Improved
Practices David W. Norman 103

Human Problems in Technological Change Edward H. Spicer 104

Prescreening Potential Technological Components CIMMYT 107

Infrastructural Support for Technological Change
Hubert Zandstra, Kenneth Swanberg, Carlos Zulberti,
and Barry Nestel 117

Design of Technology Elon H. Gilbert, David W. Norman,
and Fred E. Winch 121

Examples of Planning On-Farm Experiments CIMMYT 124

Empirical Results of Farming Systems Research
David W. Norman 128


Enterprise Records (A Form of Multiple Visit Survey)
William W. Shaner, Perry F. Phillip, and
Willard R. Schmehl 133

Types of On-Farm Trials Peter E. Hildebrand and
Federico Poey 137

Research to Test the Value of Recommended Practices
Hubert Zandstra, Kenneth Swanberg, Carlos Zulberti, and
Barry Nestel 138

Farmer-Managed Trials Peter E. Hildebrand and
Federico Poey 148


FSR/E in a Community Context Peter E. Hildebrand 155

FSR/E Regions and Field Teams Peter E. Hildebrand,
Eugenio Martinez, and Ramiro Ortiz 162


As this book goes to press, several important events
related to farming systems research and extension have occurred.
In February 1986, the International Agricultural Research Centers
held a conference in Hyderabad, India, where they confirmed
the importance of the farming systems concept as a method for
reaching the majority of the world's farmers with new technology.
In April 1986, the Office of Technology Assessment commissioned
a paper to help the Congress of the United States evaluate
farming systems as a means of solving rural poverty and hunger,
particularly in Africa. The World Bank, after assessing the
disappointing impact of the Training and Visitation extension
system, has decided that farming systems must become a part
of the technology innovation process in order to provide the
technology necessary for the T and V system to be effective.
In all, the Farming Systems Support Project has accumulated
a current list of 253 farming systems projects in Asian, African,
and Latin American countries. These are funded by many internation-
al donors in combination with the national budgets of those
countries. In addition, several of the land grant universities
in the United States have initiated farming systems projects
in their own states.
This collection of readings is designed to provide back-
ground and historical perspective cn farming systems research
and extension. As the collection originated, it was much longer
and contained both background and required readings for the
farming systems. research and extension methods course offered
at the University of Florida. It was also used for short courses,
approximately one week in length, taught under the auspices
of the USAID-funded Farming Systems Support Project at the
University of Florida and several other U.S. campuses and foreign
locations. In order to reduce the volume of reading required
of the participants in these courses, the readings were reduced
to a minimum set.
It is difficult to put together a book of readings in
a field that is developing as fast as is farming systems. Each
year new basic readings appear that should be included. However,


it was thought that a book of background readings would be
useful to provide a perspective on the development of the ap-
proach. The majority of the articles appeared in the 1980s,
although much of the information contained in them was developed
during the 1970s, when farming systems began to gain momentum.
Selections are taken from the biological, the social,
and the economic sciences, as should be expected from an activity
that requires multidisciplinary participation. Articles have
been abbreviated or excerpted--in some cases only one or two
key paragraphs are included. Some of the papers have been written
specifically for this book. Grateful appreciation is expressed
for the kind permission granted to use all the articles.
I want to especially thank Jeanette Romero, who worked
with me for several years and typed many drafts of the book,
and Dorita Osorio, able replacement, upon whom fell the responsi-
bility for typing the final version. Thanks also are due to
all the students and fellow farming systems professionals who
contributed many thoughts and suggestions on what to include
or exclude. Their continuing interest has provided the incentive
to complete this volume.

Peter E. Hildebrand

Perspectives on




In the first reading, W.F. Whyte presents some of the more
compelling arguments that led to the development of the approach
now called farming systems. The reading gives some of the
background for his 1983 book with Damon Boynton, Higher Yielding
Human Systems for Agriculture, published by the University of
Cornell Press. The title of the book expresses much of the
spirit of the farming systems approach, a name applied by a
person or persons unknown to this writer to several related but
independent activities that were taking place in Africa, Asia,
and Latin America in the 1970s. The essence of these activities
was, indeed, a human system in which farmers and scientists
combined their knowledge and resources in order to be more
productive in the eternal battle to maintain and improve the
state of the human population of the earth. The second reading
is a brief statement outlining farming systems research and
development to lay the framework for the following chapters.

William F. Whyte

The organizational framework for agricultural research and
development which has evolved over the past century, into the
1970s, has worked reasonably well for the now-industrialized
nations. Students of agriculture development in increasing
numbers, however, are coming to believe that this approach is not
working and will not work so well any more in the developing
nations. This conclusion has prompted a search for new
agricultural R and D models of organization especially designed
to improve the productivity and well-being of the rural majority
who have so far been by-passed.
The plant breeding breakthroughs of the "Green Revolution"
of the 1960s, which produced new high-yielding grain varieties,
supported some enormous advances in food production in a number




In the first reading, W.F. Whyte presents some of the more
compelling arguments that led to the development of the approach
now called farming systems. The reading gives some of the
background for his 1983 book with Damon Boynton, Higher Yielding
Human Systems for Agriculture, published by the University of
Cornell Press. The title of the book expresses much of the
spirit of the farming systems approach, a name applied by a
person or persons unknown to this writer to several related but
independent activities that were taking place in Africa, Asia,
and Latin America in the 1970s. The essence of these activities
was, indeed, a human system in which farmers and scientists
combined their knowledge and resources in order to be more
productive in the eternal battle to maintain and improve the
state of the human population of the earth. The second reading
is a brief statement outlining farming systems research and
development to lay the framework for the following chapters.

William F. Whyte

The organizational framework for agricultural research and
development which has evolved over the past century, into the
1970s, has worked reasonably well for the now-industrialized
nations. Students of agriculture development in increasing
numbers, however, are coming to believe that this approach is not
working and will not work so well any more in the developing
nations. This conclusion has prompted a search for new
agricultural R and D models of organization especially designed
to improve the productivity and well-being of the rural majority
who have so far been by-passed.
The plant breeding breakthroughs of the "Green Revolution"
of the 1960s, which produced new high-yielding grain varieties,
supported some enormous advances in food production in a number

of countries. Yet as many critics have noted, the new technology
has tended to favor those rural producers already in relatively
advantageous positions, doing much less to improve the lot of the
rural majority, even in some cases having negative effects by
spurring labor displacement or land concentration.
This uneven impact of the new technology has not been a con-
sequence simply of different sizes of landholdings. While on the
average, larger farmers have benefited from it more than smaller
farmers, studies sponsored by the International Rice Research
Institute in Asia have found that where small farmers were
cultivating irrigated land, they tended to adopt the new
technology about as rapidly as the larger farmers and to reap
substantial benefits. Indeed, their more intensive use of labor
produced higher yields per acre than on larger, less intensively
cultivated farms.
The new technology, however, by concentrating on achieving
the largest possible increases in yield, required good water
control, application of chemical fertilizer, herbicides, pesti-
cides, etc., even in some instances, mechanical power. Such
conditions could not be generally met by smaller, poorer farmers.
Indeed, worldwide we find that only about 15 percent of land
under cultivation is served by irrigation systems, so this means
that farmers on about 85 percent of the total area will benefit
much less from innovations developed for irrigated land.
Some of the agricultural research programs are broadening
the objectives in their plant breeding programs. We find IRRI,
CIMMYT, and other international research centers, as well as
their national agricultural research counterparts, increasingly
working on upland crops and on improvements like inbred pest and
disease resistance, nitrogen fixation, etc. Yet even as these
laudable new efforts are launched, there is reason to be
concerned that the very style and organization of most current
agricultural R and D will not adequately take account of the cir-
cumstances of small farmers and improve their productivity, for
reasons discussed later.
We do not wish to discount the great achievements in agri-
cultural science and technology to date or to underestimate the
potential for economic and social gains through agricultural
research in the future. We begin our review with a recognition
that the agricultural sciences have been enormously successful in
some important respects. Without the advance of the so-called
"Green Revolution," worldwide production of cereal grains would
be far less than it is today, and the brunt of shortfalls would
surely fall on the poorest sectors of society.
Existing agricultural R and D strategies have not given much
direct support to those farmers who struggle to survive under
conditions of climate, soil, and water which are much less
favorable than assumed by the "Green Revolution" technology.
Moreover, they labor and produce within systems of agricultural
production far more complex than the "primitive" stereotype we
usually have of "peasant" farming (Harwood 1979; also Wharton
1969; Loomis 1976; Scrimshaw and Taylor 1980, pp. 86-88). We
need to come to terms with these circumstances if agricultural R
and D is to assist the poor rural majority as LDC governments and
donor agencies intend.
We do not assume that a new agricultural R and D model will

be able to transform all rural people into productive farmers
able to feed their families and have some surplus to sell for
cash income. In the first place, there are many millions of
landless rural families. Among those who own no land at all, a
substantial part of the rural population has access to land only
under highly oppressive conditions of tenancy (Esman 1978;
Rosenberg and Rosenberg 1978; Lassen 1979; Harik 1979). Research
in the plant and animal sciences can hardly be expected to
benefit them substantially unless land tenure conditions are
changed. In the second place, there are millions of near-
landless households -- minifundistas as they are called in Latin
America -- who own so little land that they have no possibility
of growing enough food to feed their families, let alone having
any. surplus to market. Improvements in their well-being will
also depend in large measure on the generation of new employment
While most of our attention here is focused on small farm-
ers who are the next level up, owning enough land to have a
possibility of becoming self-sufficient in food production and
even producing a small surplus, we are also concerned with these
minifundistas. While it may be impossible for this category to
make their small farms produce enough to feed their families and
also bring in a small cash income, we should not conclude that
plant and animal sciences can do nothing for them. Around the
world, there are millions of minifundistas who are at least able
to meet some of their families' food consumption needs through
their own farm work and at the same time have members of their
families work off their farms, either for larger farmers
elsewhere or in nonagricultural occupations, thus bringing in
some income to buy food and some of the other necessities of
Such families might profit significantly from increases in
the efficiency of their farms; but changes in their practices
which would require substantially more farm work (when they are
already working a great deal off the farm), or a substantially
greater expenditure on inputs (when cash is very scarce), might
involve sacrifices of opportunities for off-farm employment or of
consumption that would make the changes seem impractical to such
farmers. This fact means that researchers and extensionists must
go beyond dealing with one crop at a time, rather considering the
pattern of the farming system as a whole and relating that
farming system to the total economic and social environment of
the rural family.
Having opened up far larger problems than we can deal with
in an introduction, we begin with discussion of deficiencies in
conventional agricultural research and development strategies.
Our purpose is not to make negative arguments but rather to
determine what lessons can be learned from past experience for
deriving more fruitful R and D models for the future.


Agricultural research and development models have mostly
been created in industrialized nations and then have been
introduced into developing nations. Although some implications

are involved, it is instructive to consider two general types of
models that have been transferred. The first type, the European
colonial model, was already introduced before World War II in the
African and Asian colonies. The second type was developed after
1945 through U.S. technical and financial assistance in Latin
America and some Middle Eastern and Asian nations.
The European colonial model was based primarily upon large-
scale plantations devoted to production of crops for export -
and particularly for export to the mother country. In some
cases, these plantations developed a high degree of productivity
and efficiency, based on thorough farm management backed up by
high quality research in the plant sciences. Until shortly
before the end of the colonial period however, such research was
concentrated largely upon export crops, thus providing for no
technical assistance to the small farmers who were raising crops
for home consumption and for local marketing. When researchers
finally began experimentation on domestically consumed crops, the
plantation system did not lend itself to effective work with
small farmers. Thus, the Europeans and their African and Asian
research counterparts were in need of a new agricultural research
and development model.
The structure of the European model, in its initial concep-
tion and supporting philosophy, was distinctly "vertical."
Research was carried out in the laboratories and sent "down" to
the plantation, where production could be closely supervised and
controlled, as in a traditional industrial organization. Any
feedback was definitely "upwards" to the scientist who guided the
operation. Naturally, adapting this model for work with small
farmers proved difficult.
With the passing of the colonial era, the U.S. model of
agricultural research and extension gained in popularity and
influence. Indeed, in the late 1940s, many U.S. experts assumed
that transplantation of their model to developing nations could
result in the same increase in productivity and farmer income as
had occurred in the United States. The Point IV program,
designed to bring technological and financial assistance to
agriculture in developing nations, carried with it the model of
American "land grant" universities linked to an extension service
taking the results of university-based research "out" to farmers.
If the system worked as intended, it brought farmers' experience
and problems "back" to the researchers at the university or
experiment station. This model was intended to be "horizontal,"
although in practice this second model can resemble the first by
having essentially a one-way flow of initiatives and information.
As is well known in studies of industry and government, in a
vertical organization it is much easier to transmit information
accurately downward than upward, and initiation of changes from
below is likely to be especially difficult. The horizontal model
was intended to overcome this imbalance in flow of communication
and exercise of influence.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States spent millions of
dollars to expand and strenghten agricultural extension in Latin
America and also in some Middle Eastern and Asian nations.
Toward the end of this period, AID commissioned an evaluation
(Rice 1971) to determine the effects of these expenditures in the
Andean nations. The study sought evidence in concrete terms of

increased yields or other quantitative indices of improvement.
The author was not seeking to discredit agricultural extension.
On the contrary, he made an exhaustive search for any solid
indications that this enormous expenditure by the U.S. and by the
host nations had produced measurable benefits, but with no
As we examine the factors underlying the failure of the at-
tempted U.S. transplant to become broadly effective, we should
recognize that program planners focused mostly on one part of the
model agricultural extension. Until the failure of this partial
transplant became evident, they did not undertake to build in
developing countries (or were not able to build) the other
components, particularly the university- and experiment-station-
based research programs, which were vital features of the U.S.
model. The failure of the agricultural extension system to
produce expected benefits cannot be attributed to any single
cause. It will be instructive to describe some of the main fac-
tors that were involved, however.


The strategy employed in agricultural extension also in-
volved the now discredited assumption still implicit in the
commonly used phrase, "transfer of technology." The term is
seriously misleading because it implies that small farmers have
such inadequate knowledge about agriculture that they must depend
upon the professionals to provide them with the information and
ideas to improve production.
We find many common deficiencies in knowledge and ability on
the part of extension agents. In most developing countries,
college education and even high school education had been
confined largely to persons coming from urban families. Men of
such background employed as extension agents often had little or
no actual farming experience, and, furthermore, their education
had been largely a matter of book learning. Therefore, one
usually had a young and inexperienced extension agent dealing
with a middle-aged farmer. That farmer was likely to discover
rather quickly that the agent was without practical experience
and might not know what he was talking about. The agent, lacking
confidence in his own farming ability, would be inclined to
compensate for his insecurity by emphasizing the superior
importance of his book learning. Relationships built upon such a
foundation could hardly lead to constructive outcomes.
Even when the extension agent has been able to combine some
practical knowledge with his formal learning, and has learned to
relate well to peasant farmers, his effectiveness can be
undermined by the scope of work he is expected to cover in tasks,
territory, and population. In a study of the extension of
high-yielding rice varieties in Tamil Nadu State of India, agents
were responsible for supervising 30 or more other schemes, many
of which had multiple operational components (one included
promotion of five varieties, a loan program, and fertilizer
distribution). In addition, the extension agent was to submit a
21-page monthly report which could take up to a week to complete
(Heginbotham 1975 pp. 107-108). Superiors freely demanded still

other reports and soil samples from hundreds of randomly selected
locations, setting "targets" beyond any human capability to
achieve (pp. 112-119). That the HYV program did not make more
progress was at least partly due to the irrationality of
extension administration, though the top administrators could
blithely insist that all targets were "rationally decided."
In neighboring Andhra Pradesh State, a study found extension
officers spending 19 to 44 percent of their time in preparing and
maintaining reports and returns, ana that District Agricultural
Officers had about 125 reports (weekly, monthly, quarterly,
half-yearly, and annual) to submit (Reddy 1981 p.103). In Kenya,
where monthly work loads of extension staff were analyzed in
terms of the targets already set, meeting all of them would
require as much as 474 percent of the available staff time
(Chambers 1974 p.66).
In such situations, it becomes "rational" for the agents
themselves to adopt strategies vis-a-vis farmers that protect
their careers, giving precedence to reports over fieldwork, or in
their fieldwork focusing on richer farmers who are more inclined
to cooperate and who have larger holdings so they can take more
of the proffered seeds and fertilizer and thereby make the
agent's performance record look better.
In a study of the Kenyan extension service's performance, it
turned out to be "rational" for agents -- unable to serve all the
hundreds of farmers in their assigned area -- to serve the
richer, more "progressive" farmers disproportionately. Indeed
such farmers were 42 times more likely to receive a visit from an
extension agent during the year than a farmer who was not already
using hybrid corn seed and raising a cash crop. This "bias" in
extension services would minimize the likelihood of complaints
against the agent by influential people which would make his
personnel record look bad (Leonard 1977).
The scope of the agent's responsibilities -- the number of
activities and the number of farmers assigned to him -- thus
often prevented him from undertaking the kind of follow-up on the
results of his recommendations that would enable him to be a more
effective change agent -- or they would keep him from engaging
himself with the problems which face small farmers not yet part
of a commercial system of production and marketing. If farmers
did not accept the agent's recommendations or did not get the
promised results, this should raise a number of questions, seldom
Did the farmer adopt the recommendations exactly as proposed
by the agent? If not, why not? Because he did not understand
the agent's explanations? Because he understood but did not
believe that the recommendations would yield good results?
Because he could not afford the cost of the necessary inputs? Or
because the inputs were not available?
If the farmer did attempt to apply the recommendations but
achieved poor results, the following questions suggest them-
selves. Did he apply the recommendations in accordance with the
directions of the agent? If not, why not? This leads back to
the questions raised above. If he did apply the recommendations
faithfully, but still results were poor, were the recommendations
simply wrong? None of these questions can be answered by the
agent who works in the traditional top-down style of field

