After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Origin of Farming System Development (FSD) 2. Principles of Farming System Development (FSD) 3. Role 4. Steps 5. Activities for the Successful Functioning.

The Origin of FSD:

The thinking can be traced back to at least two millennium. Since mid-1950’s the system though strongly influenced by integrated farming system FAO considers that the many principles embodied in the farming system perspective of research also apply to agricultural development. The farming system development (FSD) programme was launched by FAO in 1983 and is still going on.

The key to FSD is farm household although the scope of FSD can be quite broad-support service planning and policy analysis which are covered by it. A farm household system is an interrelated set of crops, livestock and household production/ consumption component (which is a sub-system) which arc operated in combination to satisfy the household goals.

(Farm management objectives not only profit maxi­mization hut family satisfaction as well). A farming system zone comprises of farm- household of similar nature.


FSD is not a fixed set of procedures, but an approach to the agricultural area development. In this regard the centre piece of approach is a careful diagnosis of farm household constraints and opportunities, and prioritization of actions, for the development of sustainable farming system.

Hence active community participation is essential and can be achieved through fanner’s organization. The household is regarded as the integral part of the farm level system and thus FSD embraces cottage industry, off-farm employment, consumption and leisure. It is recognized that the improvement of productivity is dependent on effective delivery of appropriate support services and the sound policy environment.

The effective support services and a suitable policy environment are essential for a rapid growth in farm household incomes. The growth of income depends on many factors, which include the supply of suitable technology, availability of inputs, credit and other services and adequate marketing channels.

The FSD approach provides a suitable framework for linking together these disparate factors, and for devising an optimal balance among these various factors influencing farm household incomes.

Principles of Farming System Development (FSD):

1. FSD aims at improving farming systems by making use of technical and support services and there should be improved coordination between the two.


2. FSD assumes that some technologies exist to achieve significant and sustainable production increases. Research and extension services have contributed to the sustenance but there still remains a gap between research and extension which is widest in the rainfed farming.

3. FSD utilizes a system approach for a clear identification of problems and possible solutions. FSD embraces four crops, livestock, forests and pastures and farm households. External factors include: natural, cultural and institutional environment.

The system approach means that a change in any one factor (external or internal to the farming system) is likely to provoke changes in some or all of all other factors and sub-systems. In accepting a system approach knowledge is sought on all system components.


The farming system in its large environment is made clear in the diagram below:

4. FSD is development oriented. FSD attempts to cut through the institutional, policy, cultural constraints that impede development. FSD exemplifies the accelerated growth within concentration of limited resources (manpower and financial) which is achieved through cooperative and effective management.

5. FSD is based on farmer’s active participation programs and inventions are not superimposed on farmers through top down planning and programme execution, but by involving fanners, individually and in groups in the development process—a bottom up approach.


6. FSD regards the farm family/household as the farming system unit. The FSD emphasises on the women’s participation in production and post-harvest activities and this is very true in the case of small farmers particularly in India. A farm family is the one which eats from the same pot.

7. FSD gives emphasis on support services which is an important factor in development of farming system such as marketing, credit, input delivery system, crop handling and processing.

8. FSD aims at being a sustainable approach. It does not believe in one stroke process or once forever exercise but a continuing effort to keep small farmers development moving forward. Natural environment should be protected.

9. FSD is a multi-disciplinary approach. It involves researchers and administrators as supportive team to farmers. The ultimate aim of FSD is to improve farming systems by rapidly implementing development activities either directly on the household/farm system and/or in the supporting environment.

Role of Farming System Development (FSD):

FSD is an approach to development based on problem solving which explicitly recognizes the need for a system perceptive in problem identification and its resolution. The green revolution no doubt brought tremendous increase in output in food grains particularly rice and wheat yielding more than three time than what was in pre-green revolution period.


But the green revolution showed her spectacular progress in the areas which were bestowed with irrigation facilities that is, the growth of productivity has concentrated in the irrigated areas and depended to a large degree on chemicals, improved seeds, and machinery.

The rainfed areas need more attention of the farmer for making management decisions based on unpredictable rainfall. Hence direct transfer of technology from irrigated areas to rainfed conditions is not possible generally. Similarly, the supporting services in rainfed areas is often Weaker than in irrigated areas and more difficult to plan.

Indian agriculture in the twenty-first century will be highly sophisticated to meet the needs of the growing population, increasing income for the welfare of the greatest number and farm family in particular and with international interest in the eco-friendly approach. The major consideration in the Indian context would be the welfare of small and medium fanners which is the overwhelming part of the farming community.


These farmers will have to make decisions to utilize the limited resources in order to optimize production in a way consistent with constraints and opportunities whereby risk management is very important.

Farm managers of these small and medium farms are the targets of FSD approach where the extension, input supply, marketing, credit and other factors must come together to effectively use available technology and improve farm management decisions.

The core of the farm management discipline is the understanding of essential decision making strategies (planning, production both quantitatively and qualitatively and marketing the produce to where, when and how is needed). This helps in farm planning and budgeting to make effective improvements at the micro-level as well as macro-level policy option.

FSD enjoys the role of many disciplines but farm management plays an integral and central role. Farm management covers the spectrum of research, planning, implementation and monitoring. It is a whole farm system oriented multi-disciplinary to achieve integration. FSD takes help of multi-disciplinary bodies.


The contrasting features between farm management and FSD are that the farm management efforts are directed to farms as a unit but FSD focuses on farming system zones so called recommendation domains. The farm management tools are employed in each step of FSD. FSD is a problem oriented and appropriate bundle of techniques which vary from case to case.

