Technological Transfer Groups
Carlos Altmann Moran
& Sociedad Nacional de Agricultura
introduced and translated by
Gregorio Billikopf Encina
Table of Contents
·Introduction, Gregorio Billikopf Encina
· How do TTGs Work, Carlos Altmann Moran
· Appendix A: Quotes from El Campesino
· Appendix B: A Chilean model for the Transference of Agricultural Technology, Carlos Altmann Moran
· Appendix C: The importance of Working in Group, Carlos Altmann Moran
Gregorio Billikopf Encina
In 1988, I spent six months in Chile during my sabbatical leave. While I was there I taught a three month graduate course for the Universidad de Chile on agricultural labor management. Many of the people I spoke to--including some of Chile's most progressive farmers and directors of key organizations--told me that effective personnel management not only benefits agriculture at the farm level, but also, indirectly, enhances the social stability of the nation as a whole. At the end of the sabbatical I left many friends and colleagues interested in instituting effective personnel management principles. But more important than the work I left in Chile is what I brought back. Not too much after arriving in Chile I sensed a great excitement and pride about an agricultural group interaction process. They called it Technological Transfer Groups, or TTGs for short. It was not until I was invited to speak at two of these producer groups that I began to really understand their positive influence. TTGs have played a key role, along with the advantageous southern hemisphere off-season, in making Chile one of the top agricultural producers and exporters today. So what are these TTGs? What do they do? And how could farmers in the United States adapt the program to their unique needs?
Technological transfer groups (TTGs) consist of a network of about fifteen farmers who got together to share technology, information, and friendship. Groups are lead by both a producer and a group coordinator--an agricultural professional such as a veterinarian, nutritionist, or plant scientist. Every month they meet at either one of their own farms, or go on agricultural tours.
But let me take you back a bit and start from the beginning. In my youth I spent much time in our family vineyard in San Javier, Chile. I still have the happy memories of the oxen cart rides to the river beach with my family. Much of the land was plowed with oxen or horses. In the middle of the twentieth century much of Chile was technologically decades behind the United States. In 1970 my parental family temporarily moved to the United States. As a result, I had the opportunity to study agriculture at the University of California, Davis. Every so often I have had a chance to return to my homeland. In the 1980's Chile began a strong upward agricultural surge.
During my 1988 sabbatical I met with Antonio Lizana, the then dean of the college of agriculture at the Universidad de Chile. He warned me that Chilean agriculture was not the same as what I had known in my youth. There are still farmers plowing with horses and oxen. But there are also agricultural operations that need not envy anyone. I was invited to speak on labor management to several groups including two technological transfer groups, one in San Carlos and the other in Los Angeles. This was my first personal exposure to the these groups.
In the morning we toured the farming operations. The farmer had a chance to field questions about his agricultural practices. It was evident that participants had become accustomed to asking questions, and felt familiar with the process. Changes that had taken place from a previous visit were noted. One farmer, for instance, had devised an ingenious way of dealing with manure disposal for the dairy. I saw a demonstration of manure water skiing. An employee would stand on a home-made scraper while the tractor would go around the feeding area scraping the manure. The manure was accumulated into a holding area with easy access for later spreading in the fields. We also saw several variety trials. During the tour, groups of participants could be heard discussing concepts they had taken to their own operations.
As the tour was concluding, we heard that the barn of an absent group member had burned down. All of his alfalfa hay was lost. One member quickly offered to donate some bales. Others quickly followed. As relief plans were being made, the phone rang. It was the affected farmer, who luckily was insured, so there was no need for that type of help at the moment.
During the next phase in the meeting, the host farmer answered additional questions and presented a detailed activity report. When Chilean farmers were first exposed to the idea of TTGs, and this type of sharing, many felt that this idea would never work in Chile. Now, however, there was much interaction and no one seemed to be holding back information.
Next, the hosting farmer had a sumptuous lunch served. A luncheon speaker gave a presentation on labor laws. I was on the program next, and we had an excellent exchange on labor management principles and practices.
Since returning to California from my sabbatical I have been meaning to put some thoughts together on the abundant benefits of TTGs. Two factors have impelled me to do so.
First, I was asked to participate in a labor sharing research project by Suzanne Vaupel and Gary Johnston. If farmer networks existed as do under TTGs, I felt labor sharing could take place. I receive El Campesino, the organ of the Chilean National Farm Society. It was through an article in El Campesino that I noticed the name of Carlos Altmann Moran, as director of the TTGs. I wrote Carlos Altmann Moran for information, and as it turned out, he was one of the founding fathers of the Chilean TTG movement, and prolific author on the subject. He sent me two publications he had authored: TTGs: A Chilean model for the Transference of Agricultural Technology, and TTGs: The importance of working in group.
Second, in 1992, one of the TTGs from Los Angeles, southern Chile, visited the western United States. Once again, I had a chance to observe them in action. This time, during their tour mode. I had the opportunity to interview members about their experiences with TTGs, how they should be formed and operated, and what were potential challenges for the future.
What can the TTGs do for the US farmer?
Technological Transfer Groups can help fill two important needs for the US farmer. First, it can serve the transfer of both agricultural technology and of other critical information. Second, it can provide increased social interaction and mutual support for participants.
Agricultural technology and information transfer.