If an extension agent works closely with farmers throughout
the agricultural cycle, he will have a good chance of learning
the answers to most or all of these questions, and those answers
will greatly enrich his learning and increase his effectiveness.
However, such an intensive relationship cannot be developed and
maintained if the agent is responsible for a large territory and
a large number of farmers, as usually is the case.
This might lead us to the conclusion that agricultural min-
istries should multiply the number of agents so as to achieve
more intensive relations between agents and farmers. Even if
there were no other reasons to argue against this conclusion --
and indeed there are -- it is obvious that developing countries
simply lack the money and the professional talent to provide for
this more intense technical assistance relationship. Such a
conclusion must lead us to recognize that the basic design of the
relationship is faulty: if we think only in terms of a one-on-one
relationship between the extension agent and the farmer, then it
is impossible to develop a cost-effective system of agricultural
research and extension. We therefore need to think of
organizational strategies which will not only provide more useful
information but will channel it more effectively and economically
to those who need to use it.
We also find almost universally a lack of integration among
the various government agencies which have official respon-
sibilities of serving the small farmers. It is rare indeed to
find a country where there is an effective collaborative
relationship between research and extension. We commonly find
that research people look down upon extension agents, considering
them incompetent and poorly trained. On the other hand,
extension agents are often inclined to think that research people
are out of touch with the practical realities of farming and
simply pursuing esoteric projects designed to lend them profes-
sional prestige.
The problems are compounded by difficulties with agricul-
tural credit and marketing. As various studies have shown,
credit tends to go predominantly to the more affluent farmers.
This bias cannot be explained in terms of credit risk, for
research suggests that the failure of repayment is higher among
large farmers, whose social position and political connections
help them to avoid penalties for defaulting on their obligations.
This social-class bias in the channeling of credit has been
documented in various parts of the world. (For India, see Ames
1975; for Bangladesh, see Blair 1978.)
The cost of credit for small farmers is also likely to be a
major problem. In order to protect poor people from the exorbi-
tant rates of money lenders, many governments have established
special credit programs for small farmers. However, even if such
programs do provide money at lower nominal interest rates than
private lenders, the de facto rates may still be so high as to
discourage borrowers. Or the cost, in terms of time, to obtain
necessary certificates and signatures may be substantial and
detract from the value of the loan. It is not just a question of
the availability or unavailability of credit or even of rates of
interest so high that loans are not attractive to farmers. There
are problems in getting authorized credit to farmers in time for

them to make the optimum use of that credit.
...now, more than ten years after the beginning of Pro-
ject Puebla (in 1967) it is still impossible to get
credit in the hands of the small farmers of Puebla
earlier than one month after they need it to achieve
best results. (Antonio Turrent, personal communica-
tion )
Further, in industrialized nations, many farm families own
trucks or pickups that they use to get their produce to the
market. Few small farmers in developing countries can afford
such vehicles. Unless they band together to form a cooperative
-- a possibility we will discuss later they are at the mercy
of their more affluent neighbors or of intermediaries from
elsewhere for getting their produce to the market. The poor
farmer often finds that he has to sell his produce on the spot at
a fraction of what he could get for it if he himself were able to
put it in the market.
To deal with this marketing problem, some governments have
established buying organizations, guaranteeing to buy what the
farmer produces at prices designed to provide him a reasonable
income. However, such government organizations often are so
inefficient that they fail to provide help to small farmers. Nor
is it just a matter of the difference in efficiency between the
independent entrepreneur and the government agency. Even if he
offers the farmer a price substantially below the government
guarantee, the entrepreneur makes his decisions and pays cash on
the spot. The driver of the government truck has no such
freedom. Since he is dealing with money of the state, he can
only weigh the produce and give the farmer a receipt for the
amount he has delivered. The farmer then may have to wait
several months before collecting in cash from the government
agency and, even at that time, he may be disappointed in finding
that the amount he had expected to receive has been reduced
because of reported deficiencies in quality or presence of
impurities. Such discounts, based upon judgments and calcula-
tions made behind the scenes (and possibly incorrect) are beyond
his control. Furthermore, sometimes a bribe must be paid to an
official to redeem the receipt issued for the produce, a
complaint among cocoa farmers in Ghana (Beckman 1976) and small
farmers selling export crops in Jamaica (Goldsmith and Blustain
Then, too, there may be serious storage problems for the
small farmer. If he must sell his produce at the time of
harvest, he finds himself going into the market when supplies are
most bountiful and prices lowest. He knows he could get a
substantially higher price if he could hold his produce off the
market for several weeks or months, but, even if he could afford
to delay the sale, his ability to do that depends upon having his
own storage facilities or having access at reasonable cost to
other facilities in his neighborhood. Without such support, the
farmer is constantly entering the market under disadvantageous
Finally there is the sex bias that has been built into
agricultural R and D organizations from the beginning but which
only recently has come to be recognized as a problem (Staudt
1975, 1978). In the past all over the world, agricultural

extension has been a job for men. The extension activities
provided for women have traditionally centered around the
homemaker functions of cooking, sewing, and so on. This division
of labor is based upon the implicit and incorrect assumption that
farm women only take care of home and family.
In many parts of the developing world, women are actively
engaged in agricultural production. In fact, in some countries
in Africa it is estimated that women do 70 percent of the farm
work (E. Boulding 1977). Even in countries where most of the
farm work is carried on by males, women participate at critical
points. Then there is always a large number of farm households
(20 to 30 percent in many countries) headed by widows or by women
whose husbands are away seasonally or for extended periods in
urban employment. In such cases, women can be severely
disadvantaged if they receive no assistance from the agricultural
professionals. Furthermore, even when the extension agent
recognizes the woman's involvement in agricultural production, he
is likely to find it difficult to work effectively with her
because of communication problems or suspicions that would be
aroused in some cultures by the outside professional spending
time alone with the farm woman.
While all of these factors add up to a general explanation
of the ineffectiveness of the traditional agricultural extension
system, we gain a more systematic picture of the problem if we
place it in the context of the socioeconomic structure of a
developing nation, compared to the United States. The U. S. model
of land grant university and extension systems fits into a
socioeconomic structure of relatively ample landholdings, in an
affluent farm population with a high level of education so that
farmers are able to read and study published material, and all of
this set in a democratic culture which emphasizes status
differences and promotes free exchange of opinion and ideas.
Furthermore, the U. S. farmer is supported by a modern
infrastructure for communication and transportation. There are
many farmers who earn more money than do extension agents and
many have had as much education as the agents themselves. The
more successful farmers do not hesitate to bypass the extension
agent to go to talk to a researcher in the university or seek out
a specialist in a private company to get advice on their
problems. The farmers also have a social position and
organizational base which enables them to put pressure on the R
and D system to respond to their interests. To be sure, all of
this has led to what is coming to be recognized as a bias in the
system in favor of serving the larger farmers and agribusiness,
but still the system has served a much broader base in the United
States than in developing countries.
In the latter countries, there may be such a gap in social
.status, education, and income between peasant farmers and
extension agents that the farmers are hesitant to express their
opinions and make demands upon the agent, while at the same time
the difference in social positions tends to lead the agent to
underestimate the intelligence and competence of peasant farmers.
The gap between the two may be further accentuated by major
differences in language and culture. In many countries, there
are large populations of peasant peoples who speak an indigenous
language and speak and understand the national language poorly if

at all.
"Language difficulties reinforce the negative view agents
hold toward small farmers. That is, the small farmer may be
fluent and eloquent in his indigenous language and yet be able to
speak only at a primitive or crude level in the national lan-
guage. Being addressed at this 'childish level', the agent often
unconsciously assumes that the farmer has a childish mentality
and limited intelligence. Such a demeaning view presents a major
barrier against the building of mutual respect upon which
satisfactory cooperation depends.
"When the extension agent does speak the indigenous lan-
guage, as is sometimes the case, this helps him to cross the
communication barrier. But rarely is much competence in an
indigenous language considered in making appointments of exten-
sion agents, so often we find communication problems between 'two
cultures' compounded by the language barrier. The basic
differences in social status, education, affluence, language and
culture do not make it impossible to establish effective
communication between the professionals and farmers, but they do
present formidable barriers which will not be overcome simply by
applying a U.S. model of agricultural research and development."
(Norman Uphoff, personal communication )


We can sum up the main points in terms of the
following general propositions:

1. Both the European colonial model and the U.S. agricul-
tural extension model were based upon the implicit assumption
characterized elsewhere as "the myth of the passive peasant"
(Whyte 1975).

2. More effective organizational models must be based upon
the assumption that the poor farmer is an intelligent individual,
interested in changes that may improve the standard of living of
his family, within the limits of his resources and the
information available to him and taking into account the risks
that may accompany change.
3. A one-on-one relationship between the small farmer and
extension agent will not be cost-effective. More effective orga-
nizational models will link agricultural professionals with
organized groups of farmers, with farmers participating actively
in change programs.

4. Small farmers face major problems in the number of
uncoordinated agencies with which they must deal if they are to
get help from the state. Therefore, more effective organiza-
tional models will have to provide better coordination among
these agriculture-related agencies.

5. Communication and cooperation between small farmers and
agricultural professionals are influenced by the culture and
social structure of the country in which they live and work.


Ames, Glenn. 1975. Who benefits from credit programs and who
repays? Large farmers in village level cooperatives in My-
sore, India. Land Tenure Center Newsletter, January- March,
pp. 16-22. Madison: University of Wisconsin.

Beckman, Bjorn. 1976. Organizing the farmers: Cocoa politics
and national development in Ghana. Uppsala: Scandinavian
Institute of African Studies.

Blair, Harry W. 1978. Rural development, class structure, and
bureaucracy in Bangladesh." World Development, 6:1, pp.

Boulding, Elise. 1977. Women in the twentieth century world.
New York: Wiley.

Chambers, Robert. 1974. Managing rural development: experience
in East Africa. Uppsala: Scandinavian Institute of African

Esman, Milton, et al. 1978. Paraprofessionals in rural
development. Ithaca: Cornell University, Rural Development

Goldsmith, Arthur and Harvey Blustain. 1980. Local organization
and participation in integrated rural development in Jamaica.
Ithaca: Cornell university, Rural Development Committee.

Harik, Iliya, with Susan Randolph. 1979. Distribution of land,
employment and income in rural Egypt. Ithaca: Cornell
University, Rural Development Committee.

Harwood, R.R. 1979. Small farm development: understanding and
improving farming systems in the humid tropics. Boulder:
Westview Press.

Heginbotham, Stanley. 1975. Cultures in conflict: four faces
of Indian bureaucracy. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lassen, Cheryl. 1979. Landlessness and rural poverty in Latin
America: conditions, trends and policies affecting income
and employment. Ithaca: Cornell University, Rural Develop-
ment Comnittee.

Loomis, R.S. 1976. Agricultural systems in food and
agriculture. Scientific American, 235:3.

Reddy, G. Ram. 1981. Panchayati Raj and rural development in
Andhira Pradesh India. In N. Uphoff (ed.), Rural devel-
opment and local organization in Asia. Vol I: South Asia.
New Delhi: MacMillan.

Rice, E.B. 1971. Extension in the Andes: an evaluation of
official U.S. assistance to agricultural extension service

in Central and South America. Washington: U.S. Agency for
International Development.

Rosenberg, David, and Jean Rosenberg. 1978. Landless peasants
and rural poverty in selected Asian countries. Ithaca:
Cornell University, Rural Development Committee.

Scrimshaw, Nevin, and Lance Taylor. 1980. Food. Scientific
American, 243:3.

Staudt, Kathleen. 1975. Women farmers and inequities in agri-
cultural services. Rural Africana, Winter.

Staudt, Kathleen. 1978. Male preference in government agri-
cultural policy implementation. Development and Change,

Wharton, Clifton (ed.). 1969. Subsistence agriculture and eco-
nomic development. Chicago: Aldine.

Whyte, William F. 1975. Organizing for agricultural develop-
ment: human aspects in the utilization of science and tech-
nology. New Brunswick: Transaction Books.

Peter E. Hildebrand and Robert K. Waugh
The term "farming systems" was applied in the 1970s to
several different activities being developed around the world.
These activities had a common thread and general purpose, but the
methods used to pursue the goals differed greatly. The threads
that bound them all together and that are basic to the farming
systems approach are these:
A concern with small-scale family farmers who generally reap
a disproportionately small share of the benefits of organized re-
search, extension, another developmental activities.
Recognition that thorough understanding of the farmers'
situation gained firsthand is critical to increasing their
productivity and to forming a basis for improving their welfare.
The use of scientists and technicians from more than one
discipline as a means of understanding the farm as an entire
system rather than isolating the components within the system.


In the 1980s, as the generic term "farming systems research"
(FSR) came into more common use (for example, see Byerlee et al.
1982), it became evident that two basic components, when used
together, comprise the farming systems approach to research and
development. This concept is similar to that used by Shaner et
al. (1982) who termed it FSR&D. This term will be adopted here.
The two complementary components of FSR&D, recognized by Norman
(1982) under slightly different terminology, are:
The farming systems approach to infrastructural support and
policy (FSIP).

The farming systems research and extension (FSR/E) approach
to technology generation, evaluation, and delivery.


FSIP is more "macro" than is FSR/E. Since it deals with pol-
icy, the variables it treats are mainly outside the farm gate
and involve social scientists and economists more than agro-
biological scientists. Methodologies frequently include surveys
to provide the perspective on farming systems as a means of more
accurately predicting farmer responses to different policy
FSIP is applied, farmer-oriented, socioeconomic research,
supported by the agro-biological sciences in a team effort. The
principal product is information. The primary clients are
policymakers and managers of services and infrastructure.
FSR/E is more "micro" in scope and deals mostly with
conditions inside the farm gate. Because it is concerned with
technology generation, evaluation, and delivery, more agro-
biological scientists than socioeconomic scientists are involved
and methodology is heavy in on-farm biological research with
relatively little time devoted to surveys.
FSR/E is applied, farmer oriented, agro-biological research,
supported by the socio-economic sciences in a team effort which
includes extension responsibilities. The principal product is
technology. The primary clients are farmers.


The two components use different mixes of scientists and
methods. Their primary clients also are different. Still, they
are highly complementary and compatible. FSR/E can have
significant impact on policymakers because it can provide more
detailed information on farms and farmers than FSIP can obtain.
Similarly, FSIP can have significant impact on agricultural
technology because it can provide FSR/E with more complete
information on infrastructure and policy than it would otherwise
be able to obtain.
Taken together, then, FSR/E and FSIP comprise a complete
development concept termed here FSR&D.


Although FSR/E is flexible to fit the agricultural and
institutional conditions found in different country and cultural
settings, it will usually involve a sequence of steps similar to
the following:

1. Initial characterization and analysis of existing farming
systems through close consultation with farmers.
a. Tentative partitioning into homogeneous farming systems or
recommendation domains.
b. First estimation of problems and constraints.

2. Planning and design of first-phase work.
a. Biological research.
b. Continuing agro-socioeconomic characterization.

3. Selection, generation, and evaluation of technologies.
a. Commodity and discipline research on experiment stations
and in laboratories.
b. Researcher-managed on-farm trials with farmer
Exploratory trials.
Site-specific trials.
Regional agronomic trials.
Agro-socioeconomic trials
c. Farmer-managed trials.
Individual evaluation of acceptability by the
Refined partitioning of recommendation domains by
Initiation of technology transfer activities.
4. Information accumulation and analysis.
a. Agro-technical data from on-farm trials.
b. Economic records on farm enterprises from farmers.
c. Other agro-socio-cultural-economic and political
information through directed surveys of area residents.

5. Frequently programmed reevaluation of research
information to do the following:
a. Refine partitioning of recommendation domains.
b. Make recommendations for mass transfer into specified
recommendation domains of acceptable technology.
c. Provide feedback into the sequential process.
d. Serve as a basis for planning future work.

6. Extension of acceptable results throughout appropriate
recommendation domain(s).


In many ways this sequence parallels what farmers have
always done. The farmer manages a complex set of biological
processes which transform the resources at his or her disposal
into useful products, either for home consumption or for sale or
trade. The choice of crop and livestock enterprises and the
methods and timing of cultivation, husbandry and harvesting are
determined not only by physical and biological constraints, but
also by economic and sociopolitical factors, which make up the
larger milieu within which the farmer operates.
Within this complex milieu, through a process of trial and
error and a number of seasons or generations, farmers move toward
appropriate technologies and allocation of resources that make
best use of those at their disposal given the objectives of
each individual farm family. While the choices available to each
farmer are different, those with similar sets of resources and
constraints tend to make similar choices as to crops, livestock,
and management practices. Those who have responded in similar

ways can be grouped together into homogeneous farming systems
(recommendation domains).
FSR/E brings scientific method and additional expertise to
bear on this process of problem identification and technology
generation. Teams of scientists from different disciplines,
working with farmers, can speed up the process and make it more
efficient in responding to a rapidly changing world.


Byerlee, D., L. Harrington, and D.L. Winkelmann. 1982. Farming
systems research: issues in research strategy and technology
design. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 64
(No.5): 897-904.

Norman, D. W. 1982. The farmimg systems approach to research.
Farming Systems Research Paper No.3. Kansas State Univer-
sity, Manhattan, Kansas.

Shaner, W.W., P.F. Philipp, and W.R. Schmehl. 1982. Farming
systems research and development: guidelines for developing
countries. westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.



The Small-Scale Family Farm

as a System

The move toward a farming systems approach to technology
development was spawned by concern with the social inequities in
the distribution of the benefits of public investment in research
and extension. Hence, most early farming systems work involved
the need to understand more fully the small-scale, limited-
resource, family farm.
This chapter first looks at the broad question of human
society as a system. The focus gradually narrows from
agricultural systems to farming systems and finally to a specific
farm case, which demonstrates the complexity of the small farm.
The chapter expands again, looking at the concept of homogeneous
farming systems and their usefulness in the FSR/E context and at
the hierarchy of constraints within an agricultural system,
showing how the constraints interact on the farm or on a
particular crop.

Robert Redfield

A society is people with common ends getting along with one
another. A brawl in a barroom is not a society, nor is there yet
a society when ten exhausted shipwrecked sailors clamber up on a
lonely beach at least there is none until they begin to work
out their common problems of getting a living and of living
together. A society has, then, organization. It is people doing
things with and to and for each other to the interests of each
and all in ways that those people have come to accept.
In this sense a group of boys organized to play baseball or
to exchange postage stamps is a society, but here we have in mind
those societies in which people are organized not for some
special purpose or interest, but for all the business and
pleasure of living. The societies that are the subject of this
chapter are composed of men and women and children living



The Small-Scale Family Farm

as a System

The move toward a farming systems approach to technology
development was spawned by concern with the social inequities in
the distribution of the benefits of public investment in research
and extension. Hence, most early farming systems work involved
the need to understand more fully the small-scale, limited-
resource, family farm.
This chapter first looks at the broad question of human
society as a system. The focus gradually narrows from
agricultural systems to farming systems and finally to a specific
farm case, which demonstrates the complexity of the small farm.
The chapter expands again, looking at the concept of homogeneous
farming systems and their usefulness in the FSR/E context and at
the hierarchy of constraints within an agricultural system,
showing how the constraints interact on the farm or on a
particular crop.

Robert Redfield

A society is people with common ends getting along with one
another. A brawl in a barroom is not a society, nor is there yet
a society when ten exhausted shipwrecked sailors clamber up on a
lonely beach at least there is none until they begin to work
out their common problems of getting a living and of living
together. A society has, then, organization. It is people doing
things with and to and for each other to the interests of each
and all in ways that those people have come to accept.
In this sense a group of boys organized to play baseball or
to exchange postage stamps is a society, but here we have in mind
those societies in which people are organized not for some
special purpose or interest, but for all the business and
pleasure of living. The societies that are the subject of this
chapter are composed of men and women and children living

together, generation after generation, according to traditional
ways of life. Such societies are whole societies, in that they
exist for all human needs and interests. They are enduring
societies in that children are born and raised to become adults
with ways of life much like those of their parents and
grandparents. A nation is such a society, and so is an Indian
tribe. So, too, is a town or village, and even a single family
insofar as its members have traditions that are transmitted to
each succeeding generation and make that family, through time,
distinguishable from other families. On the other hand groups of
nations taken together are great societies; one speaks of Western
society in contrast to Oriental society. In some sense all the
people of the world taken together constitute a single society.
But it is of the separate tribes and nations that we are chiefly
thinking here. Because there have been and still are so many and
so various primitive societies, one learns a good deal about
society in general by referring to one or another of these simple
A society is easily seen as people doing work. It has other
aspects too. A society is also people sharing common convictions
as to the good life. This is to say that it is not merely a
system of production and of services an anthill is that but
that a human society exists in the fact that its members feel
that certain conduct is right and other conduct wrong, and act
more or less accordingly. And a third aspect of human society is
to be recognized in the sentiment its members have of belonging
together as against other people who do not belong. A society is
people feeling solidarity with one another.


In every society the work is divided. Everyone takes ad-
vantage from work done by others of a kind which he does not do
and in exchange serves those others by doing useful things that
are not done by them. The division of labor between men and
women is universal, in that everywhere what women do is on the
whole different from what men do; on the other hand what each sex
does varies with the society; in Polynesia the men did the
cooking, among the Hisra Indians the women did the farming.
Equally obvious is the division of labor that goes with
differences in age. Beyond these bases for the organization of
work, there are those which depend on differences in temperament,
or on training, or on the accidents of opportunity, or on the
variations in demand.
In some small, isolated primitive societies there is almost
no division of labor except between the sexes and the age-groups,
and except some individuals who act as magicians or as leaders of
ceremonies. Every adult man does about what every other does,
and so it is with women. With the development of tools and
techniques, with increase in population, and with the advancement
of communication and transportation, the division of labor has
become far more complete and complex. In the Guatemalan village
of San Pedro de la Laguna, fifty-nine different kinds of
specialists are to be recognized in a population of less than two
thousand. A classified telephone directory suggests but by no

means completely lists the thousands and thousands of kinds of
specialists that make up a modern city.
An obvious result of this increasing division of labor is
the increasing ease in the number and kinds of commodities and
services which people can enjoy. But another effect is to limit
the view which any one individual has of the operations and goals
of his society to a very small segment of the whole, with
corresponding difficulties for industrial management, for dem-
ocratic government, and for personal happiness. Another result
is greatly to extend the number and distribution of people who
divide labor with one another. Millions of people, from China to
Congo to Akron, come to depend upon one another for services and
products exchanged, and yet these people have no common purposes
and understandings; they hardly know that one another exist. The
organization of work tends to become world-wide while national
and other local groups distrust, dislike, or fear one another.
So men come to depend upon one another while yet without common
sentiments and values.


