Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Overview of the V/T project
 V/T in Honduras - A case study...
 General consideration for extension,...
 A systems approach to assessing...

Title: Review of the extensioncommunication components of the validationtransfer project
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00075692/00001
 Material Information
Title: Review of the extensioncommunication components of the validationtransfer project
Physical Description: 36 leaves : ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Van Crowder, L
Centro Agronâomico Tropical de Investigaciâon y Enseänanza
United States -- Agency for International Development. -- Regional Office for Central America and Panama Affairs
Publisher: CATIE
Place of Publication: Turrialba CR
Publication Date: 1983
Subject: Agriculture -- Technology transfer -- Costa Rica   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Costa Rica
Statement of Responsibility: by Tipton and Kalmbach, Inc.
General Note: "June, 1983."
General Note: "The Small Farm Production Systems Project (SFPSP), CATIE/ROCAP."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00075692
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 82909886

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Overview of the V/T project
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    V/T in Honduras - A case study with extension/communication implications
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    General consideration for extension, communication and adoption
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    A systems approach to assessing research/extension/farmer linkages
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 33a
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
Full Text
0/, !92



Review of the Extension/Communication Components of the

Val -ttion,'" -ansfer Proec:t

.- Van Crowder, University of Florida

CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica

June, 1983


Page Number

Foreword . . . . . . .



AND ADOPTION . . . .. .



VI. ANNEXES . . . . . .


The consultant assignment on which this report is based took place from June

6 to June 17, 1983. In brief terms, the scope of work involved a review of

and recommendations for the extension/communication components of the CATIE

Technology/Validacion (V/T) Project, with special attention to the technology

transfer structure and activities of the national agricultural institutions

in the various country areas when the V/T Project operates. In addition,

the scope of work directs attention to a review of feasibility of and possible

methods for 1) estimating the potential adoption and impact of a given tech-

nology and 2) estimating the institutional requirements and potential costs

of implementing a technology transfer program. A further activity of the

assignment involved a review of the methods and "tools" of extension/communi-

cation within the V/T Project (see Annex 1).

From the onset of the assignment it was recognized by both the CATIE personnel

working with the V/T Project and the consultant that the time allowed to

adequately address in detail the various aspects of the scope of work was

limited, and most likely insufficient to provide more than an initial and

somewhat superficial assessment. This report reflects an attempt to address

the topics of concerns in enough depth to at least provide some preliminary

guidelines to the task of technology transfer and its extension/coomunication


Originally, trips to V/T project ardas in the countries of Nicaragua, Hon-

duras and Costa Rica had been planned. Travel to Nicaragua was not possible

due to the uncertain political relations between that country and the United

States. A visit was made to Honduras,specifically the area of Comayagua,

from June 9 to 12. Travel to the area of Gulpiles, Costa Rica, was cancelled

because of a delay in the return trip from Honduras and the decision that

the remaining time could best be spent in preparing this document.

Thus, this report is based on information obtained from various V/T project

documents, discussions with V/T project personnel in both Turrialba and

Honduras, and interviews with Honduran technicians of the Secretaria de

Recursos Naturales in Comayagua. Additionally, conversations were.held with

four farmer collaborators participating in the V/T project in Comayagua

(Annex 2). Specific examples will draw heavily, therefore, on the Honduran


Despite the obvious drawbacks imposed on the assignmentby the restricted

schedule and the limited contacts, it is hoped that the following report

has a measure of merit and usefulness to the V/T project members.


As described by Navarro (1981), the Small Farm Production Systems Pro-

ject (SFPSP) has been operating since 1979 as a joint activity of CATIE

and the national agricultural research and extension institutions of the

collaborating Central American countries. The general purpose of the

SFPSP is to develop "a methodology for research at the farm level, for

the development of appropriate technology for small farms in close in-

teraction with the extension and research personnel and the farmers

themselves". An expectation of this methodology is "to reduce the time

and resources needed during the process (of technology development and

transfer) going from the research needs identification to the design,

evaluation and fusionn of improved technology in a given geographical

area". 1.

Expected outputs of the SFPSP are technological recommendations that

have potential for improvising the performance of selected cropping

systems in small farms of well-defined geographical areas in cooperating

countries. As of the present,this has been accomplished for certain

cropping patterns in some of the project areas. The methodology employed

to arrive at the technological recommendations is similar to that cha-

racterized by the general term "farming systems research and extension

(FSR/E)". As such it in involves the four successive stages of FSR/E

described by Norman (1980) as 1) description or diagnosis of the farming

system; 2) design of improved systems; 3) testing of improved systems;

and 4) extension of improved farm system. (The stages of a farming systems

approach are described in more detail by Shaner, et al. 1982). 2.

