Title: US vs third world research and extension institutions
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095088/00001
 Material Information
Title: US vs third world research and extension institutions their effect on farming systems methodology
Physical Description: 7 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hildebrand, Peter E.
Donor: unknown ( endowment ) ( endowment )
Publisher: Food and Resources Economics Dept., University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1988
Copyright Date: 1988
Subject: Agricultural systems   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Research   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "Presented at the Farming Systems Symposium. Fayetteville, Arkansas, October 9-12, 1988."
Statement of Responsibility: Peter E. Hildebrand.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095088
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 433173025

Full Text



Peter E. Hildebrand
Food and Resource Economics
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611





Mostly conducted at Land Grant
universities which have a
declining sense of a
development mission.

Researchers have little sense
of an institutional mission and
there is little incentive to
work in multidisciplinary

Nature of Research

Shrinking state and federal
research budgets make
grantsmanship very important
and competitive.

Much research oriented toward
competitive grants won by
professors. Grants not
necessarily related and seldom

Often conducted in
organizations created with a
development mandate.
Therefore there should be a
strong sense of a development

Researchers have more sense of
an institutional mission and
there is considerable
incentive to work in multi-
disciplinary teams.

Little or no opportunity for
individual grants.

Most research based on
approved program with at least
some integration.

Presented at the Farming Systems Symposium. Fayetteville,
Arkansas, October 9 12, 1988

Mostly done by graduate
students who carry out research
in competition with course
work. The graduate students'
desire to finish graduate
school and get a job may
outweigh their desire to do
"meaningful" research with
farmers toward which they often
have been motivated before
beginning graduate school.

Heavy emphasis on basic
research at the PhD level.
Much MS research is sub-project
of PhD project. Little
incentive for applied or
adaptive research.

Carried out by scientists and
technical people who are hired
specifically for research.

Ordinarily emphasis on applied
or adaptive research.


High fixed investment in
research stations and
laboratories means research is
usually oriented toward their

Research personnel have
relatively limited access to
transportation because of the
anticipation they will conduct
research in laboratories and on
experiment stations.

Experiment stations and
laboratories are often less
well equipped reducing
incentive to work in them.

Budget restrictions enforced
either by the national
government or the donor
community, mean that transpor-
tation is also usually

Personnel evaluation

Research faculty are evaluated
on the basis of refereed
publications which are easier
to generate with station and
laboratory research.

Multiple author articles (as
generated by team efforts) are
less valuable in evaluations
than single or double author
articles, therefore, they are

Personnel evaluations (where
they exist) usually are not
based on publications, but on
successful completion of
applied and adaptive (on-farm)
research activities.

Team efforts are encouraged.
Poor team collaborators
receive low evaluations.

Orienting research toward
publications biases the nature
of research to that which is
easily carried out and for
which positive (and statisti-
cally significant) results are
relatively easy to predict.

Team members who have been
trained in on-farm research
techniques are proud of
working under the difficult
conditions found on farms.
Adversity creates esprit de
corps if not easy results.


Many research personnel have
joint appointments in

County extension personnel are
evaluated on the basis of
meetings and contacts and not
on the basis of research
results. Therefore they have
little incentive or budget to
do the applied or adaptive
research which could develop
technology applicable to their

"Demonstration plots" are
sometimes used for simple
research and present a
potential for more formal on-
farm research.

Extension specialists with a
state-wide mandate to do
applied research are too
limited in budget to be able to
develop technologies geared to
specific areas.

Extension usually has little
connection with research.

Often extension agents have
many tasks not related to
technology development and/or
diffusion so they have little
time for on-farm research.

Extension agents do some
"demonstrations". This
activity could be modified to
provide an opportunity for
collaboration in on-farm

Extension specialists may not
exist so there may not be any
extension capacity for


Relatively few in number, thus
requiring a higher proportion
as collaborators in on-farm
research activities.

Most are literate and many are
relatively well educated.

Farmers represent a large
proportion of the population,
so a relatively small
proportion is required for on-
farm research collaboration.

A higher proportion is
illiterate and most have
little formal education.

Many small and medium sized
farms are managed by part-time
farmers who have full-time off-
farm jobs, leaving little time
for management of the farm or
on-farm research.

Relatively few enterprises on
the farm could leave more time
for on-farm research or
managing any one of them.

Farmers have come to expect
change although new technology
is not always appropriate for
their conditions.

Many also work off the farm,
but mostly in part-time jobs.
They could have more time to
manage the farm and on-farm

The myriad of enterprises
precludes spending much time
on any one of them for either
management or research.

Change is much less evident
and the farmers have had less
relevant contact with change.



The effect of a presence or absence of an institutional
sense of mission favors the utilization of farming systems
methodology in the Third World rather than in a US Land Grant
university. The declining sense of mission in US Land Grant
universities parallels the increasing dependence on grant funds
for research. This fosters competition among researchers which
in turn tends to diminish the opportunity for collaborative

Other than for those grants which specify applied research
results, much of the research conducted at US Land Grant
universities is more basic in nature and is oriented toward the
completion of PhD dissertations (which are supposed to explore
the frontiers of knowledge of the discipline). In the Third
World, most countries cannot afford the luxury of basic research.
Hence there is more emphasis on adaptive or applied research con-
ducted by persons who are hired specifically to do it. These
factors, again, favor the use of farming systems methodology in a
Third World setting.