The organization of work takes place in ways other than the
mere division of labor. Slavery is a way of organizing work.
The market, to be discussed below, is another way. And a third,
perhaps the basic form of the organization of work, arises from
the fact that in a society people share common sentiments and
beliefs as to what it is good to do. People work, not only
because in most cases they are uncomfortable or even will starve
if they do not, but because work is a part of the meaning of
life. To the primitive agricultural Indian, farming is a nec-
essary part of decent and appropriate human existence, an es-
sential way of maintaining relationship with the supernaturals, a
test and duty of honorable manhood. In such a society one prays
as one works, and work is, in part, religion. In aristocratic
societies of recent times on the other hand, work was appropriate
only to the underprivileged masses; while in modern Western
society work is again a general positive value, and men work for
wealth and power and to excel their neighbors.
The more general statement to make about society is that it
consists of a plan of life. Society operates because its members
have around them a universe which to them makes sense. Moreover,
this plan is not merely a pattern without moral meaning: it is a
plan for right conduct, an organization of conceptions as to the
good, the true, and indeed the beautiful. The body of con-
ventional meanings that are made known to us through acts and
artifacts is by anthropologists called "the culture" of a
community. In the primitive societies the "wholeness" of these
meanings is more easily seen than in the case of large, complex,
and rapidly changing societies. The customs and institutions fit
together to make a single moral representation of the universe.
The Papago Indians, for example, carry on warfare not as an
opportunity for exploit separate from their other interests. The
Apache scalp taken in a foray is the symbol of the supernatural
power brought to the Papago camp by the warrior who killed, a

source of spiritual strength, a form of divine power, solemnly to
be welcomed into the camp, into the home of the killer. When the
men are away on the expedition, the women and children, by
abstaining from noisy or indecorous conduct, in effect share in
the making of war, just as, in some primitive societies, men
share in the importance and responsibilities of childbirth by
"lying-in" by restricting their behavior for the welfare of the
newborn child. Labor is divided, but all members of the society
act in terms of common conceptions and ideals. Commonly the
myths of such a society are narrative representations of its
moral values, as its ceremonies are dramatic expressions that
correspond. So every culture is a provider of a course of action
for the individual, a source of his motives, and validator of his
This is the way a simple and isolated society operates. But
as societies have become larger and rapidly changing, with many
different kinds of people in them, the customs and institutions
no longer preserve this nation or town, but rather a great many
incomplete cultures, so that what a man does at his office or in
his factory is not always closely related to what he does when he
plays or goes to church or visits the neighbors--if he does visit
them. And what his children do and believe may be notably dif-
ferent from what he himself was brought up to do and believe.
Then the sense of the meaning of life tends to be lost; men
experience uncertainty, insecurity, and confusion. On the other
hand as this happens men more and more come to think rationally
and critically about the life around them and to act inten-
tionally to change and to guide it. Science develops, along with
rational administrations and planning. The basis for the
operation of society thus tends to shift, over the course of
human history, from tradition to deliberate social invention and
thoughtful choice.... (pp. 345-348)


In the first part of this chapter the division of labor was
emphasized as a universal method for organizing work. This as-
pect of the operation of society may now be examined more fully.
The division of labor does bring it about that the whole society
realizes the advantages of having some people do some things well
through their freedom from necessity to do other things. But
this is not all there is to social organization of economic
activity. In every society it is also necessary to determine,
somehow, what resources shall be used in producing what products.
How shall products and consumable commodities be distributed and
to whom? Who shall consume what commodities? The organized ways
of accomplishing these ends may be called the economy of that
society. The technology is the tools and techniques for
producing and making useful things; the economy is the
institutions and customs that get raw materials into products and
that get both distributed and consumed.
It is easy for us, who read these words, to think of
factories, markets, and money as principal social machinery for
getting these things done. But looking at primitive and ancient

societies shows that these three are recent and special devices
for bringing about production and distribution. In most societies
raw materials and manufactured goods get around to producers and
consumers without markets and money. The ancient and the basic
form of economy is one in which goods are made and goods are
distributed not by buying and selling at all, but by virtue of
the traditional rights and obligations that custom recognizes to
exist between one individual and another in that society, or be-
tween one group in that society and another. This kind of
economy is easily seen in most families. The product of the
father's labor, whether it be meat from the hunt or a paycheck
brought home from office or factory, is shared with his wife and
children not because he sells something to them which they buy,
but because it is recognized to be part of his role as father to
share his product with his wife and children. The allocation of
the father's labor to daily work, of the mother's labor to
cooking and sewing, and perhaps of the small one's labor to
fetching firewood or going to the store for lemons and soap, is a
matter which requires no competitive bidding to determine and in
most cases no payment of money to compensate. It is fixed by the
very relationships of the members of the family to one another.
The word "status" is conveniently used for all the rights and
obligations which attach to an individual or a group, according
to the customs of the society. The father's status in our
society includes his right to choose the place to live, ac-
cording to his need and ability to get work, and his duty to
provide for his family, as well as to share in the practical and
moral guidance of his children. The work he does and the sharing
of what he earns are parts of his status, too. So we may speak
of this kind of economy as a status economy.
The basic form of economy in human societies is a status
economy. In primitive societies most of the production -
whether by hunting or by farming or by raising cattle or by
handicraft manufacture is brought about not because somebody
sees a chance to make a profit in some market, but because it is
part of the traditional status of that man or woman to hunt or
farm or make baskets. And what is made is shared with others
according to status. In many South Pacific societies a man
works, not to feed his own children, but to feed his sister's
children; his own children will be fed by his wife's brother. In
certain hunting tribes it is usual for the hunter to give certain
parts of the slain animal to just certain relatives perhaps
eight or nine different parts go, respectively, to eight or nine
different relatives. So goods are distributed and consumed.
These are reciprocal exchanges according to status: what a
woman's brother gives to his sister's son is balanced by what
that same man, as sister's son, gets from his own mother's
brother, in the long run, and on the average. It is also common
for goods to be distributed in status economies by the gathering
of these goods in one place and by their distribution to all from
this center. In a certain Melanesian community every gardener
brings some of his best yams and puts them into the chief's yam
house. They are "given" to the chief. As the large and beau-
tiful yams pile up, the villagers take satisfaction in the
richness and industry of their own community; the abundance of
the chief's yams rebounds to the credit and glory of all. At a

certain festival, the chief distributes these yams, some to
visitors, and some to the villagers themselves. So everyone
participates, in both the pride and the feasting. In many simple
societies there is neither money nor market. The whole society
is, in respect to this matter of the economy, like a family; the
status relationships determine production and distribution. The
medieval manor had an economy which was largely a matter of
In contrast with this is that economy which depends upon the
market. For the beginnings of the market economy in primitive
societies we look outside of the local society to its relations
with other societies. The beginnings of human social living must
be thought of as taking the form of small groups scattered over a
territory and pretty much isolated from one another. The re-
lation between such groups is not ordinarily only of warfare.
Organized aggressive violence against a neighboring society is
not characteristic of the very simple societies. Many such so-
cieties get along.with one another in a more or less friendly
way: both societies recognize customary visits, without hostile
intention, from one to another. An occasional invader from the
outside may be killed, but the formal visit is expected and is
received without violence. Many such visits are the occasion of
the exchange of goods.
More commonly, in primitive societies, people from one
community pay a visit to another community, taking with them
goods produced by the visitors and wanted by those visited. Then
goods are exchanged, partly by barter and partly by exchange of
gifts. Something is given in the expectation that something will
be given to the giver by the one to whom he gives. It is an
equivalence of good will, rather than of precise market value,
that determines the transaction. So in such a market personal
relations, and the status of guest and host, affect the exchange.
In larger communities, where people do not know each other
personally, and more goods and more kinds of goods appear, the
market may be more fully a matter of an effort to sell at the
highest price and to buy at the lowest; then buyer and seller
alike "shop around," and who the man is who buys or sells does
not matter as compared with the opportunity to get the best
price. Such a market can to some degree operate by the exchange
of one sort of good for another, but money, as a universal
measure of value, is an enormous help in facilitation of market
exchanges. In some societies incomplete money appears: in some
Melanesian communities certain strings of shell beads are used
only in payment for pigs or wives. But in other places metal
hoes or copper axes or coined metal or engraved certificates of
promises to pay both serve as tokens of value that measure the
value of one article against all others in the market, and also
provide a way of temporarily holding buying power from one market
or opportunity to buy to another.
In most societies of the world, and through most of human
history, the production and distribution of goods has taken place
chiefly as an aspect of the status relationships of the society:
the market has been not the central mechanism for making society
work, but a special or peripheral part of it. In modern times,
and especially in the Western World, the market became much more
important. In our society the effort of the laborer is to a

considerable extent bid for and offered to the highest bidder,
and the use of land, paid for as rent, also enters into market
competition. Now markets are very wide; for some goods, like
wheat and rubber and tin, the market is world-wide; and, with
rapid and universal communication, and with the machinery of
banking and credit, what goes into production where and what goes
where to what consumer are matters that the market "decides,"
rather than status and moral custom. So, in our society, the
operations of the market have a principal and even determining
influence on all sorts of affairs. Many a worker must live where
the opportunity to get a job determines, and if suddenly the
produce he makes ceases to be wanted, he may have no livelihood
at all, and perhaps cannot keep his family together; in parts of
the world men starve because the market no longer needs their
labor. Where a family goes to live, perhaps its own solidarity,
perhaps even whether its members live at all, follow from what
happens in an immense impersonal market, and the action of a na-
tion, from its form of government to its remaining at peace or
its going to war, may be shaped by what happens in markets.
The operation of the economy may also be regarded from the
point of view of the organization and regulation of productive
effort. Even in the simple societies there is more to this than
the mere separate work of single individuals. The household
economy is in many cases under the leadership or direction of
someone: the husband of several wives, as among the Hidatsa In-
dians, an older woman in a large matrilineal family of the
Iroquois. When the Chukehee of Siberia go to hunt seal or wal-
rus, the builder of the boat is master: he gives the orders and
he receives the largest share of the meat. In modern societies
with highly developed markets, the enterpriser may be one or a
group that brings together a very great amount of money and
credit, labor and raw materials, in order that automobiles or
steel plate may be made. Furthermore, with the development of
the state as formal government, its own efforts enter largely
into production and distribution. The state may itself be the
principal producer, as in Russia, or it may supplement private
enterprise, either to limit the operations of a free market, as
in granting a monopolytoa single telegraph company, or in helping
a freer market to operate, as in legislation against trusts.


Among the common understandings which constitute the ul-
timate basis of society are those which attach to things that may
be used, enjoyed, or disposed of. Where the understandings limit
or otherwise define such rights and obligations of one in-
dividual or one group as to others, we speak of "property."
Property operates to keep use and enjoyment and disposal in
expected channels; it contributes to the working of society in
wide and far-reaching ways; to confer and to limit power and the
basis for getting more power; to serve as a criterion for status;
to provide motives for effort. Wanting to own things, men may
work, steal, or go to war. Owning things, men may enter social
groups otherwise barred to them, exercise influence over polit-
ical decisions, or assume correspondingly great responsibility

for serving the common good.
Property is thought of most immediately in connection with
such tangible goods as tools, automobiles, houses, and land. It
exists also with respect to such intangibles as magical spells,
power-inducing songs addressed to supernaturals, hunting and
fishing rights, patents and copyrights. In some societies
personal names are owned in that they may be disposed of by sale
or gift; in our society, a trade name may be registered and so
owned. On the whole, the conceptions of ownership have become
more complex with the developing complexity of society. Land, in
particular, has become subject to private and exclusive own-
ership, with rights of sale and disposition by will; in most
primitive societies such precise and exclusive rights to land are
not recognized; nevertheless, individual or familiar rights over
hunting and fishing territories may be sanctioned in custom in
some very simple societies.
In primitive societies, and to an extent in modern society
that is not always recognized, property does not consist of a
single all-embracing bundle of rights held by one man as against
all the world. On the other hand, thoroughly communal ownership
of important goods, in the sense that every individual has the
same right in most goods as has every other, is not to be found.
What is usual, rather, is that every species of ownership turns
out to be the exercise of certain rights as to the thing owned
subject to other rights in that thing held by others, at least in
possibility. The Melanesian canoe-maker does not completely
"own" his canoe: he is expected to share it with certain others,
and to share the catch it helps to bring about. The owner of
land on Main Street may own it subject to zoning regulations, and
to the right of the state to take it from him for certain public
uses. Beyond this, furthermore, are the claims on property which
are make outside of the law, but through expectations resting on
custom. The primitive fisherman may share his catch with the
whole settlement, as a matter of course. The rich American is
expected to do something useful and generous with his riches; and
everywhere the claims of the nearest of kin constitute a real
limitation on ownership of many kinds of goods. And still
further it is to be recognized that property rights are deeply
associated with attachments that are sentimental and outside of
the rights of control and disposal. It is not so much that the
aborigine, long established on the desert or in the forest, owns
the desert or the forest; he is attached to it, is a part of it,
almost "is owned" by it. And the reader of these pages may feel
similar about his home, if he happens to live in a home and not
simply in a house, or about an heirloom of tender memories, or
about a familiar old garment. (pp. 352-357)


The simplest answer that can be made to the question, how
does society operate, is that it operates because on the whole
people do what is expected of them. But why do people do what is
expected of them? To this question there are a number of true
answers. It is easier to do what one has done before than to do
something else; a habit that everyone in a society has we call a

custom. Further, the things that one has done, and that one's
father's father has done, as well as some things that have been
thought over and struggled for, have come to be so rooted in
sentiments and in explanations and justifications that they have
the force of what we speak of as conscience: they are felt to be
right, ultimately and necessarily right. And still further, one
does what is expected of one because it is often extremely in-
convenient, even dangerous, if one does not. That is why I do
not start out tomorrow to drive on the left-hand side of an
American road. There is an efficiency, an ease, about doing what
is expected of one. In a more special form, the expediency of
doing what other people expect appears in the exchanges of
services and benefits which help us all to get along. I do a
thing helpful to another knowing that he is then more apt to do
something helpful to me. If I pay my bills, lend my lawnmower,
keep out of those of my neighbor's affairs which correspond to
those of mine that I want him to keep out of, and yet listen to
enough of his troubles so that I may tell him mine, we all get
along pretty well. It is, however, to be emphasized that it is
the nature of human society to regard these considerations of
expediency, important as they are, as less worthy than those
which are rooted in conscience and the sense of duty. Society is
not, basically, so much a body of traffic rules and favors
exchanged as it is a system of moral convictions.
At a more obvious level society operates because conduct is
sanctioned. A sanction is a consequence, pleasant or unpleasant,
that follows the doing of something and is known to follow it.
Some such consequences are internal the pangs of conscience -
but others fall upon the transgressor from without. Of those
that so fall, many are imposed by almost anybody in a diffuse and
generalized way, as is illustrated by the looks I receive from
the people who know me if I do something of which they disapprove.
Perhaps what I do is not otherwise punishable. If a specific
consequence follows through the exercise of same centralized
authority, we begin to think of the transgression and its
consequence as an affair of the law. Legal sanctions have a
quality of preciseness about them: the misconduct is defined in
advance in clear terms, and the consequence is also precisely
known. Commonly the procedure for matching the transgression to
its appropriate consequence complaint for arrest, charge,
hearing, trial, judgement is specific and formal. Also, for
the matter to be one of law and not just custom, the consequence,
that is, the sanctions carried out not entirely, if at all
by the particular person who suffered the transgression, but
by someone who stands for the society as a whole and
acts for it. Law is the whole society settling a local dispute
or punishing or redressing a wrong in the interest of the whole
society and according to its common conscience. When in a Plains
Indian tribe a society of warriors finds a wrongfully wounded man
and sees to it that the wrongdoer heals the wound and pays horses
as a fine, law has begun. One may recognize law-making and
law-administering in groups smaller than the whole society: there
is something like law in some families; and there is certainly
law in many gangs. But there is a tendency for that group which
is the principal in-group, the tribe or the nation, to insist on

its chief or exclusive power and right to make and enforce law.
So law appears more clearly in the centralized and monopolizing
force of the state.


In the simplest societies there is nothing that is "polit-
ical" if we use that word for institutions to express or enforce
the common will or the ruler's will formally and publicly. In
the Andaman Islands the natives lived in small bands without
chief, council, law or administrative regulation. If a man lost
his temper and smashed things, the rest of the people just let
him alone until he got over it. No one exercised any general
authority to rule or to decide or to negotiate on behalf of the
community. In such a society there is no state, no political
government. Political institutions do clearly appear, however, in
many tribal societies; there is a chief who has power to decide
issues or to lead in the making of decisions; there may be a
council; there may be groups to police the people.
The dependence of modern complex societies upon political
institutions for their operations is obvious. The making,
enforcing, and interpreting of law are the manifold business of
thousands of individuals and hundreds of bodies: from leg-
islatures, courts, and executives to the citizens who vote or
discuss public issues with their neighbors or write letters to
some newspaper. These political institutions keep people's be-
havior more or less within the rules. They also are means to the
reconsideration of the rules and the changing of the rules. They
operate in that frontier of rule-making and rule-observing where
conflicts occur, or at least differences of opinion, and the
enforcement and interpretation of the rules helps to keep at
least some of the people conscious of them, and so pushing to
change them. Formal political institutions not only keep
societies going in the good old ways; they also provoke a
challenge of those ways. What is, then, not so obvious is that
political and administrative acts have an effect upon moral
custom. It is commonly said that the laws express the customs
and grow out of them. This is true, but it is also true that the
passage of a law or the making of an administrative decision has
an impact upon the sentiments and convictions of the society. To
punish a criminal is to make a solemn gesture renewing the
collective moral judgement with regard to the conduct for which
the criminal is punished. Sometimes the law stands for a sort of
theoretical or ideal norm which the society does not really mean
to have realized, at least without exception, as when a southern
jury of white men finds confessed lynchers of a Negro not guilty.
Then the decision expresses a moral judgement that is
inconsistent with the letter of the law. At the same time such a
decision sharpens the conflict between the general principles and
the exception and helps either to remove the exception or to
weaken the principle. The decision and act whereby American
citizens of Japanese descent were locked up during the war had no
effect in strengthening the prejudices of those who were
prejudiced against Orientals, for by conspicuous and effective
public action a discriminatory act was performed. On the other

hand, it aroused or strengthened sentiments of condemnation of
the act. It is true that the customs make the law. It is also
true that legal and administrative acts help to change the moral
judgements of the society. (pp. 359-362)