In an evaluation report of the V/T project for CATIE (Price and Tait, 1981),

the various FSR/E stages roughly utilized by CATIE in its SFPSP methodology.

are described as follows:

1) Site selection

2) Site description

3) Technology design

4) Technology testing

5) Technology validation/multilocation testing/demonstration/pilot exten-

sion/area extrapolation

6) Extension/technology introduction/production programs

7) Evaluation of impact

The central focus in this report is on the latter stages (5 7). Step 5

(Technology validation) provides a final evaluation of the technical alter-

natives (innovations) being developed on farmers' fields during a cropping

cycle, under their management and in comparison to the traditional methods

they practice. It:involves the direct participation and observation of the

CATIE V/T team, national counterparts (investigators and extensionists) and

collaborating farmers. In the validation process a series of specific data

procedures are enacted to yield information on the technological alternatives

in terms of their biological, economical and social feasibility/accetability.


Thus in general terms, the purposes of the V/T process are

1) To verify the physical and socio-economic viability of the proposed

alternatives, under the direct management of selected farmers in specific


2) to provide an estimation of the adoption potential and impact (benefit)

of the alternatives if transferred to a "mass" of farmers in the area

(recommendation domain);

3) to anticipate the requirements in terms of methods, resources and insti-

tutional support (or costs) needed to transfer the technological alter-

natives to intended area farmers; and

4) to make recommendations to the appropriate national institutions, based

on the analyses conducted, as to whether the technological alternatives

should or should not be transferred through programs of directed diffusion


As thus described, the V/T process is "technology transfer in the small"

(Navarro, 1983) and constitutes a "window" through which a more expanded

and extensive transfer effort (campaign) can be viewed. As noted by

Price and Tait (1981), V/T provides a final assessment of a new techno-

logy in terms of specific dimensions of its suitability geographical,

physical, socio-economic, as well as its contingency on certain infrastruc

tural changes (i.e. new input and product markets, credit sources and ex-

tension competency). As these reviewers suggest, the validation stage

"should determine the spatial and infrastructural parameters of techno-

logy viability". 3.

As it ideally includes the involvement of extension personnel in farmer-

managed trials, with the provision of required inputs and services, V/T can be

viewed as a "pilot extension project". (This is an important consideration

while be discussed in detail further in the report).

In its practical implementation the V/T process has been carried out in

Honduras (corn/beans and corn/sorghum in Comayagua and potato/corn/beans in

Esperanza); in Nicaragua (corn/beans and beans/sorghum in Matagalpa); and in

Costa Rica (corn/corn and corn/cassava in Guipiles). In each area thirty (30)

farmer collaborators were selected according to specified criteria and various

technological alternatives (for example planting distances, fertilizer levels,

herbicide and insecticide applications) were validated under farmer manage-

ment. The result has been technological recommendations, adjusted to the

validation experiences, which are available for transfer to other farmers

in the areas.

The validation field work has been carried out by a V/T team comprised of the

CATIE national'resident (investigator), a validation agent, an extrapolation

agent, an assistant investigator and three validation assistants. Program

leadership is provided from the CATIE central headquarters (Turrialba) with

technical support from the Departamento de Producci6n Vegetal (DPV), including

the services of an agricultural economist and an extension /communication

specialist. National counterparts have been involved at varying levels of


Routine field activities have followed a work plan involving training of

the validation assistants and a series of "messages" (technical information)

and required inputs which are delivered to cooperating farmers according to a

schedule of visits and the biological requirements of the on-farm trials.

Documentation of the process (data collection, analysis and interpretations)

is a continuous activity during the validation. Other activities have in-

cluded training of national personnel in SFPSP methodologies and the conduct-

ing of field days for farmers. Meetings have also been held in some cases

with representatives of various marketing and credit institutions to appraise

them of the validation results.



The focus in this section is on the V/T activities in Comayagua, Honduras,

with specific reference to the extension/communication components.

In Honduras follow-up activities are being carried out based on the 1982

V/T activities as well as the initiation of some new on-farm trials.

The field areas visited were in the locales of El Rosario, San Jer6nimo

and Flores. Meetings were held with various technicians of the Secreta-

ria de Recursos Naturales (SRN) at the regional center in Comayagua (Di-

reccion Agricola Regional Centro Occidente

A review of the annual report of SFPSP activities for Honduras (March

1983) reveals certain problems encountered and successes achieved. Some

of the problems involved the location of field trials in areas that were

not priority areas for the regional SRN program. This points to the

importance of direct and continuous coordination with national counter-

part institutions. The problem is compounded, however, by the shifting

of priority production areas by the national institution. Once activities

have begun it is no simple matter to move to another area. It is also

clear from the report that SRN counterpart personnel were ot provided in

some cases, despite the CATIE/SRN agreement that such personnel would be

available to work with the CATIE team. While problems of this nature are

not unexpected in establishing new inter-institutional programs, they

do point to the need for continuous coordinations and mechanisms to en-

sure national support.

National institutional support and commitment is more assumed once the pro-

gram methodology in accepted and the operation is transferred in large

measure to the counterpart agency -- in essence it becomes "their" program.

This has occurred to some extent in Comayagua, as a resut of the training in

SFPSP methodologies by CATIE and the interactions at the field level that

have taken place. Thus, it is a measure of substantial success that at the

request of the SRN the CATIE team is collaborating in validation trials in

San Jer6nimo of a technological alternative for rice production developed by

SRN technicians. As part of this effort, extensionists are conducting va-

lidation trials with individual farmers and groups of farmers, following the

procedures of farmer contact and delivery of messages utilized by CATIE.