An essential part of the TTG process is the sharing of information among participating farmers with the guidance of a professional coordinator and guest speakers. In agricultural meetings the potential farmer contribution is often underrated. Yet, the accumulated experience of any group of farmers is often quite impressive. While farmers are not abandoned to themselves in the TTG process, they do take a primary role in both research and education.
There is usually a large gap between what is known about effective technical and managerial practices, and adoption. TTGs are one way of sharing what is known with those who need to know and of increasing adoption of effective agricultural practices.
Production technology transfer. Some have contended that today's US farmer does not need any more technological information on the basics of agricultural production. It is true that in the US there are very progressive farmers in terms of production practices. Yet every farmer can learn something useful from both the way the neighbors operate, from their land grant University, and other researchers. Also, the essentials of agricultural production are as important today as they have ever been. This includes the traditional agricultural sciences as well as the effective management of such resources as labor, environment, water, and soil.
Enrique Silva R., National TTG President made a comment that seems to reflect international reality: "[Technological transfer] is more necessary than ever, because agricultural commodity prices tend to constantly go down while costs tend to go up, so that the profit margins are narrower."
Information transfer. TTGs can help equip farmers to deal with change. Producers have to cope with an era of international markets, sustainable practices, government over regulation, and other external pressures. Some areas present important opportunities; others challenges that cannot be ignored. One of several areas that present opportunities is labor sharing. Between several group members they may be able to extend the work season of their farm personnel. They may also be able to employ a rotating employee (or employees) who may substitute for those who go on vacation. Some farmers have arrived at quite innovative ways of lengthening the employment year of their personnel through diversification and through planting of different varieties and staggering planting dates. This is also the type of information that farmers can share with each other.
Social interaction and mutual support
In the past decade farmers have had to deal with increasing pressures all around. Their work hours may be long and provide little contact with others. Farmers sometimes face several years of reduced profits and increased stress. In times of difficulty, they may feel they do not have any one to turn to for support. These TTGs can provide farmers a larger sense of family and support. Enrique Silva R. explained: "The name of the groups does not correspond exactly to the philosophy of the system. It is not a matter of only transferring knowledge or technology. The human contact is what is fundamental in the group's activity. The most relevant is the friendship that takes place among the participating farmers. That is, the characteristic individualism of the farmer of the past is broken.... An absolute sincerity between neighbors is obtained ... which leads to a great friendship. With friendship they communicate both the failures and successes ...."
In the following pages we will look at the details of how the TTGs work. These pages have been translated from the work of Carlos Altmann Moran.
How TTGs Work
Carlos Altmann Moran
The key to this group process consists in having each participant, on a monthly rotation, provide his farm and expertise at the service of the group. Producers located in homogeneous agricultural zones and enterprises with similar types of production can be invited to participate. Like operations and operators facilitate a better understanding and a more fluid interchange among participants. Each enterprise should be limited to participate in one group, except when a diversified farmer has a production area not shared by the rest of the group (e.g., a producer in a milk group could join an orchard group if no one else had an orchard).
After the start of the program, participation by neighboring and potential farmers, as well as by the host's farm manager, supervisor, or herdsman is beneficial.
The ideal group size is around 12 to 15 participating farmers. Members can be recruited by contacting grower associations, agricultural cooperatives, and progressive farmers. With their help, other leaders can be identified to help locate potential group members.
Organizing the first meeting
In the first meeting the objectives, methodology and goals of the TTG program can be outlined. Appropriate research presentations for the zone can also be included. Participants may be asked to share their most important challenges and needs. As a result, topics may be prioritized by consent between both farmers and the external group coordinator (e.g., farm advisor, Ag consultant).
In these meetings, a board of directors is elected, consisting of a president and secretary. The roles established for each the board of directors, the participating producers, and the coordinator follow.
·Maintain group cohesiveness, continually promoting the active and enriching participation of the participants.
·Chair the meetings, ensuring the adhesion to the agenda, keeping the discussion under control, and constantly encouraging farmers to participate in the technological exchange.
·Represent the group.
·Promote the execution of various tasks along with the group participants.
·Report to members on external activities.
In general, the president is a manager whose fundamental role is to encourage participants, assuring an adequate level of interchange of opinions, concerns, and ideas. Out of this interchange a group's work plan may develop.
·Responsible for correspondence, including mailing a timely invitation to participants regarding the location, time, and day of the meetings.
·Preparation of the minutes of what took place and what was agreed upon in each meeting. This would include participant suggestions to the host of the visited farm. The secretary will read the minutes at the beginning of the next meeting.
·Support to, and replacement of, the president in all activities of managing the group.
·Performs as treasurer, when the group collects money for specific activities. The group may prefer to designate a treasurer.
Role of the participants
·Attendance and punctuality at meetings.
·Participate as host in their farm, according to the agreed upon rotation.
·Willingly interchange technical experiences and apply new technologies.
·Furnish the necessary data that will permit the coordinator to have adequate information on the group's technical level.
·Furnish the facilities and participate in the establishment of demonstrations or field trials in their farm.
Role of the coordinator
The group coordinator acts as the liaison between the group and other specialists (such as universities, governmental institutions, private enterprises) to whom requests for needed technical support are made.
·Production specialist in a given discipline.
·Generalist in other production areas pertinent to the area.
·General knowledge of administration.
·Effective communication skills to converse with farmers on general topics.
·Help local leaders to identify potential group participants.