In many of the preceding pages the operation of society has
been described as a matter of work and discipline. It has been
suggested how people become and continue as a society by virtue
of the fact that they labor together for common ends, and how
they are kept at it by the convenience of cooperation and by the
rewards and penalties which are provided by law, the general
opinion, or the conscience of the individual. In this account
the sober, the practical, and the constraining have perhaps been
too strongly emphasized. Perhaps the impression that society
gets along wholly or chiefly because people do what they are
compelled to do, or that work is the sole or the basic form of
activity. As a matter of fact, a very great part of human social
behavior is quite the opposite of work. In work one does what a
particular end demands in just the way it demands it and when the
end requires it. To hoe corn effectively is usually work because
one must move the hoe just so, one must do the hoeing just when
the weather and the weeds make it necessary, and one may not stop
when one would care to. But a very great deal of human activity
is simply expressed. It is activity which responds to the
impulse of the individual to be active; it is thinking and
feeling; it is a fruit of the human impulse to create. Some
expressive activity takes place at times fixed by the
expectations and rhythms of society, but even then without having
to meet the demands of practically useful effort.
Laughing, joking, improvising with language, storytelling,
praying, arranging flowers, painting pictures, enjoying or
playing a ball game or Beethoven, and dancing are all forms of
expressive activity. The expressive forms of behavior in large
part give each society its own special character as they give
special flavor to each personality. Different societies may have
the same tools and the same work habits, but if their art and
storytelling are different, the societies are then different.
"What do you dance?" is the first inquiry a man of a certain
Bantu tribe puts to a stranger. What a man dances in that part
of Africa is the key to a man's whole life, the way to ask about
a foreign society.
The relations between expressive activity and work appear in
considering magic. If a man has something immediate and
practical to accomplish, he may do a little work to get the thing
done. If the pipe leaks, I may unscrew the faucet and put in a
new washer. If the pigs are eating the Melanesian's yams, he may
fence the yam patch to keep out the pigs. What is done is done
in just the way that the end requires. The putting in the new
washer and the building of the fence are technically "correct" -
in both cases what is done is responsive to the demands of the
situation outside of thestateof mind of the worker. I may not
express my anxieties or my annoyance too vividly and originally
in putting in the washer or building the fence; if I attempt to

express my sentiments I may not do a good job with the washer or
the fence. These are practical actions appropriate to the
mechanical solutions of the problems.
But in some cases there is room for expressing the way one
feels besides doing the appropriate practical acts, and
in other cases no appropriate practical acts are known and one
expresses the way one feels, believing that what is done is
effective, instead of doing something really effective in getting
the result desired. The Melanesian who wants his yams to grow
may fence them in and cultivate them; he may also recite little
spells expressive of his desire for a good crop. Tom Sawyer knew
how to get rid of warts by putting water from a decaying stump on
them while reciting a charm imploring the warts to go away. We
call these actions "magical." Magic is that activity directed
toward accomplishing some special limited end and done in a form
which is determined not by the real effectiveness of the act to
bring about the result but by the desires and fears and general
thinking and feeling of the man who performs them. Magic
is practical action in that it is done for a certain limited end,
like work; but it is expressive action, and work is not. Magic
is characteristically colorful, even dramatic. Magical rites are
little pictures of what one wants. One sticks pins into a figure
of one's enemy. One sacrifices not just any hen; it must be a
black hen. If a problem bothers a deliberating assembly, it may
appoint a committee; the result may be practically effective, or
it may in part just express the concern and desire to do something
about the problem; it is then not so different from many acts
recognized as magical. (pp. 363-365)
In ceremony and in mythology the expressive side of life
appears in forms plainly related to the persistence of society.
A ceremony is a meaningful formal act that signalizes an occasion
of special importance. It is a little drama to underline the
significance of a person or a moment that is out of the ordinary
and that the society wishes to recognize. Some ceremonies are in
ancient forms of deep religious meaning, like the Mass; others
are unconnected with the church but yet are public and solemn,
like the pledge of allegiance before the national flag; still
others are domestic matters and not solemn at all, like the merry
little ceremonies of a birthday party. All of them are
representations of beliefs that the people hold; they are ways in
which people together show that they care about something.
Although not every society has well-developed myths and also
well-developed ceremonies, myths are the stories that correspond
to the ceremonies. Myths are ways in which the institutions and
expectations of the society are emphasized and made dramatic and
persuasive in narrative form. Myths show that what a people has
to enjoy or endure is right and true-true to the sentiments the
people hold. It does not so much matter whether or not little
George Washington really cut down the cherry tree and told his
father about it; what matters is that the story expresses some
ideas the tellers had about telling the truth when it goes
against you. The religious myths are true to the moral and sa-
cred ideas that inspire them; they need not be true as legal
evidence must be true. Myths and ceremonies, like much of art
and some of play, are collective and traditional forms in which

the people of a society remind themselves of what matters to them
and why it matters. They are gestures made by a people to
itself. Work and sanctions alone do not suffice to keep a so-
ciety in operation. It is also needful that the tendencies of
people to leap, move, shape and tell fall into representations
that satisfy and intensify the conceptions which, held in common,
make that people a society. This section suggests some of the
answers to the question expressed in its title: How does a human
society operate? In its first pages the answer given was that a
society is kept in operation by arrangements whereby a number of
people can do the work that needs to be done to keep them going
and whereby they can feel that they belong together and share a
kind of life which they believe to be good. There is a world of
necessity into which people are born; to survive they must live
together; to live together they must have tacit agreements as to
who does what, and what is what. They must, in short, regulate
their common life. The regulation is a matter of conventional
understandings partly as to what each one should do and partly as
to what is, generally and for everybody, the good life. The plan
of the good life finds expression, it was then added, in
religion, myth, and art. We can think of the operation of
society as machinery for social control and also as a sort of
charter or drama of a scheme of all things.
But there is another way to think of the operation of soc-
iety that is, probably, implicit in what has been written here.
We may also think of society as operating so as to realize
impulses and meet needs of human beings. Instead of asking, as
we have, What operations keep this society going? we can ask,
What is there about society that keeps human beings going? Any
human being must have protection and food, and we can see society
as providing for these necessities. Human beings have also
sexual demands or needs, and every society provides some ar-
rangement for meeting these. Moreover, beyond this, human be-
ings have characteristics that are not shared with the animals
but are peculiarly human. The foregoing discussion of the
"Expressive Life" rests on the assumption that there is an
"impulse of the individual to be active," that it is the nature
of human nature to use the imagination and to shape things that
please themselves. While it is perhaps not possible very
definitely to describe the human impulses and needs beyond those
that are shared with animals, it is hardly possible to deny that
there are some; and society may thus be seen as a way of
providing for the development and expression in everyone of human
nature. In this sense, society operates by doing for us what our
natures, given society, demand. (pp. 367-368)

Robert D. Hart
If the hierarchical ecological systems conceptual framework
is applied to an agricultural production process, a set of
hierarchically related agricultural systems emerge. As in the
case of the ecological systems framework, agricultural systems
exhibit not only vertical hierarchical system interaction, but
also horizontal system interaction. Each hierarchical level is a

functioning set of subsystems with the outputs of some subsystems
acting as inputs to others. While it is possible to describe a.
global level agricultural system, from the point of view of
agricultural research and development the geographical region is
probably the largest unit of interest.
A regional agricultural system includes all the farms in the
geographic region; the marketing, credit, and information cen-
ters; and the infrastructure that ties these regional sub-
systems together, Figure 2.1. A region can be analyzed as a
system with materials, energy, money, and information flowing
into and out of the region and between subsystems within the
region. From an agricultural research point of view the farms
within the region are the most important subsystems and form the
next lower hierarchical level under the region.
A farm is also a system made up of subsystems. A farm sy-
stem can be viewed conceptually as a set of spatially definable
areas in which either crops or animals, or both, are produced,
and a homestead area where the farmhouse is located. The crop or
animal production areas form units, analogous to the ecosystem
unit in ecology, and can be defined as agroecosystems. The
farmhouse area in which the farm family is fed and clothed and
the economic transactions and management decisions that occur on
a farm can be combined to form a socioeconomic subsystem of the
farm system. The socioeconomic subsystem and the agroecosystems
interact to form a farm system. If agricultural research is of
primary concern, the agroecosystem of a farm system is the most
logical next-lower hierarchical level to be analyzed in more
An agroecosystem is also a system made up of subsystems. As
in the case of natural ecosystems, it is composed of a biotic
community of plants, animals, and microorganisms and the physical
environment in which the community functions. Energy flows be-
tween trophic levels and materials are cycled. An agroeco-
system differs from a natural ecosystem in that at least one
plant or animal population is of agricultural value and that man
plays an important management role. Soil, crops, weeds, insects
and microorganisms can be defined as subsystems of crop-dominated
agroecosystems. In a domesticated animal-dominated agroeco-
system, soils, pasture, weeds, insects, microorganisms, and
domesticated animals make up the subsystems that function as a
unit in the agroecosystem. Agronomic research has been done on
all of these subsystems, but crop systems and animal systems have
received the most attention.
A crop system is an arrangement of crop populations that
process energy (solar radiation) and material inputs (soil
nutrients, water) to produce outputs (crop yield). The crop
population can be arranged both spatially (planting distances)
and chronologically (date of planting). when more than one crop
species is combined in space and time, the resulting assemblage
can be exceedingly complex. The individual crop species are
subsystems of the crop system and make up the next hierarchical
level under the crop system. The individual crops can also be
subdivided into hierarchically lower subsystems as physiological
processes. In agronomy considerable attention has been given to
this hierarchical level with the recent emphasis on the study of
crop architecture and crop genetic systems as part of crop

A Region

Figure 2.1. Hierarchical relationship between agricultural

breeding programs.
A domesticated animal system is an arrangement of animal
populations that processes energy and material inputs (pasture,
feed supplements, etc.) to produce outputs (meat or animal
products). An animal system is on the same hierarchical level as
a crop system. Animal populations made up of individual animals
composed of interrelated physiological systems form the next-
lower hierarchical level.
In applying the agricultural systems conceptual framework to
a specific case, it is not always necessary or practical to use
the entire hierarchy. Emphasis can be placed at one level, as

for example in the case of a cropping systems project. In
principle, however, it will always be necessary to study at least
three levels: the unit of interest, and the next higher and next
lower levels. The next higher system must be studied in order to
measure the inputs into the system, and the next lower level must
be studied in order to understand how the system functions. In
the case of a cropping systems project, activities will need to
be applied to the agroecosystem, crop system, and crop levels. A
farming system project must study regions, farm systems, and
The first step in either a region, farm, agroecosystem, crop
or animal system study is the construction of a qualitative model
of the unit under consideration. In the context of this
framework, model building involves identifying the inputs and
outputs of the system of interest, the subsystems of the system,
and the circuitry connecting these subsystems. The next step is
to begin to quantify the relationships hypothesized in the
qualitative model, and to construct a quantitative model of the
system. The precision required depends upon how the model will
be used.
The qualitative models that would be developed by a multi-
disciplinary team if the heirarchical agricultural systems model
were used would vary with the ecological and socioeconomic
conditions of a specific region, farm, agroecosystem, or crop or
animal system. However, these systems have general inherent
characteristics that make it possible to outline general
qualitative models for each level of the heirarchy. I have as-
sumed that these models would be used for research and
development purposes.

David W. Norman
A system can be defined conceptually as any set of elements
or components that are interrelated and interact among
themselves. Thus, a farming system is the result of a complex
interaction of a number of interdependent components. At the
center of this interaction is the farmer himself; he is the
central figure in FSR. Moreover, both farm production and
household decisions of small farmers are intimately linked and
should be analyzed in farming systems research. A specific
farming system arises from the decisions taken by a small farmer
or farming family with respect to allocating different quantities
and qualities of land, labor, capital and management to crop,
livestock, and off-farm enterprises in a manner which, given the
knowledge the household possesses, will maximize the attainment
of the family goalss. Figure 2.2 illustrates some of the
underlying determinants of the farming system. The total en-
vironment can be divided into two elements: technical and human
(Institut d'Economie Rurale 1976). The technical element de-
termines the types and physical potential of livestock and crop
enterprises and includes physical and biological factors that
have been modified to some extent by man often through
technology development. Man has developed, for example, me-
chanical techniques to improve the availability of water through

Bonia Hanan Technical
I --I C 1 -i 1
St C he. ca.,Chem ,cal.
Factor Exogen dPhysical B oiolca
Camuisy I Mschanical
Norms, and uthP .A
Belies Sid 1 i------- Income
InsSutons B a s t

Inputs Land Capital L Ag,

PrFosses Ol-farm Livestock ir

Farming System
Broken hasrepresena reaJs of ns systems I---- ----- _

Figure 2.2. Schematic representation of some determinants
of the farming system

irrigation and chemical techniques to improve soil quality, etc.
The farming system that actually evolves, however, is a subset of
what is potentially possible as defined by the technical element.
The human element is characterized by two types of factors:
exogenous and endogenous. Exogenous factors (i.e., the social
environment), which are largely outside the control of the
individual farmer, influence what he will and/or is able to do.
They can be divided into three broad groups:
a. Community structures, norms and beliefs.

b. External institutions. These can be subdivided into two
main groups: inputs and outputs. On the input side, ex-
tension credit and input distribution systems are often
financed and managed by government agencies. On the out-
put side, the government may directly (e.g., marketing
boards) or indirectly (e.g, improved evacuation routes,
transportation systems, etc.) influence the prices farm-
ers recieve.

c. Miscellaneous influences, such as population density and

Unlike the exogenous factors, the endogenous factors are
controlled by the farmer himself, who ultimately decides on the
farming system that will emerge, given the constraints imposed by
the technical element and exogenous factors.
The farming system as defined above highlights the complex

nature of the underlying determinants. An appreciation of these
determinants can provide insights as to why small farmers have
failed to adopt improved technology. Specifically, most
conventional approaches to technology development, utilizing a
"top-down" approach, tend to modify the technical element to fit
crops or animals and to ignore the human element. The farming
systems approach, on the other hand, potentially imparts greater
reality to technology development and making technology a
variable instead of a parameter.


Institute d'Economie Rurale. 1976. Rapport de Synthese sur les
Systems de Culture et d'elevage dans le context de Mali.
Bamako: Institut d'Economie Rurale.

Robert E. McDowell and Peter E. Hildebrand
There has been a number of attempts to identify or systemize
the prevailing farming systems of regions (Ruthenberg 1971) and
of the world (Griss 1974; Kolars and Bell 1975; Whittlesey
1936). These classifications have been done on several bases,
including geography (political and physical), climate, type of
crop or animal, and the production method for that species. The
panel took the position that farming systems could be more
readily understood if the focus were directed toward crop/animal
Tables 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 show that the panel has attempted
to identify and characterize the prevailing systems employed on
small farms in Asia, Africa and Latin America with the dominant
crops, the predominant animal species on the farms, and the main
feed resources utilized by the animals.
A farming-system type consists of a small number of major or
dominant crops and numerous minor crops that fit around them.
The systems given attention by the panel were those having an
animal complement, with the dominant crops largely determining
the feed source and, hence, being a major factor in selection of
animals for the systems. Nutrient flow through the system is
critical in limited-resource agriculture, and crop/animal rela-
tionships are critical to its efficiency. Crop/animal rela-
tionships have particular implications for labor use as well as
requirements for social organization. For instance, security
and social structure in the village largely determine the way in
which animals are tended or looked after. The market structure
must also be aligned to the needs of the farming system.
These and many additional factors describe the complex of
interrelated physical, environmental, and social elements which
must interact in any particular system. The panel members felt
that in order to understand mixed farming systems in small-farm
agriculture, one should first look at a type of crop/animal
interaction and be familiar with its essential elements. Then
one can look at the range of conditions under which it is found.
A final step is the understanding of change in the system across

environments. The classification proposed here is not so much
intended to present new information as it is to alter the
traditional viewpoint of those studying the system. The panel is
not attempting to give detailed descriptions and information on
the specific systems, but rather suggesting a conceptual frame-
work to guide further study.
As an example, attention is drawn to the coastal fishing and
farming complexes in Asia (Table 2.1). These systems are found
across most countries of Asia and also represent the predominant
systems in the smaller islands across the Pacific. They are
adapted to areas of relatively high population density and are
found on the extremely poor soils of the coastal areas. These
systems are designed for intensive use of the scarce resources in
the coastal environment. The major crops, determined to a large
extent by soil type and fertility, are coconuts, cassava, and
cacao, together with a range of minor crops. The coconut by-
Sproducts are utilized for swine feed, while the marine by-
products, such as fish trimmings, shrimp, or nonmarketable marine
products taken along with the commercial catch, are fed to ducks.
Cattle and goats are pastured under the coconut palms or in the
more marginal land extending back onto the slopes of the hills,
which are usually not far from the coast. The coastal fishing
and farming complexes are highly specific to the physical and
geographical environments in which they are found, but since
these environments spread across the full length of Asia and
Oceania, the system transects an extremely broad socioeconomic
range. To know and understand the interaction of the system in
the coastal area of southern Luzon in the Philippines is to feel
familiar with it wherever it is found. The selection of animals
to match food availability, the matching of crops to their spec-
ific low-fertility environment, the use of animals to con-
centrate nutrients for cycling into the limited but all-
important food-crop areas, the suitability of animals and food
crops for marketing over long distances, the high diversity of
enterprises within the system, giving it both biological and
economic stability, are all crucial points in understanding its
function. The system is, in cases of extreme isolation, ideally
suited to subsistence conditions. Where resources are somewhat
more plentiful and markets available, the system becomes im-
mediately commercialized. It is relatively self-sufficient and
self-sustaining, requiring few new inputs and a minimum of rural
One could go through each of the nine other farming systems
listed for Asia (Table 2.1), the ten for Africa (Table 2.2), and
the four for Latin America (Table 2.3) in a similar manner,
studying social adaptability, biological stability, economic
stability, nutrient recycling or energy flow characteristics,
infrastructure required, the adaptability to commercialization,
or a host of relevant features. It is suggested that this ap-
proach be used not only to study and appreciate the complexity of
farming systems in Asia, but also to structure research and de-
velopment strategies for those systems. The major advantage of
the approach is that it should increase the probability that the
technology derived can become immediately adapted to the
situations into which it is to fit. Such an approach would
minimize the risk of developing a new and productive technology


Famning system Major crops Major animals Main regions* Fed sources

1. coastal fishing and Coonuts, cassava, Swine P, T Conut by-products, rice

farming complexes, cacao, rice
livestock relatively


2. Low elevation
intensive vegetable
and swine, live-
stock important


Cattle, goats


TW, T, M, P,
SL, P, M, I

C, IW,


Swine, fish T, m1

3. Highland vegetables Vegetables, rice, sur- Buffalo, cattle P, T
and mixed cropping cane, sweet potatoes,
(intensive), live- Irish potatoes Sheep, goats I
stock inmortant
Vegetables Swin P

Rice Cattle, buffalo Asia

4. Upland crops of Maize, cassava, Cattle, buffalo, IN, T
semiarid tropics, sorghan, kenaf, wheat, goats, sheep,
livestock important millet, plses, oilseeds, poultry, swine
peanuts, etc.

Marine products, rice bran

Pastured with coOmuts

HK Sweet potato residues,
rice bran, fermented
residues fan vegetable
Crop residues, imported
Crop residues, rice bran

Crop residues, rice bran,
cut forage, sugarcane tops

crop residues, waste vege-
Crop residues

Bran, oilseed cake, straw,
ster, vines, hulls, hay

5. Humid uplands,
livestock uiportant

6. Laoland rice, inten-
sive livestock

Rice, maize, cassava,
wheat, kenaf, sorghum,

Rice, vegetables,
pulses, hick-peas,
mug-bean, sugarcane

7. Multistory Coonuts, cassava,
(perennial mixtures), bananas, mangoes
livestck sane coffee
iportane Pineapple

Swine, poultry, Asia
cattle, buffalo 01000 mn
Cattle, buffalo T, P, I

Cattle, buffalo, Asia
swine, ducks,

Cattle, goats, P, IN


Stover, weeds, by-
products, ugarcane tops

Sugarcane tope, crop

Crop esidues, ueds, by-
products, sugarcane tope

Cut and carry feeds from

P, I Crop residue, by-products

8. Tree crops
(mixed orchard and
rubber), livestock
same importance

orchard, trees, rubber,
oil palm

9. Swidden, livestock Maize, rice, beans,
important peanuts. vegetables

10. Animal based

Fdder crops

Cattle, goats, P, M,
swine South T

Swine, poultry, Asia
goats, sheep

Cattle, buffalo, I, M, IN
goats, sheep

Grazing or cut ad carry

Animals scavenge

Cut and carry foder,
crop residue

*C, Chinat ;I, Hong Kong; IN, India; I, Indonesia; M, Malaysia; P, Philippines; SL, Sri Lanka; T, Taiwan;
T, Thailand.

that would be unacceptable because it did not fit into the
farming system for which it was intended. Where a lack of fit is
predominant, the reason for nonacceptance is usually a net
reduction in productivity of the system, due to the fact that
interactions among components are not adequately understood by
the technology developers.


