Does High Agricultural Productivity Mean More Technically Efficient Farmers?

Introduction

Agricultural productivity is a measure of the amount of agricultural output produced for a given amount of input used. It might be arguably wrong to think that increased agricultural productivity is purely due to highly technologically efficient farmers. This is because higher productivity can be achieved when there are favorable conditions for production. Alternatively, high productivity can be achieved through the proper practice of good husbandry systems.

Agricultural productivity analysis over time showed that productivity growth in the sector is inevitable especially if the total output is to grow/ increase at the same or greater pace than the rate of demand for food. With the increasing population growth in the world implying more demand for food, it has led to a deeper understanding and estimation of the current level of agricultural productivity. Research has shown that in most African countries productivity levels are low resulting in food insecurity deepening in most of these countries.

 It might be arguably wrong to think that increased agricultural productivity is purely due to highly technical efficient farmers.

Interestingly agriculture remains to be the driving engine of their economies in most African countries. Furthermore, countries formulated agricultural policies and frameworks that best suit the development of the sector in the country.  Particularly for most of the Sub-Saharan countries that are part of the CAADP framework that outlines what each country should undertake in order to improve the sector. Even with such policies the production levels are on average on the lower side compared to attainable yields. Despite all these efforts the vital question for the countries is, do the policies mislead? are farmers technically inefficient? or is it impossible to catch up?

Status

Most of the farmers in African countries are aged on average 60 years old according to FAO. But the big question remains who is a farmer? the owner of the farm? Or the one that works for wages on the farm?  I believe a farmer is a person who spends more time in farm activities, arguable though.  Research shows that those who engage in farm activities are on average 34 years implying that they are more energetic and more adaptive to changing systems.

According to World Bank, developing countries need to increase the adoption and use of technology by farmers in order to increase their production, meet the raising demand for food and ultimately eliminate poverty. Innovative technologies if adopted by farmers would lead to an increase in yields, proper management of inputs, improved quality of products, and adaptation to climatic challenges and threats. The current production level shows that farmers who seem to have adopted the technology are not making use of it or may not be the farmers who participate in farming activities. Does it mean a lack of awareness by the farmers? Maybe, maybe not.

The current state of the agricultural sector in most countries has shown efforts in developing the sector. For instance, mechanization, use of agrochemicals, and farmer training with other investments with an aim to increase productivity.

Different approaches have been implemented as a way to improve farm productivity. Training of farmers is one of the methods used to ensure farmers are technically efficient. According to FAO report the technical efficiency index of Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) countries is approximately 70%.  Even with this higher score, the productivity level is still low.

For this reason, it might not be true to conclude that higher productivity is due to more technically efficient farmers and vice versa. It is therefore important for countries to relook into factors that have led to low productivity for instance land degradation and population pressure on land. These call for more sustainable farming systems.  Countries should also consider the consolidation of land as a strategy to deal with the continuous reduction of cultivatable land.

2 Comments

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