Proposal for a support grant for initiating the development of a world-wide training program in farming systems research and extension.

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Proposal for a support grant for initiating the development of a world-wide training program in farming systems research and extension.
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Resource Identifier:
183408215 ( oclc )

Full Text




University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611 March 28, 1980





Worldwide, agriculture is facing new problems. The technology that

produced the remarkable productivity increases since the late 1930's and

was created with abundant and comparatively cheap energyis becoming less

appropriate. As world population increases at a record rate and natural

resource availability declines the situation is becoming more and more

critical. Increased public interest in environmental quality and energy

conservation adds a further dimension to these new problems facing agri-

culture, as does mounting convern overtheplight of the small or limited

resource farmer.

A recently developed multidisciplinary team method known as Farming

Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) is efficient and productive in the

search for new technology particularly for diversified or limited re-

source farmers. It is appropriate for domestic and international condi-

tions. One of the basic FSR/E methodologies was developed over the last

five years in the Guatemalan Institute of Agricultural Science and Technol-

ogy (ICTA), and is being used in modified form in Honduras, Colombia and

Panama. Similar approaches have also been developed and tested in Africa

and Asia. Some elements of this new approach to technology development

and promotion are already being used by the Institute of Food and Agricul-

tural Sciences (IFAS) faculty of the University of Florida in the northern

part of the state and in some other countries.

Several important characteristics contribute to the efficiency of the

FSR/E approach. First, as the identification of and solution to farm



problems can originate from a variety of fields, a broad disciplinary

representation on the team increases the probability of defining real

problems and of producing technologies useful to the clients. Second,

by concentrating a team effort on specific problems, the time to appli-

cation and adoption of new technology is minimized. Third, farmers and

extension workers are involved in the process from the beginning. This

reduces or eliminates the-need to modify a new technology to make it

acceptable to specific conditions and allows promotion to begin early

in the technology development process.

The FSR/E approach creates an environment in which unique or exotic,

yet appropriate and highly acceptable solutions to farm problems can be

spawned. Participation in an FSR/E team can be complementary to other

staff activity at a university and can have the by-product of generating

additional research areas to study specific aspects of the problem in

more depth using traditional disciplinary procedures.

FSR/E has demonstrated its utility and efficiency in the few places

in the world where it has been used, yet its use is still not widespread.

The major reason it is not being used on a wider basis is that very few

agricultural scientists have training or experience in the method.

Recognizing the potential importance of FSR/E to Florida, as well as

to developing and developed countries in the rest of the world, IFAS is

proposing to establish a worldwide center and training network in FSR/E

to train scientists and technicians in its use and to help in the devel- -

opment and promotion of technology appropriate to the conditions of the

millions of the world's farmers on small, diversified and limited resource

farms and for whom little or the modern technology presently developed is

appropriate, as well as to help solve emerging problems on large, commer-

cial farms.




The multidisciplinary nature and breadth of concerns involved in

FSR/E make it difficult to clearly delineate that part of UF resources

which are relevant, particularly within the agricultural disciplines.

But these resources are substantial. Within UF, IFAS possesses approx-

imately 900 senior faculty, of whom about 300 have significant inter-

national experience. In addition to these IFAS faculty, there are many

scientists-in other departments with relevant international and agricul-

tural expertise and interest, and UF houses strong Centers for Latin

American and African Studies.

Furthermore, UF and its Research Centers are located in a subtropi-

cal zone with climatic conditions similar to those of many developing

countries. Thus, much .of the research experience is directly or closely

relevant to the problems of agricultural development in the developing

tropical countries. Agriculture is the state's major industry, genera-

ting retail sales of over $10 billion annually. It has a wide structural

diversity among its farms, ranging from large scale, verticallyinte-

grated, capital intensive corporate enterprises to small, labor intensive

family farms. There is also a tremendous variety of important crop en-.

terprises in the state, including the traditional row crops such as corn

and beans, as well as forestry, citrus, vegetables, sugarcane and orna-

mentals. The state is one of the largest producers of feeder cattle in

the country. Florida's fresh and salt water aquatic resources are also

of major importance, particularly the crustacean industry. This variety

provides a wide array of concentrated expertise that is practically uni-

que in the U.S.



The IFAS/UF technical assistance experience spans more than 25 years

with contract programs emphasizing major training, research and development
contracts in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Brazil, Guyana, Bolivia, Ecuador and

Viet Nam. Multidisciplinary teams provided the basis for each of those

programs. In the early 1970's multiple crop research emerged in the El.