Major crops

Major animals Main regions

eed sources

1. Pastoral herding 2 t Vegetables
(Phase I, L = >10 ), P
animals very important
symbioticc relation-

2. Bush fallow
(shifting cultivation,
Phase II, L = 5-10),
animals not important

3. Rudinentary sedentary
agriculture (shifting
cultivation, Phase III,
L = 2-4), animals

4. Compound farming and
intensive subsistence
agriculture (shifting
cultivation, Phase IV,
L = <2), animals

5. Highland agriculture,
animals important

6. Flood land and valley
bottom agriculture,
animals of sane

Millet, vegetables

Rie/Ya-s/ Plantains
maize, cassava.
vegetables, tree
crops, cocoyMa, yanMs
maize, sesame,
soybeans, cassava,
sugarcane, tree crops,
cowpeas, vegetables,

maize, cassava,
vegetables, tree
crops, mocyars

maize, sesame,
cotton, sugarcae,
tree crops, cowpeas,
yams, tobacot, ground-
nuts, vegetables

maize, cassava,
vegetables, tree crops,
coooyam, yams

sugarcne, tcacx,
sesame. maize, tree
crops, groundnuts
cassava, oowpeas,
taboo cttsn.
groundnuts, tree crops

Rice/Yaf /Plantains
raie, cassava,
vegetables, plantain,

cassava, maize,
millet, groundnuts
ianze, groundnuts,
cowpeas, sesame,
tobacco, ctton,
vegetables, cassava,
Mnaize, vegetables,
sugarcane, rioe, yams,
cooyarM, millet,
vegetables, maize,
millet, groudnuts,
plantain, sugarcane,
maize, mopeas,
cocyans, groundnuts,
vegetables, plantains,
rice, yams

Cattle, goats, Savanna
sheep (Southern

Cattle, goats. Savanna
sheep (Northern
Guinea and

Goats, sheep Humid tropics

Cattle, goats. Transition
sheep, poultry, forest/savana
horses Southern Guinea
Northern Guinea
and Sahel

Natural rangelands,
tree forage

Natural rangelands,
tree forage,
crop residues

Fallow, crop residues

Fallow, straws, stover,
vines, cull roots,
sesame cake

Goats, sheep. Humid tropics ice bran, cull roots,
poultry, swine straws, crop residues,
vines, stover

Cattle, goats, Transition
sheep, poultry forest/savanna
(Guinea and

Goats, sheep, Humid tropics
swine, cpultry

Goats, sheep, Transition
poultry, swine forest/savanna


(Guinea and

Goats, sheep, Hurmd tropics
poultry, swine

Cattle, goats, Transition
sheep, poultry forest/savanna

Cattle, goats, Savanna
sheep, poultry, (Guinea and
horses, donkeys Sahel)

Stover, vines, sugarcane
tops, cull roots or
tubers, tree forage,
groundnut cake, brans

Rice straw, rice bran,
vegetable waste, fallow,
vines, cull roots or
tubers, stover, tree-
crop by-products, palm
oil cake
Vines, stover, tree-crop
by-products, groundnut

Vines, tree-crop by-
products, cassava
leaves, fallow

Fallow, leaves, stover,
rice by-produts, cull
tubers, cassava leaves,
vegetables, residues
Stover, vines, groundnut

Crop residues, sare oil
cake, brans, stover,
vines, cull tubers

Goats, poultry Hunid trpics Crop residues, vines,

Cattle, goats,
sheep, poultry,
swine, horses,

Transition Straw, stover, molasses,
forest/savanna brans, groundnut cake

Cattle, goats, Savanna
sheep, poultry, (Guinea and
swine, hrses, Sahel)

Vines, brans, cull
tubers, molasses,
sgarcane tops

Farming system

TABLE 2.2. continued )

Farming system

7. Mixed fanning
(farm size variable;
animals important)

8. Plantation crops,
East Africa smalll
holdings), animals
of sone importance

9. Plantation crops,
(onpound fares,
etc.), animals of
soan inportanc

10. Market gardening
(animals say or
may not be present)

Major crops


yams, omysn=

jil lU-s~ctton,
tObcOn. Maite,
nempeas. vegetables

rgeejes' maize,
plantains, cscoy-n,

egetables, inmize,

Tre crops



Humid tropics


tL C + F/C; L, land-se factor; C, area of cultivation; P, area in fallow.

enclosed areas around household or village.

Preset or absent, depends on area.


Famnning system Major crops najor animals Main regions* Feed sources

1. Perennial fixtures Cocnuts, coffee, Cattle, aine All Natural pastures, by-
(large fans; livesto cacaoo, plantains, products, cul lateral
relatively uniportant) bananas, oil palm,
sugarcane, rubber

2. Ccrcial annals l croe Rice, maize, sorgun Swine, cattle, All eept C Pasture, crop residues,
mediann to large fans, soybeans, snall grains poultry grain
livestock moderately

3. Conercial livestock
a. Extensive
Large- o very Nne are inortant Cattle (beef) C, V, Br, Bo, Natural grasslands
large, livestock G, CA
b. Intensive
iunm large, Inproved pasture, Cattle (dairy), All Natural and inprove
livestock dominant sae grains swine, poultry pasture, feed grains,
4. Mied cropping
a. Smal size in Rice, maise, Cattle, poultry, All natural pastures, crop
settled areas sorgFum, beans, goats, sheep, residues, cut feed
b. Medium size in wheat, caao, donkeys, horses,
frontier areas plantains, coffee, mules, wine
c. Subsistence or tnbah
mcnetized eamxny
d. Livestodk relatively

*All, all countries; Bo, Bolivia; Br, Brazil; C, Colontia; CA, Central America; CI, Caribbean Islands; E,
Ecador; G, Guyanas; P, Peru; V, Venezuela.

Major animals Main regions

T1W or pore Humid tropics
species (widely
Sane cattle Transition
Cattle, goats, Savanna
sheep, poultry, (Guinea and
horses, donkeys, Sahel)

Cattle, horses, Humid tropics

Goats, sheep, Hunid tropics

Feed sources

Fallow, straw, brans,

Fallow, vines, straw

Stover, vines, fallow

Grazing or cut and

Grazing or cut and
cazry, stower

Grazing or cut and
carry, sugarcane tops

Natural rangelands,
crop residues,
brrose plants, range

poultry, swine

Goats, sheep,
poultry, swine


Robert E. McDowell and Peter E. Hildebrand

The objective of this section is to direct attention to
various levels of integration of crops and animals and portray
the infrastructural dependence, within selected systems. Eleven
systems are identified for Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and
each system is discussed in terms of some of the physical
constraints of the region, e.g., climate, soils, elevation, crops
and cropping systems, the role of animals, and the panel's
assessment of the prospects for expansion of benefits derived
from animals.
A standard format was used for ease in comparisons. The box
identified as "Market," represents all off-farm activities and
resources (except land); hence it includes products sold or labor
going off the farm as well as purchased inputs and household
items. The "household" is the core of the farm unit. In pre-
paring the models of the systems, labor use, sources of human
food, household income, animal feed, and the roles of animals
were the main focus. The solid arrows (--- depict strong flows
or linkages (e.g., more than 20 percent of total income arises
from the sales of crops, animals, or household-processed
products). Broken arrows (- are used when sales of crops
or animals contributed less than 20 percent of household income,
the interchange among functions was intermittent, or there was no
routine pattern identifiable (Figure 2.3). Family labor applied
on the farm was identified, but off-farm employment or the amount
of hired labor was not quantified except generally and is
indicated by broken or solid arrows.
For most products there is a direct relation to market,
absent in cases where little is sold or when the household
changes the characteristics of the product before sale (e.g.,
wool to yarn, milk to cheese, or manure to dung cakes).
Household modification is shown by solid arrows from crop or
animal products to household to market. Even though all crops
require some processing, a distinction was made only when the
household modified or changed an already marketable product.
Fuel is extremely important on small farms. Gathering of
wood or other materials often constitutes a significant expen-
diture of labor, or may represent an important source of income.
In each system, the major fuel sources are identified.
The models presented are by no means all-inclusive. Hun-
dreds of models would be needed to characterize all small-farm
systems. However, through an appreciation of the "interaction
effects," the rationale of the "whole system" on small farms can
be better understood and serve to explain why a single phase of
technology, such a new variety of maize, may be rejected by small


Swidden System

The swidden system (Figure 2.3) is employed on 30 to 40 per-
cent of all land in tropical Asia (Harwood and Price 1976). It

Figure 2.3. Swidden farming system in Asia,shifting agriculture
low integration of crops and animals (animals free-
roving or tethered)

centers around dispersed settlements employing slash-and-burn
technology. A family or household cultivates approximately 2
hectares per year using manual labor. The main implements are
hoe and dibble stick. Plant residues are usually left in the
fields for mulch. Each family has pigs and chickens without
controlled management (scavengers); thus there is no systematic
recycling of nutrients, although some manure may be retrieved for
certain crops around the household. After two to four years of
cropping, there follows an extended fallow period. There is
little animal/crop competition since the fields are ordinarily
several hundred meters or more from the village. Fuel is a
relatively minor problem in this system because of low population
densities and the presence of forest or fallow.
Farm infrastructure is low, i.e., few capital inputs and
services are rendered from outside the village. Mutual as-
sistance within the village is the main source of aid. There is
no systematic plan for sale of livestock nor identifiable pattern
of service use for animals. Most sales of animals are for
emergency needs, with the greater proportion being consumed to

celebrate cultural/religious events (De Boer and Weisblat 1978).
The soils are generally marginal in fertility and on moderate to
steep slopes; thereby serious problems often arise with erosion.
Wildlife from forest fallow areas often prey on crops or even on
the small animals.
The system has several assets. The usually low population
pressures permit long-term fallow. Diversified cropping is
already widely practiced; therefore, soil conservation procedures
should be acceptable. The constant shortage of labor slows
expansion of cultivation and thereby risks of erosion. On the
other hand, the system has serious liabilities, such as poor
access to markets and inadequate power for tillage or transport.
Increasing land pressure due to population growth and expansion
of permanent ranching and timber harvest are causing the fallow
system to break down in many areas (Harwood 1978).
The opportunities for positive change are good. Returns
from crops and environmental stability could be improved through
the use of perennial crops, bunded paddies, terraces, and planned
grazing areas in order that buffalo or cattle could be in-
corporated into the system. Use of large ruminants would improve
the opportunity to accumulate capital. These changes would
require development of technology and guidance. To achieve these
steps will necessitate a shift in attitude on the part of
policymakers, most of whom see the swidden system as it is now
practiced as wasteful and making little contribution to agri-
cultural production.

Humid-upland System

The upland system (Figure 2.4) is widespread over the humid
tropics of Asia. There are well-developed farmsteads with
permanent, cleared fields but with no bunding and no irrigation.
The major crops are rice, maize, cassava, wheat, kenaf, sorghum,
and beans. Most households have small numbers of several species
of animals, with swine and poultry dominating. Following these
in popularity are cattle and buffalo. Sheep and goat numbers are
normally low. Where tall-growing crops (maize and sorghum) are
cultivated, cattle are kept to utilize crop residues. In rice
areas buffalo predominate. Frequently, one or two buffalo or
cattle are kept for use in land preparation and to provide
transport for crops, crop residues, and to some extent members of
the family. Swine are tethered or penned, and cattle or buffalo
are tethered at night in order that manures can be collected and
to avoid theft. The manures are frequently composted with crop
residues. Poultry are usually free-roving.
Fuel is not yet a severe problem in many of the humid-upland
systems but is becoming increasingly so as more and more forests
are cleared.
The farm infrastructure is variable, developed for some
areas but extremely limited for others. Land tenure and social
services are also variable. Many upland areas are distant from
The land ranges from rolling hills to steep slopes. The
soils have moderate fertility, and in general drainage is good.
Erosion hazards are classed as moderate. The rainfall is sea-
sonal and erratic within the rainy season, thus periods of

Figure 2.4 Humid-upland farming system in Asia, permanent crop-
ping, moderateintegration of crops and animals (ani-
mals tethered or herded)

moisture stress are frequent.
Among the assets of this system are some possibility for
multiple cropping, excellent potential for crop/ animal inte-
gration, good potential for small-holder dairying with crop
rotation, and feasibility of cooperative production and mar-
keting. Rice is milled at the village level; therefore, rice
bran and other by-products are available for supplementary
feeding of animals. Some of the current limitations to increased
output are inadequate or absent credit and animal health
services, insufficient power for tillage (Duff 1978), and limited
access to markets. In addition, farms are often so geo-
graphically fragmented that much potential for grazing is lost.
Considering the assets and liabilities, the potential appears
good for change through increased cropping intensity, especially
of fodder crops for animal feeding; increased animal holdings in
order that farmers could have scheduled outputs for marketing;
expanded farm infrastructure; extended use of draft power; and
larger milk supplies.
With time, the upland areas of Asia promise to meet a rising
demand for milk and meat through greater crop/animal inte-
Integration on small farms will minimize the need for feed

concentrates in animal production, and there is some potential
for on-farm self-sufficiency in power gasoholl, biogas, and
animal draft) based on conversion of sweet potatoes and cassava.

Lowland Rice System

The lowland rice system (Figure 2.5) is characteristic of
traditional small-farm operations in the river valleys, first and
second terraces, and coastal areas of Asia, including southern
China. These areas have at least three months of rainfall above
200 mm and a dry season of two to six months. Length of dry
season is a major factor in feeding animals. The areas are
tropical (frost free). Population density is high for both
humans and animals. Rice is the major crop, followed in
importance by garden vegetables and food legume crops. The use
of fertilizer and manures assures high crop yields. Rice is
milled in the villages; therefore, rice bran and other
by-products are available. Rice bran has a good level of crude
protein (12 to 15 percent) and a significant amount of oil or
fat; hence, rice culture/livestock integration adds to the
intensification of this farming system (Maner 1978).
Animals provide income and manure as well as fuel in south
Asia (Figure 2.5). The major species are cattle, buffalo
(swamp-type or carabao), swine, chickens, ducks, and geese. The
bovines are kept to utilize crop residues and to supply manure
and power for tillage and transport. Old draft animals are sold
for meat. Rice by-products and cut grass are utilized for swine
feeding. The pigs are sold for additional income. The ducks and
geese feed on grains lost during harvest and on insects and weeds
in and around the irrigation canals. Most of the eggs and meat
from chickens, ducks and geese are consumed within the household
or in the immediate community. The farms are small and
fragmented, which makes for difficult control of grazing animals.
As a result, the larger livestock are confined and hand-fed,
which permits collection of manures. Another reason for teth-
ering or confinement is security, as theft of animals is a
problem. Animals, especially the buffalo, are a strong feature
of the cultural system (ritual)(Barnett 1978).
Because of high population pressures, no land is available
for producing fuel. The high rate of use of manures on crops
also precludes this as a source of fuel. Hence, in this system,
the primary source of fuel is kerosene purchased at the market.
The assets of the lowland systems are numerous. Multiple
cropping can be expanded to reduce dependence on a single crop
(Riley 1978). Farmers are experienced in the care of an- imals.
Labor for use in livestock production is plentiful during long
periods. Irrigation serves to reduce risks in cropping; thus
farm capital is relatively easy to accumulate on the farms.
There are certain restrictions to expansion of crop and
livestock production. For example, the nutritive value of straw
of the new, high-yielding varieties of rice is lower than in the
traditional varieties (McDowell 1978). The low feeding value of
straw may require supplementary feed for draft animals or their
work efficiency will be low. Multiple cropping reduces the
amount of grasses and weeds traditionally cut and fed to animals.

off farm:

Figure 2.5. Lowland rice system in Asia, permanent cropping,
high integration of crops and animals (animals con-

Irrigation and multicropping may increase the value of
labor to such an extent that interest in livestock will decline
(Harwood 1978). Increased use of pesticides and herbicides in
multicropping may limit fish and duck production in rice paddies.
Increased mechanized harvesting may cause shifting of rice
milling away from the villages. This may stimulate development
of large commercial livestock operations which could monopolize
On the whole, the intensity and efficiency of crop/livestock
(nonruminants) production are higher on small farms in the
lowlands rice system than in any other system described in this
report (Maner 1978). Even so, there is good potential for
change. For example, fertilizer costs could be reduced by
cropping of legumes on residual moisture in rice paddies. The
legumes would complement low-quality rice straws for livestock
feeding (Javier 1978). Other approaches which could be used to
bring about institutional change include:

1. Securing land tenure to encourage accumulation of animals.

2. Introducing long-term technology for animal production, e.g.,

Figure 2.6. Central American highlands, permanent cropping, high-
level integration of crops and animals (animals herd-
ed or confined)

use of forage legumes.

3. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to maximize farm

4. Supplying market assistance to small-scale swine, chicken,
and duck producers in order to overcome the high unit cost
of marketing small numbers of animals.

5. Offering credit and extension services on a year-round basis.


There are a number of common features of the traditional
farming systems of the highland regions (>1,000 m elevation) of
Central America (Figure 2.6). The highlands have an annual
rainfall of 1,200 to 2,000 mn, most of which falls from April to
November. The rainfall and temperature conditions allow the
choice of alternative food- and cash-crop enterprises. Fluc-
tuations in temperature (two to six months of frost, depending on
elevation) often restrict or inhibit maximizing the utilization

of the precipitation. In general, soil fertility is not
limiting, but topography is.
Areas cultivated per family are usually small (1 to 2 ha),
with cultivation done by hand or animal power. Maize is the
primary crop, but because local varieties need nine months or
more to reach maturity, the maize is intercropped with two to
five other crops. Some diversified farms practice rotations.
Livestock on a typical farm might consist of one or two
pigs, four to five sheep (in higher areas), and one cow. In
addition, there would be approximately one horse per three farms.
Except during the dry or cold seasons, animals are tethered to
avoid crop damage. Women and children are involved in both
livestock and cropping enterprises. Men often work off-farm to
supplement incomes, and the women and children must carry on the
major tasks (Hildebrand 1978). There are many landless laborers
in the highlands. Many of them farm small plots through an
arrangement with a landholder and in return will then provide him
with labor.
Because of poor roads and/or distance to market, fertilizer
costs are high, thus recycling of nutrients through composting is
important to the system. Many farms have a "compost pit" where
animal manures and crop residues are mixed. Materials are
frequently gathered from off the farms to increase the amount of
compost. Livestock feed sources are largely from unfarmed areas
(fallow, forests, or communal grazing) and cut forages, e.g.,
maize leaves. Terraces are used to reduce erosion and to
conserve water in a number of areas. Grass areas on the slopes
of the terraces are a source of livestock feed. Wool from the
sheep is of poor quality; nevertheless, it is used to weave
clothing and handicrafts, which are sold (Fitzhugh 1978). Pigs
are marketed at 9 to 12 months. Milk is used mainly for home
consumption or made into cheese. Calves born on the farm are
kept to maturity (4.5 to 5 years) before sale. Livestock may
play only a minor role in family nutrition, as the primary foods
are maize and beans. There is a high degree of interdependence
between farm families and their livestock, especially since
recycling of animal and crop wastes is such a major aspect of the
system (Diaz 1978).
With increasing population pressures and the resulting
deforestation, fuel is becoming a more severe problem.
Lack of capital, size of farm, limited access to additional
land, and tenure status are all constraints in the highlands
system. Since manual labor is the basis for most farm op-
erations, seasonal availability of labor also becomes a
constraint (Hildebrand 1978). Distance from market and lack of
adequate access roads will limit ability to sell fresh products
like milk. Meat production and wool are less dependent on
There is some potential for further diversification in the
highland system if maize yields could be increased. Expansion of
crop production would provide opportunities for additional
livestock production. Training in shearing and preservation of
wool would improve quality and increase sales.