·Assemble and organize a group and a board of directors.
·Provide group impetus, supporting the board of directors in their leadership role and in the development of a yearly plan of action.
·Provide support in setting calendar activity dates and topics.
·Based on programmed activities, if necessary, contact specialists to support the group's technical presentations.
·Provide feedback between the research program and the group.
·Plan the monthly meeting, along with the host in charge.
The monthly technical meeting
The coordinator, possibly accompanied by a specialist, visits the farm ahead of time to plan the group's field walk-about. At this time, the coordinator also helps the farmer prepare the basic facts about the enterprise. These are presented to farmers in a written report at the meeting. This helps both the comprehension of the participants, as well as the improved organization of the host's presentation. The quality of the technical explanations to be given during the field visit are essential in keeping the present and future interest of participants.
The field walk-about emphasizes the positive areas to be viewed, as well as general areas that may be of interest to the group. The host may also want to share challenges being faced in order to obtain the group's help. The pre-visit is essential as it will help the coordinator--or speaker--deliver a seminar on an appropriate topic. The participation of group members as technical speakers (including the sharing of research results) should be fomented. Farmers should be part of the process of problem-solving and dissemination of solutions.
More mature groups will shift their efforts to a greater involvement of the host producer, with recommendations for the host by the participants after the farm walk-about. Such a maturing phase is only possible as a result of increased trust among participants, and ought not be forced.
Briefly, the monthly technical meeting constitutes the fundamental basis of the program. During the initial period at least one meeting needs to be targeted for each farmer-member of the group. One key objective needs to be the determination of present production levels for each operation at the point in which farmers joined the group. Any technological advances could thus be gauged against this initial measurement.
Groups need to establish a fixed day and time for the monthly meetings that would accommodate the majority of its members. For instance, the second Thursday of each month at 10 AM.
The meeting is directed by the president, with the active participation of the host, and the support of the coordinator. The meeting, for example, can be divided into four parts. Given a meeting that starts at 10 AM (this is only an example, as some TTGs begin their activities in the afternoon), the program may look like this:
Phase I (10:00 - 10:30 AM)
·Participants are welcomed (host and president).
·Minutes of previous meeting are read (secretary).
·General presentation and handout of the farm's basic data (host).
This presentation can be given in a shed or simply under the shade of a tree, in order to get to the farm walk-about promptly.
Phase II (10:30 AM - 12:00 noon)
The group proceeds through the walk-about, directed by the host, stopping at the different stations as planned. There should be ample opportunity to exchange information, but special care should be taken to prevent the formation of sub-groups.
Phase III (12:00 - 1:30 PM)
The host provides lunch, in line with the general terms agreed upon by the group, and according to the customs of the area.
Phase IV (1:30 - 3:00 PM or later, depending on the subject and interest)
The next phase consists of a group discussion regarding the walk-about, the technical seminar and discussion, as well as conclusions to be drawn and planning of future activities. In this phase, directed by the president with the support of the coordinator, the group makes observations and suggestions to the host, who is free to either adopt these wholly or partially.
In the technical seminar the presenter generally takes no more than 30 to 40 minutes, followed by a question and answer period. Initially, outside speakers are used for seminars, but subsequently, a greater importance is given to the contributions of the host.
The secretary takes the minutes on the most relevant technical aspects discussed, both during the walk-about and the seminar. Any conclusions are also noted by the secretary in the minutes. This phase ends with an agreement as to when and where the next meeting will take place.
As a consequence of the monthly meetings described above, some unanswered technical questions may be developed. Demonstration and research projects are planned for the various farms, and are subsequently analyzed and evaluated to help in the formulation of recommendations for the group.
The coordinator participates actively, with the help of specialists, along with the host farmer. Normally, the costs of establishing and management of such demonstrations are financed by the host farmer, save for cases where private enterprises may contribute.
The establishment of research plots in the farms of the group participants permits farmers to place more credence on the results. The dissemination of information as well as adoption are thus facilitated. Research costs are normally supported wholly or partially by the farmers. Producers will benefit where there is an effective research-transference-production connection.
The incorporation of isolated technologies are not necessarily conducive to the success of an agricultural enterprise. It is necessary to promote the training and orientation of group participants in the concepts of enterprise management. In this manner, technological innovations are applied in a harmonious and global framework. It is convenient to keep a production record, as a case study, to serve as an example to the remaining group members.
Group dynamics training
A series of seminars on group dynamics can benefit group presidents and secretaries. These skills permit them to stimulate participants within their respective groups. This results in fuller participation, and a better organization more equipped to plan for future actions. A greater group cohesiveness reinforces team work and permits the improved future performance of the group.
[Note: More details on the TTG movement are found in the Appendix B. These include some of the materials covered above, as well as a regional and national network of TTGs, and the important connection of the TTG movement with the Chilean research entity INIA. Later, the TTG management responsibility passed from INIA to the Chilean Farm Bureau, Sociedad Nacional de Agricultura. Today, the TTG movement is strong and is perhaps the foremost extension-type activity in Chile.--GB]
From El Campesino
Rodrigo Ariztía de Castro
During my time in the Council I have known of several cases of farmers that were obstinate in their refusal to incorporate themselves into the system, but today are among the most enthusiastic and proclaim its virtues. These persons have realized the benefits to themselves and to their employees.
