Master Farmer Part 11




WESTVIEW PRESS                       1986


Chapter 6: Organizing the Organizers

  • How can development workers be trained to help others organize their work?
  • Is organization too Western a concept to be accepted in a peasant society?
  • How can the untapped potential of leadership among women be incorporated in community organization?


Hodja story #7

One day two small boys decided to play a trick on Hodja. With a tiny bird cupped in their hands they would ask him whether it was alive or dead. If he said it was alive they would crush it to show him he was wrong. If he said it was dead they would let it fly away and still fool him. When they found the old man they said, “Hodja, that which we are holding, is it alive or dead?” Hodja thought for a moment and replied, “Ah, my young friends, that is in your hands.”


In rural development, organizing involves coordinating the factors of production – labor, fields, equipment, supplies, savings, or credit – to assist the peasant in the management process. For development workers and peasants to understand the rudiments of organization, they must first learn to recognize what is “in their hands” and be trained how to use it. In response to a question about what makes a farmer or village businessman successful a shrewd stonemason replied, “It depends on the person’s capacity to organize.” This response applies equally to those who manage development programs in rural areas.


Chapter 7: The Languages of Leadership

  • How is peasant leadership related to management training?
  • Is there a special language that leaders must use?
  • Can leadership be learned by peasants?
  • What are the qualities they must develop?


Hodja story #8

For many years there has been a bronze casting at the Farm School of Hodja riding on a donkey. It relates to a time when he was seen in the village riding his beloved donkey backwards. When a neighbor asked him why he was facing that way Hodja said, “My friend here wanted to go one way and I wanted to go the other, so we are compromising.”

Chapter 8: Maintaining Control

  • How does control relate to managing a farm or a development program?
  • Can peasants learn to apply control in a village situation?
  • What is the role of the budget in ensuring control?


Hodja story #9

One day Hodja borrowed a large copper pot that he shortly returned to his neighbor with a smaller pot inside. When Hodja told him that the pot had given birth the neighbor did not really believe him but was delighted with the unexpected gift. Later when Hodja again asked to borrow the pot the neighbor responded with alacrity. After several weeks the neighbor asked what had happened to his pot. Slightly embarrassed, Hodja reported that the pot had died. “Whoever heard of such a silly thing as pots which die?” said the incensed neighbor. “Well,” said Hodja, “if there are pots which can give birth, they can certainly die.”

Control is the process of determining whether every part of an organization is adhering to an established plan and progressing toward clearly defined objectives. Using Hodja’s logic, control is making sure that neither a neighbor, an employee, nor a competitor can have “pots which die” or others “which can give birth.”


Chapter 9: Adjusting for Flexibility

  • When should the process of adjusting be implemented and how?
  • What relationship does it have to the rest of management?
  • Can the mechanism of adjusting be taught to a peasant?


Hodja story #10

Hodja decided to teach his donkey to eat less during a year of drought. Each day he reduced the amount of feed until one morning he found the donkey dead. When Hodja started lamenting, his neighbor asked him what was the matter. “I had just taught my donkey to get along without any food,” said Hodja, “and he died.”

Adjustments are necessary in any approach to ensure flexibility in the implementation of the POLKA. Adjusting is the process by which corrective action is taken, based on observations when controls are applied, to ensure that the original objectives are attained or that they are modified to changing conditions. Hodja’s idea of reducing the amount of food consumed by his donkey reflected intelligent management, but he failed to make a corrective adjustment.




The classic approach to education in developing societies emphasizes factual knowledge. A well-balanced training program, however, should equip the progressive peasant with adequate agricultural knowledge, skilled, calloused hands able to undertake a variety of tasks, and an attitude open to outside suggestions. The Greek concept of an open-hearted person is one who relates well to others and is receptive even to unfamiliar ideas. Although training centers teach management skills and problem solving, essential attributes for peasants striving to become master farmers, they also must build self-esteem – the pride a peasant takes in knowing who he is and what he wants from life.

The importance of these elements in training master farmers and observations on the best methods by which to teach them are examined in the following chapters. They are based on the perceptions of individuals in various cultures and institutional settings who have devoted many years to helping peasants cultivate their heads, their hands, and their hearts, as well as their gardens and fields.

 Chapter 10: The Role of Knowledge

  • How much technical knowledge does a master farmer require?
  • Who should decide what the master farmer needs to learn?
  • What is meant by teaching knowledge?


Hodja story #11

One day the village teacher told Hodja that he had decided to travel across the land to seek additional knowledge. When the young man asked him what kind of people he should look for, Hodja recalled some wise words he had once heard in the bazaar:

He who knows not and knows not that he knows is a fool. Shun him.

He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a child. Teach him.

He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep. Awaken him.

He who knows and knows that he knows is wise. Follow him.

Hodja paused for a moment and then continued, “But you know how difficult it is, my son, to be sure that the one who knows and knows that he knows really knows.”

Dr. Francis C. Byrnes introduced the Farm School staff to the concept of the squares of knowledge, which is not unlike Hodja’s evaluation of individuals. The four squares correspond roughly to four categories of people: those who know and know that they know, who are wise; those who know and do not know that they know, who are humble; those who do not know and know that they do not know, who understand their limitations. “But the people you have to be aware of,” said Dr. Byrnes, “are those who do not know and do not know that they do not know.”

Chapter 11: Teaching Competencies

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