The number of variables that influence farmers' decision-making is enormous. In theory, diagnostic research for small farm development should consider all these factors so as to determine their relative importance. In practice, many of them, particularly those of a socio-cultural or political nature, are not taken into account at all. The central argument of this paper is that in the initial stage of diagnostic research, a rapid appraisal of all factors must be made to select for further research those that seem to have the greatest potential impact on decision-making. A framework for this appraisal is presented, together with its application in adaptive research on rice cultivation in the Dominican Republic.

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