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close this bookExtension of Complex Issues - Success Factors in Integrated Pest Management (LBL - SKAT - SDC, 1997, 102 p.)
close this folder1 Introduction
View the document1.1 The challenge: Extension of a sustainable agricultural practice
View the document1.2 The meaning of ''extension''
View the document1.3 The meaning of ''IPM''
View the document1.4 Methodology
View the document1.5 Structure of this study

1.1 The challenge: Extension of a sustainable agricultural practice

"The challenge for us is to learn from farmers, and help guide the stream of spontaneous farmer experiments by teaching farmers what they do not know, in a way that is consistent with what they already know."

Jeffery W. Bentley

In developing countries, it is still a majority of the people that depends on agriculture, and the rural sector is seen as the engine of development. Considering the ongoing population growth, agriculture more than ever faces the challenge of increasing food production without destroying natural resources (soil, water, air etc.). Intensifying agricultural production while at the same time improving its sustainability is the first commandment of our century. During the seventies, the Green Revolution brought considerable yield increases through the introduction of new high yielding varieties coupled with the application of irrigation and fertiliser/pesticide packages. In the meantime the negative ecological implications of the Green Revolution have become well known: Soil depletion, soil salinity, loss of biodiversity etc. threaten the very purpose of the Green Revolution. Sustainable agricultural practices need to complement or even replace the heritage of the Green Revolution.

There is already an existing basis for this: Depending on prevailing agro-ecosystems, an array of such practices developed by farmers, researchers and extensionists is now available for application and further development. Categorised according to agro-ecological zones (compare Holt-Gimenez 1996) typical examples of recent relevance are:

· In dry to semi-humid zones, where the erosion problem is of primary importance, various soil conservation measures have been examined and analysed (terracing, bunds, horizontal tilling, minimal tillage, water harvesting techniques etc.) which can be summarised under the heading "Natural Resources Management".

· Sustainable practices in forests and lowlands of more humid areas include rotational cropping and agro-forestry.

· Under semi-humid and fertile conditions, pests are a major threat to agricultural production. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a typical example of a practice that is in convergence with the principles of sustainable agriculture.

The feature common to natural resources management, agro-forestry, and IPM is not only that they represent examples for endeavours to reach a sustainable agriculture, but also that they all are applied in very complex agro-ecological situations where any decision to make any major change deserves a preceding, careful, holistic analysis. The complexity of such agro-ecological situations is accompanied by an equally high degree of diversity: The agro-ecological situation, e.g. soil fertility or insect populations, may easily vary from farm to farm or even from plot to plot. As a consequence, the role of the farmer and his or her family in deciding to make any major change needs to be included systematically into the entire process of searching and applying new solutions. In general, this implies a new and much more farmer-oriented approach to problem solving and decision-taking procedures. The above mentioned sustainable agricultural practices are the response to risks inherent to a higher or lesser degree in any given agro-ecological situation. Such risks include drought, erosion, pests etc. The implication for the farmer is that any decision to make a change can be disastrous for the one who takes it if it was not properly assessed beforehand. Sometimes, change is inevitable, and making the right choice becomes vital.

IPM fosters species diversity to which ecological sustainability is directly linked. Therefore, in the context of this study we consider Integrated Pest Management as

· a key-example for a sustainable agricultural practice

· which is applied in complex, diverse and risk prone areas (CDRs) (Chambers 1989).

In complex and diverse situations, traditional ways of extension hit the limits. Traditional extension approaches which came forth with the Green Revolution were characterised by

· technologies developed by researchers on research stations

· top-down transfer of technology by researchers to extensionists, and from these to the farmers

· blanket recommendations for large areas.

The challenge to extension - extension understood in a wide sense as defined below - is to find approaches that are suited to introduce sustainable agricultural practices in complex, diverse and risk prone situations.

IPM being a prime example of complexity and diversity, this study aims at identifying success factors for extension work on it.

1.2 The meaning of ''extension''

Explanations on the Extension Elephant Model

Animate/motivate Encourage individual initiative, develop new organisational forms co-operatively with clients

Educate adults Conduct adult education in the field of awareness building and technical training

Disseminate information Gather relevant information from diverse sources, assimilate and disseminate it

Assist in solving problems Help to promote awareness of existing problems, analyse them, and find solutions

Formulate extension contents and methods Formulate appropriate and relevant extension themes based on research results farmers' experience and ideas Develop "user friendly" methods to apply them in practice

Extension planning Establish extension goals with clients Prepare work plans and materials

Extension evaluation Supervise extension work continually (monitoring, accompanying extension agents) and assess periodically (evaluation)

"Agricultural extension" is a term with many and varying connotations. In the following chapter we introduce our understanding of extension. Two metaphors serve this purpose:

· The "Extension Elephant", that shows the essential roles that should be performed by any extensionist (LBL 1990).

