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Are small-scale rice farmers in eastern India really inefficient? Examining the effects of microtopography on technical efficiency estimates


  • Nobuhiko Fuwa
  • Christopher Edmonds
  • Pabitra Banik


The article analyzes how controlling for differences in land types (defined by position on a low-scale toposequence) affects estimates of farm technical efficiency for rice farms in eastern India. Contrasting previous research, we find that farms are considerably more technically efficient when efficiency estimates are carried out at the plot level and control for plot characteristics rather than at the farm level without such controls. Estimates show farms cultivating modern varieties are technically efficient and plots planted with traditional varieties on less productive lands (upland and midupland) operate close to the production frontier. Significant technical inefficiency is found on more productive lands (medium and lowland plots) planted with traditional rice varieties. The finding that these smallholder rain-fed rice farms are efficient cultivators on some plots contrasts with previous findings of farm-level inefficiency (i.e., rejects overarching explanations linked to farm operator ignorance or lack of motivation) and suggests more complex explanations are required to address the inefficiency that is present. Copyright 2007 International Association of Agricultural Economists.

Suggested Citation

  • Nobuhiko Fuwa & Christopher Edmonds & Pabitra Banik, 2007. "Are small-scale rice farmers in eastern India really inefficient? Examining the effects of microtopography on technical efficiency estimates," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 36(3), pages 335-346, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:36:y:2007:i:3:p:335-346

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    Cited by:

    1. Alvarez, Antonio & del Corral, Julio & Tauer, Loren W., 2012. "Modeling Unobserved Heterogeneity in New York Dairy Farms: One-Stage versus Two-Stage Models," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(03), pages 275-285, December.
    2. Diego Restuccia & Tasso Adamopoulos, 2017. "Geography and Agricultural Productivity: Cross-Country Evidence from Micro Plot-Level Data," 2017 Meeting Papers 1180, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Satya Laksana & Arie Damayanti, 2013. "Determinants of the Adoption of System of Rice Intesification in Tasikmalaya District, West Java Indonesia," Working Papers in Economics and Development Studies (WoPEDS) 201306, Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University, revised Mar 2013.
    4. Cornish, Peter S. & Karmakar, Dinabandhu & Kumar, Ashok & Das, Sudipta & Croke, Barry, 2015. "Improving crop production for food security and improved livelihoods on the East India Plateau. I. Rainfall-related risks with rice and opportunities for improved cropping systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 166-179.
    5. Chang, Hung-Hao & Wen, Fang-I, 2008. "Off-farm Work, Technical Efficiency, and Production Risk: Empirical Evidence from a National Farmer Survey in Taiwan," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6164, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

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