A similar SRN/CATIE collaborative effort in being implemented in the area

of Flores with mi-ed cropping systems.

The importance of these activities to the institutionalization of the SFPSP

methodology at the regional level of the SRN is obvious. Further significance

is attached, however, when considering that in none of the areas CATIE had

previously worked in had there been participation by extension agents -- either

because none were assigned to the areas or because of other programs commit-

ments that precluded their involvement. It is worth mentioning also that the

1983 annual report notes that another reason for extension non-participation

was "fear of failure due to the newness of the validation activity". With

the initiation of activities in San Jer6nimo and Flores a process of change

in the attitudes of SRN personnel has begun a process that has important


implications for the restructuring of extension activities and the

strengthening of the research/extension link.

This attitudinal change and an acceptance of the SiPSP imetholodogy is re-

flected within a proposal (Proyecto para la Integraci6n de Actividades Desa-

rolladas en el DAR-CO) prepared by a regional technical committee comprised

of SRN technicians, including the Regional Extension Program Coordinador.

As the title suggests, this document proposed the integration of the regional

agricultural and rural development programs, using an organizational mechanism

called the Sistema Tecnol6gico. The system encompasses various programs or

elements (area characterization, planning, investigation, technology trans-

fer, production, evaluation and training) and the proposal describes each

in terms of its objectives, methods, strategies and resources existing and

needed to accomplish the intended goals.

Evident in this proposal is a methodological process for technology development

and transfer that is similar to that of the SFPSP. The steps of the SRN

methodology are: 1) characterization; 2) basic research; 3) regional trials;

(experiment station and on-farm); 4) verification trials; 5) farmer trials;

6) transfer; and 7) adoption. Within this methodology extension's role is

specified and includes agent involvement in stages 1, 4 and 5 above as well

as the move obvious transfer stage (6). In analyzing the human, physical and

economic resources available to extension to accomplish its objectives, the

proposal concludes that although the human/physical requirements exist, the

economic resources are insufficient.

While the proposal for integrating the programs of DARCO contemplates a
role for extension which would link it move closely with research and

provides a basic framework for extension activities within the techno-

logy develoiment/transfer process, the actual Operating Plan for the

Regional Agricultural Extension Program (1984) does not reveal a strategy

that clearly specifies extension's involvement in the proposed methodo-

logy. Thus while there are general objectives that speak to the extension

program working with those programs that generate technology, and speci-

fically with the research program in using demonstration plots and farm

trials to train farTners, there is not a clear explanation of how this

will occur in operational terms, nor a reflection of the potential for

improving the effectiveness and impact of extension th tough a systematic

V/T process or some modification thereof. This is not to deny the sig-

nificance of the actual participation of the extensionists in the V/T

efforts in San Jer6nimo and Flores; the probable success of this effort

may act to "stimulate" similar activities in other areas and even"revital-

ize" the extension program on a regional basis. It is also noteworthy

that a working group of extensionists that'participated in CATIE train-

ing courses on V/T in Comayagua (February 21-25, 1983) recommend in a dis-

cussion/response paper the incorporation of the V/T process into the agri-

cultural extension program. An organizational structure for this is

proposed along with a description of specific extension activities and

joint extension/research efforts in the V/T stages.


The regional extension service would in all likelihood benefit from a re-

organization to incorporate a V/T procedure or some similar approach. The

limited observations,afforded during the visit to Comayagua indicate that

the extension service at present is concentrating its efforts very widely

and may not be having much of an impact in any particular area, be that

geographic or crop. It is evident that extension lacks the financial base

to attend to all the agricultural and rural development needs in the area,

or even those projected in its operating plan. The result is an unconcen

treated effort with extension activities spread over programs for women

(home economics),'youth, health and nutrition, home/school vegetable garden

ing, animal production as well as agricultural production programs for

most all the crops grown in the area (basic grains,vegetables, fruit crops

and sugar cane). Certainly all of these activities are important, but

setting priorities for extension activities is especially critical where

financial and human resources (either in terms of number of agents or agent

competency) are thin. In such circumstances of limited resources,extension

efforts should be concentrated primarily on agricultural extension (and

here only those crops with the highest priority) in order to achieve a

recognizable and continued impact. Such a reorientation of extension's

focus can, of course, be difficult, not only from the standpoint of possi-

ble internal resistance, but also because of community expectations for

extension efforts.

To the above problems can be added a lack of technical recommendations or

an information base from which extension can operate; it is possible that

for many crops extension does not have any appropriate messages to corn-

municate to farmers.* Thus despite the efforts of researchers, it

seems evident that only recently has emphasis been given to testing re-

search results against farmer's realities. It is important to recognize

here that the information base for farmer recommendations has expanded as

a result of the V/T activities in the area. The results have been sum-

marized by crop. (maize, beans, rice, sorghum, mixed systems) and are

available to extensionists working in the areas ("Alternativas Tecno-

16gicas por Rubro de Producci6n," Agencia Central Comayagua y La Paz)

There is not, however, a systematic process for generating reliable tech-

nical information, "packaging" this information, transmitting it in an

integrated manner and assessing the results.

