"AGSIEVE" by BOB HART on June 18, 1993 at 11:20.
Note 53 (of 54) by JESSICA LAUB on May 3, 1994 at 15:55 (5801 characters).
Bolivian Farmers Conduct Site Specific Field Trials
Over the past three years, 101 Quechua farmers in North
Potosi, Bolivia have conducted 295 site-specific field trials
on 90 varieties in a wide range of elevations for eight crops
cultivated in the Andean mountains. Their trials have
generated data that have been analyzed statistically and
shared with scientists. Farmer enthusiasm has fostered the
pride and dignity of local people and has encouraged these
small farmers to train 2,850 other farmers in how to identify
and use the most appropriate agricultural technologies. All of
this occurs in a remote geographic area that has never been
served by government agricultural research or extension
In 1989, Julio Beingola, an agronomist with the NGO World
Neighbors, developed a simple system to help farmers conduct
their own field trials.
How it Works
Farmer training began with four three-day theory/practice
seminars conducted by Beingolea in North Potosi, with about
60 farmers attending. To clarify the purpose of
experimentation and to strengthen commitment to the
program, farmers were first taught why more systematic
methods, documentation, and analysis were required. Then they
were taught the principles of designing a field trial: planning
the experiment, conducting it, harvesting the crop, evaluating
and interpreting the data and publishing the results. The
farmers practiced planning scientific field trials in three
locations on small farms nearby. The farmers were invited to
return a month before harvest for a subsequent seminar on how
to record and statistically analyze data.
Participating farmers each planted an area of about 12m2,
divided into three replications, each containing five 3 x 2.7 m
plots. The small plot size reduced the cost risk, a key issue for
small farmers, and made smaller harvests easier to weigh,
record, and compare. This was particularly important for crops
like potatoes that produce large volumes of plant materials.
The four subplots were planted with various treatments of the
farmer's own choosing. For instance, different compost
configurations were used, or diverse potato varieties such as
Waycha, Alqaimilla, Diseree and Cardinal with the fifth plot
serving as a control. Two-day monthly seminars followed to
provide instruction in appropriate agronomic practices such as
pest control. Extensionists and farmer promoters visited the
test sites every 10 to 15 days to evaluate progress and to help
farmers address any problems that arose.
One month prior to harvest, farmers attended the second
seminar and learned the theory and practice of data collection
and statistical analysis. They were taught to calculate the
summation, mean, and yield in kilograms per hectare, the sum
of squares, the coefficient variability, and to use other
statistical measures. Farmers found that when their own data
were used, the mathematical formulas were far more
interesting than anticipated. If fact, the farmers became so
involved that they requested additional mathematical training
which was later provided.
At harvest time, farmers were proud to invite their neighbors
to attend the harvest of the field trial they had planted and
cultivated throughout the season. As the farmers turned in
their data, the agronomist double checked the statistical
analysis and prepared the results for publication. Farmers
were empowered by doing their own calculations and by having
their results published and shared with the Ministry of
Education, the Ministry of Agriculture and scientists at the
International Potato center.
Farmer research and farmers helped scientists to conclude
that the Diseree and Cardinal potato varieties developed in
Holland do not perform well at Andean elevations of 3,500
meters. The Waycha variety introduced from the International
Potato Center's experimental station, on the other hand, did
quite well in the sandy loam soils. The importance of
conserving native potato varieties was demonstrated by the
flavor and high yield of the indigenous Alqaimilla variety.
Trials demonstrated the importance of proper seed selection
treatment and fertilization. They also demonstrated it was
better to plow smaller areas three times, rather than plow
new land to meet subsistence needs.
Based on what they have learned from the field experiments,
farmers can select potato varieties better suited to their
locations and use appropriate practices such as deep tillage
prior to planting and proper spacing of rows and plants to help
them increase yields. Moreover, the farmers have been
provided with the skills to conduct their own research so that
they can continue to test and improve their farming strategies
in the future.
New Way, New Hope
It is becoming increasingly evident that current methodologies
of agricultural research and extension will be inadequate in
reaching those who need it most. As shown in diagram A, this
new way does not decrease the importance of formal research
methods. Rather, it implements the intent of these methods by
bringing the research data to farmers and enabling them to
evaluate those data in their own particular situation. It does
this at a low cost to the provider (US $286 per experiment), at
low risk to the farmer, and in a way that preserves and
enhances personal, social and cultural values and pride. Most
importantly it can produce fast and significant change in the
food security of impoverished nations.
Ruddell, Ed. 1993. Engaging Peasants to Conduct Site-Specific
Scientific Field Trials. Unpublished papers.
Edward D. Ruddell
Santiago 20, Chile
comments & responses to:
Note 54 (of 54) by JESSICA LAUB on May 3, 1994 at 15:59 (6994 characters).
