The Farming Systems Diagram is one of SEAGAs
Livelihood analysis tools, and helps us to understand how rural
household livelihoods are assembled. It is a diagram designed to
highlight the farming system, including on-farm activities such as
crop production, off-farm activities such as fuel collection, and
non-farm activities such as marketing. The diagram also shows the
flow of resources to and from the household and who is involved, by
Having household members make a diagram of their farming
system helps to capture the full range of household activities
showing the complexity of the livelihood system. They also often
show how livelihoods may depend on many different types of
agro-ecosystems many of which may be common property resources such
as forests, grazing lands, rivers and streams.
Farming systems diagrams can also illustrate that women and
men each have specialised knowledge about particular crops, animals
or tree products - knowledge that can be built upon for development.
• Select two households from each of the socio-economic
groups identified in the Social Map. Visit each household
• After courteous introductions tell the family that you want
to learn about their farming activities (no need to mention mapping
at this point). Ask the women and men in the household to walk with
you through their farmAs you walk along ask questions about the
activities and resources you see. Do not forget to ask about what
happens in other seasons and in places too far to visit.
• After about 30 to 40 minutes walking, gather together as
many household members as possible - men, women, children - for
discussions about what you have seen and talked about. Then stop and
suggest to the family that the information they are providing is too
much to keep in your head and is better recorded by drawing the
information on a piece of paper.
• Continue the discussion but ask those present to help you
make the drawing. As soon as you can let the family take over the
drawing. Soon you will just be asking questions and listening.
Materials: Paper, coloured pencils or pens.
Notes to the facilitators
The concept of a farming system is often easier to express in
a diagram rather than in words. With this tool, you just want to
learn the typical or the general circumstance, an overview of the
As the household members progress with the drawing, use the
SEAGA questions to explore the labour and resource flows in the
farming system. Be sure that the diagram shows roles and
responsibilities by gender, and also age and household position
(head, husband, first wife, sister), if appropriate.
Some SEAGA Questions to Ask While Facilitating
• What are the major on-farm activities? crop? livestock?
fruit and vegetables? Who has responsibility for each, women, men or
• What are the major off-farm activities? fuel collection?
water collection? fishing? Who has responsibility for each?
• What are the major non-farm activities? marketing? waged
labour? Who has responsibility for each?
• Which activities and resources contribute most to meeting
the basic needs of the household?
• How do the diagrams from the different socio-economic
groups compare? Which households have problems meeting their basic
• Which households have the most diversified livelihoods?
Which are the most vulnerable, depending on only one or two
activities or resources?
• Identify the key linkages between the different kinds of
activities and resources, e.g. between forest products and livestock
See the full SEAGA Field Handbook for an example of this
tool. The internet address can be found under references. The SEAGA
Field Handbook also contains tips on working in the field,
facilitating community workshops and use of different tools,
including other livelihood analysis tools.