Even with the.existence of verified recommendations, the lack of methods

and means for preparing and disseminating relevant messages for farmers

makes extension's work difficult. To speak of a "multiplier effect" in

this context makes little sense in the absence of useful information to


The SRN regional headquarters in Comayagua has one communicator assigned

to it with responsibility for supporting 12 agencies (centrales). The re-

sources available for this individual to do even a minimal job of providing

*One observation provided was that extension agents "go from the textbook
to the farmer;" they may have no other choice.

communication support are negligible. There is a mimeograph machine that

is "out of operation;" regional farmer publications are, therefore, non-

existent. It is to the credit of this individual (and the institution?)

that a weekly radio show, "El Informador Agropecuario," had until recently

been prepared; it was cancelled due to a lack of funds to purchase broad-

cast time. The obvious conclusion is that even with farmer-tested results

to extend, the absence of even the minimal' communications infrastructure

precludes this information from being transmitted to farmers through more

than interpersonal (face-to-face) communication channels.

The limited number of farmers with which conversations were held can hardly

be considered representative of the population. Nevertheless, all (four)

of them said that they listened to radio and occasionally received agri-

cultural information from this medium, mostly of a commercial nature.

That radio is primarily an entertainment medium and the fact that farmers

are unaccustumed to receiving agricultural information through radio can,

in some cases, limit its effectiveness. However, its potential for reach-

ing rural audiences (which are often geographically isolated) is generally

recognized. Crowder and Delaine (1980) found, for example, that over

80% of the farmers in the Chapare of Bolivia listened to radio on'a regular

basis; the successes of the radio schools in Latin America are widely

known and the findings of the Basic Village Education (BVE) project in

Guatemala point to the potential effectiveness of radio for introducing

new agricultural ideas to traditional farmers. Data on the use of radio


for agricultural information (as well as other media) were obtained as

part of CATIE's exploratory surveys studioo inicial de finca) which can

provide specific details on the potential of radio in the region.

That the farmers interviewed knew the extension agent of the area is not

surprising since they are collaborators in the V/T project. Of interest

would be an assessment of extension contact with the wider farm population.

The farmers also mentioned that agricultural information spread from farmer

to farmer through interpersonal networks; as collaborators, they themselves

are most likely sources of new agricultural practices. Other sources noted

were agricultural product salesmen and "transportistas".

Credit was identified as a critical element to being able to continue to

implement the technological alternatives. Two of the four farmers belonged

to collectives or cooperatives and were able to receive credit on this basis;

one said he was "well known" and had sufficient guarantees for loans;

one farmer said he had been refused credit in the past because be could

not come up with adequate guarantees. A reasonable question is whether

receiving technical assistance from extension is not in itself a measure

of loan trustworthiness?

In summary, it is clear that in the Honduran case the SFPSP methodology

is being incorporated within the national institution at the regional

level, as evidenced by the request from the SRN that the CATIE team col-

laborate in V/T projects in San Jcronirao and Flores. The involvement of

extensionists in these project will be critical to the greater integration

of the V/T concepts and procedures in extension programs regionally. If

there is to be a more lasting and widespread change, such that extension

programs are reoriented to incorporate V/T and the necessary infrastruc-

tural adjustments are made, the continued involvement of the CATIE team

in the area with an emphasis on extension's role will be required.

The advantages of incorporating the V/T methodology within the extension

organization are numerous. First the link between research and extension

is greatly strengthened through their joint participation in the various

stages of the process. This linkage is problematic under the best of cir-

cumstances and requires continued attention such that responsibilities

are understood and accepted direct lines of communication need to be

maintained or opened through frequent "dialogue" sessions.

Through their involvement in the SFPSP process extension agents become,

in some cases, more familiar with the areas in which they work and the

special needs of the farmers. In the design of technological alternatives

to be field-tested, agents frequently have important insights to offer

researchers; by executing with research regional field trials, agents

increase their own competency with the technology and come to understand

its requirements and possible limitations. In the V/T stage agents have a

particularly important role to play in helping to select farmer collabo-

rators and in providing them with the technical information and require-

ments to manage the technology. It is here that insights are gained re-

garding technical and infrastructural limitationsof the technology, as

well as the attitudes of farmers towards the technology, that will be

critical to diffusion efforts. At this stage extension is in a position

to "capitalize" on the system or process that has been initiated and can

assess potential impact of the technology on a larger scale -- collabora-

tors can serve as disseminators to other farmers, field days can be con-

ducted, relevant messages can be prepared for dissemination through ap-

propriate channels in an integrated communication strategy, and infrastruc-

tural arrangements for inputs, credit and marketing can be coordinated

with the necessary institutions.