Steps of Farming System Management (FSD):

1. For Selection:

Maps, reports, and rapid appraisal are made and we review the existing farming system and study the natural environment and recommend the farming.

2. Constraint Analysis:

For the analysis it is necessary to have interviews, meeting and observations and measurements. We prepare tables, models like flow, statistical, input-output, qualitative opinion, descriptions and we can set up priorities.

3. Planning of Farm Support Services:

In this connection we should have interviews and meetings, make plans and budgets-plan and budgets may be partial or complete as well do mathematical programming.

4. Implementation and Monitoring:

For this we make interviews, take obser­vations, make measurements and keep records. Afterwards we prepare table and make progress reports. This helps us to modify the existing fanning system and current policies, make adjustments and finally make the project proposals.

Techniques/activities are grouped into: processing of primary information, descriptive scrutinizing and prescriptive aspects. A mixture of qualitative and quanti­tative methods appear and there is a large component of subjectivity or commonsense thus a knowledge and skill of farming is needed.


Simple technique is important. In FSD sample survey and budgeting plays an important role. Former describes the farming system and sound basis for pre-evaluation of intervention and allows ex-post evaluation.

Activities for the Successful Functioning of FSD:

In FSD technical recommendations come from agronomy, soil science, and livestock husbandry also sociology, marketing and farm management are important requisites. The farm management tools like survey, simple budgeting are easy to learn.

Important activities for a successful functioning of FSD:

1. Identification of Homogeneous Areas:

The farming areas are heterogeneous in terms of physical, economic and social factors. The physical factors set a limit to the type of agriculture to be produced in the area. Economic factors determine what type of agriculture is acceptable to the community at large.

Agricultural technology is location specific and in order to have wider applicability homogeneous production area should be delineated. There is need to prepare a map of the region and this map should be supplemented by socio-economic data to provide parameters on the economically viable and socially acceptable crops and live-stocks to be raised.

For example in wheat producing region the rice production does not find weightage and similarly if the population consists of a majority of Muslims hog rearing will never be acceptable.


These data must include market centre distance, yields of various crops, fanner’s income, infrastructure facilities, social customs and behaviour etc. This will help in delineating economic zones for proper development planning strategy.

2. Technology Improvement:

Agricultural technology are easier to change than the agro-climatic requirements. Therefore, researches are done on crops and livestock improvements. The result of these researches must fit into the farmers circumstances and for this reason the varieties of crops are evolved for drought, flood, rainfed, usar, dry region, short duration and deficient soils.

Small farmers with limited resources are generally capital starved and with surplus labour and they cannot pay for the higher doses of inputs as recommended, therefore, substitution with organic manures for fertilizer is needed and this demands that organic manures be prepared with scientific skill.

Recent thinking in terms of organic farming is to reduce the cost of cultivation of crops. The control of diseases and pest be through cultural methods sequences of crops (rotation).

3. System Approach:

The package of practices as recommended by scientists prove inflexible to fit the physical, biological and economic conditions and the individual farmer’s preferences. Thus, a choice among several alternatives be given to suit their resources and objectives to suit their range of adoption and limitations. Alternative plans are developed which can be implemented on a few case farms representing various situations.

Workout partial plans at the initial stage. A socio­economic condition may be created for enabling and motivating the farmers to implement these productive plans.


Example in India is found in land reforms viz., abolition of feudal (zamindari) system in Uttar Pradesh giving a sense ownership to peasant farmers and incentive to invest in farming, consolidation of holdings etc. Another step is the socialization of the commercial banks for the credit facilities to the weaker section of the society, creation of NABARD, regional rural banks etc.

4. Transfer of Technology:

Suitable technology be demonstrated in homogeneous areas or zones to meet their objectives and socio-economic conditions. The development of appropriate technology necessarily is a slow process and adoption by farmers can also be gradual.

The rate at which they adopt technology could be influenced among other, the availability of support services like extension services, financial support and marketing facilities.

5. Structural Improvements:

Implementation of FSD requires interdisciplinary team belonging to crop, livestock, fisheries, agro-economic and rural sociology. Research and extension activities should be simultaneously performed for the effective implementation of the FSD.

Researches give new technology to extension personnel’s who in return give feedback to researchers, this is what is the essence of lab to land programme and interdependency is revealed in it.

The relationship should be a continuum. Extension workers should give a problem identification and researchers should get feed-back. The programmes should be institutionalized and a committee for this with representation from research, extension and support services on credit, input and marketing etc. Decision should be on local level in accordance to technology suiting to different conditions.

6. Improving Support Services:


These are vital to FSD. The package of practices be available to the farmers in the right place, quantity and time. The studies on policies, prices mechanisms of inputs are beneficial. The price ratio between inputs cost and products should be favourable.

If subsidies are given for inputs it should be studied and appropriate policies be made. Most technical innovations increase costs except organic matter and azolla, therefore, institutional credit should be provided on whole farm basis and collateral should be replaced by better supervision of loans.

The credit availability should not be cumbersome. Introducing new crops or improving existing one demands the study of market. Seasonal fluctuations of prices if studied will help in production planning and storage. For added values to crops the processing of products should be explored.

There must be coordination amongst different support services. The farmers cooperatives/associations can play an important role to take care of the interest of farmers so multi-purpose cooperatives be formed.

7. Strengthening Farming System Development:

Programmes should be deve­loped to maximize production or returns from these systems (crop, livestock or mixed farming). The FSD programme would be strengthened by selecting representative farms, in zones, making alternative system to suit the farm community or individuals. For putting plans into action support services should be institutionalized, interdisciplinary teams be organized.