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Factors influencing the profitability of fertilizer use on maize in Zambia

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  • Zhiying Xu
  • Zhengfei Guan
  • T.S. Jayne
  • Roy Black

Abstract

Fertilizer use remains very low in most of Africa despite widespread agreement that much higher use rates are required for sustained agricultural productivity growth. This study uses longitudinal farm survey data to estimate maize yield response functions in a relatively high-potential zone of Zambia to determine the profitability of fertilizer use under a range of small-farm conditions found within this zone. The theoretical framework used in this study incorporates agronomic principles of the crop growth process. We generalize the asymmetric production models and define a concept of yield scaling factors. The model distinguishes different roles of inputs and non-input factors in crop production. We estimate the effects of conventional production inputs as well as of household characteristics and government programs on maize yield. The results indicate that recommended fertilizer application rates in the two specific years were often unprofitable, given observed price conditions and the yield response to fertilizer. However, there was substantial variability in yield response to fertilizer based upon the rate of application, the timeliness of fertilizer availability, the use of animal draught power during land preparation, and whether the household incurred the death of an adult member in the past three years. These modifying factors, as well as variations in input and output prices due to proximity to roads and markets, substantially affected the profitability of fertilizer use on maize. Copyright (c) 2009 International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its journal Agricultural Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (07)
Pages: 437-446

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Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:40:y:2009:i:4:p:437-446

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Cited by:
  1. Jeremy D. Foltz & Ursula T. Aldana & Paul Laris, 2012. "The Sahel's Silent Maize Revolution: Analyzing Maize Productivity in Mali at the Farm-level," NBER Working Papers 17801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ricker-Gilbert, Jacob & Jayne, Thomas S., 2010. "What are the Dynamic Effects of Fertilizer Subsidies on Household Well‐being? Evidence from Malawi," 2010 AAAE Third Conference/AEASA 48th Conference, September 19-23, 2010, Cape Town, South Africa 96650, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) & Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA).
  3. Obi, Ajuruchukwu & Chisango, Future Fortune T., 2011. "Performance of Smallholder Agriculture Under Limited Mechanization and the Fast Track Land Reform Program in Zimbabwe," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), vol. 14(4).
  4. Sheahan, Megan & Black, Roy & Jayne, Thomas S., 2012. "What is the Scope for Increased Fertilizer Use in Kenya?," Food Security International Development Working Papers 135283, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  5. Sheahan, Megan & Black, Roy & Jayne, Thomas S., 2012. "Are Farmers Under-Utilizing Fertilizer? Evidence from Kenya," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126739, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  6. Sheahan, Megan & Black, Roy & Jayne, T.S., 2013. "Are Kenyan farmers under-utilizing fertilizer? Implications for input intensification strategies and research," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 39-52.
  7. Dewbre, Joshua, 2010. "Improving resource allocation and incomes in Vietnamese agriculture," IFPRI discussion papers 984, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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