All of this, of course, describes a somewhat idealized situation. As we

have seen in the case of Honduras (Comayagua), the situation is far from

ideal in terms of extension's organizational and resource base. The

burden of carrying out a V/T program will fall on an extension service

already stretched too thin. Nevertheless, it is possible for extension

to evaluate its current program with an eye towards incorporating a V/T

program and adjusting its human and financial resources accordingly. It

is hard to break traditional organizational patterns but not impossible

given a commitment to do so by institutional leaders. The impression here

is that the V/T experiences in San Jer6nimo and Flores may lead to such

a commitment. Institutional changes can of course be facilitated and

accelerated by the infusion of outside expertise (as with the CATIE team)

and resources earmarked for improving the infrastructural base. It would

seem logical, given the previous and continuing accomplishments of CATIE,

to focus on strengthening the extension system. Support to the technology

transfer structure is essential to carry the momentum thus far achieved.


This section of the report deals with considerations or issues regard-

ing extension and communication in developing countries as well as the

process of adoption. An attempt has been made to relate these issues

to V/T to the extent possible. The generality of these considerations

should be recognized, taking into account that their applicability or

relevancy will vary by country and region.

Extension has historically been described as having a linkage function

between the scientific (research) community and the rural (farmer) com-

munity. Thus the image of extension "straddling" the gap between

agricultural researchers and farmers, with "one foot planted in each

world". T.he fact is that frequently extension has neither foot plant-

ed very firmly in either world. The concept of extension has also

been hindered by the very term "extension", the implication being that

information is extended from those who "know" to those who "doesn't

now". This mechanistic conceptualization of extension as a source/

receiver function sees communication in terms of transmission/persua-

sion a system for transmitting messages to farmers to persuade them

to adopt certain practices.

As Compton (n.d.) observes:

"It is now generally accepted that the conceptualization

of Extension as a service of communicating the results of


scientific research to farmers neglect the importance

of the problem-solving processes of education and

social organization in agricultural and rural communi

ty development. As a result of this realization, in-

creasing attention is being given to three related

questions: "What is appropriate technology?" "How

and by whom should appropriate technology for small

farmers be determined?" How can farmers be best help

edto learn about and employ this technology?" I,

The SFPSP methodology employed by CATIE clearly shows a concern for these

types of questions. V/T in particular focuses on the generation of appro-

priate technology, evaluated by farmers and with attention to how other

farmers with similar characteristics can learn about and properly employ

(adopt) the technology. Certainly these questions and their answers are

of utmost interest to any extension organization whose objective it is to

improve farmer production, income and overall quality of life. Unfortunate

ly, extension services frequently are not organized or supported in such a

way that these and other important related questions can be effectively and

efficiently dealt with.

There are inherent weaknesses in any extension service, some of which have

been alluded to in the previous section in the Honduras case. These weak-

nesses are usually more apparent in developing countries where a wide range

of economic, political, sociological and technical factors greatly influence

the functioning and results of an extension program. Related to these

factors are various organizational weaknesses common to extension services

in many countries. Some of these have been identified by Benor and Harrison

(1977) and Cernea (1981): 1) multipurpose role of field agents; 2) multiple

subordination and lack of direct supervision and support; 3) inadequate ex-

tension/farmer ratios; 4) lack of a definite pattern of field activities;

5) lack of inservice training; and 6) lack of effective links to research.

The assumption (and frequently correctly so) of the above authors is that

"if these organizational maladies are common, them there is a chance that

effective organizational remedies, if identified, might have a wide applica-

tion area." 5.


The organizational remedy they advocate is the Training and Visit (T&V) Ex-

tension System a structural reorganization of existing extension services

based on a set of well defined organizational principles to combat the above

disfunctionalities: 1) exclusivity of extension on agricultural extension

work; 2) unique subordination or single line of command; 3) manageable agent/

farmers-ratio; 4) field schedule of training/visit and steady communication;

5) technical backstopping; and 6) institutionalization of research link-

ages. (For detailed accounts of the T&V system see references cited).

The similarities between the T&V system and the V/T approach utilized by

CATIE, in particular the use of validation agents who are provided with

training and clear-out technical messages to carry to fanner collaborators,

are obvious. The success that the T&V system has had in several countries

(most notably in India and Turkey) h;ve been documented and are without

doubt significant. The similar system employed by CATIE is demonstrating

its effectiveness also. It is perhaps most critical that such a system of

extension be flexible enough to be modified to the prevailing conditions

in each country's extension organization versus adoption of the system.

Nor does a T&V system necessarily rule out other types of extension programs

that can be effectively used in conjunction. Thus, model farmers, farmer

training programs (both residential and mobile) and para-statal corpora-

tions may all have a place within the diverse needs of national develop-

ment. Considerations of cost-effectiveness of the different approaches (or

combinationof approaches) are sure to be of paramount concern in the over-

all selections of which mode(s) to follow. Unfortunately, very few studies

have been done on extension program cost-effectiveness and performance;ex-

ceptions to this are the World Bank assessments of the T&V projects it has

financed, the focus being on the sociological, agronomic and economic dimen

sions of the project. 6.