Women's Participation, Qualitative Versus Quantitative
Farming Systems Research (FSR) views the farm as one
system and focuses on the interaction of components therein
while considering physical, biological, and socioeconomic
variables. The women's studies component of FSR has
remained mainstream, concentrating on roles, technology,
drudgery and ways to increase women's participation in an
economy which offers them little reward. While women
already contribute more than their share of labor, little
attention has been paid to assessing the incentives for their
participation. Many of the approaches in integrating women's
concerns into FSR seem to fit into the "integrationist mode,"
which assumes that the cause of women's subordination is
their exclusion from the main spheres of production. But do
women really gain from increased participation, or are they
simply pack mules being further driven?
In the classic FSR equation, women farmers are considered to
be production factors. The goal being to harness women's
productivity by giving them new technologies, extending
credit and improving access to information. The alternate
paradigm is to see women as decision makers in their own
right, working within a set of structural constraints that
permits certain choices and disallows others. Consciousness
on the part of women farmers of productive alternatives and
the availability of choice is in itself liberating, for women
can then become discriminate users and technology
generators, with a voice in the development process.
Case in Point
In Kabaritan, a lake shore village bordering Laguna de Bay in
the Philippines, a study was conducted to assess agricultural
decision making patterns and processes. Twelve married
couples participated in the study. Domestic work,
entrepreneurial activities and agriculture were revealed as
female domains, while fishing, animal husbandry and
aquaculture were male domains. Research indicates that
innovative technologies, e.g., the plow and modern agricultural
practices, are male dominated upon their introduction until
they are superseded by even newer technologies. Aquaculture,
a relatively new alternative to agriculture, is largely
controlled by men
Rice harvest is a women's responsibility during the wet
season and a joint responsibility during the dry season. This
indicates the uneven relegation of tasks to women when
chores become more tedious and difficult by sodden soil and
Domestic duties are still disproportionately women's
responsibility regardless of the amount of time they spend in
productive activities outside the home. Male participation in
domestic chores increases during the wet season because
women spend more time in income-generating activities
during this period. The economic viability of the household at
such times depends on women's entrepreneurial skills and
willingness to do menial labor.
Because women attend to most domestic duties, as well as
participate in productive activities outside the home, their
leisure time is diminished, is always less than two-thirds
that of men. Moreover, women's leisure time is usually spent
at child care, and a very lopsided distribution of work
becomes apparent. Thus, there is little justification for the
integrationist approach, which seeks ways of eliciting more
participation from women in agriculture. It is time to examine
questions of compensation, skewed distribution and
mechanisms that prevent equity between what is demanded
and what can be expected in return.
Who Eats What
In terms of intrahousehold food allocation, men eat more of
every food group during the wet season except for vegetables
(equal for males and females) and invertebrates (more for
females). On the other hand, the dry season is characterized by
more balanced food allocation between the sexes. Still, during
this season, men consume more root crops, cereals, vegetables
and fish, while women consume more invertebrates.
Men generally weigh more and require more calories than
women do. Therefore a moderate imbalance of food allocation
in favor of males may be justified. During the dry season,
when men are fully occupied with production tasks, their
higher consumption of carbohydrates in the form of cereals
and root crops is understandable. However, in the wet season,
when male dominated operations are at a standstill and it is
the female's contribution that tides over the family, more
food is still allocated for male sustenance.
For women, what is demanded of them is not even remotely
compensated in terms of leisure time and food. Leisure time
and food allocation are influenced by social and cultural
definitions about who is indispensable and who is marginal.
Women give more and get less.
It is instructive to look at the way women view the world to
see why such inequity persists. The informants of the study
were asked to draw a map of Kabaritan. The drawings indicate
that men recognize more resources than women. Men noted the
river, fish ponds, lake, roads, rice lands and the general
wetland area. Only the railroad and the residential areas are
more highly cognized by women. Resources that are not
recognized are less likely to be used, and for practical
purposes, they might as well not exist. This social and gender
differentiation in terms of perception reinforces inequitable
access to these resources.
FSR and Gender
Integrating women's concerns into FSR refers not only to
things people think should concern women, but things that
women are concerned with such as health, child care, dignity
and self-determination. For change to be meaningful, it has to
come from women's consciousness and their pursuit of
alternatives rather than a cafeteria-style proliferation of
technologies designed for women.
New directions for FSR may address such issues as: returns in
terms of leisure and food in proportion to the extent of
participation demanded from women, the contributory factors
to the conditioning of women to accept their lot and forgo
their options, why women perpetuate a collective
consciousness that works against them through the
socialization of their children.
Opportunities for women to speak for themselves and to learn
to listen to each other are necessary if FSR is to move
forward. Women affected by development must be given a
choice concerning appropriate technologies. Only when the
voices of women are heard and used to shape development
programs can such programs serve women well, and improve
the quality of their lives.
Nazarea-Sandoval, Virginia. 1991. Some Lessons To Be Learned
(Still) in Integrating Women's Concerns into Farming Systems
Research. J. Asian Farm Syst. Assoc. 1 pp. 153-177.
Virginia D. Nazarea-Sandoval
International Potato Center
P.O. Box 933
respones & comments to: