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close this folder Research and planning
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Research and planning



An extension worker enters a community gradually. As an outsider she must first meet personal needs to establish social contacts with her neighbors and orient herself to her physical surroundings. Professional objectives are addressed later when the extension worker is more at ease in her interactions with the people she works with and can more carefully focus on agricultural practices and community problems. Regardless of the type of information being sought, however, an extension agent clearly establishes herself upon entering a community as one who is willing and able not to teach, but to learn.

Small scale farmers in developing countries have not traditionally had full access to extension services. There exists accordingly an acute lack of information as to how to make those services conform to small farmer needs. The extension worker assuming a learner's posture is one step toward bridging that gap. In order to complete the chain, villagers must step into the role of educators.

That villagers act as cross-cultural mentors of extensionists is assumed. What may be more significant is the vital function farmers can serve as historians and skilled practitioners of farming methods in a given area. When a small farmer educates an extension agent about what has happened in the past on her farm, the agent can help the farmer begin choosing appropriate steps to make improvements.

The information an extension agent gathers at the outset of an extension effort is based on a 'reality', a set of circumstances or perhaps an event. It is important to note that different individuals may interpret the same 'reality' in radically different ways. A jar is either half full or it is half empty; a harvest is either better than some years or worse than others.

Individual farmers' perspectives vary, and an outsider must be concerned with checking information gathered against independent sources. A similar check is warranted with regard to the extension worker himself. There is a strong tendency to 'selectively' hear answers to questions that conform to notions that prompted the asking of the questions in the first place.

This mutual 'filtering' of information occurs to a greater or lesser degree in all communication processes. Systematic checking of information will aid the extension worker in compiling a less-biased picture of the 'reality' referred to above.

The information-gathering an extension worker attempts is done in a cross-cultural context. Thus, sensitivity and respect are crucial to success. One must be willing to share information about oneself and must have the patience necessary to persevere under the sometimes difficult conditions imposed by linquistic and cultural barriers.

Information filters and cultural barriers provide cautions to an extensionist to go slow in the early stages of his work. One or more of the following suggestions could help an extension agent start on the right foot:

• Consciously employ observation skills to complement information gathered through the interview process.

• Engage a translator or assistant who can help ensure that research is done in a culturally appropriate manner. (Counterparts often play this role).

• Use some 'random' process to select sources of information to prevent a skewing of results in one direction.

• Establish a routine of note-taking and record keeping so that, later, information can be analyzed and plans can be made.

These and other choices pertaining to the methods used to gather information can be made more or less formal to suit the type of information being sought, the source, the interviewing 'climate' or the extension agent himself. After a body of information has been gathered, recorded, 'de-filtered', and analyzed, matches can be made between needs and resources, and the agent's role can be more clearly defined. Planning and problem-solving remain contingent, however, upon a continuing accurate flow of information between individual farmers and the extension agents who serve them.


Understanding people


Self interest is the basis for all that a farmer does. The source of a farmer's motivation, whatever it may be in a given case, can be quite obscure to the extension worker. A farmer who seems to be strong, intelligent, financially secure, and aware enough to be successful may still cling to his timeworn practices rather than opt for something new that he perceives to be against his interests. Neither repeated contact with an extension agent nor weighty scientific evidence will change his mind. The farmer's personal concerns - his religion, his desire for material possessions that he feels can be more quickly had by other means - are foremost in his mind. As such they are of primary concern to extension workers.

An extension agent needs to learn what the people she lives with value and consider important. This understanding is at the heart of the two way communication process. Without it, the extensionist can gain no perspective on the appropriateness of the change she promotes. Nor can she determine what training methods are most suitable to local people's needs. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the agent will be unable to empathize or even communicate effectively with her friends and neighbors.

To learn anything about a person's self-interest requires time and shared experience. It takes hours in hammocks and sweating over plow blades, eating from the same bowl and walking together in sadness in a funeral procession. The 'methods' used are informal, but the information gleaned is of crucial importance. The farming aspect of a villager's life, as was mentioned in Chapter One, is connected with all other aspects. Labor resources for farm work are also labor resources required by virtue of kinship and community ties to help maintain village roads and water supplies; money for improved livestock strains can just as easily become money for a niece's school fees. As an extension worker enters a community, then, and begins to make her initial social contacts, she should take note of the various special interests people display in order to better understand how to go about her work.


A case study of learning about self-interest:

Felicia had a special interest in serving the needs of the women farmers in her area. One of the agricultural tasks Felicia observed as primarily a woman's responsibility was grain drying. Hours each day were spent spreading grain on mats and concrete slabs where it was allowed to dry in the sun. Because chickens and free ranging goats often tried to eat the grain as it dried, someone had to constantly be on guard to shoo them away.

Felicia would often sit with her neighbors and talk as they watched their grain. She noticed that several of her neighbors occupied their grain drying hours by weaving mats. She asked the women if they were going to use the mats in their homes. Most replied that they intended to take their mats to a nearby market for sale. This they explained was the way that they were able to pay their children's school fees.

On closer inspection, Felicia discovered that school fees were a major concern of most of the women in town. She talked with women who made clay pots, women who dyed cloth and women who hired themselves out to help weed neighbors' fields and she found out that not only were school fees the sole financial responsibility of women family members, but that the fees at the local primary school had nearly doubled in the past two years. This information eventually led Felicia to concentrate her extension work on very small-scale, cash generating projects to help meet local women's needs.


