It is morning time in Mamala 1, a village in the Quezon province, last ten years: How has farmers gather around a wooden table in the barangay hall. Several deal with those major crops guage among the farmers and have asked for a meeting; they claim they want to learn about farming. After some hesitation, at the request of the visiting workers, institutions and the felt pens and start out by drawing a map of the barangay. The farmers discuss the detailed locations of fields and roads, farms and crops. As other men and women come by, they are absorbed by the group's illustration effort; each one insists on including the exact location of their farms and homes. Corrections are made; unexpected details of the local environment appear. A map of their own environment emerges with their major crops and enterprises carefully illustrated on the large piece of paper.

The researchers ask the group to reminisce on what has changed over the are, how the information farming changed? What have been the major changes in the way they is useful as a common lan-wandering around the area map? Who brought about the new ideas and innovations? Anecdotes emerge along with names of farmers, vendors, extension emerge as well, like the organizations who over the last decade have shaped and influenced farming in the area. From this history of innovation, the "actors" and their interactions start to appear as a network of knowledge and information exchange. It is now late moming; after some refreshments, this time the researchers offer to do some drawing in return. They group and draw the actors who work at the village, municipal and regional level; they draw a map showing their relationships. A pattern of information exchange emerges on the map; who their partners are, where their sources of knowledge Philippines, and a group of has circulated, who has controlled the linkages, who has reamed. The map researchers have been which are drawn on the and the researchers. From "reading" the map, major stories surface, such as the problems with cabbage pests; major possibilities researchers, they pick up pineapple contract production which is under way. The last decade in the evolution of the farming system is mapped out in terms of the major players. The farmers have visualized a reality and it has been analysed using a common language with the researchers; a sense of fulfilment permeates the group as communication takes place. It is now time to meet and interview the other actors and start investigating the linkages; it is time to look for entry points for their possible improvement.


AKIS Agricultural Knowledge and Information System
AT - Agricultural technician (extension worker)

BPI Bureau of Plant Industries
DA Department of Agriculture
DANIDA Danish International Development Agency
DENR Department of the Environment and Natural Resources
DOST Department of Science and Technology
DSC Development support communication
FPR Farmer participatory research
FSD Farming systems development
IRRI International Rice Research Institute
ISATGaT Integrated System for Agriculture Technology Generation and Transfer
KADA Key agricultural development area (Department of Agriculture)
KPA Key production areas (Philippines 2000 medium term strategy)
LGC Local Government Code
LOU Local government unit
MAO Municipal agricultural officer
NARRDN National Agricultural Resources Research and Development Network, PCARRD
NARS National agriculture research systems
NEDA National Economic Development Authority
NIA National Irrigation Administration
PCARRD Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development
PHILRICE Philippines Rice Research Institute
PRA Participatory rural appraisal
PTD Participatory technology development
R & D Research and development
RAAKS Rapid appraisal of agricultural knowledge systems
RLARC Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centre
RRA Rapid rural appraisal
SCU State colleges and universities
STAND Science and Technology Agenda for National Development (1993)
STARRDEC Southern Tagalog Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium, Los Banos, Region IV
T & V Training and visit system
TOT Transfer of technology model
UPLB University of the Philippines at Los Banos



For several years there has been an awareness in the Philippines of the need to ensure that investments in natural resources research produce options which farmers may adapt and adopt. The Philippines Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) 1991 Review highlighted the need to address inadequate links between farmers, outreach systems and research. The report underlined the limited number (11 percent) of "mature technologies" which had been adopted by farmers.

This case study grew out of an FAO/UNDP communication for development project which aimed at improving the exchange of relevant agricultural information between research, extension networks and farmers in five regions of the Philippines. The field work in each site was started using rapid appraisal techniques. It soon became evident however, that technology and information per se were insufficient elements to propel an increase in agricultural productivity and rural incomes. Other demands were voiced by the communities, which in turn pointed to the need to make services in all sectors more responsive to barangay needs, including credit supply, infrastructure development, marketing, health and education. The farmers' definitions of problems and their underlying causes indicated the limited impact which agricultural information and communication have, if not coordinated, with other services. This explains why agricultural development needs to have a systems perspective. From a systems perspective, it is necessary to identify all the actors involved. In this context it was clear that the Department of Agriculture's extension system is only one of many actors which influence farmers' decision making hence the necessity for systematic mapping of the agricultural information linkages that are important to farmers.

