I refer you to the article by Taylor, Donald C., et al. 1993: Creating a farmer
index: a Malaysian case study. Am. J. of Alternative Agriculture. 8(4):175-184.
The published abstract:
In on-farm studies of sustainable agriculture, farmers often have been
as sustainable according to their organizational affilitation;
use or non-use of a particular production practice or input, usually
chemicals. Because this is a great oversimplification, researchers
been incorporating several dimensions of sustainability into a composite
measure. Typically this is a relative measure of sustainability, with
assigned by comparing individual farmers' practices to those used by all
farmers. In contrast, in the farmer sustanbility indes (FSI) presented
practices are scored according to their inherent sustainability. We
report on the
development of an FSI in a case study involving 33 production practices
by 85 cabbage farmers in Malaysia. We describe its underlying
procedure and rationale for scoring each sustainability item, and the
combining the constituent items into a composite index.
The FSI is a crop-specific assessment questionnaire focusing on variables that
largely farmer-controlled, namely, management systems or cultural practices.
questionnaire items--the FSI variables--are designed to characterize farming
such as chemical inputs, tillage practices, crop rotation or intercropping
Responses to questionnaire items--the "outputs"--are assigned scores according
calibration that is normative in reference to productivity, efficiency,
effects on environmental and human health, within the paradigmatic framework of
sustainability. The selection of questionnaire items as well as the calibration
respective outputs reflects ecogregional variations and accomodates the
goals of user entitites.
Practical applications The FSI could be useful to:
1) to extension specialists in making recommendations to farmers
2) to researchers in characterizing current local or indigenous
practices; 3) to
extension agencies in planning programmatic efforts
4) to agricultural educators in modifying curricula to appropriately
current but common unsustainable practices.
5) to extensionists and researchers to characterize trends in farm
6) extension agents in evaluating the outcome of programmatic
agricultural and other land management practices .
7) to researchers in developing new recommendations, technologies, and
methods where current recommendations or alternatives vis-a-vis sustainability
inadequate or impractical or undesirable from the farmer's point of view
It could be argued that, in some ways, assessments that characterizes a farmer
producer's management or cultural practices are the most "direct", practical,
useful approaches. This is because such assessments:
concern variables that can be directly changed or improved by choice
planning--the farmer or land manager's decisions
do not require expensive equipment, considerable time or effort, nor
training to collect data
I am exploring the possibility of constructing and administering an FSI here in
as my masters thesis project. I am making contacts in the relevant state and
agricultural extension agencies to determine the extent of interest, to identify
collaborators or reviewers, to foster official adoption, etc. Likely crops are
peanuts, and soybeans.
I would appreciate referrals to: any similar efforts in other states, within
relevant grey literature; comodity associations and other NGO's (domestic or
international) as well as funding entities that might be interested, etc.
John Vickery/Institute of Ecology/UGA/Athens, GA 30602
Institute's main office number: 706-542-2968; 542-6040 (FAX)