A T&V Extension system was initiated in Costa Rica in 1980 but has been

abandoned due in part (at least as explained to this consultant) to an

inadequate institutional and financial support base and the "rigidity" of

the system implemented. Novoa (1983) offers a brief description of the

Costa Rican T&V system; a study of its failure would be of considerable


Within the bbdy of knowledge on farming systems research and extension

(FSR/E) much more in known about appropriate research methodologies than is

known about appropriate extension methodologies. Thus Shaner, et al (1982)

quite candidly state in their chapter on extension of results that "since

FSR&D (farming systems research and development) is a relatively new con-

cept and the effort, to date, has concentrated on research methodology, the

role of extension in FSR&D has not been fully established." 7.

The authors do offer some suggestions on how extension can be integrated

into a farming systems program, including a proposed organizational struc-

ture, multi-locational testing and pilot production programs. Multi-loca-

tional testing corresponds roughly to the V/T stage in that it is a verifi-

cation of technology prior to wider diffusion. Wider diffusion takes place

during the pilot production program, which is also similar to V/T except

that the scope, as described by Shaner et al, is larger. Much of the same

information that V/T accumulates is gained through the pilot production pro-

gram. Thus it is intended to test how the support systems (including

extension) function when technological alternatives are introduced on a

relatively large scale. Information is gathered on the adequacy of such in-

frastructural factors as local markets, credit, labor, agricultural inputs,

transportation and information systems. At this stage, extension plays a

critical role and support is needed in agent training and preparation of

communication materials.

This brings to,mind Navarro's expression that V/T is "extension in the small."

In order for V/T to become "extension in the large" (i.e. a pilot product-

tion program or some similar transfer activity), at least in the case of

Honduras andmost likely other Central iAerican countries as well, will

require a reorientation of the extension organizations such that the con-

cepts and procedures of V/T become part of the "philosophy,"and a concomitant

(re)allocation of human and material resources to accomplish the intended ob-

jectives. The infusion of new (outside) capital and expertise may be required

before extension has the ability to carry out its necessary functions. In

addition, extension on a larger scale would depend, as indicated, on the

national institutions ability to influence other key agricultural support


A critical aspect of extension is, of course, the effective communication

of information to farm audiences. While communication media can play an

important role in supporting extension activities (and rural development in

general), the mass media are often overrated in their ability to affect

change. Communication of information under conditions of unfavorable on un

changing social and political structures cannot be expected to affect dras-

tic changes. It is also important to recognize that the mass media (radio,

newspapers, television) are in many cases oriented more to urban than rural

audiences. This has led Beltran (1974) to observe, that their messages

are often irrelevant and even detrimental to the process of rural develop-

ment. 8.

This is not to deny that mass media can play an important and supportive

role in extension information strategies. Used in an integrated and rein-

forcing fashion with interpersonal or interactive communication processes

(i.e. small group discussions), mass media have the potential to affect

certain attitudinal and behavioral changes in the ways farmers practice

agriculture. Animportant'issue regarding the use of communication media is

the relationship between content and form of the message. A wide range of

media exist- and various communications practitioners have found different

forms particularly useful in certain contexts and for specific audiences.

A common mistake is to believe that one particular form is best, when in

fact the suitability of a medium is subject to many factors of a cultural,

social and economic nature. The form of effective communication also re-

lates to the content of the message; different forms and messages are required

for different functions. Thus mass media may be useful in creating general

awareness of new agricultural practice, but individualized or group instruc-

tion may be needed to impact specialized technical information. As the BVE

project in Guatemala found, "there is no single most effective media combi-

nation for all situations." 9. An overall observation on communication

strategies is that they "should be chosen on the basis of considerations

of available media, personnel, urgency, distance, and farmers' familiarity

with different media and their preparedness to receive certain types or

levels of informations." 9.

In assessing communication strategies, attention should be given to tradi-

tional or indigenous communication networks, including folk media. Accep-

tance of new technologies will depend, in the traditional village system,

not only on the technical appropriateness of the innovations but also on

the "mobilization" of indigenous communication networks.

In this context, local leaders can plan an important role as communication

facilitors. A basic concept of communication is that the more similar the

source and the receiver, the more effective the information transfer process;

quite simply, farmers often learn better from other (trusted) farmers than

they do from outside change agents. As many extension agents know, some

farmers have a great deal of agricultural knowledge and vast local experience.

"Farmers typically differentiate and acknowledge which ones among them

are particularly skillful or successful with specific crops, animals or

farming practices. This fact should be capitalized upon by extension, not

for the purpose of helping the successful simply to become more successful,

but in order to mobilize and utilize such indigenous talent to benefit the

group or community as a whole." ,10. These local leaders or indigenous faci-

litators are, in many cases, part of a "spontaneous extension" system that

functions very effectively is spreading the word of new, profitable techno-

logies. The challenge to the formal extension service is how to identify,

learns from and effectively utilize these informal information networks to

enhance adoption of improved technologies.

A basic objective of extension is to help farmers learn about technologies

that can improve their agricultural productivity if adopted. This most fre-

quently involves changes in farmers' agricultural behavior. The adoption

process is a function of complex variables, some known, some presupposed, and

some not even suspected. It has and will continue to be a topic of research

fascination and frustration for social scientists. It seems to be one of

those phenomenon that the more we know about it, the less we understand it.