Strangely, the availability of research resources, though
less decisive, also favors the use of farming systems methodology
in the Third World. In the Third World, experiment stations and
laboratories are often less well equipped, so there is less
incentive to work exclusively in their environs than there is in
a US Land Grant university office, laboratory or experiment
station. The availability of transportation, however, may be
more neutral. Although the Third World is chronically short of
transportation resources, US researchers traditionally include

little transportation in their research budgets, other than for
airfare to meetings, because they are becoming accustomed to
working on the station, or in their laboratories or offices.

Personnel evaluation procedures in the US are largely
unfavorable for farming systems methodology. Scientists with
heavy research appointments must publish a large number of
refereed articles in recognized journals for survival, promotion
and salary raises. Such scientists are tempted to carry out
research which has a high probability of statistically
significant results and to minimize the amount of time spent in
"risky" research or research which would result in publications
with many authors. This biases the research toward controlled
experiments, or modelling with known, secondary data sets, and
away from on-farm experiments and the collection of new, real
world primary data, both of which are essential in farming
systems research.


The extension picture for farming systems research (and
extension) is relatively more favorable for the US than for the
Third World. Many research personnel have extension appointments
(and vice versa) which should be amenable to applied or adaptive
research activity. However, "Extension Specialists" (divided
extension/research appointments) with a state-wide mandate to do
applied research are more often than not, too limited in budget
to be able to develop technologies geared to specific areas.
Extension specialists do not exist at all in most Third World

Unfavorable in both settings are constraints with extension
at the county or "extension office" level. Most extension
personnel are evaluated on the basis of the number of contacts
and meetings they have or the number of "demonstration plots"
they put out. Results of the plots or measures of technology
diffused seldom enter into the evaluation process. A
modification of the evaluation process would need to be
accomplished in order for the effort spent in the demonstration
activities to be useful for contributing to on-farm research.

Decentralized Research and Extension Centers

Many states in the US have decentralized (or sub-)
experiment stations and in some cases these are combined with the
extension program. In Florida, most research and extension
(specialist) personnel at these "Research and Education Centers"
report to the Center Director. This type of arrangement has the
potential for the utilization of farming systems methodology.
One such attempt is underway at the Southwest Florida
Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC) at Immokalee,
Florida. Another is being revived with a new structure at the

Life Oak AREC in north Florida. However, if these stations are
organized along traditional commodity and disciplinary patterns,
changes to a farming systems approach will be difficult to
facilitate (O'Connor, 1988).


The role that farmers play potentially makes the utilization
of farming systems methodology in the US somewhat more favorable
than in the Third World. Although there are relatively fewer
farmers in the US, so a higher proportion must be involved in on-
farm research, most are literate and better equipped to
participate actively. At the present time, many US farmers have
full time off farm jobs that diminish their capability to
undertake on-farm research. However, they manage fewer
enterprises than their counterparts in the Third World, so they
may have relatively more time for any one of them. Off farm work
in much of the Third World is a part time activity, but this is
offset by a larger number of enterprises on each farm. In the
US, farmers have become accustomed to change and expect it even
though much available technology is not always appropriate to
specific conditions. In the Third World, change is often much
less evident and the farmers have had even less relevant contact
with new technology. However, offsetting the natural skepticism
of Third World farmers to expect something good to come their way
is the inclination of US farmers to expect a "salesman" (which
could be an extension agent) to come by with something that might
be good.


In reflecting on the preceding premises and the conclusions
they elicit, there is little to suggest that the basic kind of
farming systems methodology should be different in the US than in
the Third World. Experience, however, indicates that there would
be some interesting differences required in specific techniques.
For example, we found it more efficient to phone farmers for
appointments, whether during the Sondeo or to review on-farm
research, while we were working in north Florida. This is not
possible, nor usually necessary, in the Third World. Plots in
farmers' fields can become quite different when the work is by
machine rather that by animal or, particularly, by hand.
Biophysical differences (climate, soil type) can be relatively
more important relative to socioeconomic differences in the US,
but socioeconomic differences (farm size, ethnicity, full versus
part time) still can be important in the US.


In summary, with respect to the research institutional
setting, the sense of mission, the nature of the research being
done, the availability of resources, and personnel evaluation all
favor the undertaking of farming systems research in the Third
World relative to the US. With respect to the extension
institutional setting, conditions favor the use of farming
systems research in the US over the Third World. This is
particularly true, potentially, in states that have combined
research and extension on regional experiment stations. Although
farm conditions are quite different in the US than in most of the
Third World, there is little to suggest that these charac-
teristics make them any more or less amenable to farming systems
research or that basic farming systems research methodology needs
to be much different in the US than in the Third World.


O'Connor, James. 1988. Agricultural development in an
ecologically sensitive region: the role of publicly funded
research. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Food and Resource
Economics Department. University of Florida. Gainesville.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs