UNDERSTANDING SMALL FARMERS: SOCIOCULTURALPERSPECTIVES 01: EXPERIMENTAL FARM TRIALS*Robert E. Rhoades**IntroductionThe way we perceive our environment, other pl.:ople, or every-day events varies according to our relationship TO them.To mostof us a camel is a camel. Or snow is simply snow. Not to thenomadic Bedouin Arab,however, who as camel herder candistinguish between hundreds of types or conditions of camels.Or to the Alaskan Eskimo who recognizes and deals with equalvariety in states of snow.On another front, even though husbandand wife are engaged in the same institution (marriage) and havemutual goals (a successfulfamily) each views the situationdifferently. Humorousand not-so-humorous daily misunder-standings arise from this unavoidable"seeing-the-world-through-different-eyes" fact of life.And so it is, to a large extent,with agriculturalscientists and developing country farmers.We are both engaged,in our own way,in the same effort: increasing the efficiency ofagricultural production.Scientists strive to achieve thisbecause it represents the practical payoff of their research andfarmers because it is their livelihood.Yet we must be honest and admit that agricultural scientistsand farmers cope with different worlds.And they see thoseworlds through different eyes.Our productivity, often measuredby reports and publications directed toward other scientists orpolicymakers, is not the same as farmers' productivity, measuredby basic survival, maintenance of family or increased profits.Fortunately,farmers the world over recognize the benefitsof many kinds of agriculturaltechnology produced throughscience. The trick, therefore, is to bring farmers andscientists into meaningful communication so that scientists areworking on real problems rather than imaginary ones.
Funds supporting the field research upon which this trainingdocument is based came from the Rockefeller Foundation, IDRC-Canada, and CIP core budget.
Agricultural anthropologist, CIP.