Critical to a basic understanding of the process is a recognition that tra-

ditional agricultural practices are learned and time-tested methods that

optimize economic welfare in a high-risk, low-knowledge, low-resource envi-

ronment. As Cernea (1981) points out, "these practices are not just an in-

dividual response but part of the wider village farming system and various

degrees of resistance to extension advice will always be present." ,1.

When a farmer contemplates changing his traditional practices he is faced

with an evaluation process that involves weighing perceived risks against

uncertain benefits. In this environment of uncertain decision-making, there

is no room for error; his very existence (and that of his family) may de-

pend on a wise decision. It is no surprise that he proceeds in a cautions,

stepwise fashion; if he does decide to try a new practice, he will probably

only apply it to a small portion of his land and thus carry out his own

validation trial.

In the past, farmers' resistance to change was blamed on their tendencies

to be passive, fatalistic and tradition-bound. This "person-blame" concep-

tualization emphasized changing farmer's attitudes and perceptions. Then

studies of adoption behavior found that given the proper structural condi-

tions, farmers were often quite receptive to new practices. Failures to

adopt came to be understood in terms of structural barriers and the concep-

tual shift has been to "system-blame." Altering or removing structural (and

technological) constraints are seen as essential to the adoptions process.

Thus while some farmers are bound to traditions, other are quite willing to

break with tradition given some encouragement to do' so (a proper job for ex-

tension) and the right set of incentives and tools.

The adoption process can also be viewed in terms of 1) information potential

and 2) action potential. Farmers must first know about alternative techno-

logies and then have the necessary resources and support systems to act. The

absence of either 1 and/or 2 reduces or precludes adoption potential. The

relationship between 1 and 2 implies a "time/value function" -- farmers will

value information that they can act on presently and discount information

that requires future action. Thus timing of information is an important con

sideration in communication strategies.

The determinants of adoption, can also be viewed in terms of technical and

human constraints (Norman, 1980). The technical elements (soil quality,

water availability) impose constraints on the types of crops and livestock

a farmer has. The technical elements can of course be controlled or influen

ced to a certain extent by the farmer himself, i.e. soil fertility can be

improved by using fertilizer. In the case of small, limited-resource far-

mers it is i:ore usually a situaticn of fitting crops or animals to the

existing environment.

The human element is characterized by exogenous and endogenous factors.

Exogenous factors are those generally outside the control of the individual

farmer, i.e. external institutions (credit, extension, marketing, transport

station Only through collective action can farmers usually influence these

factors. Norman writes that "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 tech-

nical element and exogenous factors." 32.

Clearly, both the human and technical elements affect technology adoption

rates and patterns; determining how, why, when, etc. is, of course, the


At issue in any program of technology generation ih the question of when

a particular technology is "ready" for dissemination on a mass scale. Thus,

CATIE V/T team member are faced with the issue of estimating on predicting

potential adoption within an area, and the possible costs of the required

transfer activity. As Navarro (1983) observes, the acceptance and adoption

of a technology in by its very nature ex post fact; quite simply, you

can't measure adoption until it has taken place. You can estimate tecno-

logy acceptance a priori but only to a certain point. The issue is when

does the researcher/extensionist/institution have enough information about

the technology (in both its technical and social elements) to feel confi-

dent about investing in its diffusion? The data collected during the V/T

process is precisely intended to assess the viability (economically, socia

ly, etc.) of a given technological alternative. It is, to borrow Navarro's

apt terminology, "adoption in the small." The point is, however, that just

as the farmer faces a degree of uncertainty in adopting a technology, so

does the institution in deciding to transfer the technology. The follow-

up activities the V/T team has implemented with collaborating farmers pro-

vides a degree of certainty about technology acceptability. Estimating

costs of the transfer process becomes a function of available and needed

resource assessments, which will vary by region and the particular extension/

communication strategies employed. Again, V/T can offer some insights in-

to what potential costs will be. In a pilot production type exercise

cost estimates for widespread difussion activities could be further fine

tuned, as could adoption predictions. In the following section, a frame-

work is presented which could also be useful in assessing what resources and

conditions exist within a targeted regions and which.would be needed to en-

sure acceptable adoption rates.

In the context of estimating technology acceptability, Hildebrand (1979),


proposes an acceptability index based on data both from farmers participat-

ing in farm-managed tests and from farmers parcitipating in record keeping.

The index is calculated by multiplying the percentage of farmers who adopt

the new technology by the perccntagc- of the crops on their fans so affected

and dividing the product by 100. Thus, if 60% of the farmers accept the

technology on 50% of their crops, the index is 30.

Hildrebrand notes that in farming systems work in Guatemala on index of 25

was considered large enough to justify recommending the technology to ex-


Mathematical or simulation modeling can also be used to help estimate the

optimal conditions for technolo adoption. Thus, relevant biological, eco-

nomical and management variables as well as resource conditions and risk

factors can be subjected to modeling procedures to yield estimates of tech-

nology acceptability. This information can be combined with knowledge of

farmer's perception, attitudes and goals to assess potential adoption rates.

The cost, time and needed expertise for simulation modeling would of course

be a consideration.