Figure 2.7. Land use of small farm typical of western highlands
of Guatemala


The objective of this section is to further illustrate
"linkages" or "events" at the farm level in order to increase
awareness of the complexity of a small-farm system. The farm
under discussion is in an area near Quezaltenango in the western
highlands of Guatemala where the Instituto de Ciencia y
Tecnologia Agricolas (ICTA) is conducting extensive investi-
gations on small farms.
The farm is larger than average in the Guatemala highlands;
it has 5.25 ha, of which 0.35 ha are in grass and forest.
Although all types of livestock are not represented, the farm has
been chosen as an example because the relationships among the
market, household, crops, and livestock well demonstrate the
complexities of life on a small farm. Dogs have not been
included in previous models, but are included here because the
family considers the dog as having a strong role in the culture,
and in addition, dogs are used to derive income. Puppies are
sold, and they do consume a significant part of the food produced
on the farm. The bee is the other animal found on the farm that
has not been mentioned before; although bees are not too common
as a farm enterprise, some farms in all areas of Guatemala do
have them.
The main crops are maize, a type of bean locally called
piloy ( Phaseolus coccineous ), wheat, and potatoes. Produced in
smaller amounts are fava or European broad beans, locally called
haba ( Vicia faba ); fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs for
teas or medicines. The primary livestock enterprises are cattle
for milk, swine, and chickens. One-fourth of the farm surrounds
the house (Figure 2.7), and the rest is scattered in various
parcels. Two-thirds of the land is owned and one-third is rented
from relatives. Land rent is half the value of the crop after



c\ VM


Figure 2.8. Family living quarters and animal keeping facil-
ilities on farm in western highlands of Guatemala
(See farmstead and fruit in Figure 2.7)

deducting all costs. On the farmer's own land, he produces 75
percent of the maize, beans, and fava, 80 percent of the
wheat, and 63 percent of the potatoes. Only 30 percent of the
forest and grasslands are owned by him. On the land surrounding
the house, including some forest land, a portion of all the crops
cultivated are represented. The farmstead (Figure 2.8) contains
several sheds for livestock and for forage and wood storage (both
firewood and lumber). One bedroom of the house doubles as a
weaving room for making sweaters, and another bedroom doubles as
a carpentry shop.
The distribution of labor, sale of products, purchases and
sources of food for the Guatemala highland farm are shown in
Figure 2.9. The farmer works 75 percent of the time on the farm
and 25 percent off the farm. His wife works half time on the
farm and half time off the farm. This latter situation is also
not very typical of the region. Of the seven children, two work
off the farm full time and are not counted in the farm picture,
although they do consume eggs and send some money home. The
other five, who are in school, work on weekends making sweaters
and furniture.
About 80 percent of the labor for the crops comes from off
the farm. Of the family labor, most of it (43 percent) is used
in the various activities within the household, including gath-
ering firewood, about 20 percent is expended on animals, and
12 percent on the crops. Excluding the two children who work
full time off the farm, about 25 percent of the family labor is
used off the farm.
The family at present has three cows, of which one or two
are in production at one time. A small proportion of the milk is
sold, but most of it comes into the household, where 10 percent
is consumed fresh and the rest is used to make cheese and whey.
Of the cheese, 20 percent is consumed in the household and 80

Figure 2.9. Distribution of labor, income (sales of products or
off-farm labor), and purchases from exogenous
sources for small crop/livestock farm in western
highlands of Guatemala (Numbers are percent of
total of that item )

percent is sold. Small amounts of whey are sold and consumed,
but most is used to feed the pigs (60 percent) and the dogs (35
percent). All the cream removed from the milk is consumed in the
There is usually one sow that has a litter of six to eight
pigs at approximately six-month intervals. Two of the pigs are
kept on the farm for fattening, while the rest are sold in the
market or to other farmers at the time of weaning. The only meat
produced for the household from two pigs is 2 to 3 kg each six
months when the fat pigs are sold and butchered. This amount
represents 3 percent of the total pork produced on the farm and
about 10 percent of the pork meat consumed by the family.
The family maintains both laying hens and young chickens.


All the old hens are sold for meat, and 58 percent of the young
chickens are sold when they weign 1 to 2 kg. The feathers from
chickens killed on the farm are used to make artificial flowers
as a household industry (20 percent) or composted to make
fertilizer (80 percent).
Maize is the basic food staple of the family diet, and 20
percent of the wheat is consumed. (Most of the wheat grown in
the highlands is marketed, but some is consumed in this
particular area.) Of the maize produced, 40 percent is fed to
the pigs, 20 percent to the chickens, 10 percent to the dogs, 19
percent is consumed in the household, 10 percent is sold at the
end of the year when there is surplus, and 1 percent is used for
seed. The maize stover is fed to the cattle. The parts rejected
by the cattle (lower part of the stalks) is mixed with manure to
produce compost. The same procedure is followed with the wheat
straw. Potato vines are fed to livestock unless they were
fumigated shortly before harvest, in which case they are left for
incorporation into the soil.
Of the vegetables, a wild turnip that grows as a weed in the
maize (recently mixed with broccoli, which is allowed to reseed
itself) is sold, consumed or fed to the animals. It is sold for
human consumption and consumed in the house when the leaves are
young but fed to the livestock when the leaves are older.
Recently, a small garden patch was established with cabbage,
cauliflower, carrots, and radishes, of which half is consumed and
half is sold.
Besides providing deciduous and other fruit, the fruit
orchard also provides herbs for medicines, which account for 25
percent of the medicine used by the family.
The forest (including the grasslands) provides leaf mulch,
half of which is used for compost on the farm and the other half
as payment for gathering the mulch. The forest also provides
firewood and pinecones for fuel and raw materials for making
implement handles and lumber. The lumber, which is sawed by
off-farm labor, was used for building the house, and is used for
constructing sheds, furniture, and boxes for seed potatoes.
In addition to purchasing candles as a source of light, the
family buys ocote, which is a special pitch-pine kindling used
for starting fires. They buy cloth to make about 50 percent of
their clothes and purchase the other half ready-made. Wool yarn
is also bought for making sweaters, of which 7 percent is used
for family needs and the rest sold. Food items which are
purchased include tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, beans
(Phaseolus vulgaris), coffee, sugar, chocolate, riceflour,
oatmeal, cooking oil, lard, noodles, etc.
Even though some piloy (beans) is produced on the farm,
yields are' presently insufficient for food needs. Bush beans
(Phaseolus vulgaris) are being tested as a means of decreasing
dependence on purchase.
The farm operation described is a very complex system. A
wide variety of activities are carried on to maximize resource
utilization and reduce risks. Due to the tedious balance of the
system, interventions intended to produce change must be
carefully evaluated; otherwise serious imbalances will be cre-


M.L. Barnett. 1978. Livestock, rice and culture. Paper
presented at Bellagio Conference, reprint available from
The Rockefeller Foundation.

A.J. De Boer and A. Weisblat. 1978. Livestock component of
small-farm systems in South and Southeast Asia. Paper
presented at Bellagio Conference; reprint available from
The Rockefeller Foundation.
H. Diaz. 1978. Integrating an animal component into an agri-
cultural development project. Paper presented at Bellagio
Conference, reprint available from The Rockefeller

B. Duff. 1978. The potential for mechanization in small-farm
production systems. Paper presented at Bellagio
Conference; reprint available from The Rockefeller

P.A. Fitzhugh. 1978. Role of sheep and goats in small-farm
systems. Paper presented at Bellagio Conference; reprint
available from The Rockefeller Foundation.

R.R. Harwood. 1978. Cropping systems in the Asian humid trop-
ics. Paper presented at Bellagio Conference, reprint
available from The Rockefeller Foundation.

R.R. Harwood and F.C. Price. 1976. Multiple cropping in trop-
ical Asia. In Multiple cropping, R.I. Papendick et al.,
eds. Madison, Wisc.: American Society of Agronomy.

P.E. Hildebrand. 1978. Motivating small farmers to accept
change. Paper presented at Bellagio Conference; reprint
available from The Rockefeller Foundation.

E.Q. Javier. 1978. Integration of forages into small farming
systems. Paper presented at Bellagio Conference; reprint
available from The Rockefeller Foundation.

J.H. Maner. 1978. Nonruminants for small-farm systems. Paper
presented at Bellagio Conference; reprint available from
The Rockefeller Foundation.

R.R. McDowell. 1978. Are we prepared to help small farmers in
developing countries? J. Animal Sci. 47:1184-1194.

J.J. Riley. 1978. Land, water, and man as determinants in
small-farm production systems. Paper presented at
Bellagio Conference; reprint available from The Rockefeller

Peter E. Hildebrand
It is obvious from the preceding discussion that no two
farms will be alike in all respects. Adding social, economic,
cultural, and political influences to physical and climatic
factors as constraints to adoption of new technology creates a
situation which could seem to be impossible short of individual
attention to each individual farmer. This, of course, is im-
possible. Fortunately, it has been found that in any area,
certain farming systems or portions of the system are similar in
important characteristics. These systems or subsystems can be
grouped into "homogeneous systems" (Hildebrand 1981, pp.425-426;
Norman 1980, p.8) or "recommendation domains" (Byerlee et al.
1982, p. 899) which provide a convenient means for developing
"location-specific" technologies. The premise on which the
selection of a homogeneous cropping or farming system is based is
that all the farmers who presently use it have made similar
adjustments to a set of restrictions which they all face and
that, since they made the same adjustments, they must all be
facing the same set of agro-socioeconomic conditions (Hilde-
brand). Once a homogeneous system is identified, it is necessary
to discover what agro-socioeconomic characteristics or conditions
all the farmers who use the system have in common and then to
identify which are the most important to consider in any
modifications to be made through changed technology. The
homogeneous system or recommendation domain is a group of farmers
with roughly similar practices and circumstances for whom a given
recommendation will be broadly appropriate. It is a strat-
ification of farmers, not area. Socioeconomic criteria may be
just as important as agroclimatic variables in delineating
domains. Thus, resulting domains are often not amenable to
geographical mapping because farmers of different domains may be
interspersed in a given area (Byerlee et al.).
Although all farms in a geographic area may not (usually
will not) fall into the same recommendation domain, it is still
important to be able to geographically locate the boundaries for
which a particular technology is appropriate. To be able to do
this requires an understanding of the farming system itself, the
characteristics or factors endogenouss or exogenous) that con-
strain the system, and what factors change the system and its
geographical boundaries.


Byerlee, D., L. Harrington, and D.L. Winkelman. 1982. Farming
systems research strategy and technology design. American
Agricultural Economics Association, Vol. 64, No. 5, pp

Hildebrand, P.E. 1981. Combining disciplines in rapid ap-
praisal: the sondeo approach. Agricultural Administration
8, PR 423-432.

Norman, D.W. 1980. The farming systems approach: relevancy for
the small farmer. MSU Rural Development Papers, No. 5. East

Peter E. Hildebrand
Hart highlights the different levels of systems and
subsystems which form the environment within which farms operate.
Each of these levels within the hierarchy is composed of its own
set of resources and conditions, and therefore, of potential
constraints to the productivity or efficiency of that particular
system or subsystem. A constraint upon the productivity of any
level of the systems hierarchy efficiently constrains the
productivity of the entire hierarchy. If farmers in a country
are capable, for whatever reason, of producing only so much of a
product, then that will be the limit to availability of that
product withinthe country's economic system. In the absence of
imports, production constrains the amount of that product that
can be processed in other levels of the in-country systems
hierarchy or otherwise be made available as inputs or for
consumption. Likewise, if processing is limiting because the
only plant is antiquated and no others can be built because of
other intervening governmental policies, then no matter how much
of the product is produced by the farm level system, processing
becomes the constraint to the productivity of the entire
A common point of entry for agricultural development tech-
nicians into the systems hierarchy of a country is at the crop
level,Fig.2.10. Low productivity of one or more crops, that is,
lack of self-sufficiency, is seen as a problem by policy makers.
One or more projects are initiated in attempts to increase the
productivity, or overall production, of the particular crop or
crops. The problem is, that policy makers, just like
professional scientists and technicians, are all influenced by
disciplinary and experiential bias. This means that the
individual policy maker or the individual technical consultant
will influence the selection of the level within the hierarchy
which will become the focus of the project for increasing the
productivity or production of the crop or crops in question. The
more narrow the training or experience of the individual, the
more restrictive will be the focus of attention. A soil
scientist will look for soil constraints. He may be concerned
with general fertility problems, or more narrowly with micro or
macro elements or pH. And, if he is looking for constraints in
any of these particular areas, he is sure to find them. Any
factor is constraining at some point, and when viewed in
isolation, can easily be considered to be the constraining factor
to the system. For a person with narrow training or experience,
this is an honest assessment and should not be discounted
out-of-hand. But the probability that an individual assessment
of a person with narrow training and experience will discover
the one or the few most limiting constraints, is small. A plant
breeder will most assuredly be convinced that germplasm is the
most limiting constraint and a farm management economist will be

Figure 2.10. Hierarchy of constraints in an agricultural

sure that the problem is allocation of resources on individual
farms. An irrigation engineer will view the inefficient use of
water, if there is an irrigation system, or the lack of an
irrigation system if there is not one, as the major constraint.
A marketing economist will see product marketing and perhaps
input marketing as the problem. An industrial engineer will see


product processing as the bottleneck, and a banker will see
credit as the need. At the same time, each of these individuals,
when his own solution is not effective, will readily see that the
subsystem which falls in someone else's area of responsibility is
not functioning as it should to "allow" his "solution" to be
A multidisciplinary team with varied experiences will
inevitably have a higher probability of discovering which
subsystems in the hierarchy and which constraints within the
subsystems are the most limiting to the productivity of the
entire hierarchical system. This does not guarantee, of course,
that any particular team is assured that it will find the most
critical constraints to an entire hierarchical system. But the
use of such a team definitely will increase the probability that
these constraints will be found.
It is, of course, exceedingly difficult, if not impossible,
to plan or implement the kind of project that would be required
to search for constraints at all levels within the systan
hierarchy of a country and then to create solutions that would
remove them as constraints. But also, this is not required.
What is important is that before undertaking a project at any
level in the hierarchy, an understanding of the other levels of
the hierarchy is gained so that the constraints to the system
from the other levels is appreciated. Then, if the lack of a
market (either marketing mechanism or effective demand) for a
perishable product exists, and this is known, there will be much
less temptation on the part of the project design effort, to
blindly search for ways to increase the production of that
product. Or if credit is simply not available to target farmers,
there will be less temptation to develop a technology that
requires a source of credit in order to be acceptable to or
usable by the clients.
Developing the means for removing a constraint which is not
one of the constraints limiting the system provides employment
for the technicians involved in the process, but does not
alleviate the problem nor increase the productivity of the
system. If the productivity of the system is not increased as a
result of the technicians' activities, in the long run, there
will not be a means of paying for the services of those
technicians nor the policy makers who authorize the projects. In
the long run, it would, therefore, be beneficial to all
concerned, to do a better job in searching for and alleviating
the key or most limiting constraints to the system, at whatever
level in the hierarchy they are found.



Economic Characteristics

of Small Family-Farm Systems

The nature of the small-scale, limited-resource family farm
leads it to express economic characteristics that are quite
different from large-scale commercial or plantation farms with
full-time management and access to most resources. These
characteristics can have a profound effect on the adoption of new
technologies by small-scale family farmers. This chapter
presents a series of readings that describe the characteristics
of small-scale family farmers, the implications for technology
innovation, and some of the responses to potential technology
change that could be expected.

Peter E. Hildebrand
The most important trait in defining the type of farm that
will be treated here is that of being a family farm. Family
farms are those which are first a home rather than first a
business. Decisions are made from the point of view of the home.
A farm is not a family farm by this definition if business
decisions are made independently of family considerations.
Rather, the well-being of the home and family override profit
A second trait of small-scale family farms is usually the
presence of a wide diversification of enterprises or activ-
ities. These frequently include off-farm work by some of the
labor force.

Small-scale is a relative term. This creates problems when
only the concept of small is used as a means of identifying
clientele. In many countries and areas, a farm of only a very
few hectares can be a large, commercial farm. In other areas,



Economic Characteristics

of Small Family-Farm Systems

The nature of the small-scale, limited-resource family farm
leads it to express economic characteristics that are quite
different from large-scale commercial or plantation farms with
full-time management and access to most resources. These
characteristics can have a profound effect on the adoption of new
technologies by small-scale family farmers. This chapter
presents a series of readings that describe the characteristics
of small-scale family farmers, the implications for technology
innovation, and some of the responses to potential technology
change that could be expected.

Peter E. Hildebrand
The most important trait in defining the type of farm that
will be treated here is that of being a family farm. Family
farms are those which are first a home rather than first a
business. Decisions are made from the point of view of the home.
A farm is not a family farm by this definition if business
decisions are made independently of family considerations.
Rather, the well-being of the home and family override profit
A second trait of small-scale family farms is usually the
presence of a wide diversification of enterprises or activ-
ities. These frequently include off-farm work by some of the
labor force.

Small-scale is a relative term. This creates problems when
only the concept of small is used as a means of identifying
clientele. In many countries and areas, a farm of only a very
few hectares can be a large, commercial farm. In other areas,

2,000 hectares can be considered a small farm. But in any of
these areas, smaller farms can be identified. The type of farm
being considered here is usually the smaller (as opposed to the
larger) farms in an area. Diversification into several ac-
tivities creates even smaller enterprises within the small farm.


Limited-resource is another relative term. All farmers will
insist they have limited resources, and they are all correct.
But, again, in any area, there will be obvious differences in the
resource base of different farmers. This is particularly true if
one considers resource quality and not just resource quantity.


It is tautologous to argue that small farmers have less
land. But the quality of land held by small-scale farmers is
frequently, if not usually, inferior to that of large-scale
commercial or plantation farms.


All farmers face some sort of limitations on capital, but
many small-scale, family farmers have virtually no cash with
which to operate and frequently do not have title to fixed
capital (such as land) which could serve as collateral were it
possible otherwise to borrow. Many farmers in this situation do
borrow, but at very high interest rates, which in itself has the
same effect of severely limiting operating capital.


Conventional wisdom conveys that small-scale family farms
usually have an abundance of labor (large families, small
holdings). Off-farm work and a large number of enterprises on
the farm, however, can create situations for which labor can
become scarce. Because of limited opportunity to hire additional
labor, this resource can also be limited at critical times.


Part-time farmers, who have many different types of
enterprises on the farm, have much less time to devote to the
management of each enterprise than managers of large-scale
commercial or specialized farms. Lower levels of education and
more limited access to information also reduce the quality of
management on many small-scale family farms.


Services, which many managers of large farms take for grant-
ed, are also frequently limited for small-scale farmers. This is
true of information services, product or input marketing
services, transportation, storage and processing services and

even communication services. All of these factors can be
considered as resources to the farmer and have an impact on the
productivity of the farm.

Fixed Resources

Not only is the small-scale farm faced with limited
resources compared to a large commercial farm, but also the
proportion of fixed to variable resources is different. In a
large commercial farm with a relatively abundant capital base,
additional resources of most kinds can be purchased when needed.
In a small farm with very limited capital, this is not the case,
and a relatively high proportion of the resources are fixed.
Manure from existing animals may be the only source of
fertilizer. The family may be the only source of labor and
management. The only source of seed may be that left over after
consumption, limited sales and losses in rustic storage.

Peter E. Hildebrand
Carter et al. reported in a recent study that most of the
research carried out in the United States was considered by the
research directors involved to be scale neutral, meaning it
should demonstrate the same potential on small as on large farms.
Hence, they argue that the research product was equally adoptable
on large and small farms. Yet it has been amply demonstrated,
even in the United States, that small farms have not adopted much
of the newer technology and have not been able to compete with
larger farms in the current economic environment.
In this paper, it is argued that the majority of the
research that is conceived as scale neutral by the research
directors responding to the Carter study is, in fact, not scale
neutral and is strongly biased toward large-scale commercial
agriculture and against small limited-resource or low-volume
family farms. This is true in the United States but even more
true in developing countries. Three reasons are primarily
responsible for this bias. These reasons are not recognized by
most agricultural researchers and have not entered into the
evaluation criteria regarding scale effect of the research
directors who classified the research reported by Carter et al.
The reasons, all interrelated, are:

1. The quality of resources is frequently lower on small farms
than on largefarms. This has the effect of shifting a small
farm production function downward in comparison with large farms
so that response from a technology on a small farm is less than
on a large farm.