· The "Extension Butterfly", which is a functional extension model (LBL 1993).

We will use the "Extension Butterfly" as a grid on which to organise the subsequent parts of this study.


Figure 1: Roles of an extensionist: The Extension Elephant

The butterfly-extension model

"Successful extension": What do we mean by this?

We consider extension efforts to be successful, if

· there is a reasonable and quantifiable degree of acceptance among the groups (clients) to which they are addressed

· their resources are used efficiently

· they have a broad impact i.e. it is not only a small scale pilot project

· the envisaged impact among clients remains alive over a prolonged period at least for several years i e it remains sustainable

· the result is a process among clients that develops a dynamic of its own, i.e. that spills over and is adapted to similar situations, and/or partly modifies itself overtime in order to adapt to changing external conditions

In agriculture, knowledge and decision-taking capacity determine how production factors - soil, water and capital - are utilised. Agricultural extension is central in formulating and disseminating knowledge, and in enabling farmers to become competent decision makers. Therefore, extension plays an important role in most agricultural projects. Extension in general, or an extension service with the above described functions (Elephant) in particular, is part of a larger system of protagonists who influence farmers' decisions. Such systems are known as Agricultural Knowledge Systems (AKS). The "Extension Butterfly" is a schematic AKS delineating the functions and relationships necessary to improve the utilisation of production factors (LBL 1993).

The butterfly's body is formed by the Extension Elephant, whilst the head stands for relevant policies in a given context. The left wing depicts the interactive triangle between Research, Extension and Farmers as it is known for example from Farming Systems Research. In selected pockets the actors in this triangle find "new things that work". This process is also called "Participatory Technology Development" (PTD), The right wing of the butterfly represents the logistical base. It ensures that required inputs and services are available to farmers on a wide scale. The crucial question is to spread new things that work from the selected PTD pockets to a wider area. This is partly the function of an extension service. Considering time and fund limitations, however, it becomes more and more a task for farmer interactive extension, which is symbolised in the butterfly's abdomen.

The structure of this model has been applied for the analysis of the five IPM projects (compare Annexes) and to get an order to the theses concerning the success factors in extension for IPM (compare Chapter 3.1).


Figure 2: Functional extension model: The Extension butterfly

1.3 The meaning of ''IPM''

IPM - the definition as perceived and used in the study

"IPM is a strategy that employs every acceptable economic, ecological and toxicological technique available to keep pest populations below economic thresholds This strategy purposely gives preference to the use of natural regulating mechanisms' (SDC 1994a)

Recent estimates show that world population will grow by another 5 thousand million during the 21st century, resulting in a more or less stable total population of 11.5 thousand million shortly after the year 2100. This population must be fed out of total crop areas that have little potential for expansion. This means that intensified production will be urgently needed, at a growth rate (according to FAO estimates) of 2 to 3 percent annually. While there are efforts to make available the genetic potential of underrated crops in many parts of the world, dependence on few high-yielding crop species will further increase. There is a positive correlation between yield potential and pest and disease susceptibility. This makes clear that pest management in support of reliable harvests will be essential instruments in ensuring the necessary growth in food production. Sustainable pest management is therefore to be set high on the agenda of projects contributing to the development of countries of the South. For environmental and economic reasons, this will necessarily be IPM.

Considering the substantial losses to agricultural produce caused by pests, it is not astonishing that crop protection has received a high level of attention, starting with farmers and national planners in developing countries and extending to the chemical industry. Many governments set up special Crop Protection Departments (e.g. Indonesia, India etc.) with a twofold duty, namely to forecast pest outbreaks and to advise farmers with regard to crop protection. The use of pesticides increased dramatically during the course of the Green Revolution. In the case of Indonesia it culminated in the Government placing chemical companies under contract to conduct aerial sprayings.

The concept of IPM would have already been familiar to some people even that long ago. In 1968, the FAO had published its definition of IPM as "a pest management system that, in the context of the associated environment and the population dynamics of the pest species, utilises all suitable techniques and methods in as compatible a manner as possible, and maintains the pest populations at levels below those causing economically unacceptable damage or loss" (FAO, 1968 quoted in: van de Fliert, in press). Until today, the concept of IPM is subject to differing interpretations, ranging from simple combinations of pesticides with other techniques to complex ecological habitat management strategies. Everybody involved in pest management, from pesticide dealers to ecologically motivated grass-roots NGOs, talks about IPM (compare SDC 1994a).

For the present study, the IPM definition used by SDC is our yardstick. It reads as in the box aside.