The following section draws extensively on the work of J. Lin Compton

at Cornell University. The conceptualizations provided and the systems

matrix illustrated constitute a framework for assessing the structural/

functional, relationships of key components within an agricultural tech-

nology transfer system. An analysis of this nature answers the basic

question: Who does what for whom, why, how, how well and with what

results? Using this systems perspective and analysis an institution

is able to design, plan and implement extension/communication programs

in an efficient, relevant and effective fashion.

The systems matrix and general methodology can be used to provide both

a national and regional assessment; normally elements of both are involve

ed. It is a flexible framework which can be modified in terms of its

constituent components to suit the particular applications and situation.

Attached at the end of this section are various materials prepared by

Compton which provide guidelines for its use. It is anticipated that

much of the information needed to complete the analysis is available

from the extensive data generated through the V/T process and other

SFPSP activities conducted in the various countries and regions of in-

terest. In some cases the data will de available from secondary sources

(documents, reports, etc.); in other cases primary data will need to

be collected through area surveys. As part of its contractual agreement

with ROCAP, CATIE is responsible for an assessment of the institutional

and infrastructural resource base for technology generation and transfer. The

methodology proposed here would seemingly be a useful tool for accomplishing

this objective.

For purposes of simplification and discussion the systems matrix is grouped

into nine major cells as shown on the following page. The first cell (A)

is the institutionally organized knowledge system (IOKS), or researcher-

derived knowledge system. In an analysis, the focus would be on relation-

ships between international research centers, national agricultural research

centers, regional experiment stations, etc. A concern here would be on the

flow of information among the various entities, the extent to which research

related to relevant local problems and how research priorities are determined

(and in particular extension input into the process).

Cell B on the matrix indicates an analysis of the interaction patterns between

the research establishment and extension, focusing on how the results of re-

search are transmitted to the extension organization and which factors affect

that transmission. As is generally acknowledged, t]e link here is frequently



The third cell (E) is concerned with the extension service itself, its orga-

nization, staffing, resources, and methodologies for preparing and dissemi-

nating agricultural information to farmers. Many of the problems discussed

in the previous section of this report are relevant to this analysis. The



IOKS Institutionally Organized Knowledge System

IKS Indigenous Knowledge System

FSR/E1 Farming Systems Research/Extension (Extent to which research/

ext. recommendations reflect existing farming practices; IKS -


FSR/E Farming Systems Research/Extention (Extent to which research/

ext. recommendations are reflected in what farmers do; IOKS -


Traditional System ( ) = ABEFI

Non-Traditional System ( -- ) = IHEDA

next cell (F) focuses on the nature of the extension/farmer interaction.

The communication approach of the extension service is of concern here.

The nature of the agent/farmer interface is important to farmers' aware-

nes of technological alternatives and their later decision to adopt or


The final cell (I) focuses on the farmers themselves in an effort to deter-

mine their contact with extension and other sources of agricultural infor-

mation, the indigenous knowledge system (IKS), their decision-making processes

in terms of technology adoption and other factors (social, economic, demo-

graphic, environmental) which influence their agricultural behavior.

The stream of analysis from this perspective has been more traditional,

top-down pattern from knowledge source through extension to the recipients

of the knowledge (ABEFI). A less traditional pattern in the bottom-up

analysis (IHEDA).

Beginning with the indigenous knowledge system (Cell I) an effort is made to

certain the flow of IKS to the extension organization. The concern here

is on the extent to which extension is able and Willing to learn from the

farmer's experience. Cell H, therefore, focuses on "feed-up", recognizing

that there are two major sources of agricultural information for extension:

the scientific community and the farmers themselves. Sometimes a prerequi-

site for farmer feed-up of for farmers themselves to become aware of their


own knowledge and feel confident about expressing it to the agents. Going

back to Cell E an assessment is made of what, if anything, extension does

not accumulate and report farrer knowledge to the scientific establishment.

The next cell (D) suggests an analysis of the interaction between researchers

and extensionists in terms of IKS. This relates to the theory that extension

is supposed to be a bridge or link between researchers and farmers, provi-

ding two-way communication and feed-back. This communication is not only

the responsibility of extension however; the organization (and values) of

the research units will influence how receptive scientists are to feedback.

Cell A focuses on the nature and extent of the efforts of researchers to

relate their work to the problems and needs of farmers how IKS influences

decisions about research priorities. In this respect, effective feedback

from farmers through extension can also indicate which innovations from

researchers are relevant to farmer's needs and what sorts of additional

improvements are needed.

Finally, Cells C & G focus on the institutionalization of a farming sys-

tems research and extension approach within the overall system. Cell C

suggests the extent to which farmer practices are reflected in research/

extension recommendations; cell G suggests the obverse jhe relevance and

application of IOKS to farmers' practices. This analyses should reveal

information about the appropriateness of research results to farmers' agri-

cultural systems and their acceptance of innovations.

The analytical approach described above, utilizing a systems matrix, should

make it possible to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses within the link-

ages of a country or regional agricultural technology transfer system. Based

on such an analysis a national institution should be able to assess the

necessary adjustments or additions required to improve the technologygene-

ration/transfer process.


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