2. Limited quantities of resources, fixed in a higher proportion
for the firm, result in a concave opportunities curve for the
low-volume farm. This results in a reduction in Income when
enterprises are combined. Yet many small farmers are forced in-
to diversification for subsistence or because they have little


confidence in support from normal market infrastructure.

3. Forced farm enterprise diversification and/or off-farm work
reduce the quantity if not the quality of management in each
enterprise on the low volume farm. This influences the time
required to learn to use a new technology, shifts the learning
curve to the right, and makes learning more expensive.
Low-volume output prevents spreading the higher learning costs
(loss of income from not achieving anticipated results) over a
sufficient number of units to make complex learning situations
profitable for the small farm.

The combined effect of these three factors is to make it
unprofitable for the low-volume farm to adopt more complex modern
technology. The need under the conditions of low volume is for
technology that is simple, as opposed to complex, and uses mostly
resources already fixed on the farm, as opposed to purchased
inputs. This is not the kind of technology being produced by the
research directors polled by Carter et al., nor by most research
establishments in developing countries.


Not universally, but frequently enough to make it a general
rule, small farmers operate with inputs and resources of inferior
quality compared to large or commercial farmers. It is common to
see small farms pushed off onto steep or rocky hillsides with
obviously poorer soils. Animals or power equipment, if they
exist at all, are weaker or smaller and do a less effective job
in soil preparation and cultivation. Purchased inputs are more
apt to have been poorly stored or otherwise arrive at the farm
with inferior quality. These and other reasons account for a
lower quality input and resource base on a small farm. Combining
these inputs with a new technology leads to lower responses than
those achieved on farms with a higher quality resource base and
reduces profit potential from adoption. It is not the size of
the field in which an improved seed is plant-edthat-iiimTpo-ran-.
It is the quality of the soil, the amount of moisture, the
presence or absence of pest and disease control, and the losses
between maturity and harvest, when combined with the improved
seed, that influence response. Technical innovations that appear
promising with high level production functions are much less so
with lower level response surfaces.


Undoubtedly the least understood effect of producing on a
farm with a high proportion of fixed inputs or resources is the
influence of fixed resources on the production possibilities or
opportunities curve. Many economics texts cover the case of
limited-resource firms combining products in Stage I of the
production function. This produces an opportunities curve that
is concave from the origin (Figure 3.1), for which spec-
ialization and not diversification, maximizes income. But even


X IX2 ...X, X1 I X2...Xn
Figure 3.1. Combining enterprises with inputs limited
to Stage I

in this case, the effect of the resources fixed for the firm but
variable between enterprises is usually ignored. Rather, it is
assumed implicitly that the amount of the X2 to n fixed factors
in each of the production functions in Figure 3.1 is equal. This
implies that X2 to X are not interchangeable between Y1 and Y2.
This clearly is not the case with a limited-resource firm.
Consider the case of a firm choosing between two products,
Y, and Y2' and with four units of a resource X2, fixed for the
firm but variable between the two enterprises. If one input X1
is variable, there will be a family of production functions
related to the levels of the fixed resource with which it is
combined (Figure 3.2). Implicitly assumed in standard texts is
that there are four units of the fixed resource available for
each of the two enterprise possibilities. However, if rather
than produce only one product, using all four units of the fixed
resource, the farmer produces some of both, then some of the same
four units of the fixed resource must be used in the production
of the second product. The effect is to shift both production
functions downward from X1 | X2 = 4, a consequence not considered
in the standard explanation of enterprise combination. As a
result, production possibilities are represented by a family of
opportunity curves for which the envelope opportunity curve is
again concave, not convex (Figure 3.2c). This effect exacerbates
even more the consequences of forced diversification.


One of the most critical functions of management is learning
to use new technology. Depending on the nature of the
technology, it may take several attempts before its anticipated
potential can be reached. The responses achieved at each
different attempt form what can be called a learning curve. Most
work dealing with learning curves has associated successful
learning with reduction in unit cost. In Figure 3.3, learning is
related to increase in yield, which is frequently the aim of a
new agricultural technology. In this figure, yield potential

MaxX1 X 1X2


MaxX1 XI)X2

2a 2b

Figure 3.2 Combining enterprises with a limited fixed
resource, x2 = 4 units.

from the new technology is very high. However, it takes nearly
five attempts before the full potential is achieved.
Economically, present yield has an associated gross income,
cost, and net income (Figure 3.4). A farmer with a relatively
low level of yield and income is presented with a new technology
that has high gross-income potential. However, associated with
this potential high income is usually an increased cost, Figure
3.5. If a farmer decides to use the new technology, he invests
at the higher cost level. If he does not achieve the potential
response on the first or second attempt, as shown in Figure
3.5 net income can be negative for a period of time. In this
figure it takes three years to break even. In a large-volume
commercial operation, the future positive income stream can
easily pay for the losses during the early stages of learning.
However, on a small farm with low volume, this is more difficult,
especially if a portion of that low volume is used for
subsistence on the farm and does not enter the market.
A person who has less time to devote to the learning process
cannot achieve the potential from the new technology as rapidly
as a person who has more time available for learning. Hence, for
a manager of the small-scale family farm who has many enterprises
to manage, the learning curve shifts to the right and more
attempts will be required before potential is achieved (Figure
3.6). On the other hand, technology that is simpler to learn can
shift the curve to the left. Fewer attempts are required before
the full potential is reached. The conclusion is that simple
rather than complex technology is more appropriate for the
small-scale family farmer with little time available for learning
how to use the new technology for each individual enterprise.
However, simpler technology that would shift the learning
curve to the left usually is associated with a lower potential
benefit and net income (Figure 3.7). This leads to rejection of
the simpler technology by scientists when evaluating alternative
technologies in favor of more complex technologies with higher
yield and income potential. For the scientist who assumes
instantaneous learning, this is a logical decision. But for the
small diversified farmer who does not learn instantaneously, the

Yield Results
New Technology

(Learning Curve)

Yield with Present

0 1 2 3 4 5 6


Figure 3.3. Responses achieved with a new technology
related to number of times used

$ PoFenial Fiomn
Nev. Tcchnrolog

Gross Income, present rechnolog
Net Income, present technology
I- ---------------------------------
Cost, present technoloMv

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Figure 3.4. Gross income from new technology related
to the learning curve



Figure 3.5.

Gross Income
Cost New Technology
New Technology

Net Income
SNew Technology

0 1 2 /3 4 5 6


Negative and positive net income from
using a new technology related to the
learning curve

simpler technology may be more acceptable and more adoptable than
a higher-payoff technology tat takes several attempts to learn
and may therefore be rejected.
A rapid rate of learning, a large volume over which to
amortize the learning cost, and a low discount rate would all
enhance the adoptability of a proposed new technology. None of
these are characteristic of a small farm. In their absence, a
particularly high potential profit would be required to entice a
small farmer to try the new technology. But high payoff
technology is usually associated with a high proportion of
purchased inputs requiring cash or credit, which the small farmer
does not have, and/or increased risk to levels unacceptable to a
person who would be risking his home and not just his business.


Low quality resources on small farms compared with large
farms shift downward the response surfaces associated with a
technological change, making the potential profit from the



0 1 2 3 4 5 6


Figure 3.6.


Shifts in the learning curve related to
complexity of new technology and facility
or time for learning

Complex Technology

Simple Technology

------------Present Technology

Present Technology
--------- E -----_----

0 1

Figure 3.7.

2 3

4 5


Frequent relationship of simpler (easier
to learn to use) technology and potential

adoption of the technology less than for a large farm. Forced
diversification on small farms, combined with a high proportion
of fixed resources, reduces income rather than increasing it as
it does on a larger capital base with a higher proportion of
variable resources. Less management time available for each
enterprise on small diversified farms makes learning more
difficult and costly and further reduces the discounted present
value of the response of a new technology that does not produce
anticipated returns the first year. Any of the effects in-
dividually reduces the acceptability of a high-cost or complex
technology to the small farmer. When all effects are taken
together, as is the case on most small farms, the result can be
overwhelming rejection of much modern technology. And if small
farmers are unable to adopt new research results (technology)
because of these straightforward economic reasons, it is. not
correct to argue that most of our agricultural research is scale
The conclusion is that agricultural research designed for
small farms must result in technology that is simple and not
complex, to reduce learning costs; use mostly resources available
on small farms with a minimum of purchased inputs, to reduce
capital requirements; and be evaluated and tested under the
resource conditions found on the farms of the clientele for whom
they are designed, to reduce inflated estimates of potential
response. It is critical that agricultural researchers com-
prehend the economics of small farms if they intend to produce
technology for them. Otherwise, agricultural research will
continue almost inevitably with a bias, albeit unintentional,
toward large commercial farms, and worldwide efforts to aid small
farmers will continue to have only limited effects.


Carter, H.O., W.W. Cochrane, L.M. Day, R.C. Powers, and L.
Tweeten. 1981. Research and the family farm. Paper prepared
for the Committee on Organization Policy. Cornell
University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Theodore W. Schultz


Suppose it were true that not much additional income could
be had from a better allocation of the existing stock of
traditional factors of production. This assumption does not rule
out some small gains from this source, but it does imply that
growth opportunities in this direction are unimportant (Harberger
1959). Suppose, further, that it were also true that investment
to increase somewhat the stock of traditional factors of
production would produce a very low rate of return (Subcommittee
1962). Here, too, there could be some imperfections in the way
the capital "market" functions, which could be corrected, and if

this were achieved some additional investment would be
forthcoming. Yet the increase in income from such measures would
not open the door wide for economic growth. Lastly, then,
suppose there were some reproducible factors of production in
other communities that differ from the traditional factors on
which a particular community is dependent and that these
differences make them both more productive and profitable. Why
is it that farm people now dependent upon traditional agriculture
do not take advantage of these more productive and more
profitable factors? The puzzle underlying this question is ever
so perplexing in the case of Panajachel, Guatemala, a community
to be examined in some detail. The people are obviously
hard working, thrifty, and acute in selling their crops, renting
land, and buying things for consumption and production. The
community is not an isolated subsistence economy, but is closely
integrated into a larger market economy. Yet, hoes, axes, and
machetes are not replaced by better tools and equipment. There
is not even a wheel. Coffee leaves used as fertilizer are not
replaced or supplemented by chemical fertilizers. Traditional
breeds of chickens are not replaced by better hens for producing
eggs and broilers for producing meat. The traders and firms in
the towns that serve this community are not offering for sale any
of the superior factors. If one wanted to plan a community like
Panajachel that would go on for decades without any change in the
state of arts on which it was dependent, it would strike one as
impossible within the market economy of Guatemala. Yet
Panajachel has been doing the "impossible" in this respect for
generations. That is the puzzle.


A classic study by Sol Tax, Penny Capitalism (1953), opens
with these words: it is a "society which is 'capitalist' on a
microscopic scale. There are no machines, no factories, no
co-ops or corporations. Every man is his own firm and works
ruggedly for himself. Money there is, in small denominations;
trade there is, with what men carry on their backs; free
entrepreneurs, the impersonal market place, competition these
are in the rural economy." Tax leaves no doubt that this
community is very poor, that it is under strong competitive
behavior, and that its 800 people are making the most of the
factors and techniques of production at their command.
No one ought to be surprised that the people are very poor.
Tax puts their poverty this way: they "live without medical aid
or drugs, in dirt-floored huts with hardly any furniture, the
light only of the fire that smokes up the room, or of a
pitch-pine torch' or a little tin kerosene lamp; the mortality
rate is high; the diet is meager and most people cannot afford
more than a half-pound of meat a week. Schools are almost
nonexistent; the children cannot be spared from work in the
field. Life is mostly hard work." (Tax 1953 p.28) Tax
presents many data measuring the consumer goods and the level and
cost of living to support this poignant testimony on the poverty
of the community.
Competition is present everywhere in the way products and

factors are priced. "All household utensils pottery, grinding
stones, baskets, gourds, china, and so on and practically all
household furnishings, such as tables and chairs and mats, must
be brought in from other towns. So must many articles of wearing
apparel, such as material for skirts and cloaks, hats, sandals,
blankets, and carrying bags, as well as cotton and thread for
weaving the other things. So must most of the essential
foodstuffs: the greater part of the corn, all lime, salt and
spices, most of the chile, and most of the meat. To get
the money they depend upon the sale of agricultural produce. .
Onions and garlic, a number of fruits, and coffee are the chief
commodities produced for sale." (Tax 1953 pp. 11-12) Prices are
in every respect highly flexible.
Tax goes on to document the fact that the Indian is "above
all else an entrepreneur, a business man," always looking for new
means of turning a penny. He buys the goods he can afford with a
close regard for price in various markets, he calculates with
care the value of this labor in producing crops for sale or for
home consumption against his working for hire, and he acts
accordingly. He rents and pawns parcels of land with a shrewd
eye to the return, and he does likewise in acquiring the few
producer goods that he buys from others. All of this business,
"may be characterized as a money economy organized in single
households as both consumption and production units, with a
strongly developed market which tends to be perfectly
competitive." (Tax 1953 p.13)
The economy has been geared to a stable, virtually sta-
tionary, routine pattern. Not that the Indian is not always
looking for new ways to improve his lot. Tax notes that "he is
on the lookout for new and better seeds, fertilizer, ways of
planting". But such improvements come along infrequently, and
their effects upon production are exceedingly small. There was a
growing demand by "foreigners" for some shore land along Lake
Atitlan but this development was having very little effect upon
the land Indians used for producing crops and on which they built
their huts. Some buses and trucks had become available for
transport to more distant towns and they were being used to go
to and from markets in these towns because it was "cheaper" than
walking and carrying the goods. There were more tourists in and
about the lake but these too were having little or no discernible
influence on the community.
All the evidence revealed in the careful documentation of
the behavior of the people in Penny Capitalism and in the many
tables showing prices, costs, and returns strongly supports the
inference that the people are remarkably efficient in allocating
the factors at their disposal in current production. There are no
significant indivisibilities in methods of production, none in
factors, and none in products. There is no disguised unemploy-
ment, no underemployment of either men, women, or children old
enough to work, and for the least of them there is no such thing
as a zero marginal product. Because even very young children can
contribute something of value by working in the field, they
cannot be spared the time to go to school. Product and factor
prices are flexible. People respond to profit. For them every
penny counts.


Harberger, A.C. 1959. Using the resources at hand more effec-
tively. American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings),

Subcommittee on Inter-American Economic Relationships of the
Joint Economic Committee of the Congress of the United
States. 1962. The rate of return on capital in
Latin-American economies: with special reference to Chile.
Hearings on Economic Development in South America, May 10-11.

Tax, Sol. 1953. Penny capitalism. Smithsonian Institution,
Institute of Social Anthropology, Publication No. 16
(Washington,: U.S. Government Printing Office). Reprinted by
the University of Chicago Press. 1983.

Peter E. Hildebrand and Edgar G. Luna
Minifundios, or small subsistence or near-subsistence farms,
normally absorb the majority of rural people in the developing
countries of Latin America and elsewhere in the world. Although
a great deal has been written about subsistence farms, and their
inclusion in the development process is frequently considered,
schemes to improve the individual economic situation of these
farmers are mostly failures. Reasons for failure include various
combinations of large numbers, isolation, low educational levels,
lack of private resources, insufficient public resources, poorly
planned or coordinated programs, and lack of information
regarding economic constraints and requirements and optimum input
and product combinations for feasible solutions to problems of
the minifundistas.
Schultz's "Economic Efficiency Hypothesis"(Shultz 1964 p.
16) proposes that farmers in traditional, but stable, agriculture
have adjusted to their conditions in such a manner as to be eco-
nomically efficient. We agree with this hypothesis, which
implies that no changes in input or product mix from among the
alternatives historically available will result in any sig-
nificant improvement in the income of the farm.
But more and more, traditional farms are being affected by
new technologies. Even though many efforts are made to supply
"packages" of improved techniques, it is virtually impossible to
transform the traditional subsistence farm into a "micro
commercial farm" with any sort of input package. The reason is
that no such package can include all the required modernizing
factors in the proportions in which they are required.
It is logical to argue, as Schultz has done (pp. 162 ff.),
that the introduction of a modern technique is not always
profitable in any particular area, because it may not be adapted,
the price conditions may not be similar, risk may be increased,
etc. Again, we do not disagree with these considerations. But
we would argue that a more important effect is that the
introduction of one or more new factors in an otherwise stable


and traditional farm economy adversely influences the economic
balance of the traditional factors that are not being changed.
The introduction of a new variety, a high analysis fertilizer,
or a potent insecticide singly, or in a package, can have
unforeseen effects, such as shifting labor from Stage II of
production to Stage I and land from Stage II to Stage III. These
shifts are so unexpected that they are seldom if ever considered
when attempting to analyze the reasons for the poor performance
of otherwise well planned development programs.
A study was conducted in a minifundio area of southern
Colombia, near Pasto in the Department of Narino, which sheds
some light on the nature of the problem and should be of wide
interest to economists and other agriculturalists working in
small-farm development. In the study area traditional agri-
culture remains the predominant characteristic, but through the
efforts of rigorous research, extension, and credit programs,
many new technologies are finding their way into common use.
Nevertheless, farm incomes remain low. The study that is
presented in this paper discovered some of the reasons -- the
unforeseen consequences that new technologies are not having
the predicted effect on farm income.


Apart from the usual classification of farms based on size,
it was possible in the study to separate them into specialized
and diversified farms. This was done in order to analyze one
hypothesis: On small farms with few resources, diversification
tends to force some resources into Stage I of production (and at
the same time force others into Stage III). The implication is
that any combination of enterprises would result in a lower
income than specialization in only one crop at a time (owing to
the concave nature of the opportunities curve).
Of the 108 farms (of from 1 to 20 hectares) surveyed, it was
found that from among those 1 to 5 hectares in size, two-thirds
were specialized and one-third were diversified. For the farms
from 5.1 to 20 hectares the proportion was reversed. This was
evidence, though not conclusive, that the farmers themselves were

finding our hypothesis to be true on the small farms,
specialization tended to yield more income. The net income
figures, both per hectare and per farm, corroborated this
evidence. The dividing size was 10 hectares. The average net
income per hectare and per farm was greater for specialized farms
of 1 to 3, 3 to 5, and 5 to 10 hectares than for diversified
farms. But net income was greater for diversified than for
specialized farms of 10 to 15 and 15 to 20 hectares.
The smaller (1 to 10 hectares) specialized farms yielded
more net income than the smaller diversified farms, even though
the diversified farms used more traditional (labor and seed) as
well as modern (fertilizer and pesticide) inputs per hectare than
the specialized farms. Considering the use of modern inputs as
an indicator, the small diversified farms would be rated higher
than the small specialized farms yet their performance on a
net income basis was poorer. For farms larger than 10 hectares,

the greater use of traditional and modern inputs on the
diversified farms did produce more net income than on the larger
specialized farms.