The second sentence of the above definition stresses the preference to be given to natural processes. Notably, SDC's definition differs from the IPM definition proposed by Ciba, which uses the following wording: IPM is "the farmer's best combination of cultural, biological and chemical measures that yield the most cost-effective, environmentally sound, and socially acceptable insect, disease and weed management for crops in a given situation" (Ciba 1996).


Farmers are scouting pests and beneficials in a rice field in China The understanding of a rice field as a whole system in which beneficials are able to control pests to a large extent is a cornerstone of IPM

Many IPM experts disagree with the involvement of chemical pesticides producers and their agents in the discussion of IPM issues and extension. Their point is that in the end such organisations will always and inevitably have a bias toward selling their products, and that therefore the agents of such companies are not truly competent in IPM. The study group does not see its task as being to decide whether this position is right or not. Its stand does not so much start out from a position as to which interpretation of "IPM" is preferred, than from one that looks at the degree of success in extension work, i.e. the communicative component. This way, some lessons may be learnt about what may make the extension models of the chemical industry successful.

A core principle used in IPM was the application of economic threshold levels (ETL): The application of a plant protection measure (mostly pesticides) was to take place only if the cost of the application were considered lower than the expected economic loss. Today this concept is a point of disagreement among many IPM experts because they question its usefulness and applicability. The assessment alone is a complex task even if many simplifying assumptions are made, which often means that they have to be determined and regularly updated by research facilities and then conveyed to comparatively large extension areas. Specific reasons voiced to question the concepts are

· prices of farm products and of pesticides fluctuate regionally, between seasons and even over the season

· the ETL concepts tend to disregard non-chemical and/or preventive measures in determining the treatment costs used for threshold assessment

· natural enemy populations and their dynamics are not considered in ETLs

· farmers include many other factors in crop protection decision making that are not considered in the ETL concepts

· over and above, the application of ETLs has been found to be impractical in daily farm management (van de Fliert 1996, personal communication).

Van de Fliert therefore advocates replacing the economic threshold with an "experience threshold" which would be developed by farmers themselves and which would be applicable under specific farm conditions.

ETLs are a concept that originate from a specific vision of pest management and pests. It is not the only vision possible, as the theses on the following pages will show. Whether to use it or not will depend much more on the setting, culture, pest, and capacities of involved institutions rather than on whether it can be applied in extension in a sensible way. But arguments for or against ETLs serve as an indicator to which vision or generation of IPM a particular project adheres,

IPM practices include a wide range of approaches. Some of these are not possible without very large and regionally or even internationally backed structures. The theses on the following pages do not apply to special situations such as solving pest problems by fully-fledged classical biological control (for example by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on cassava in Africa), or to the problems of pests and diseases migrating over long distances, such as e.g. locusts in Africa, or a wide range of fungal, viral and bacterial diseases. For this study, we include only approaches to IPM which involve pest management problems realistically suited to be solved at the individual farm or community level. They are the vast majority.

1.4 Methodology

This study has been mandated by SDC to the Swiss Centre for Agricultural Extension (LBL) and specifically to a study team of two agronomists and one ethnologist. SDC asked the study team to analyse five projects involved with the introduction of IPM and to derive from this analysis the factors that had contributed to success. The focus of the study is extension, and the emphasis is to learn from successes rather than to analyse weaknesses or failures in given projects.

The following projects and programmes were chosen as examples:

1. Farmer Field Schools, National IPM Programme Indonesia
2. Manejo Integrado (EAP Zamorano) in Nicaragua
3. IPM projects in cotton by Ciba-Geigy, Pakistan
4. IRRI IPM Network, Philippines
5. Non chemical plant protection project by TREE (a NGO), Thailand.

Except the Farmer Field Schools in Indonesia, which were visited in the frame of a review mission in 1996 (cp. Eveleens 1996), the analysis of the other projects was based on documents and personal discussions with project representatives. The steps of the study were as follows:

1. Elaboration of a study concept.

2. Selection of the projects to be analysed (by SDC).

3. Preparation of a project description.

4. Several feed-back rounds with project representatives until a consensus regarding the project description was reached.

5. "Cross analysis" (critical comparison) of underlying project philosophies and formulation of preliminary theses concerning "IPM and extension".

6. Discussion of theses with project representatives, various IPM and extension experts, personally or by correspondence.

7. Drafting of final report and including last feed-backs from projects.

8. Publication.

It is intended to use the results of this study as an input in various workshops focusing on the issue of "Extension in complex situations".

1.5 Structure of this study

In addition to this introduction, a brief description has been included of the five analysed projects. These summaries are based on more detailed project descriptions which are appended for reference in Annexes I to V. The project descriptions lead to a set of theses concerning "IPM and extension". The paper ends with conclusions regarding lessons learned from these five IPM projects for extension in general.