Enrique Silva Risopatrón
TTGs constitute service organizations; enterprise management is an urgent necessity if one pretends to obtain profits; and its collaborators [farm employees] must be incorporated to the enterprise as persons.
Enrique Silva Risopatrón
Those who belong to TTGs are no longer isolated, but rather have joined in their efforts. The errors that are committed by one are transmitted to the group, avoiding that the rest do the same. And the successes that are obtained are also shared, so that the rest can excel through the best results. *** Now the [TTG] system is more necessary than ever, because agricultural commodity prices tend to constantly go down while costs tend to go up, so that the profit margins are narrower. *** The name of the groups does not correspond exactly to the philosophy of the system. It is not a matter of only transferring knowledge or technology. The human contact is what is fundamental in the groups' activity. The most relevant is the friendship that takes place among the participating farmers. That is, the characteristic individualism of the farmer of the past is broken. TTGs, in opening the doors to the farm, show what farmers in reality have, how much and what is produced. An absolute sincerity between neighbors is obtained this way, which leads to a great friendship. With friendship they communicate both the failures and successes, overcoming through better results. *** [Machinery sharing] could take place, but in my experience commercial aspects should not be mixed with technological ones. When it has been attempted, for various reasons, it has not given good results. That can be explained because each farmer has a different way of buying a production element or of selling products. *** We not only thought about the social and human aspects, that we consider of uttermost importance. We have in fact practiced and continue to do so, systems of incentives and participation for workers. The groups are constantly looking for, and applying, different methods to achieve this. We are interested in paying well for efficiency.... I have resolved to more strongly push employee incentive pay and participation in decision making.
A Chilean model for the Transference of
Carlos Altmann Moran
Early history of TTGs in Chile
In October 1982, the Minister of Agriculture, don Jorge Prado Aránguiz charged INIA (the Chilean Institute of Agricultural Investigation) with the task of promoting a better interchange between those doing research and the farmer. He wanted to "take the University to the field." The challenge was accepted with enthusiasm by INIA personnel. INIA's production specialists took on the role of coordinators of the farmer groups that would be formed.
At first we all had to "make the road as we walked," taking advantage of previous experiences already accumulated by INIA, as well as systems developed in other nations, such as Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, and France.
The methodology had to be centered around group action to transfer technology to producers, without having to involve ourselves with consultations at the individual level. A series of extension activities where contemplated, including some specific services such as soil and leaf tissue analysis. The system would permit us to take advantage of whatever information could be interchanged by the farmers, thus stimulating the development of farm managers who could be better equipped to deal with both technology and market alternatives.
The key to this group process consisted in having each participant, on a monthly rotation, provide his farm and experience at the service of the group. Group effort further promoted feedback toward INIA's Experimental Station. The group coordinators provided a fundamental connection between the farmer and INIA.
Organization of the first groups
The regional technological transfer teams, assisted by those of research and with the definite support of the Experimental Stations, began the persistent and daily work in the field, to organize the first TTGs in their respective regions of influence.
An important collaboration was received from Enrique Silva Risopatrón, a farmer from Calera de Tango, who accompanied us in the various tours throughout the country, inviting local farmers of the different regions to participate, firing them up with his enthusiasm.
The first group was formed in Los Andes, October 21, 1982. By the end of 1982, fifteen TTGs had been organized throughout the country. The next year required great effort and yielded great results. Our work was a success because two factors converged that extraordinarily complemented each other: the dedication and enthusiasm of the INIA professionals and the great welcome that producers gave the initiative.
After one year of work, 92 TTGs had been formed, with 1,301 farmers and encompassing 498,220 hectares (over a million acres, multiply hectares by 2½ to obtain acres). A majority of farmers felt that through INIA, the government was offering a valuable technological transfer service that would permit them to improve their economic situation by applying new production technologies.
Undoubtedly, the success achieved was the result of a great amount of institutional effort in the work of individual INIA coordinators. This work required the constant technical support of research specialists in order to work on solutions to problems. INIA's policy was that its researchers would dedicate 20% of their time to the support of the technological transfer activities. Their contribution as seminar speakers was such, that during the first year they gave 60% of the presentations.
With time, specialist participation has varied and settled to 25 to 30%. Coordinators have increased their specialization, and more mature groups have reduced their needs. Their participation has benefited the research-transference-production connection. More mature groups have shifted their efforts to a greater involvement of the host producer and recommendations for the host by the participants, after the farm walk-about. Such a maturing phase is only possible as a result of increased trust among participants, and ought not be forced.
Beside INIA, support has been provided by Chilean universities, commercial enterprises, private professionals, chemical industry, and others. Speaker contributions, to 1986, could be broken down into presentations made by INIA researchers (32.3%), INIA coordinators (29.95%), local professionals (16.1%), commercial enterprises (12.1%), and farmers (9.52%).
Regional and national organization
Regional and national TTG councils were established to serve as a link between INIA and the TTG program. Regional councils were originally composed of an executive committee and two advisory committees. The executive committee involved regional INIA personnel and a farmer elected from among presidents of local TTGs, by vote from TTG presidents and secretaries. One advisory committee was formed by farmers who represented the principal commodities of the region and the other, by commodity specialists from the Experimental Station. This structure was, in turn, tied to the Ministry of Agriculture. Regional councils meet every one to two months and each board serves for two years. The possibility for one reelection is permitted. Responsibilities for the regional council included:
·Provide orientation and evaluation of the regional TTG program.
