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1. To develop a rapid diagnostic approach for identifying and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a given AKIS, in order to be able to plan the interventions needed for its improvement.

2. To shed light on the principal linkages between - and among -farmers, technology transfer workers, researchers, policy makers, and other actors of the AKIS in the sites where the approach will be tested.

3. To make recommendations on how to strengthen the municipal and provincial capacity to identify and enhance two-way linkages in technology identification, generation and transfer activities.


This approach allows researchers, field workers, and rural communities jointly to identify the networks of information exchange. It brings farmers, field workers and municipal actors together in a closer learning and planning process.

The approach draws on several fields including communication for development, participatory technology development (PTD), and farming systems development (FSD). It also draws on models such as the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) and on field research and diagnostic methodologies including rapid appraisal of agricultural knowledge systems (RAAKS) and on the tools used in participatory rural appraisal (PRA). The approach constitutes an addition to the PRA toolbox [of methods] for focusing on identifying the networks of information exchange.

The jeepney approach to research methodology

After the Second World War, the US Army left in the Philippines the seed for another model which resembles the approach of the study: the jeep. The jeep, a versatile and simple means of transportation, was adopted by the Filipinos as a piece of appropriate technology. This model set the standard for the development of an indigenous industry which produces a wide variety of vehicles, now called jeepneys, for private and public use. The front design of most jeepneys still resembles that of the original jeep model, even though they may be extended to function as either buses or trucks. Jeepney production is decentralized - there are dozens of shops along the roads where jeepneys are assembled by the unit or by the dozen. It is a fascinating example of an artisan appropriation and popularization of the factory assembly line. Each jeepney is assembled from parts originating from multiple sources and, as a result, each jeepney is unique. The engines are recycled from Japan but most other components are made in the Philippines by specialized suppliers. The analogy continues as we think of conventional research station R & D methods as equivalent to the procedures which rule the factory assembly line. Assembly line procedures are Standardized and controlled. Jobs are sequential, specialized and compartmentalised (except for the Japanese concept of integrated production teams). One unit receives an input from the previous one, transforms it, and passes it on to the next unit. It is a linear unidirectional flow of a product, such as extension work in the TOT model. On the other hand, bringing R & D into the systems approach means decentralizing to some extent the control and location where the research and development of a technology takes place. It is expected that this will permit the development of more effective, situation-specific technologies which respond to particular agroecologic & socioeconomic conditions. Just like the Japanese model of integrated production teams which follow the production of a car from start to finish, the research team would likewise "move along the line" and bring its technology right through the system to discuss with the farmers. Specialization and compartmentalization is no longer possible. That is why the jeepney approach may yield some lessons. The methodology assembled for this study resembles the jeepney. Components have been gleaned from an evolution of methods and have been incorporated into this approach. Hence the approach is not BRA per se, nor is it purely PRA or RAAKS; nor is it farming systems development; but rather, it is a jeepney approach in methodological terms called "participatory rapid appraisal of farmers' agricultural knowledge and communication systems".

Figure 5 A methods jeepney

Creating a common language

"Any interpretation, translation and representation ... cannot be assumed to be neutral or objective.... Our language is directly linked to our ways of reasoning and therefore only providing us with partial views of our world."

(Scoones and Thompson, 1992: p. 7-8). Through the use of participatory rural appraisal tools (PRA) a common language develops between farmers and outsiders that enables them to discuss situations realistically and plan accordingly.

Creating a common language is only one of the functions of communication. Communication also allows individuals to express themselves effectively and to create an identity for themselves or their group. People develop a sense of community through communicating. They also communicate to share information and increase their knowledge. Also, through communication there is the possibility of creating joint action, which can lead to improvement of environment or situations.


In order to reach an understanding of farmers' information networks, the following steps were chosen:


By "levels of analysis" we refer to a segregation of the AKIS for a farming system on the basis of knowledge networks. In the Philippines the following levels may be studied:

Farmer group - Barangay level: male and female farmers, farm families, and farmer groups; rural and migratory members of a family group; local religious and political leaders; socioeconomic groups in the barangay, etc.

Barangay/municipal level: farmer organizations, input suppliers, credit suppliers, middlemen, local government units, municipal extension workers, NGOs' cooperatives, etc.

Municipal/provincial level: farmer organizations/cooperatives; NGOs, municipal agricultural officers; private sector enterprises.

Provincial/regional level: regional PCARRO consortia representatives including RACO staff. RLARCs, etc.

Regional/national level: DA, Research stations, DENR staff, universities, NGOs, NARRDN/PCARRD, DA, DENR, NEDA, etc.


It was agreed that criteria used for site selection should not affect the validity of the study, especially as it would be undesirable to generalise the findings. The first objective of the study was to develop a diagnostic communication approach that could be used in any given barangay or municipality, and to some extent at higher levels of analysis.