Farmers' capacity to control their environment is the result of the resources at their disposal; among these, knowledge and skills are key components. Indeed, the evolution of farming is influenced as much by changes in the environment, the marketplace and culture, as it is by the information which flows into a farming society.

Farmers communicate with multiple sources of information to shape and enrich their knowledge base. This study focuses on developing an approach to map the communication networks which exist in an agricultural system and to identify the main actors which play a role in shaping agricultural and rural development.

This study proved timely because of the new Local Government Code (LGC) implemented in April, 1993. The LGC has decentralized the Philippine extension service to the provincial and municipal levels. This authority is already in the hands of provincial governors and municipal mayors. Many extension workers have now become municipal employees, which means their job descriptions require reviewing. This decentralisation also calls for the development of new relationships among researchers, universities and municipal authorities. It was therefore deemed imperative to develop innovative approaches for diagnosis and decision-making regarding agricultural development at the local level. The new municipal agricultural officers (MAOs) need to be equipped for the additional responsibility granted by the LGC, especially as their new supervisor is a democratically-elected mayor with a constituency to serve.


The many levels of the knowledge and information networks emerged during interviews conducted by a multi-disciplinary team that went to several farming communities to develop a participatory rural appraisal approach to understanding how villagers receive and process agricultural information.

In order to understand a farming system, it is just as important to understand its information networks as it is to understand its environmental situation or changes in its market place.

An agricultural knowledge and information network describes the interactions among the institutions or individuals - researchers, public sector workers, private tradesmen, non-governmental organizations and farmers - who are part of the system in which agricultural information is exchanged. Yet it is seldom perceived as researchable. The study team sought to develop a quick method for identifying actors and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a barangay information network. By understanding all of the links and sources of agricultural information and knowledge, it becomes possible to plan interventions that could improve farmers' agricultural knowledge.

By using existing tools of communication for development, farming systems development (FSD), participatory rural appraisal (PRA), and agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) analysis, the multi-discipline team developed an approach for farmers and municipal level officers which will serve as a compliment to FSD and PRA. The team was made up of specialists from FAO and consultants in the fields of communication for development, farming systems, and agricultural research (see Appendix 1).

The study began at the farmer level. The team joined farmers in an exercise to identify the actors in their information network. It then moved up the system, to interview those actors- barangay organizations, municipal agricultural technicians, and officers, input tradesman and middlemen, provincial agricultural officers, regional representatives of government departments and national level officials of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology.

In the study, the method proved useful at the barangay level when it was possible to gather farmers for open informal discussions about their farming system. In the process of working together to map linkages, the farmers and team members developed a common language and farmers' analytical abilities were enhanced. The process also proved useful in a group meeting with municipal agricultural technicians.

In all communities visited, the agricultural information which had reached the users was found to be, at best, limited, and in most cases, inadequate. Farmers' primary source of information was other farmers. In general, the agricultural technicians (ATs- formerly, extension workers) were not meeting the farmers' needs. The information programmes handed down from researchers to the ATs for transfer to farmers were not adequate. It was evident there was a need to transform the role of the AT into a facilitator or information broker. Some of the ATs themselves recognised the need to improve their skills and redefine their roles. The roles of several of the private sector actors appeared to be complimentary to the ATs, and there is ample room for improving the link between research and farmers.


* Mapping linkages in a knowledge system uncovers information exchange mechanisms. Evaluating the performances of these linkages is a first step toward a systematic linkage analysis. For rural development programmes which target poverty alleviation, it is especially important to understand the control of a linkage because it reveals who is being served.

* There is a need for a new role for municipal ATs. The farmers proposed a shift in functions. The ATs are committed workers who are more effective when facilitating than when instructing. The farmers' needs as well as the professional goals of the ATs call for these new roles.

For municipal leaders, the approach provides a tool to assess farmers' needs, identify networks and identify the appropriate actors with whom to collaborate. Municipal agricultural officers (MAO) and mayors will be better equipped to negotiate with all sectors when they understand the needs, resources and patterns of information demand and supply. For the MAO, the approach provides a management tool.

* These developments suggest that this study was not only timely, but of relevance to several governmental departments that play a role in agricultural development. They also show that there was a methodological gap to fill in order to operationalize the new relationships between the local government units (at the municipal and provincial levels) and national government agencies.

The approach developed by this research team can contribute to the process of decentralisation by providing a cost-effective mechanism to bring farmers, field workers and municipal officers together through a common learning process.