·Stimulate an active interchange of experiences and information between groups.
·Promote the formation of new groups according to the needs and demands of the region and the available resources to provide coordination.
·Try and solve problems impairing malfunctioning groups.
·Foment the training of group presidents and secretaries.
·Provide feedback to the Experimental Stations of concerns raised by groups in their monthly meetings, through their presidents and secretaries.
·Prepare and finance special projects of interest to local TTG farmers.
Once regional councils were formed, the need for a tie with the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as a way to evaluate the general program, was needed. The national council was formed of these needs, and was formed by the presidents of the regional councils. The national council meets with the Ministry of Agriculture three times a year. In like manner, members of the board of the national council serve for two years, with a possible two year extension. Their role is much like that of the regional council, but with national responsibilities.
Early testimonials to the contribution of TTGs to agriculture
don Carlos Cáceres
The opening of the Chilean economic system to international competition, has had as an objective to improve the efficiency of the productive apparatus, in order to deliver to consumers, which ought to be the final objective of every economic system, a product of greater quality at a proper price. In this process, innovation that is born of technological contribution plays a prominent role, that brings with it adequate production in quantity as well as in quality, permitting the well-being of the whole population.
This technology may be imported, or in its effect, generated in the country. The latter is very convenient, as it will be the one which definitively will adapt itself to the national reality. Being aware that these two aspects are of importance to the productive effort, I congratulate INIA for carrying out a labor that is reflected in the delivery of better production techniques and that directly benefit farmers.
don Jorge Prado Aránguiz
The technological transfer group program fills us with satisfaction and pride. It seems incredible that in such a short period, it has been taking on such a solid body and defined structure. From the beginning I was especially interested, not only in the progress of the program, [but in its national structure].
Why is that important? Because what is being created here is an organization of such representation and great strength as any other agricultural organization existing in the country.
[H]ere a phase of great relevance has been established, which assures a successful future.
Sr. Andrés Chubretovic A.
The importance of agriculture in the regional economy is evident, and its contribution to the production and national supplies is significant. We are convinced that the results from agricultural research, utilized effectively through programs of technological dissemination have a high social profitability and a great impact to the regional and national economy.
The Chilean Model
Even though it may seem presumptuous to refer to the TTG program as a "Chilean Model," our system has a fundamental difference to the organization of groups in other countries. I have had the opportunity to view the work of Groups in Argentina, Uruguay, Spain and France, and interchange various aspects of their methodology with producers and technicians.
In almost all countries that have group systems for technological transfer, it has been the producers themselves who have begun the group formation, subsequently financing the technical teams. Nevertheless, their tie with research organizations has been more or less indirect.
It is the close connection [between research institutes and the farmer, in the Chilean approach] that has permitted a great accumulation of technology to be transferred to groups, and at the same time, permitted a fluid interchange between our technical personnel and producers.
Our established groups have received, at least, an average of 10-11 technical presentations a year. I have chosen the San Carlos TTG # 1, to exemplify what has been said, as I was involved in its initial organization and coordination. Since the group was organized, and up to 1988, there where 66 meetings carried out within 70 months. After looking at the listing of activities [see Table 1] carried out by a single TTG, readers will easily deduce what this program represents, considering that to October 1988, we had 133 TTGs functioning at the national level.
Not in vain, Jacques Pinon, ex Director of the FNGEDA (National Federation of Groups for the Study and Development of Agriculture) of France, who visited us between March 16 and 31 of 1987, underscored in his evaluation of our program:
"One must not loose the tie between the Experimental Stations of INIA and the high efficiency of the technological transfer thanks to the Chilean style."
Along with Jacques we traveled from Puerto Montt to Los Andes, interacting with farmer participants, group presidents, regional presidents, national council and group coordinators.
Group organization and programming of activities
Management of irrigation water
Soil preparation for rice
Weed control and eradication
Meadows in rice soils
Meat production in rice soils
Soil preparation for rice
Rice production costs
Rice water management
Fertilization and weed control
Weed control in wheat
Breeding and soil analysis
Rotation plots in rice soils
Wheat field day
Growing rice in Colombia
Pablo Grau shares his experiences outside Chile
Soil preparation for rice
Using irrigation water
Tour with rice producers
Wheat field day
Straw use for animal feed
Diseases of wheat
Privatization phase of the TTG
Visit Quilamapu Experimental Station
Friendship group dinner
Trip to contact rice growing groups in Linares
Planning for year's activities
General group aspects
Winter feeding for meat livestock
Artificial pastures ¿? (Empastadas artificiales)
Tour of Linares rice growers
Tour of Cauquenes
Tour of rice farms
Rice field day
Legal issues that require group management
Legal issues that require group management
The impact of TTGs: Dairy Case
In a study carried out with 9 producers in a dairy TTG in Region VII, an increase of 37% in milk production took place between 1982-1985. The same number of cows were maintained. The production in 1982 was 3,100 kg/cow (3100 x 2.2 = 6820 lbs/cow), and it increased to 4,279 kg/cow (9413.8 lbs/cow) in 1985. Producers felt that the change was a result of better feeding technologies, general management, genetic improvement, and dairy inspections.