Sites were selected according to the following criteria:


Gathering farmers for the PRA

The most delicate aspect of the approach is gathering a small group of farmers into small discussion groups. Formal gatherings are cumbersome and are easily manipulated by existing leaders, yet they offer the venue to inform a barangay about the goal of a PRA exercise. Informal, road-side gatherings are necessary to complement the formal meeting; the latter permits the assembly of barangay members in random manner. Semi-formal gatherings which are pre-arranged with barangay organizations or informal groups allow for more systematic interaction with the outsiders. The approach requires a combination of all three.

Diagramming with farmers

By putting a large piece of paper on a table and asking farmers to illustrate their barangay, the research team delegated the first part of the diagnosis to the farmers who took over the mapping. Farmers were asked to draw a map of the barangay that would illustrate the main features of the barangay and farming system for the outsiders. In this instance, the team focused on a general physical map, but this PRA tool can also be used to cover specific issues such as land tenure, ethnic group distribution, soil type, land uses, etc.

The process involved farmers and allowed late-comers to join the groups and the exercise without hesitation. Farmers took great care in describing their communities and the group collaborated or corrected what they said. Men and women discussed the illustration on an equal footing.

During the mapping, the research team prompted the group with questions on the basis of a farming systems checklist developed before the field work. Once the map was complete, the research team asked them to rank their agricultural production enterprises or commodities in order of importance. The criteria for importance was left undefined. On the basis of the group's agreement, the major three to four enterprises were listed vertically next to the map.

Figure 6 Diagram of hypothetical barangay map and of enterprise/time matrix

Next, a ten-year time-line was drawn along the sheet of paper to show the evolution of each major enterprise. This enterprise/time matrix served as the basis for identifying changes in the production systems over the last decade. (Figure 6).

Enterprise by enterprise, the farmers were asked to describe the major changes which had influenced the production and marketing patterns during the last ten years. Each change was written in, indicating the source (name of person or institution) of the new information or technique and the approximate time. This constituted the identification of major actors at the barangayand municipal levels. This process took over two hours and what emerged was a history of the villages' innovations.

The research team then offered to feed back and confirm its understanding of the information through a third diagram. The linkage map was drawn step-by-step, describing and agreeing with the group on each linkage as it was drawn. Linkages within and among communities were drawn first. Then came linkages with municipal "actors" described by the farmers: agricultural technicians, pesticide salesmen, middlemen and tradesmen. Linkages with provincial, regional and national actors (agencies of DA, DOST; SCUs, research stations and industry) were added last. As the map appeared on the paper, farmers confirmed that it described their views.

The team followed up with some of the identified actors and revalidated their perceived roles with the farmer barangay. (Refer to the linkage maps which appear in figures 7 and 8 in the following section.)

The discussion which followed in Mamala 1 after the map was completed was an indication of the power of farmer participation in diagnosis of agricultural and development problems. The map allowed them to verify whom they had trusted and received support from, whom they had failed to contact, whose functions needed review. In essence, the discussion gave both the farmer groups and the outsiders an understanding of actors' goals or mission statements as well as information needs and supplies of each major actor in reference to a farming system. The map allowed for the identification and analysis of major linkage mechanisms and communication channels among actors.

Analysis of major linkages

The analysis of performance of the main linkages followed after the field work. The major linkages identified needed to be understood and analysed under a given set of criteria. The following criteria were developed:

Figure 7 Linkage analysis matrix (a full set of matrices appears later)














Farmer --> "TPM" private farm contractor group


F aware of TPM commercial interest; F appreciates the TPM's resources invested in the linkage (without understanding where thehidden costs are)

F considers TPM's proposal very promising

Regular, following crop growing cycle

F able to access TPM package as it includes credit + marketing

Interpersonal communication

F control limited to negotiating terms of contract


F is very optimistic about economic prospect and not aware/concerned with risk

"TPM" private farm contractor group --> Farmer

(linkage outcome: pineapple contract production)

TPM aware of F's needs for economically viable attention

TPM chooses farms with the necessary conditions to guarantee production

(as above)

TPM has means of transportation for regular visits to F

Good quality brochures in tagalog; business-like negotiation

TPM-initiated + controlled via contractual agreement, terms set by TPM


TPM relationship with F considerably superior to AT as it includes credit + market commitments and regular visits

This was a first attempt to assess linkage performance systematically. The criteria in the matrix may well serve in future as a means of defining new and desirable functions and linkages among actors in an agricultural knowledge and communication system. While there is no quantitative indicator of performance, in essence, an effective linkage contributes to the learning processes of both actors.

The findings of this kind of appraisal may only be logically derived from the linkage matrix and are therefore location specific.

Step Tool
description of barangay
description of enterprises
ranking of enterprises
recent changes in practices
identification of linkages
linkage analysis
actor potential
maps drawn by farmers
maps + discussion guideline
ranking exercise
discussion guideline/date line
linkage map drawn with group
matrix analysis
matrix analysis

In summary, at the barangay level, the research followed the following:

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