Salvador contract under the leadership of Dr. Peter Hildebrand to then

evolve into a farmer based, integrated multidisciplinary problem solving

program in Guatemala. IFAS provided professional backstop to the ICTA

Guatemala program where Dr. Hildebrand continued the work that is now

commonly referred to at UF as Farming Systems Research and Extension.

Cropping systems work has been an important component in both the Ecuador
and Bolivia contracts.

A continuing University commitment to technical assistance now extends

to two new long term contracts in Malawi and Cameroon where the research

and training will include, to the extent appropriate, the FSR/E methodology.

Continued professional contacts, throughout Latin America further extend the

base for joint FSR/E work. .Specific negotiations, most probably leading to

long term agreements, are being considered Ifor Honduras and Panama.


The University of Florida desires to establish an FSR/E Program involv-

ing many different departments and comprising several components. Included

in the program would be:

1) One or more operating FSR/E teams in IFAS/UF Research Centers working
on problems of small farmers and on the emerging problems related to energy,

water and other scarce resource used on commercial farms.

2) Operational FSR/E projects in several countries utilizing faculty and
graduate students and in support of local, as well as regional or inter-



national, research and extension institutions and including a participant

training component.

3) A supporting research and graduate training component on the main cam-

pus with a limited number of FSR/E courses and other suggested core courses

for students wishing to specialize in FSR/E methods but who would maintain

departmental and disciplinary identification.

4) A network of courses related to FSR/E taught in several locations through-

out Latin America and Africa (may be extended to Asia at a later date) either

as short courses or for graduate or undergraduate credit. These courses would

be taught in collaboration with other institutions and in the language of the

country in which they are taught.

5) ConsultAncy services involving University of Florida faculty with exper-

ience in Farming Systems to assist i) agricultural research institutes at

the national, regional and international levels establish and improve FSR/E

type programs; and ii) government departments, funding agencies and project

authorities in utilizing FSRIE as part of project identification design,

monitoring and evaluation activities.

Some of these components have been initiated at the present time. One

course related to FSR/E has been offered for the last two years and a new

one in FSR/E_ methodology will be offered in Spring, 1980. The first is for

advanced undergraduate and graduate students and the new one is for graduate

students only. The University is in the process of establishing the first

FSR/E team in one of the Research and Extension Centers in the northern

part of the state and an FSR/E project has been initiated in Alachua county

to serve as part of the new course. On-going and proposed University pro-

jects in several countries incorporate FSR/E principles. There is an increas

ing demand for University of Florida faculty for consulting and presentation

of seminars that is being partly serviced but should be expanded.




Until such time as expanded funding can be located within the Univer-

sity or from outside sources, increasing expenses related primarily to the

organization and implementation of the international aspects of the FSR/E

program are exceeding the present capacity of the-University to absorb.

University expenses at the present time include two visiting professorships

(Peter Hildebrand and Elon Gilbert) secretarial time, supplies, phone calls

and travel expenses as well as materials for the FSR/[^classes. The Univer-

sity will also absorb the expenses related to establishing the FSR/E team

in North Florida.

Additional required expenses primarly for the international aspects,

beyond the limits of the resources presently available at the University

of Florida include: additional secretarial time; travel expenses to other

universities who are interested in cooperating in a joint international

training network (probably including Michigan State, Cornell and New Mexi-

co State); travel abroad; telephone expenses both within the U.S. and

abroad; supplies and student assistant help in organizing research and pre-

paring teaching aids and bibliographies; some travel within the state of
Florida; and some research expenses to initiate projects not anticipated

within the present budget of the University and necessary to help estab-

lish training methodology.

These additional resources would be used primarily in the development

of the supporting research and graduate training component and the train-

ing course network. Outputs would include the development of a core cur-

riculum in FSR/E, the identification of a core FSR/E faculty with exper-

ience in FSR/E, the initiation of FSR/E work with small farmers in Alachua

county, Florida (Gainesville) in support of the main campus research and

training component, and initial efforts in organizing the training network.





Bilingual secretary (1/2 time @ $9,000/yr) 4,500
Student assistant (M.S. 2/5 time) 7,000
Total salaries $11,500



4 trips @ $1,000 4,000
10 days per diem/trip @ $50/day 2,000
Taxis, car rental, misc. exp.
@ $200/trip 800
Sub total international $6,800


8 trips @ $500 4,000
5 days per diem/trip @ $50/day 2,000
Taxis, car rental, misc. exp.
@ $200/trip 1,600
Sub total domestic $7,600

Total travel $14,400

Equipment, supplies, services

Typewriter 900
Books, publications 2,000
Materials and supplies 3,000
Telephone 3,000
Sub total equipment, supplies, services 8,900

Total $34,800

Funds may be moved between major line items as required for reasonable