A suggestive and partial list of small-farmer self-interests and motivation' (derived from Chapter One)

• Pride in individual accomplishments

• Filling a particular role in a family or community

• Obtaining special material possessions

• The sense of fulfillment in being able to use one's existing skills

• Maintaining ties to tradition

• Avoiding risk

• Developing new skills

• Reducing work load of existing tasks

• Overcoming feelings of impotence


Community survey


Development must begin where village people are, not where the extension agent wants them to be. For that reason, extension workers study the local community and its connections to the outside world. Basic familiarity with a community helps the agent function more effectively in meeting personal and work needs. Beyond that, it is also a structured, practical task that an extensionist can set before herself to help build confidence in using a new language and practicing local customs.

A simple first step is drawing a map of the physical features of the community. Much of the map's contents - roads, houses, markets, etc can be gathered by observation. Details can be added by consulting neighbors. The point of the first rough sketch of one's site is to become oriented in a very general way to one's surroundings.

The newly arrived field worker should take care in the selection of initial informants. The easiest contacts to make are likely to be a landlady, her husband and relatives, the local government officials, talkative neighbors, a counterpart, or the "pet" farmers of the sponsoring agency. In any case, the extentionist should be careful not to let the earliest contacts weight impressions disproportionately.

It is also important not be overly formal in approaching a community survey. At this early stage, it is not wise to take written notes in the presence of an informant, though some sort of record is essential for later analysis and planning. What is known naturally by a local resident must be systematically written down by an outsider. Therefore, at the earliest opportunity after an interview - midday break or in the evening - new information can be preserved in a field notebook or diary reserved for this purpose.

The first round of information gathering is to help an extension worker orient herself to her surroundings. It is general and broad rather than specific and focussed on a narrowly defined aspect of a community. Naturally, a Community Survey is not completed in the first few weeks of a volunteer's service. It continues at various levels as an ongoing process in extension work. A single informant might during the course of a casual conversation offer interesting insights into a community as a whole as well as some of the more specific types of information referred to later in this chapter. At the same time he might display something of his personal interest (recall the discussion of information filtering in the introduction to this chapter). The task of the extensionist is to place each piece of information in its proper context. It is significant to note that regular repetition of research components serves as a means of monitoring change from the 'beginnings' where people were when the extension agent began her work.


Overlay maps of the essential features of a community:


Orientation map

Orientation map - continue 1

Orientation map - continue 2

Orientation map - continue 3

Orientation map - continue 4



Community survey checklist:

I. Facts about the physical community

A. Climate

1. Rainfall patterns

2. Frequency of drought, flooding

3. Seasonal temperature ranges

B. Water Sources

1. Rivers and streams

2. Swamps

3. Catchment areas

4. Water table

5. Bathing areas

6. Sources of drinking water

7. Sources of food


C. Housing and Roads

1. Number and kind of houses

2. Kinds and location of roads

3. Number of bridges, etc.

D. Vegetation

1. Firewood

2. Timber

3. Plants

4. Farm Crops

II. Facts about the people

A. Population

1. Number of people

2. Age distribution

3. Family size

4. Number of families

5. Density

B. Settlement Pattern

1. Are farm centrally located?

2. Is the village spread out?

3. Is there a center?

4. What is the distance to farmers' farms?

5. Who lives where?

C. Types of People, Ethnic Groups

1. Which groups exist in the community?

2. Which groups do what?

3. Who are group leaders?

D. Sanitation and Health Practices

E. Behavior and Norms

1. Awareness of problems and solutions

2. Receptivity to change

3. Interest in learning new ideas

4. Customs and practices

F. Sources of Income Outside of Agriculture

1. Civil Service

2. Retail or small businesses

3. Industry

4. Crafts

G. Local Leaders

1. Local authorities (head people)

2. Officials sent or appointed from the outside

3. Religious leaders

4. Traditional healers

5. School teachers

6. Extension workers

7. Club, group, union or cooperative leaders

8. Committees

9. Wealthy property owners

10. Opinion leaders among various groups

H. Education

1. Number of schools or nonformal learning processes

2. Kinds of schools

3. Number of students

4. Average level of education


Agricultural survey


Farmers are the experts in all aspects of the local agricultural environment. Extension agents are often trained in a limited set of agricultural practices. Therefore, it is necessary for the agent to turn to farmers and other local residents with a vested interest in a community's involvement in agriculture to gain a broader perspective on the local environment and farming practices.

In particular, an extension worker needs to know which farmers practice the type of agriculture she herself is most familiar with. Beyond that, she can contact other ag workers in the area, buyers of farm produce, suppliers of commercial inputs, and local truckers, all of whom possess intimate knowledge of certain agricultural practices. Their combined assistance should help the agent develop a well rounded view of local conditions.

Part of the information they supply will further orient an extensionist geographically. She needs to know where farms, farmers, suppliers and marketers are located with reference to the road network and dominant topographical features. What she cannot find out from local sources or through observation may be available from various government map-making agencies. Relief maps, road maps and soil survey maps can all prove helpful in supplementing hand-drawn charts. The latter are often more useful, however, because of the local detail they contain Government sources can also be some use in orienting an agent to local climate and weather patterns. Weather stations offer specific data that may or may not be useful depending upon the closeness of the station to an extension site. Relief maps also give some indication of relative temperature. (In the tropics, for instance, average temperature will drop by 3-4°F, for every 1,000 ft. rise in altitude.)

