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Abstract

The premise of this paper is that a lack of attention to agricultural policy and support systems has constrained the potential impact of farming systems research-extension (FSRE) and has been a factor contributing to its marginalization. The paper starts with a historical overview, stressing FSRE 's failure to activate a policy dinzension, and gives several reasons why FSRE practitioners can no longer ignore policies and support systems. The paper then turns to strategic priorities for FSRE in the 1990s. The top priorities identified are: (1) renewed commitment to in-depth household and village studies, (2) design and evaluation research related to support systems and farmer programmes, (3) increased attention to governmental and societal goals in research priority setting, and (4) taking greater responsibility for formulating research policy and ensuring research system sustainability. The paper ends with discussion of three crucial issues affecting prospects for operationalizing a policy dimension in FSRE: uncertain dentand for policy research, research portfolio opportunity costs, and implications for FSRE multidisciplinarity.

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