Food and agriculture organization of the united nations




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FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS


GUIDELINES


FOR


AGRARIAN SYSTEMS DIAGNOSIS


Land Tenure Service

Rural Development Division

Sustainable Development Department

Food and Agriculture Organization


Rome, Italy


August 1999

FOREWORD


This publication on Agrarian Systems Diagnosis1 represents the result of an effort done by the Land Tenure Service (SDAA) of the Rural Development Division of FAO in cooperation with several institutions, and field projects.


It describes and summarizes SDAA's experiences in developing and applying a holistic approach to land tenure dynamics in rural areas. It also presents both the conceptual elements as well as practical methodological proposals for operationalizing agrarian systems diagnosis. The examples presented are drawn from concrete experiences in which the Service has been and still is presently involved.


This publication was prepared by Paolo Groppo, Christopher Tanner, and Michel Merlet, who are, respectively, Land Tenure Systems Analysis Officer at the Land Tenure Service (SDAA), Land Tenure Consultant at Cambridge SEPR Associates, 28 Houghton Road, St Ives, Cambridge, England and Agrarian Reform Consultant at IRAM, 39 rue de la Glacière, 75013 Paris, France.


We are grateful to many colleagues from FAO as well as to institutes and individuals from outside FAO who have participated in the process of developing the philosophy that underlines this handbook. Special thanks go to Prof. Marcel Mazoyer and Prof. Marc Dufumier from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon, France [http://www.inapg.inra.fr/ens_rech/ses/index.htm] who have been developing the main theory on the evolution of, and difference between agrarian systems. Thanks to their work, future decisions for technical cooperation activities involving land tenure in developing countries will be better informed, more effective and more helpful to those making their living from food production.


WHAT THIS HANDOOK IS FOR


This handbook is 00000000based on worldwide experience and uses knowledge obtained from both failures and successes. Its main objectives are:


  1. To demonstrate the interest of a system approach for the formulation of land regularization policies.




  1. To contribute towards the improvement of land tenure policies through




  • better understanding of rural dynamics which will allow us to anticipate any secondary effects and plan appropriate additional actions or policy changes

  • more effective regulation of tenure and land management policies




  1. To help national experts involved in land tenure issues to define their own methodological guidelines.


This Handbook is not a comparative analysis of different systems methods, nor is it a theoretical investigation on agrarian system approaches. Many rapid appraisal methods share similar global objectives and principles, and different methodological frameworks can be used. The Handbook does not intend to provide you with an overall view of these methods.


Instead, the Handbook is first and foremost an educational instrument for readers looking for new, efficient and adapted methods and tools. It aims to obtain immediate results by offering a tried and tested methodology for immediate field use. The Handbook offers practical tools developed all over the world in FAO projects and used by other development agencies during the last 15 years. It should also contribute however to improved investigation and development skills amongst those carrying out field studies. This is even more important because it is also a self-training process for those carrying out the project.


The target audience includes development technicians working in national Institutions in charge of agrarian reform and land settlement, NGO field experts, and development managers. It also aims to help technicians and consultants who have been working on development issues, to carry out land tenure studies and propose policies to improve land tenure.


How to Use the Handbook


These guidelines are written as a handbook containing brief explanations on methods in everyday language. Technical words and concepts are used only where absolutely necessary. With boxes on specific topics, the handbook offers distinctive illustrations of those methods and tools, in concrete situations where land studies have been based on Agrarian Systems Diagnosis.


The handbook also serves as a reference work. A list of main publications related to the different schools of system approach is presented. This list provides complementary sources of information for each of the specific topic illustrated in the handbook.


Table of Contents

page

INTRODUCTION 1


I. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 2

1. Land Tenure and Agricultural Production: A functional Definition of Agriculture 2

2. Historical and Geographical Differences in Land Access Systems 3

3. A Bottom-up Approach: Opting for Family Farming 7

4. A Systems Based Approach 8

5. Different Levels of Analysis and Inter-Relationships: Corresponding Concepts 8


II. AGRARIAN SYSTEMS DIAGNOSIS 11


1. THE MAIN UNIT OF ANALYSIS: THE FARM HOUSEHOLD IN CONTEXT 11

1.1 Defining the FHS 13

1.2 Gender issues and social categories 16


2. CHARACTERISTICS OF FAMILY FARMS 17

2.1 Risks management at the farm level 17

2.2 The Invisibility of Women 17

2.3 The Family Reproduction Cycle 21

2.4 Relationships between individuals, farm-households, and the rural community 21


3. A BASIC HYPOTHESIS: THE FARM-HOUSEHOLD RATIONALITY 26


4. THE FRAMEWORK OF THE ECONOMIC ANALYSIS 27

4.1 The theory of the ordinary farm 27

4.2 Designing an economic model of a household 27

4.3 Reproduction and accumulation thresholds 33

4.4 Modeling: a proposal 35


5. THE DIFFERENT STEPS OF THE PROPOSED METHOD AND ITS TOOLS 39

5.1 Zoning 39

5.2 Selecting the Sample 45

5.3 Carrying out an In-Depth Farm Household Survey 46
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