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Innovation systems and technical efficiency in developing-country agriculture


  • Dawit K. Mekonnen
  • David J. Spielman
  • Esendugue Greg Fonsah
  • Jeffrey H. Dorfman


The paper uses a stochastic frontier analysis of production functions to estimate the level of technical efficiency in agriculture for a panel of 29 developing countries in Africa and Asia between 1994 and 2000. In addition, the paper examines how different components of an agricultural innovation system interact to determine the estimated technical inefficiencies. Results show that the mean level of technical efficiency among the sampled countries was about 86 percent, with some modest increases during the period in question. These results suggest that there is room for significant increases of production through reallocations of existing resources. Despite significant variation among countries, these results also indicate quite a number of least developed countries have high mean efficiency scores, implying a need to focus on investment that pushes the production frontier outward in these countries. Several measures of agricultural R&D achievement and intensity, along with educational enrollment, are found to enhance agricultural efficiency. On the other hand, countries with higher levels of official development assistance, foreign direct investment, and a greater share of land under irrigation are found to be performing poorly in their agricultural efficiency score.
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  • Dawit K. Mekonnen & David J. Spielman & Esendugue Greg Fonsah & Jeffrey H. Dorfman, 2015. "Innovation systems and technical efficiency in developing-country agriculture," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 46(5), pages 689-702, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:agecon:v:46:y:2015:i:5:p:689-702

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Markus Balzat & Horst Hanusch, 2004. "Recent trends in the research on national innovation systems," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 197-210, June.
    2. Pray, Carl E. & Fuglie, Keith O., 2001. "Private Investment In Agricultural Research And International Technology Transfer In Asia," Agricultural Economic Reports 33927, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Mon‐Chi Lio & Jin‐Li Hu, 2009. "Governance and Agricultural Production Efficiency: A Cross‐Country Aggregate Frontier Analysis," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 40-61, February.
    4. Byerlee, Derek & Fischer, Ken, 2002. "Accessing Modern Science: Policy and Institutional Options for Agricultural Biotechnology in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 931-948, June.
    5. Battese, G E & Coelli, T J, 1995. "A Model for Technical Inefficiency Effects in a Stochastic Frontier Production Function for Panel Data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 325-332.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Grovermann & Tesfamicheal Wossen & Adrian Muller & Karin Nichterlein, 2019. "Eco-efficiency and agricultural innovation systems in developing countries: Evidence from macro-level analysis," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(4), pages 1-16, April.
    2. Grovermann, C. & Wossen, T. & Muller, A. & Nichterlein, K., 2018. "Prospects for macro-level analysis of agricultural innovation systems to enhance the eco-efficiency of farming in developing countries," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277416, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Alexander Semin & Alikhan Kibirov & Usman Rassukhanov, 2018. "Problems and Main Mechanisms to Increase Investment Attractiveness of Agricultural Production," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(2), pages 378-400.
    4. Bahta, S. & Temoso, O. & Mekonnen, D. & Malope, P. & Staal, S., 2018. "Technical efficiency of beef production in agricultural districts of Botswana: A Latent Class Stochastic Frontier Model Approach," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277207, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    5. van Dijk, Michiel & Morley, Tom & Jongeneel, Roel & van Ittersum, Martin & Reidsma, Pytrik & Ruben, Ruerd, 2017. "Disentangling agronomic and economic yield gaps: An integrated framework and application," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 154(C), pages 90-99.
    6. Arash Dourandish & Sayed Saghaian & Naser Shahnoushi Forushani & Nazanin Mohammadrezazadeh & Sina Kuhestani, 2020. "The Relation Between Property Rights, Farm Size and Technical Efficiency for the Developing Countries' Agricultural Sector," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(5), pages 749-762, July.
    7. Bachewe, Fantu Nisrane & Koru, Bethelihem & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2015. "Smallholder Teff Productivity and Efficiency: Evidence from High-Potential Districts of Ethiopia," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212257, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Bachewe, Fantu Nisrane & Koru, Bethlehem & Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum, 2015. "Productivity and efficiency of smallholder teff farmers in Ethiopia:," ESSP working papers 79, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. repec:ags:iaae15:211355 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Adom, Philip Kofi & Adams, Samuel, 2020. "Decomposition of technical efficiency in agricultural production in Africa into transient and persistent technical efficiency under heterogeneous technologies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    11. Sabrina Auci & Nicolò Barbieri & Manuela Coromaldi & Donatella Vignani, 2021. "Innovation for climate change adaptation and technical efficiency: an empirical analysis in the European agricultural sector," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 38(2), pages 597-623, July.
    12. Hall, Andy & Dijkman, Jeroen & Sulaiman, Rasheed, 2010. "Research Into Use: Investigating the Relationship between Agricultural Research and Innovation," MERIT Working Papers 2010-044, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    13. Xiangyu Guo & Canhui Deng & Dan Wang & Xu Du & Jiali Li & Bowen Wan, 2021. "International Comparison of the Efficiency of Agricultural Science, Technology, and Innovation: A Case Study of G20 Countries," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(5), pages 1-16, March.
    14. Gabriel A. Sampaio Morais & Felipe F. Silva & Carlos Otávio de Freitas & Marcelo José Braga, 2021. "Irrigation, Technical Efficiency, and Farm Size: The Case of Brazil," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(3), pages 1-21, January.
    15. Leonardo, Elias & Dorward, Peter & Garforth, Chris & Sutcliffe, Chloe & Van Hulst, Freddy, 2020. "Conflict-induced displacement as a catalyst for agricultural innovation: Findings from South Sudan," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).

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