This experience is important when we consider that in Region VII 86 million liters (22.7 million gallons, at 1000 kiloliters per 264.18 gallons) are accumulated per year. In the same region several TTGs are organized, with more than 70 producers who deliver over 22 million liters (5.8 million gallons) a year.
The evolution of TTGs
Part of the original instructions from the Ministry of Agriculture envisioned a change within the TTGs, after a four year period, into a more private venture. In such a manner INIA could be the promoter and organizer of groups in their first phase. More mature groups could become self governed and financed.
In order to tackle this situation, INIA and the producers undertook various activities to prepare for the second phase.
Group dynamics training
In 1986, when the first groups turned four years, we began a series of seminars on group dynamics. Group presidents and secretaries were trained in techniques that would help them stimulate and motivate participants of their respective groups, thus achieving fuller participation, and better organization and planning for future actions.
In order to develop the seminars we counted with the help of IICA (Inter American Institute for Agricultural Cooperation). IICA, by virtue of a mutual cooperation agreement, is continually supporting our programs of technological transference.
The training was carried out by a team of group dynamics experts. We value this type of training as something of vital importance. A greater group cohesiveness reinforces team work and permits the improved future performance of the organization.
The first national meeting took place in the Gran Hotel Pucón between July 31 and August 2, 1987. About 250 TTG members participated. They analyzed the progress of the TTGs from their inception and looked for ways of financing and creating bylaws that would govern the activities of what would be called, from that time, the TTG movement.
From the first national meeting the desire of producers to move from a program to a movement was clearly manifested. The Minister of Agriculture, don Jorge Prado Aránguiz, in the inaugural key note presentation expressed:
I believe that today is a historical date for the Technological Transfer Groups. I see that the consolidation of the movement has taken place. It has been more than four years since the small child has been growing in its framework and activity. Today we need to pause in the way, and look back....
.... this night I want to pay tribute, that I feel from way within, and I say this sincerely, to the person of Andrés Chubretovic. Perhaps few people may, as I do, be witnesses to Andrés' unlimited sacrifice delivered to the organization of the Technological Transfer Group movement. As has been mentioned, often abusing of his health, he traveled throughout Chile taking the message--that of doing away with individualism of producers in order to be able to come to this [sharing] and develop a meeting as we are having today. *** I thank you for what you have done for Chile, because you have been the motors of the agricultural progress we have been living. You have taken the technology to the field and have, also, the obligation that this technology of yours--as you have been blessed by God with the intellectual capacity, culture, and economic capacity--you have the obligation of also taking this knowledge to our neighbors, to the small farmer .... It is not possible to have such great differences in profitability or in production, when often the soil is of equal quality, and a similar production system [is utilized].
During the second national meeting the Minister of Agriculture urged farmers to continue collaborating:
I believe, for the future of the agricultural sector, for the future of good organization, there has to be a joint effort between the private sector and the public sector and you.... *** Let us not permit that isolation of technology and producers take place because that would mean to break, to stop the process of development of what has been taking place in Chilean agriculture these years. Let us maintain the bridge between research and the producer.
In 1988, at the national level, there are 2000 farmers who are members of TTGs, involving 950,000 hectares (2,375,000 acres). There are 68 TTGs in the second phase, out of 132.
It is important to underscore that of those 68 TTGs in the more autonomous phase, half have employed a coordinator. In all the countries I have visited to observe these group programs, farmers have, regardless of the financial approach used, counted on technicians for each group.
I am convinced that the consolidation of the TTGs, joined by a financed and autonomous structure, is each day [a] closer [reality], and I have little doubt but that the next chapter of this history will be written by a TTG producer.
Altmann M., Carlos. Marco de referencia para la vinculación INIA--Movimiento GTT. Documento Interno. Octubre 1988.
Altmann M., Carlos y Celis R., Sergio. Evaluación de tres concursos Producción de Trigo. Octubre 1986.
Altmann M., Carlos; Galvez A., Silvia; Santander E., Jaime. Oferta INIA. Documentos interno para Grupos evolucionados. 1986.
Becerra R., Luis. GTT Lecheros del área de Quilamapu, IPA Nº 26, 1985.
Becerra R., Luis. El Coordinador de un Grupo de Transferencia de Tecnología. IPA Quilamapu Nº 36, 1988.
Celis, R., Sergio. Estadísticas del programa GTT. Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias. Octubre 1986.
Galvez A., Silvia. Primera reunión directiva Grupos de Transferencia Tecnológica. Estación Experimental La Platina, enero 1984.
Jahn B., Ernesto; Cofre B., Pedro y del Pozo, Mónica. Evolución de algunas lecherías del área de Quilamapu. IPA Quilamapu Nº 32, 1987.
Ortiz, R., Claudio. Compromisos técnicos, metas BID y seguimiento y evaluación. Comité de planificación INIA, 26-27 de octubre de 1988.
Pinon, Jacques. Informe Misión para evaluar Programa GTT. Marzo 1987.
Sabelle R., Patricio y González Y., Marisol. Evaluación 1983 Programa Grupos de Transferencia Tecnológica. Estación Experimental Remehue. Abril 1984.
Santander E., Jaime. Sistemas utilizados para la Transferencia de Tecnología. Estación Experimental Carillanca. Septiembre 1986.
Soza P., Roberto y Altmann M., Carlos. Curso integrado de capacitación agropecuaria. Instructivo de operación. Documento interno. Chile 1983. 31 p.