The best source of local information is likely, once again, to be local farmers. The ILLUSTRATIONS and TOOLS sections on the next pages demonstrate how farmers can be historians of climate changes. In particular, discussions with local residents can give the extension agent some sense of the risks farmers face from storms and other weather harzards. One caution in relying on local sources for information on climate patterns is that terms used to refer to weather conditions are relative and it may take sometime before an outsider has a true feel for the conditions being described.

Climate and geography provide a backdrop for a consideration of more specific farming practices. An extensionist needs to identify specific crops and livestock operations underway in an area and more specifically focus on the different means of production and processing. Note that the objective of this aspect of information gathering is to describe actual practices of most of the farmers in a given area, not the feasibility of improvements. Some attention should also be paid to general levels of production and access to inputs and services. The sum of these collective inquiries will be a picture of the overall agricultural development in the village or community an extensionist serves.

While drawing this picture, an extension agent needs to try and develop an understanding of how all of a farmer's various agricultural pursuits fit together in an annual cycle. It is necessary to try and piece together bits of information to form calendars for weather, crop growing seasons, cyclical animal husbandry practices, social activities and other seasonal demands on a farmer's time and resources.

It will be useful after gathering some of the information above and becoming a bit more knowledgeable about farming in general to focus on the individual farm unit. It is at this point that the extension agent begins to become more actively involved in the analysis of the specific needs and resources farmers have. She looks at farm size and the farm family's labor resources, land tenure arrangements and land use management, the value of farm implements and the general extent of a farmer's debts. The way all of these individual factors add up will help determine what services she might be able to provide to a particular family. In the case of the small-scale farmer the Peace Corps serves, this individual attention and the level of understanding it promotes are necessary requirements for genuine communication to take place.

(The sequence of the TOOLS and ILLUSTRATIONS sections which follow has been reversed due to the tact that most of the points being illustrated are found in the survey tools themselves.)


Useful contacts for conducting an ag survey:

• Knowledgeable local farmers, specifically those farmers specializing in the same area as the extension agent.

• Ag workers stationed in the area.

• Buyers of farm produce.

• Suppliers of commercial inputs.

• Local truckers or boat operators.

Sources of maps:

• Geographic or geodetic service of the government: In most Latin American countries there is the military geographic service. This is normally the only source of relief maps.

• National resource inventory maps: These are useful for looking at the regional dispersal of resources, but are not much help in making a local inventory of resources.

• Road maps: Those secured from public works agencies will show greater detail than maps issued by other sources.

• Special sources: National or regional soil survey maps, regional development authorities, etc.

• Homemade maps: Most maps secured from official sources are not normally on a large enough scale to provide space for annotating such important local details as location of farms, secondary irrigation works, and unimproved roads and trails. Sections of official maps will have to be blown up by hand to secure the required scale.

Features to note on maps: (see overlay maps)

1. Location of topographical features

• Altitude

• Streams

• Principal features (landmarks) recognized locally as reference points.

• Farm and non-farm lands

• Valleys

2. Communications (roads and trails)

• Distance between points

• Travel times and modes of travel between points

• Seasonal access

3. Demographic

• Location of communities

• Location of farmers

• Local names for communities

4. Infrastructure

• Irrigation systems, main and branch canals

• Drainage systems

• Stores where agricultural supplies are sold

• Schools

• Other

Climate and weather patterns checklist:

1. Precipitation

• Annual rainfall

• Month-by-month rainfall (snow) totals

• Geographic distribution of rainfall

2. Temperature

• Monthly averages

• Periods of extreme high or low temperatures

• Occurrence of first and last killing frost

3. Frequency and magnitude of wind and storms

• Wind velocity and seasonal variations

• Types (e.g. hail) and frequency of storms

4. Humidity

5. Sun exposure hours

Farming systems and practices inventory:

1. Identify the major crop operations within the area.

For each:

a. Indicate the growing season

• Normal growing season (dates)

• Normal variations in growing season (early-late)

• Make line bar graphs on a calendar to compare growing seasons for different crops. (See ILLUSTRATIONS)

b. Describe production practices

• Describe the principal tillage practices and their earliest and latest dates of application.

• For every practice indicate the following:

- What the practice is called locally.

- The specific input or inputs associated with the practice, and the amounts applied per local unit of land measurement.

- The mode of application.

- The time of application (see ILLUSTRATIONS)

c. Estimate yields and returns

• Reported yields per unit of land.

• Recent prices tat normal time of scale).

• Multiply recent prices by approximate average yield; get approximate gross returns.

• Substract approximate costs of production to get the estimate net returns.

2. Identify major livestock operations within the area.

For each:

a. Indicate the source of feed supply: native pasture, cultivated forages, crop residues, homegrown grains, purchased feed, etc.

• Indicate when pasture is available seasonally and how forage quality varies throughout the pasture season.

• For other homegrown forages indicate the source and form in which used (also for purchased forages).

- Cultivated forages: irrigated alfalfa, chopped green, native forage as hay; grain sorghum as silage; etc.

