Explain the role of famring system research FSR, PRA and evaluate the usefulness of their concept in practical development.
Farming systems research is an approach for generating appropriate technologies for studying existing farming systems and involving the technology users - usually the small farmers in the planning and evaluation process. The approach is justified on the basis of three vital considerations. Firstly, the farmer and his family are rational in their decision-making. Secondly, the production systems of small farmers embody an integrated set of husbandry practices that have developed over centuries so that these systems are stable, complex and very sensitive to the ecological, biological and socio-economic environment. Thirdly, a farming system belongs to the goal-setting and purposeful category of systems and its direction is determined by the farmer and his family. The decision to introduce changes or adopt any innovation depends entirely on how the household assesses the relative advantages and disadvantages in terms of its own perceptions and priorities. Because of these considerations, FSR is an interdisciplinary, integrative, problem-oriented and farmer-centred approach. Farming systems research is considered a powerful tool for natural and human resource management in developing countries such as India. The Indian economy is predominantly rural and agricultural, and the declining trend in size of land holding poses a serious challenge to the sustainability and profitability of farming. In view of the decline in per capita availability of land from 0.5 ha in 1950-51 to 0.15 ha by the turn of the century and a projected further decline to less than 0.1 ha by 2020, it is imperative to develop strategies and agricultural technologies that enable adequate employment and income generation, especially for small and marginal farmers who constitute more than 80% of the farming community. The crop and cropping system based perspective of research needs to make way for farming systems based research conducted in a holistic manner for the sound management of available resources by small farmers