Soza P., Roberto y Altmann M., Carlos. Curso integrado de capacitación agropecuaria. Instructivo de operación. Documento interno. Chile 1984. 31 p., 2ª edición.
Soza P., Roberto y Altmann M., Carlos. Informe período 1983-84, Curso integrado de capacitación agropecuaria.
Soza P., Roberto y Altmann M., Carlos. Programa Grupos de Transferencia Tecnológica. Tema presentado en Seminario de Educación Rural organizado por la Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades de la Universidad Austral de Chile. Noviembre 1984.
The importance of working in group
Carlos Altmann Moran
We have analyzed and said much during these latter years about the importance of belonging and working in group. It is important, therefore, to carefully analyze the advantages to be obtained by sharing our experiences, and thus advance farther and better in our respective agricultural enterprises.
This situation is especially important for TTGs who have passed on to the second phase. The reasons why a farmer belongs to a group take on vital importance since their active membership is affected, and therefore, the stability of the group.
This section, a summary of seminars on motivation, pretends to emphasize characteristic elements of groups with the idea of clarifying and emphasizing the advantages of group work.
The importance of joining a group
In order to satisfy needs and desires people have found that association is more efficient towards the accomplishment of objectives, obtaining from the group, the necessary support to better face critical periods of greater instability.
TTGs are defined as groups of producers who meet on a monthly basis to interchange their production experiences, and at the same time have joined to analyze and project the development of their enterprises.
The strength of the group is based on the sum of the individual experiences, each participant contributing their own vision of their respective reality.
TTGs are a group method whose action is based on a permanent interchange of the experiences of its members.
This work method is based on an optimistic state of being and the active participation of its participants. When we speak of participation in the group, we refer to something that goes farther than our spoken intervention or isolated actions. To participate in a group is to feel it as if it were something that was ours, it is to be a part of a real work team.
In group work all participants have a mission or task to carry out. Only by participation may group work be better understood. So, what sorts of tasks or roles can participants carry out?
Examples of participant contributions include:
·exercise the role of president.
·exercise the role of secretary.
·exercise the role of treasurer.
·participate in demonstration trials.
·participate in research.
·contribute a technical presentation.
·prepare group tours.
·prepare a technical publication.
·liaison responsible for group contributions to the community (such as field days and seminars for producers not belonging to the group).
According to Douglas McGregor, the following are characteristics of a work group:
·Tasks and objectives well understood and accepted.
·Members listen to each other.
·The group is comfortable with disagreement.
·The group is not dominated by the majority or minority.
·Decisions are arrived at by consensus.
·Criticism is frequent, frank, and natural, without personal attacks.
·Persons feel free to express their feelings, emotions, and ideas.
·Once a course of action is decided upon, clear tasks are given and accepted.
·Situational leadership is practiced. What is important is not who controls, but how to carry on the work.
·The group is continually evaluating itself.
Analyzing these characteristics of a work group, we can notice that belonging to a group helps us to:
·Analyze and present our own problems.
·Learn how to discuss and interchange experiences.
·Think through and conceive solutions.
·Direct future action.
In this way we can achieve:
·An improvement in our enterprises.
·A greater economic efficiency.
·The incorporation of new technologies to our enterprises.
·A greater standing in our communities.
In summary, TTG participants are part of a group because of:
·An inquiring spirit.
·A desire to increase learning.
·A need to interchange experiences.
·A desire to direct their enterprise to the future.
This requires the following indispensable requirements towards the group:
·Attendance and punctuality at meetings.
·Participation as a host.
·Participation on specific tasks.
·Provide technical and economic data.
·Provide facilities for the establishment of trials.
·Contribute the dues that are agreed upon by the group for its normal functioning.
The importance of the group coordinator
The coordinator has the specific task of coordinating and structuring the general functioning of the group. In general, in its relations with the group, it is important that the coordinator is considered another member of the team. In fact, by actively participating in the life of the group, the coordinator shares in its experiences. Further, the coordinator usually proposes and teaches the most adequate procedures for an effective group development. The coordinator must have a thorough understanding of group dynamics and weave technology with group process.
The coordinator's role implies:
·Help the group identify--or diagnose--its own needs.
·Support the group in its goal setting.
·Support the group in carrying out its decisions.
·Collaborate in the evaluation of what has been accomplished.
·Watch over so the group remains loyal to its objectives.
·Together with the TTG directors, motivate participants to progress.
·Tie between TTGs and sources generating research.
·Support the host in the monthly meeting.
The importance of the monthly meeting
The monthly meeting constitutes the fundamental basis over which the work of the group rests. It is the most important action carried out by the group. It is necessary to underscore a few key concepts to achieving productive meetings.
Meetings are used as a vehicle to interchange the ideas and the experiences of each participant. Each producer is a professional "with a degree on his own farm." For instance, farmers in a group may have an average of 20 years experience in the preparation of the soil, irrigation, weed control, fertilizers, harvest, and so on. This is what makes the exchange so valuable.
Meetings are successful when:
·The focus is the farmer and his farm.
·The group takes on an advisory role.
·Participants are broken into specific work groups after the walk-about.
·The host receives suggestions from the group.
It is also important to point out the significance of properly conducting the meetings. The following rules can be of great help to any TTG president:
·Help keep to the agenda by periodically reminding participants of the desired objectives.