- By-products: rice stubble, corn; stalks stored in bundles for dry season feeding; etc.

b. Describe production practices

• Indicate the normal calendar of operations.

- For feeding operations: the normal times of purchase and sale of animals.

- For reproductive functions: normal times of calving, farrowing, and weaning.

- Indicate when animals are on pasture and when they are confined.

• For every specific practice indicate the following:

- What the practice is called locally.

- The specific input or inputs associated with the practice and the amounts applied per unit of land measurement.

- The mode of application.

- The time of application (age or development stage of the animal.)

c. Estimate yields and returns; record reported yields

• Reproductive yields: number of calves weaned per cow, pigs per sow, etc; pounds of calf per cow, pigs per sow, etc.

• Production

- Milk production per cow: daily, monthly, per lactation period.

- Rate of gain, meat animals: pounds per day, per month, per pasture season, etc.

- Feed conversion, meat animals: pounds of gain per pound of feed consumed, per pasture units occupied, etc.

• Multiply current prices by the appropriate yield factor to get estimated gross return.

3. Indicate general levels of production (crops and livestock)

a. Estimate the percentage of production marketed.

b. Identify the principal local market outlets (buyers).

c. Seasonality of marketing and prices

• Seasonal movement of the productive off the farmers: is it sold at harvest, some sold at harvest, some held for higher prices, etc.

• Seasonal fluctuations of prices (average over several years if possible.

4. List the outside production inputs which are available locally. (Available means when needed.)

a. Agricultural supplies: by brands, grades and units prices.

• Seed

• Fertilizers

• Insecticides

• Fungcides

• Nematocides

• Herbicides

• Rodenticides

• Feeds

• Feed supplements

• Veterinary supplies

• Hand tools

• Hand operated equipment

• Other supplies

b. Agricultural machinery and equipment (if used).

• Tractors

- Size (hp)

- Make

• Equipment

- Plows b. Planters

- Cultivators

- Sprayers

• Spare parts

• Other (e.g. irrigation systems)

c. Services

• Custom machinery services and rates charged: per hectare plowed, dished, planted, etc.

• Professional services (e.g. pest control): indicate whether public or private.

Useful calendars:

1. Make a generalized climate and weather calendar.

a. Normal distribution of rainfall (monthly).

• As related by farmers (dry, wet, some rain, wettest time, rainfall drops off, etc).

• Measured in millimeters, if you have access to meteorological data; your estimates if you do not have the exact data.

2. Make a calendar of agricultural activity.

a. For each of the major crop and livestock enterprises display the following

• Length and possible range of growing season in the case of crops, and reproductive cycle or feeding period of livestock. (See example on the following page.)

• Indicate times for performing critical operations and relative labor requirements of those operations.

b. Given the tote' agricultural activity within the area, indicate the relative seasonal demand for the most critical inputs.

1. Seasonal labor demand. (Indicate periods, if any, of movement of labor into or out of the area).

2. Seasonal demand for other critical inputs.

3. Make a calendar of key religious holidays and social events.

4. Combine the above calendar to show the flow of a typical agricultural year as seen by a farmer. (See ILLUSTRATION).

Surveying individual farms:

1. Locate farms

• The name of the location as it is shown locally.

• With reference to the transportation network and population and trading centers.

• With reference to primary and secondary irrigation or drainage systems.

• With reference to schools and any other local institutions.

• With reference to other farmers

2. The nature of farm ownership

a. If owned (or occupied), indicate whether the farm unit is occupied on the basis of:

• Clear and registered title.

• By understanding (custom).

• By force of occupancy.

• Other

b. If rented, indicate rental cost, terms, and security of occupancy.

• Cash rent: how much per local unit of land; when payable (before planting, after the crop); what penalties for non-payment; chance of renewal.

• Payment in kind: how much product per land unit (hundredweights/hectare, etc.); payable in the field or delivered to the landlord; what penalties for non-payment; chances of renewal.

• Share-rent: percent of the produce; when delivered to landlord; costs of cash inputs shared between landlord and tenant; security of occupancy.

c. If lands are held in common, as often is the case with pastures, qualify the rights an individual farmer has (e.g. unrestricted rights, rights to pasture ten cows, twenty ewes. etc.)

3. Description of land occupied by a farm:

a. Total farm size: measured in local land units (hectares, manzanas, cuadra, tareas, etc.)

b. Location of landholdings

• If the farm is not composed of a single unit indicate the number and size of its separate parts.

• Indicate location of landholdings with reference to the farmer's house.

c. Actual land use

• Percentage of land in cultivated crops

- Irrigated

- Non-Irrigated

- Intensive

- Perennial

• Percentage of land in pasture

• Percentage of land in woods

• Percentage of fallow or marginal land

d. Characteristics of the soil or soils which are found on the farm unit.

• Local name of soil type

• Color

• Texture

• Drainage

• Slope

• Depth

• Tilth

• Classification by local use (_______soil type is considered by local farmers to be ideal for growing ________, good for growing ___________, and poor for growing_________ ).

e. Other attributes associated with the land

• Location of water on or near the farm

- Surface water

- Sub-surface water

• Ease of access to field

• Drainage patterns; for lands bordering streams, frequency, severity, and duration of flooding.