In order to determine more precisely what the effects on
factor productivity were, the area was studied on a crop by crop
basis. Unfortunately, the survey was too small to allow the
determination of factor productivity crop by crop for the
specialized-diversified strata. Only the farm-size clas-
sification could be used and this only for wheat, the most widely
produced crop in the region.
Contrary to what one would expect, the smaller farms were
not using sufficient labor in the production of wheat. Addi-
tional analysis revealed that the amount used during the growing
of the crop was approximately correct, but the amount used during
land preparation (which is closely tied to animal power) should
be more than doubled. Although we found no indication that the
average amount of labor used for land preparation fell in Stage
I, it certainly must have been close to the edge of Stage II.
The significant aspect of the insufficient use of labor in
land preparation is that the farmers spend months in preparing
land for seeding, and generally plow and harrow (with animals)
three times each. Plowing usually begins in October or November
and seeding is in February and March. Such a pattern probably
was the most efficient, given the resources available before the
introduction of new varieties, fertilizers, and pesticides. But
these modern technologies have all been developed in association
with adequate mechanized land preparation. Hence, the formerly
adequate land preparation techniques become inadequate when
combined with a partial "package" of modern technology.
Apparently the productivity of the modern technology is also
difficult to predict when transferred to a traditional agri-
cultural setting. On small farms in the study area and for
wheat, the quantity of seed and fertilizer used was insufficient
to reach Stage II and pesticides were used in excess, the average
quantity producing negative marginal productivities. On the
larger farms, seed and fertilizer use was in Stage II but was
excessive. An informed explanation of the underuse of seed on
the small farms (even though the average use corresponds to
current recommendations) was that the seed used by these farmers
was not of the quality used for experiments or demonstrations or
even by the larger farmers. Hence, the same quantity yielded
fewer plants per hectare than anticipated in the recommendations.
Although its use on the larger farms reached Stage II, the
quantity of fertilizer used was very inadequate on both the small
and large holdings. Attempts to separate pesticides were not
entirely adequate but indications are that insecticides were used
excessively while the small use of herbicides could be increased.
Area seeded was another factor of interest in the study.
The results indicate that for wheat, the average area seeded on
small farms (2.36 hectares) is less than the optimum size, but
the 7.91 hectare average on the larger farms is too large. The
implications of this effect are discussed in the conclusions.

In partial summary, it is evident that a reshuffling of tt
proportions of the modern and traditional factors in use on thee
farms could increase income substantially. An increase i
fertilizer and seed use accompanied by more labor in lan
preparation could increase production of wheat per hectare by 5
percent and the additional costs would have a 100 percent ne
But an overriding problem with this solution is that it i
doubtful that land preparation can be markedly improved b
intensifying current traditional practices. As a minimum
improved yokes for the bullocks and better implements for anima
traction will have to be introduced to the area in order t
achieve a more efficient balance with the other modern technique
now being used. Possibly only mechanized land preparation wil
In the Department of Narino potatoes are an important
commercial crop, but in the study area (Municipio of Yacuanquer
they rate much more as a subsistence crop (wheat is the mail
commercial crop). Nevertheless, potato production is high ris)
and requires more technology than wheat.
Labor used in land preparation was found to be adequate foi
potatoes but an increase in labor would be desirable during th(
growth of the crop. Relatively large quantities of fertilizer
were used (from about U.S. $20.00 to $125.00 per hectare with at
average of $65.00) but an increase would be profitable. Pes-
ticide use, while very common, was found to be quite inadequate
as average insecticide use did not reach Stage II.
Corn, another subsistence crop in the area, is considered
inferior to potatoes and grown usually in small plots. Ir
accordance with its stature in importance, it receives relatively
poor care and few modern inputs. Indeed, our study indicated
that labor, seed, fertilizer,.and pesticides were all used ir
quantities too small to reach Stage II of production. Under the
circumstances the farmers would certainly have been better off
not raising corn, except that they did so as a form of insurance
for home consumption.


This study, which was undertaken in a traditional
agricultural area being subjected to modern technologies through
rigorous research, extension, and credit programs, demonstrates
that serious maladjustments have been created in resource
combinations such that some factors of production are in Stage I
and others are in Stage III. It is very likely that this
maladjustment affects all traditional economies which are sub-
jected to incomplete "packages" of modern or new techniques. But
it is also very likely that it is not feasible to supply complete
packages because too many factors would have to be included. One
extremely important factor which is virtually impossible tc
include in a package (except on a very small scale) is the
management capability of the small farmer.
The conclusion that must be reached is that maladjustments
will always exist so long as traditional (or even nontraditional
but poorly developed) agriculture is subjected to the development

The same conclusion holds, of course, for any economy that
is not static. The difference is that in a more developed
economy the changes are expected, can be predicted, and are
relatively short-run. Adjustment begins as soon as the
maladjustment is felt. In a traditional economy, people may well
be better off than before even if their resource combination is
inefficient; so there is no feeling of being out of adjustment.
Further, a traditional agricultural economy is seldom studied in
this light; so, rarely is it determined that the factors of pro-
duction are inefficiently allocated. In fact, there has never
been any real need for such studies.
It can be concluded that there is a tendency toward lesser
incomes on small farms that are diversified than on those that
are specialized. We were unable to demonstrate in the study that
this was due to a concave opportunities curve resulting from
combining enterprises in Stage I of production. However, there
is substantial evidence that this is indeed what happens because
many factors, even on specialized farms, were shown to be in
Stage I in this traditional economy that is being subjected to
the modernizing process.
To be specialized does not mean that a farm can produce only
one crop a year, such as wheat, in our study area. Nor does it
mean only one crop each semester (either the same or a different
crop). A few different but similar vegetables, for instance,
could probably be raised by one farmer "specialized" in
vegetables without his being affected by uneconomic enterprise
combinations. But to combine the vegetables with corn or wheat
or even potatoes would mean to feel the effect of the concave
opportunities curve.
Another conclusion of the study is that specialization of
small farms can tend to reduce the pressure for expanding farm
size in areas where population is high and land scarce. It is
easier on a small farm to reach the optimum area planted for one
crop farm than for each of two or more crops. Thus,
specialization can be an important component of an agrarian
reform program.


One of the recommendations deals with action programs and
the other deals with research as a source of information for the
action program.
Any action program oriented toward the development of small,
traditional farms in any particular area, must consider the
desirability of developing specialized farms rather than
diversified farms. Even though specialized farming bears a high
risk to the producer, small farmers in our study area tended
toward it. But it must be recognized that the risk factor is
extremely important. When a farmer puts all his resources into
the production of one crop he must be assured that a reasonable
market exists for his product id that he can purchase his, other
necessities at reasonable prices when he needs them. This
requires a well-developed infrastructure (which was the case in
our study area) and a degree of confidence in the stability of

the economic system, at least in the short run. Without these
assurances, it will be difficult to convince a traditionally
self-sufficient farmer to specialize in the production of a
single crop to increase his real income.
Accompanying any successful development program must be a
carefully planned and critical research program. Besides the
normal research into varieties, pesticides, fertilizers, crop
combinations, and other practices, the complete research program
must include continuing studies of the nature of this study to
ascertain the current status of the development process and help
guide the rational introduction of new technologies into
traditional agriculture.


Luna T., Edgar G. 1972. Estudio de la productividad de los
recursos agricolas en zonas de minifundio. Unpublished MS
thesis. Program de Estudios para Graduados, Universidad
Nacional, Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA). Bogota,

Schultz, Theodore W. 1964. Transforming traditional agricul-
ture. Yale University Press. New Haven, Conn.

John W. Mellor
The record in regard to acceptance of technological change
by subsistence farmers in traditional economies is mixed. On the
one hand we have the generally poor record in this regard of
major programs of community development and extension. Such
programs have normally included an effort to gain farmer
acceptance of a wide range of innovations said to increase
production and incomes, and yet the acceptance of change and
particularly the impact on production has generally been
rather small. On the other hand we have-numbers of examples of
individual innovations, including a number of mechanical in-
novations, improved seed varieties, inorganic fertilizers, and so
on, which have in certain specific situations spread very rapidly
even without formal programs of farmer education and exhortation.
In regard to the failures of community development and ex-
tension, it is easy to demonstrate that a high proportion of what
has been recommended has not been economically or even
technically suitable, and hence failure of farmers to accept such
innovation appears more as a recommendation of their economic
acumen than of their non-economic drives. But on the other hand,
a high proportion of the success stories tend to involve
innovations which were very similar to practices already fol-
lowed, which were simple and easy to apply, and which provided
unusually high returns. The record for complex innovations
providing some modest returns is not so clear. The record in
regard to acceptance of innovation is further clouded by the wide
range of factors which may inhibit acceptance of innovation.
Innovation may be accepted by farmers, not because of direct

economic benefits from the innovation itself, but because
acceptance of innovation brings ancillary benefits of favor from
personnel and agencies fostering the innovation. The tying of
extension programs with programs of government subsidized inputs,
including credit, is an important case in point. Innovation may
also be accepted or rejected on basically non-economic grounds of
traditionalism on the one hand or prestige of being an innovator
on the other.
Insofar as acceptance of innovation by subsistence farmers
in traditional agriculture is based on the individual direct
economic gains from the innovation, then three conditions must be
met if innovation is to be accepted. There must be a desire for
increased material welfare, there must be expectation that
specific innovation will increase wealth, and there must be
expectation that the farmer as innovator will participate in an
increase in wealth from innovation.
The desire for increased material welfare may be weak in a
traditional agriculture. An apparent attitude of uninterest in
improved material welfare may grow in a situation in which there
has been a history of no possibility of improved welfare through
increased production a condition carmon in traditional
agriculture. Under such circumstances improvement in the
position of one individual must come largely from taking income
away from others that is, by redistribution of wealth .
The alternative of increasing individual wealth through expanding
production is not thought to exist. In such circumstances a
stable society requires conventions which inhibit desire for
increased material welfare. Lacking such restraints, society
will be constantly torn by strife as each attempts to benefit
himself by taking advantage of others. Thus it is likely that,
the longer the stable cultural history of an economically
traditional society, the more inhibitions to incentives for
change will have become institutionalized. In such societies the
first requisite to increasing incentives is development of an
awareness of the possibility of change and an awareness that this
possibility can be positively rewarding both to the individual
and to society as a whole and not just at the expense of the
welfare of others. In most parts of the world enough has already
been done in effectuating political and social change, and to a
certain extent in introducing economic change, to achieve the
requisite awareness. A problem which was probably critical a few
decades ago is probably now restricted in importance to scattered
pockets of traditionalism.
Judging from past history, it is likely that political fer-
ment plays an important role in developing a favorable personal
and institutional attitude toward change. The very act of change
in political leadership, the emphasis upon man's control of his
own destiny which accompanies political ferment, and the rapid
development and dissemination of ideas, must all play a role in
the process of loosening men's minds and encouraging an attitude
favoring change and improvement. In most parts of the world
recent decades have seen substantial political ferment and it is
likely that this has broad impact upon the motivation of men and
their attitude toward change.
Given a general environment of ferment and change, the for-
mal educational system may play an additional important role in

shaping the development of broadened horizons. Education
introduces a logic and rationale to many aspects of life, it
opens up knowledge of different things, it demonstrates change,
and, equally important, education itself provides one of the most
important means of change by increasing mobility to other jobs
and by providing a basis for understanding changes within
agriculture which may improve welfare.
In addition to the political framework and education, phys-
ical health may play an important part in the development of
positive motivation toward change. Where a population is heavily
ridden with parasitic infections and debilitative disease, its
physical energy is certainly sapped and it seems likely that an
attitude of lethargy and inertia is created. It is difficult for
persons ill and weak from such health conditions to develop an
interest and enthusiasm for change. Indeed, in nations with
substantial stock of unutilized manpower the favorable effect of
control of disease on mental attitude may be much more important
to the progress of development than its purely physical effect.
Unfortunately little empirical study of this aspect of public
health has been made, so we can do little more than speculate
upon its significance.
It is also likely that the variety and quantity of consumer
goods available has an important influence on the extent of
desire for improved material welfare. Even where the possibility
of change is accepted and education and health have broadened
horizons and ambitions, the desire for increased material welfare
may be small because of the lack of availability of consumer
items of the type and units which are suitable to existing
incomes. It is probably correct that the longer the history of
cultural development of a society, the more standardized and
traditional will be consumption patterns and the greater the
inhibitions to the introduction of new consumption patterns.
Again, however, most societies have now had sufficient history of
new forms of consumption patterns to have at least seriously
weakened the hold of traditionalism on consumption patterns. The
problem nowadays in most areas is more likely one of providing
the consumer-goods incentives in the appropriate price, quality,
and quantity ranges rather than in breaking the hold of
traditionalism on consumption patterns.
Thus, it is likely that subsistence farmers in a traditional
economy are slow to innovate, even if innovation is highly
profitable, because of various inhibitions to material im-
provement. Contemporary political ferment, expansion of
education, widespread marketing of consumer goods, improved
health and other factors, have all contributed to a much more
encouraging current attitude toward innovation in most of the
world's peasant economies.
Currently it is likely that a greater barrier to acceptance
of technological change is that of the farmers' low expectations
that specific technological changes will, in fact, increase
wealth. Again there is a tendency in traditional agriculture
with a long history of cultural development to have insti-
tutionalized resistance to innovation.
In a traditional agriculture the past evidence concerning
innovation and change has generally been that it does not provide
improvement. Until development of innovations (research) is

institutionalized and based on a solid body of theory and tested
thoroughly, the group which is most likely to survive is the one
which puts decision-making power into the hands of senior persons
who have had ample opportunity to see innovation fail and who
will profit from that experience by extreme conservatism. Even
initial efforts to institutionalize research are likely to
include a relatively high proportion of failures. Hence, even as
conscious development commences, the premium may still lie with
the conservative rather than the innovative. It thus is
important to the development of a desire for change, and
motivation to change, that successful innovation be produced and
demonstrated. And then a slow process of change in leadership
patterns may be required.
Particularly in early stages of agricultural development,
innovation may require additional labor input if it is to be
profitable (Mellor 1962). In such a case innovation may not be
accepted for the simple reason that it requires a substantial
labor input and yet does not generate sufficient income to return
the labor enough to attract it into production. In such a case
farmers' actions seem uneconomic only if it is assumed that the
labor has no opportunity cost or reservation price a not
uncommon error on the part of economists.
On the other hand, technological advance may provide the
basis for shifting the labor-input, crop-output schedule up to
the right sufficiently to raise the level of returns to the
requisite additional labor input enough to attract it into use
(Mellor 1963). Indeed, the expectation of very high returns to
technological advance in low-income countries is based in part on
the premise that such an effect will be had.
Farmers may, of course, also be inhibited from accepting
innovation because of their reluctance to increase debt. In a
subsistence economy special problems arise if innovation requires
added cash expenditure and cash indebtedness and yet generates
more output which is likely to be consumed in the farm household.
The tendency for technological innovation to require increased
monetary input also increases the problem of risk associated with
price instability.
Finally, the profitability of innovation is affected by the
skill and knowledge with which it is executed. In traditional
subsistence agriculture the background of education or experience
with change is such that innovation is often poorly executed and
hence provides poor returns. In the case of very simple
innovation, involving simple substitution of one seed for
another, this may prove of small restrictive importance. How-
ever, with complex innovation, such as the complex package
including hybrid maize, a major problem may exist which the
standard institutions of a subsistence agriculture are not well
adapted to meet.
Even if farmers are motivated to change and innovation is
profitable, there remains a requirement for expectation on the
part of the innovator that he will himself participate in the net
increase in wealth which accompanies successful innovation. The
innovator may fail to participate in the benefits of innovation
for three sets of reasons: he may not have sufficient control of
the factors of production to channel benefits to himself; he may
not have sufficient control of the marketing process to channel

benefits to himself; and he may not have sufficient control of
his own consumption patterns to allow increased income to be used
to his own benefit. All three of these influences are likely to
be closely related to the system .of land tenure, and all three
are likely to represent a special problem in subsistence
agriculture in traditional economies.
Land represents the key case of a factor of production which
may be controlled by someone other than the innovator in such a
way as to draw a disproportionate portion of benefits away from
the farmer-innovator. Where population pressure is heavy, the
bargaining power of the landowner may be such that he can control
the division of benefits from innovation. Of course it appears
to be against the landlord's own economic interest to take so
much of the benefit of innovations as to remove all incentive
from the farmer to innovate. Such practice may arise, however,
because in fact the landlord is, on the one hand, not himself
strongly motivated to increase his income from agriculture and,
on the other hand, more concerned with maintaining subjugation of
the tenant class. Such subjugation is likely to be reduced by
improved economic position of the tenant class, and hence the
landlord class may even have a positive incentive to prevent such
improvement. Such restrictive practice may also arise simply
from the institutionalization of the landlord-tenant relationship
so as to load the costs of innovation on the tenant and the
benefits on the landlord. In a traditional agriculture land-
lord-tenant relations may develop in a manner which is optimal
for the given production conditions. Where purchased inputs are
not important, there is unlikely to be an institutionalized means
of dividing the cost of such inputs. With the introduction of
change which requires substantial quantities of purchased inputs,
the landlord may not understand the potential for return and may
refuse to participate, even though he may still demand a full
share of the total output, including that due to the purchased
In commercial agriculture technological innovation has been
accepted for so long that land tenure institutions, including
landlord-tenant relationships, have generally adjusted in a
manner to encourage innovation to the benefit of both landlord
and tenant.
Capital is another input over which the farmer may have
little control but which is crucial to production. If capital is
scarce and highly complementary with other inputs, the farmer may
have to relinquish much of the benefit of innovation to the
provider of capital. This problem is often tied to the problem
of land tenure, since the capital input may be provided by the
landowner. Where it is not tied in with land tenure, it is
likely to be a limiting factor to incentives for only those
farmers with relatively small holdings and lower-than-average
incomes. These farmers are important from a welfare point of
view but control too little land in the aggregate production.
A problem very similar to the credit problem is that of
marketing. If the marketing channels are limited and entry is
difficult or impossible, then the marketing agencies may draw off
most of the benefit from innovation and thereby discourage
application of innovation. Again, of course, it is never to the
advantage of the monopolist to squeeze so tight that he prevents

income-increasing innovation, but institutionalization of pres-
sures, ignorance, and even a desire to maintain control through
restriction of incomes and maintenance of dependency may all work
to provide pressure restrictive of innovation. However, entry
into agricultural marketing in low-income countries is generally
relatively easy; and therefore it is unlikely that monopoly power
will be wielded for any considerable period of time. Again, the
hold of credit and marketing agencies on the very small, very
low-income farmer may be strong and exploitative. It is
important here, however, to distinguish between the welfare
problem and the production problem. Such restrictions are not
restrictive of the total volume of production, even though they
may inhibit improvement of conditions for a substantial number of
people. Again it is likely that the worst abuses of market power
occur in cases in which credit and marketing are tied to control
of the land resource.
Restriction of consumption patterns is a less obvious but
nevertheless potentially important factor which may remove
expectation on the part of the innovator that he will benefit
from increased wealth. Again, important restriction in this
regard is likely to be tied in with control by the landlord, or
other power agents may restrict consumption from important
outlets. A key example is schooling. In most low-income
countries the drive to provide schooling is very high in rural
areas. This continues from and grows out of the drive for
providing alternative employment opportunities. If the political
power structure, particularly including the landlord class, is
opposed to the provision of rural schooling for fear that it will
eventually upset the political power structure, then an important
reason for generating additional income is lost. In a more
general way, tight control of the availability of consumption
goods and the general control of their own lives and destiny may
lead to a sense of resignation which is discouraging to in-
novation even when a significant portion of the monetary benefits
of innovation may come to the farmer decision-maker.


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Initial Characterization

of Farming Systems:

Comprehending and Utilizing

What We See and Hear

The last two chapters have discussed the nature and
characteristics of small-scale, limited-resource family farms and
farmers. This chapter is the first in a series devoted to the
methods used in FSR/E to develop and disseminate technology to
farmers with these characteristics. The first step is to
characterize the farming system or systems in an area and de-
termine the constraints to enhanced productivity and to improved
welfare of the farm families. Rapid reconnaissance has become
one of the trademarks of FSR/E. It is used as the means of
obtaining an initial characterization of an area. It is also one
of the phases of FSR/E most heavily influenced by the concepts
and practices of the social sciences.

J. H. Bodley
I hope to demonstrate that a clear understanding
of the principles of anthropology illuminates the
social processes of our times and may show us, if
we are ready to listen to its teachings, what to
do and what to avoid. (Boas 1928,11)
We have defined the general nature of the world crisis and
suggested some of the possible dangers and difficulties inherent
in the slow response that is occurring -- now it must be argued
that anthropology has something important to say to these issues.
The problems facing us are unmistakable but complex, and ac-
ceptable solutions are still neither obvious nor easily
implemented. In recent years, there has been an enormous
outpouring of crisis-related literature. Specialists in many
disciplines have attacked isolated problems; unfortunately,
however, overall results have been limited. For example, far

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