Thursday, November 07, 2013


PUBLICATIONS: Land and Agricultural Productivity in Ethiopia, 2 IFPRI Discussion Papers

A couple recent IFPRI Discussion Papers present evidence on the relationship between land and agriculture in Ethiopia.

In “Efficiency and productivity differential effects of land certification program in Ethiopia,” Hosaena Ghebru Hagos and Stein Terje Holden present quasi-experimental evidence from Tigray:

Although theory predicts that better property rights to land can increase land productivity through tenure security effects (investment effects) and through more efficient input use due to enhanced tradability of the land (factor intensity effect), empirical studies on the size and magnitude of these effects are very scarce. Taking advantage of a unique quasi-experimental survey design, this study analyzes the productivity impacts of the Ethiopian land certification program by identifying how the investment effects (technological gains) would measure up against the benefits from any improvements in input use intensity (technical efficiency). For this purpose, we adopted a data envelopment analysis–based Malmquist-type productivity index to decompose productivity differences into (1) within-group farm efficiency differences, reflecting the technical efficiency effect, and (2) differences in the group production frontier, reflecting the long-term investment (technological) effects. The results show that farms without a land use certificate are, on aggregate, less productive than those with formalized use rights. We found no evidence to suggest this productivity difference is due to inferior technical efficiency. Rather, the reason is down to technological advantages, or a favorable investment effect, from which farm plots with a land use certificate benefit when evaluated against farms not included in the certification program. The low level of within-group efficiency of farms in each group reinforces the argument that certification programs need to be accompanied by complementary measures such as an improved financial and legal institutional framework in order to achieve the promised effects.

In “Land constraints and agricultural intensification in Ethiopia,” Derek Headey et al. conduct a village-level analysis of high-potential areas.

Highland Ethiopia is one of the most densely populated regions of Africa and has long been associated with both Malthusian disasters and Boserupian agricultural intensification. This paper explores the race between these two countervailing forces, with the goal of informing two important policy questions. First, how do rural Ethiopians adapt to land constraints? And second, do land constraints significantly influence welfare outcomes in rural Ethiopia? To answer these questions we use a recent household survey of high-potential areas. We first show that farm sizes are generally very small in the Ethiopian highlands and declining over time, with young rural households facing particularly severe land constraints. We then ask whether smaller and declining farm sizes are inducing agricultural intensification, and if so, how. We find strong evidence in favor of the Boserupian hypothesis that land-constrained villages typically use significantly more purchased input costs per hectare and more family labor, and achieve higher maize and teff yields and high gross income per hectare. However, although these higher inputs raise gross revenue, we find no substantial impact of greater land constraints on net farm income per hectare once family labor costs are accounted for. Moreover, farm sizes are strongly positively correlated with net farm income, suggesting that land constraints are an important cause of rural poverty. We conclude with some broad policy implications of our results.

Browse other IFPRI Discussion Papers here.

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