4. Description of farm improvements and conditions.

a. Living quarters: the farm family home, or in the case of absentee owner, the renter's or the workers' quarters.

b. Improvements to the land

• Irrigation systems

Indicate what kind of system (canal, well, spring, stream-pump, overhead sprinkler, etc.) and the source of water (stream, primary canal, spring, pond or lake, or subsurface).

• Drainage systems

• Terraces

• Field access roads

• Wells (for domestic or animal water supply).

c. Buildings other than housing

• Livestock shelters

• Livestock holding pens

• Storage facilities

• General purpose facilities

• Others

d. Fencing

Is the entire farm unit fenced? Are some fields fenced and others not? What is the purpose of fencing (defensive, protection against other animals, management, better distribution of animals on pastures)? What kind of fences (barbed wire, stone, brush, etc.)?

5. Describe the farm enterprises on representative farms

a. Indicate the relative importance of each enterprise to the farm business.

• In terms of land use

• In terms of subsistence

• In terms of cash sales

b. Indicate how enterprises complement and supplement each other, or are joint enterprises.

• Complementary: Two or more enterprises occupy the same field and/or the same labor force, and yield a greater combined return then they would singly.

• Joint enterprise: Normally feed production paired with livestock production.

c. Indicate what crop rotations are followed, if any.

6. Describe production practices.

7. Account for the farm labor supply.

a. Permanent labor force

• The farm family.

Indicate the age and sex composition of the average farm family, and the extent to which famuily members contribute work to the farm enterprises.

• Permanent hired labor.

Indicate their wages or other forms of compensation and whether or not they support a family.

b. Occasional hired labor

Indicate work performed (weeding, harvest, etc.) and time and duration of their stay.

c. Exchange of labor

Labor is often exchanged among family, friends and neighbors. Indicate how these exchanges are made and for what operations.

8. Describe the annual agricultural cycle as seen by the farmer:

a. Indicate the farm operations the farmer focusses on in a given month or season.

b. List specific decisions the farmer faces during each period.

c. Outline other specific seasonal concerns that capture the farmer's attention.

d. Note the farmer's long range concerns. (See ILLUSTRATIONS)

Calculating net return on ag inputs:


1. Estimate gross return:


Sale of 1,800 lbs. of beans at 7¢ per lb.

$126.00/Hectare (Ha)

2. Estimate costs of production:


Hired labor:


Used of oxen











Purchased inputs:



$ 6.00







3. Total production costs/Ha



4. Substract total costs from estimated returns to get net returns

Estimated returns



Total costs



Net returns

$ 55.00/Ha


- Production 10 liter of milk per day x 10¢/liter = gross return of $1.00 per cow per day. Lactation period of 200 days x $1.00 = gross return per cow of $200 per year.

- 900 lb. steer sold for 16¢/lb. = gross return of $144.00.

- Market hog sold at 200 lbs. at 21¢/lb - gross return of $42.60. Estimated value of feed consumed, $24.00. Gross feeding return, $18.00.



See "Community Survey", ILLUSTRATIONS.


A farmer's history of climate changes:





Corn was normal; beans were a disaster.

Unusually heavy August rains made it impossible to harvest early season beans.


A good all around crop year.

"Digs lo quize." (Thank God)


An excellent year except for the valley farmers.

Unusually heavy precipitation over a one week period in late June resulted in flash floods.


All yields reduced.

An unusually dry year all the way through.


A reasonably good year for all crops.



Early crops were excellent. Later crops didn't pay their way.

June and July rains were normal. Drought conditions existed the remainder of the season.

1964 to 1961





Examples from field notebooks of notations on specific farming practices:

From Bean Production:


Specific Inputs

Mode of Application

Time of Application

(1) Plowing (tillage practices)

Oxen power.

Use of Spanish plow, 2 to 3

Immediately after first rain.



(2) Seeding

Local seed, 2 boxes / manzana (approximately 50# / manzana), 3 man days of labor

Planted with alespeque (digging stick) in hills approximately 12" apart, 3-4 seeds / hill.

Immediately after plowing as weather permits.

From Beef Production (Cow and Calf Operation)


Specific Inputs

Mode of Application

Time of Application

Vaccination for blackleg, pierna negra.


Veterinarian provides service.

Any time between ages 6 & 12 years of age.

Supplemental feeding of cows in dry season.

Molasses, 3-5#/ day. Cotton-seed meal, 1#/ day.

Molasses, feed free choice from pasture tanks; cottonseed meal rationed 2# every 2 days.

January through April the dry season

From Swine Production



In water.

After weaning repear in 3 months.

Supplemental feeding

Purchase supplement, 40% protein.

Mix with grain at ratio of 1 to 4.

From weaning to100 lbs. Change ratio to 1 to 5 at100 lbs.

From Milk Production


Hand milking

Cow tied in corral with calf tied to hind leg. Calf allowed to strip cow.

Once a day.

Mastitis control.

Antibiotics. (indiscriminate use.)

Farmer applies impirically according to directions on the vial .

When symptoms are severe.



Annual rainfall graphs:

The following kinds of graphs were obtained by putting questions to farmers about rainfall in two different ways. The first is based on questions about frequency of rainfall; the second on questions about the relative amounts of rain during the growing season.

Precipitation Graph, Using Frequency of Rainfall as the Measure of Seasonal Rainfall Distribution.