·Try and obtain consensus in opinions by pointing out agreements and disagreements.
·Formulate partial conclusions.
·Try and moderate the participation of those who speak too much and stimulate those who are more quiet.
·Not to use their positional power during the discussion.
·Begin and end meetings on time.
When groups have accumulated years of experience, participants get to become friends and know each other quite well. This degree of friendship and knowledge help meetings evolve into ones of support for the host. This is natural, for a group that depends solely on the technical seminar is doomed to disappear. It is the acquired familiarity that permits the host to show the farm, and after, his challenges or doubts.
The meeting is successful when the group discusses, gives opinions, clarifies future actions, and proposes solutions to the host. In other words, a good meeting is one in which a real support is given to the host. And, as each of the participants will alternate as the host and as a visitor, it is necessary that we reflect as follows: when I was a host the whole group invested their time on my problems. Can I now miss one of their meetings? This is why one must not miss a meeting.
The importance of clear objectives and a work plan
A group is like a crew, with a defined course, where each participant has a mission to fulfill in order to reach the goal. Group objectives should be a response to the real needs of all participants. Therefore, all must help to determine them. Only this way will each member be motivated to participate in an active manner.
According to Jacques Pinon, group objectives come about through the transformation of the anxieties and challenges of each one, through clear inquiry and projects resulting in concrete action.
Objectives are achieved through a work plan. A work plan is the description of the anticipated actions that will be brought about in order to respond to the group objectives. A work plan is elaborated with the participation of all members, as it must speak to the needs of all. Table 2 shows a work plan outline while Table 3 shows a sample.
Work Plan Outline
are the objectives
are the tools or methods:
is the election of locations
are the dates of the activities
are those responsible
Sample Work Plan
Tool or method
Farm walk-about and presentation
Visit farmer from other TTG
Use of anabolics
Presentation and field visit
Farmer 3 and presenter
What is important is for the group to know ahead of time what it will be doing. The work plan is important because it:
·Expresses the most important needs of the group.
·Clearly shows the group's objectives.
·Helps the coordinator organize the work.
·Provides continuity to the group's work.
The importance of being a leader and radiate to its rural surroundings
TTGs are not isolated in the rural community. Each one of its participants has a tie to other producers, commercial firms, professionals, other TTGs, and so on. Therefore, each group has an internal life, but also projects itself towards its surroundings.
These groups play a protagonistic role in the transformation and progress of agriculture because they are leaders. In the figure below we may note how E. Rogers ranked producers according to the time in adopting technology.
Distribution of farmers by category according to their adoption of technology
Analyzing the figure, we see that farm leaders are composed of innovators and anticipators. TTG farmers are found among those who stand out for taking initiatives. Leaders, according to Seymour:
·show the way
·provide impulse to move forward
Being a leader also implies responsibilities and duties. It is precisely here that the great contribution of TTGs takes place towards its rural surroundings. It is possible to incorporate in the work plan those actions or activities (e.g. field days, tours, seminars) that the TTG will provide its neighbors. In this way there is a controlled and programmed dissemination. If every TTG would on a yearly basis carry out two activities for the benefit of the rural community, inviting on each occasion 60 producers, we would have a permanent and massive dissemination towards the community as a whole.
To summarize, each TTG, through its work plan, is permanently executing different activities that give it a very particular dynamic.
Nevertheless, for the group to function well, some basic norms must be complied with, at the individual and at the group level.
At the individual level:
·Homogeneous intellectual and cultural level.
·Friendship among participants. Personal affinity is needed.
·Common anxieties and challenges.
·Geographical closeness and similar type of farming.
·Willingness to interchange. Active participation.
At the group level:
·The group has clear objectives.
·Effective group interchange process.
·Interchange stimulated by coordinator.
·Work plan exists.
·There is good attendance and punctuality.
·Each participant is truly interested in the program.
·Members apply tried techniques.
·The group conducts self evaluations.
Altmann Moran, Carlos. G.T.T.: Un modelo chileno para la transferencia de tecnología agropecuaria. Serie Presidencia Nº 1. 1988, 75 p.
Ander-Egg, Ezequiel. Técnicas de reuniones de trabajo grupal. Editorial Humanitas, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1986, 102 p.
Beauchamp A., Graveline R. y Quiviger C. Cómo animar un grupo, Editorial Sal Terrae, Santander, España, 1985, 135 p.
Bealg, Bohlem I. y Raudabaugh I. Conducción y acción dinámica del grupo. Editorial Kapelusz, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1985, 311 p.
Federation Nationale Des C.E.T.A. Les centres d'etudes techniques agricoles. Imprimerie M. Blanchard, Paris, 1967, 45 p.
Fuchs y Anguita. Manejo de grupo. Apuntes mecanografiados.
Gibb, Jack. Manual de dinámica de grupo. Editorial Humanaitas, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1986, 190 p.
Note: In a letter dated January 7, 1993, Hernán Antillo C., from the Sociedad Nacional de Agricultura, informs me that Carlos Altmann has moved to Quito, Ecuador. He will be advising Ecuadorians on the establishment and maintenance of TTGs. His replacement in Chile will be Carlos Correa. You can write to him at:
Translated: January 23, 1993
© 1997 by The Regents of the
University of California and Gregorio Billikopf
October 7, 1999