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Farmer participation in Brazilian sugar cane research.

Furtado de Souza, Jose Ribamar (1991) Farmer participation in Brazilian sugar cane research. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This research is concerned with the contribution which farmer participation, as a complementary approach to agricultural research in Brazil, can make to the Improvement of disadvantaged farmers socioeconomic conditions through the solution of their technological problems. This notion is embodied in the concepts of Farming Systems Research and Farmer Participatory Research, which provide the broad theoretical framework within which this investigation was developed. The context in which the research was carried out was Brazilian sugar cane growing regions, with a specific focus on the practice of farmer participation within the Three Year' Plan for Diffusion of Technology for Sugar Cane Agro-industry's Resource-poor Farmers (Plano Trienal). Material for this investigation derives from two sources: direct involvement since the pilot project original phase of the Plano Trienal over a period of six years and a period of fieldwork undertaken in 1988. During the latter, data were collected by means of questionnaires, interviews, participant observation and Informal discussions in the States of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, Pernambuco, Paraiba and Rio Grande do Norte. The dynamics of sugar cane agriculture is analysed within the overall sugar cane agro-industry as a particular sector of Brazilian agriculture. The concepts of Farming Systems Research and Farming Participatory Research are then set within this general frame of reference. Subsequently, the policies advocated by research and extension services is situated within the wider context of the Brazilian sugar cane agro-industry. Specific attention is then given to the failure of 'conservative modernisation' policies adopted by those services. Within this broad framework the formation and development of the Plano Trienal is described and analysed. The performance of the Plan's selected projects is then investigated through a comparative study, with particular attention given to the types of approaches employed, both, participatory and persuasive. In this perspective, combined statistical and qualitative methods are employed, based on variables (such as technology, approach, farm, farmer and technician) with specific reference to four economic indicators: productivity, assets, adoption and technological problems. Finally, the role of Farmer Participation is critically analysed referring to Farmer Participatory Research as a crucial component of the agricultural research process. The research findings point to the central importance of farmer's indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge based upon 'mutual respect', and grounded in experience, for the processes of participatory research. In these processes, the relationship established between farmer and technician was found to be a fundamental aspect of research practice in which great weight is placed upon the farmer's role not as an object but as the 'subject' of agricultural research. This research demonstrates that the projects which embraced this approach achieved a higher level of technology adoption, a greater number of technological solutions and a greater increase in productivity and farmers' assets. The main policy implication of the thesis is that farmer participation, as a complementary approach to agricultural research methods, can contribute significantly to modifying the socio-economic situation of disadvantaged farmers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, Agriculture, Agronomy, Latin American Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2815

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