Rainfall Graph, Using a dry to Wet Scale to Measure Seasonal Rainfall Distribution



Crop Calendar:

Crops and cycles in a local community

1. Corn, long cycle

2. Rice, Dry-land

3. Beans

4. Corn, long cycle

Crop Calendar


Peak labor demands:

Distribution of Work and Timing of Principal Farming Operations

Peak labor demands


1. Clearing

2. Land preparation

3. Principal seeding

4. Weeding

5. Harvest


Annual agricultural cycle as perceived by a small scale cattle farmer in El Salvador:




December - January


The pasture season ends. Herds are normally reduced through sale of mature animals which are culled from the herd, and sale of young stock not required as herd replacements.

How many animals can be carried through the dry season? which animal should be sold? How many cows can be kept in milk production through the dry season? How far will dry pastures and sorghum forage stretch into the dry Season? How much feed should be purchased if any? Which heifers and heifer craves should be retained as herd replacements?

Keeping the herd in- tact: after culling will he have enough cows in production the following pasture season? Will he make a good sale on his cull cows and feeder calves? (How can he locate that buyer from last Guatemala who offered such a good price year?) Will sales cover his debts that are fallying due? Can he get feed on credit?

January - May


The dry season. Pastures dry up in January and do not revive until early June. (Rains normally start in late May.) During the dry season the higher producing cows are kept in milk production and fed the better quality dry roughage, and in many cases purchased feed supplements. Replacement cattle are fed the lower quality feed or left to survive on dry pastures.

Dividing the scarce feed supply between cows in production, dry cows, replacement stock, and calves. Purchasing molasses cottonseed meal, rice bran and cottonseed hulls as supplementary feeds. Where and how to purchase supplemental feed.

Will the supply of farm grown forages hold out? Will he be forced to sell some animals (deplete the herd) before the pasture season arrives? Can feed be purchased on credit? How to reduce the cost of purchased feed? Will additional milk sales cover the costs of purchased feed?

April - May


The time to make decisions as to how the herd will be managed through the coming pastue season. The time to build or repair fences and corrals.

Equating herd size with potential feed supply. Deciding whether or not to purchase animals. Deciding which bull to run with the herd. Deciding which pastures to renovate and whether to do it with hired labor or with a corn- sorghum cropper.

Is there enough help for the pasture season? Will the old reliable milker stay on or will he move to another farm? Should he try one of the new grasses? Should he try some fertilizer on pastures? Where to borrow some money to sustain the family and the hired men though the months of April and May?

June - December


The pasture season. All animals are on pasture. Most cows freshen (calve) in the months of June, July and August. The maximum number of cows are in milk production and peak per cow production is reached in the months of August-October. Animals are vaccinated at this time (if at all). Pastures due to be renovated are plowed up and put into a catch crop of corn and sorghum.

Division of the herd into grazing units. Once-a-day or twice a day milking. How much milk for the pail and how much for the calves? Whether or not to vaccinate and for what diseases? Breeding: turn bull or bulls loose or Breed selectively? Feed conservation for the coming dry season: set aside dry season pasture; make hay or silage; sorghum stover? Care of sick or injured animals.

Are price prospects good for cheese or fluid milk? Other animals breaking into the pastures. Potential theft of animals in isolated pastures. Freshening dates of cows (keeping them in cycle). Producing a surplus of feed to carry into the dry season. Getting good gains on the calves for later sale as feeders.

Year to Year


Long Range Considerations

Whether to emphasize beef or dairy production. Whether to sell milk while or as cheese. How to increase feed supply, especially for the dry season. Whether or not to invest in more land, farm improvements, a new bull, etc. What breed to use?

What is the future of the farm? Which of the children will stay on the farm? Should I try new practices? How to reduce debts? Is the investment in fertilizer use, an irrigation pump, new fencing, etc. worth the risks of incurring additional debts? How can I enjoy life (work less)? Should I join the cattleman's association.


Complementarity of farming operations:

Beans following corn: When early season corn is near maturity beans, (climbing variety) are sown in the corn fields. Corn stalks provide support for beans.

Sorghum interplanted in corn: Local varieties of sorghum are sown between rows hen corn is knee high, sorghum continues to grow after corn matures, even under adverse soil moisture conditions.

Sweet potatoes - swine: Sweet potatoes grown for cash market, tops of plants provide green feed for hogs.

Alfalfa production - milk production: Alfalfa cut at six week intervals are fed to cows.

Grain production - poultry or swine production.

A calendar of major religious festivals and holidays in a small village:



Needs and resources survey


The needs a community (or individual farmer) identifies for itself are the needs it will work hardest to fill. Community and agricultural surveys help extension workers begin to understand what local needs exist. A needs and resources survey is the next stage of information gathering. It is directed at helping a community isolate and articulate its problems and consider various solutions.

Gathering accurate information about needs requires skillful interviewing techniques. Questions about shortages of various commodities or the absence of particular services can easily become leading questions, especially when the information source has reason to believe that the extension worker has the capacity to solve the problem. For that reason, it is often more useful to conduct a needs survey through an indirect line of questioning. Focussing attention on the amount of time allotted to specific household and farm chores is likely to prove a more useful indicator of needs for labor-saving devices than a straight yes-or-no poll would be. Finding out what supplies people must travel to purchase or what services are sought outside the community will provide a better insight into local needs than simply asking people if they feel a health clinic, for example, should be built in town. (See ILLUSTRATIONS.)

It is important that an extension agent be familiar with the resources that are available to a community. To acquaint herself with local solutions to problems, the agent needs to consult villagers themselves first. There are many resources and ways of doing things that an outsider will not know. In this respect, the extensionist is still a learner. There may also be resources inside and outside the community that the agent can recommend in some situations. It is essential, though, that she understand first how the community views its own situation.

There may be good reasons why some of the solutions that might naturally be recommended would be inappropriate for a local situation. For example, an extension agent might suggest to a farmer who wants to expand his farming operation to take better advantage of the natural resource that exists in a particular tract of land by planting a citrus plantation there. The owner may, however, resist the advice because the land use arrangement on that piece of land does not allow for such longrange development. Thus, the land in question is not an available resource for the type of production the extension agent is advocating, even though at first glance it seems the best resource for meeting the farmer's needs.

Specific types of resources are described in detail in Peace Corps' Resources for Development manual, which is available through the Office of Information Collection and Exchange (ICE) in Washington. Briefly, they include human, informational, natural, material, technical and financial resources. Human resources include, among others, the organizational skirts of local leaders, the manual skills of craftspersons, the vast experience of the elderly, and the physical strength of youth. Informational resources are found in printed form in research and educational institutions, and oral form through well-travelled individuals, and in other visual and aural (e.g. radio) media as well. Natural resources include everything occurring in the geographical environment, from mineral ores and trees to wildlife and sunlight. Material resources are manufactured items like tools, mats, rope, and nets. Technical resources are processes known and used locally to accomplish tasks (i.e. local technologies). And financial resources include both local contributions and access to loans and grants, self-help funds and donations. All of these different resources and many others have a direct bearing on how a community meets its development needs. Accordingly, community resources require an extension worker's specific attention.


Using indirect lines of questioning to gather information about a community's needs and resources:

Whenever extension agent. A hears from one of his neighbors that they are going to go or have just returned from out of town he asks where they went and what they did. Later, he notes the response in his work journal. Shortly, before the onset of the rains, the extension agent notices that several of his acquaintances have either made personal trips or sent another person in their stead to neighboring villagers to buy seed for the upcoming planting season. He wonders if other people in the village also buy their seed outside of town.

To follow up on his initial bit of information, the volunteer does several things. He begins to systematically ask every farmer he knows how they get their seed. He asks farmers who travel outside of town to procure seed where they get their seed, how long it takes to travel there who they buy from and how much the seed costs. He then travels with some of his neighbors to the villages where most people buy seed and talks with farmers who are doing the selling. He asks these farmers to show him how they store their grain from one planting season to the next. The extension agent also visits the storerooms of the farmers in the village where he lives. He asks these local farmers what varieties of seed they have on hand and how they avoid the extensive pest damages other farmers have complained about. Gradually, the extension agent develops a more complete picture of the needs of local farmers for a less expensive and more accessible seed supply and the resources available inside the village he lives in - e.g. storage technologies and seed varieties - for filling these needs.


A partial resource inventory checklist:

I. Human Resources

A. Craftspersons

1. Blacksmiths

2. Carpenters

3. Weavers

4. Mechanics

5. Masons

6. Basket makers

7. Rope makers

8. Potters

9. Etc.

B. Specialists

1. Midwives

2. Herbalists

3. Fisherman

4. Hunters

5. Drivers

C. Work Companies

II. Informational resources

A. Media

1. Books

2. Reports

3. Films

4. Records

5. Radio

B. Sources

1. Local governmental agencies

2. Research stations

3. Development organizations

III. Natural Resources

A. Building materials

1. Sand

2. Stone

3. Native cement (mud and


4. Cerass/palm thatch

5. Lumber

6. Bamboo

7. Raffia

8. Vines for rope

9. Bush poles

10. Bananna trees, leaves

B. Other (see "Agricultural Survey" and "Community Survey" TOOLS sections.

IV. Material Resources (manufactured goods)

A. Externally made

1. Construction supplies (nails, etc.)

2. Tools

B. Locally made

1. Rope

2. Mats

3. Nets

4. Tools

V. Technical Resources (local technologies)

VI. Financial Resources

A. Local fund-failing efforts (e.g. dances, fiestas, etc.)

B. Money lenders

C. Cooperatives

D. Self-help funds

E. Wealthy donators

F. Outside development agencies

NOTE: The Resources For Development manual published by ICE includes extensive lists of government and private resources that may be useful in a given village situation.


Record keeping and planning


Extension agents do their farmer clients a great disservice when they fail to keep adequate records of their work. Development efforts overlap, mistakes are repeated and useful insights and expertise are lost when the daily affairs of an extension station are not recorded.

Documenting extension work in an area serves several purposes simultaneously. It helps the extension agent organize his own work. It allows the agent to more closely monitor the needs of individual farmers. It sets up an information bank for use by the community at large. And it aids development agencies such as the Peace Corps and ministries of agriculture in evaluating and learning from past extension efforts. Ongoing extension services can also be conducted with a greater degree of continuity.

The recording of information proceeds in stages. Initially, information is recorded in narrative form, and the purpose of writing things down is to simply help remember them at another time. After sufficient raw information has been gathered, a more systematic ordering of information can take place. Practical lists and information summaries emerge -- farmers who have already purchased grade cattle, places where tools can be bought at the least inexpensive price, tasks to be accomplished in the upcoming month -- which help the extension agent use the research he has done in planning his work.

Planning takes place when the extension agent sits down with farmers, village leaders, counterparts and ministry and project officials to try and determine ways in which the needs of a community can be linked with appropriate resources to solve problems. Problems are prioritized and various alternatives for solutions are considered. Decisions are made as to who will take responsibility for what tasks, and how and when the tasks will be completed. Chapter Six includes a further discussion-of planning as a management skill. The point to be made here is that planning proceeds directly out of a lengthy information gathering and recording process designed to maximize the amount of local input into decisions affecting local people.

The format for recording information so that it can be readily used in planning depends in part upon the work style of the extension worker himself, in part upon the type of information being recorded, and in part upon the need to keep information accessible to the people who will eventually use it. A pocket-size field notebook can be used for jotting down brief entries on farm visits. A work log or diary expands upon notes from the field to provide a history of work in a particular station. Charts, graphs and timelines can be efficient means of preserving large bodies of factual data. Inventory sheets and financial accounts are essential to the effective management of storage facilities. Periodic formal reports extend information from a local station to a more centralized headquarters and constitute a key link in the two-way communication chain. Finally, maps and diagrams can be used to represent information in visual form. All of these formats can aid the planning process at different stages.


A comparison of recordkeeping formats used in an irrigated rice


Field Notebook

Field Notebook


Work Log:


Went to the town assembly leader early a.m. to ask about the farmer meeting in Yillah swamp. He said it would still take place. No one showed, but I did a rough sketch of the dam we want to repair.


Went to Sanga swamp with Samuel. Saw the area Foday Sanusie wants to develop this dry season. About 2/3 of an acre. Requires a new biforcation of the irrigation ditch. Ditch needed to be cleared and widened before biforcation will be possible. Appears to be some problem with iron toxic soil. Advised farmers to burn rice straw rather than plow it under. Promised Foday I would come survey for him as soon as my equipment was available.


Visited Brimah Kaaha's section of the swamp. He is the first to plant his dry season crop; his plots are unlevel, iron toxic; no water on higher plots; bad weeds and brown spot throughout. Samuel informed me that Brimah is spending a great deal of time working in his banana plantation these days."



Annual Report (year's end; excerpts from recommendations for upcoming planting season):


1. Widen and deepen drain all the way down.

2. Widen and deepen irrigation ditches all the way down.

3. Consider dividing larger plots into smaller, better levelled sections to improve weed control.

4. Survey, peg and construct new upland vegetable plots.

5. Repair leaks in main drain head gate.

6. Continue promoting vegetable, tree crops and upland rice cultivation near the swamp.


1. Repair sluice gate and raise head bank.

2. Investigate the possibility of working with head farmers on demonstration plots for nursing and transplanting techniques.

3. Repair bush path crossing the swamp on one of the interior bunds.

(The exerpts from the Field Notebook, Work Log and Annual Report are included to show how information is first gathered and recorded in narrative form and later re-combined in a more useful format. The Annual Report serves simultaneously to help the extension agent organize his plans for the upcoming planting season and to inform the ministry's program officers of the progress made and problems faced in the agent's site.)


Case study of usefulness of records in maintaining continuity from one extension worker to the next:

Maria arrived at her Peace Corps placement after the volunteer who preceded her had already left the country to return home. She found waiting for her a stack of papers and notebooks with a hand written note from her predecessor welcoming her and describing what types of information the various records contained.

Over the course of the next several weeks, Maria found many uses for these documents. First, there were maps of the community that helped her find her way around. One that was particularly useful marked the locations of the houses of the most significant community officials, farm cooperative leaders and demonstration farmers. Second, there is a chart of the Ministry of Agriculture hierarchy extending from her field assistants to her district supervisor that helped her remember people's names and responsibilities. Third, she found a record of the rental agreement established between the landlord who owned the town's ag storage facility and the Ministry that paid the rent. Fourth, her predecessor had kept a daily work log which gave Maria an idea of what farmers might expect of her based on their previous experience with Peace Corps extension agents. Fifth, there was a set of recommendations for ongoing work in the station that detailed some of the difficulties one group of farmers had experienced the previous year. Finally, there was a list of all the project farmers' names including a full accounting of their loan obligations to the Ministry store.

The chief value of the records from Maria's perspective was that they saved her from duplicating hours of time and energy in gathering information about her site. The value of the records to farmers lay in the way they influenced Maria to go about her work with an eye towards maintaining some continuity with what had gone before.


Suggested format for recording a farm visit:

Date: name:


Location of farm:


Purpose of visit:


Present situation:



Commitments (by farmer or agent) for follow-up:


Partial list of record keeping formats for field stations:

• Field notebook (pocket size)

• Work log or diary (narrative)

• Charts

• Graphs

• Timelines

• Maps and diagrams

• Inventory sheets (for storage)

• Financial records (facilities)

• Copies of reports to Ministry and project supervisors

• Copies of official correspondence

A caution: Records are kept for a purpose; it is important that this purpose remain clear so that valuable time is not lost that could be devoted to other tasks, and recordkeeping is not misunderstood.

For other TOOLS pertaining more directly to planning, see Chapter Six.