Water use and technical efficiencies in horticultural greenhouses in Tunisia
We measure the technical efficiency of unheated greenhouse farms in Tunisia, and propose a measure for irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) using an alternative form of the data envelopment analysis (DEA) model. Technical efficiency measures the degree to which (all) farm inputs are used efficiently. IWUE is a measure of the efficiency of irrigation water use when other inputs and output are kept constant. As a second stage, a tobit model is used to identify the degree to which technical efficiency and IWUE correlate with a set of explanatory variables. A comparison of the efficiency scores obtained from constant returns to scale (CRS) and variable returns to scale (VRS) specifications shows that most farmers in our sample are producing at an efficient scale. Under the CRS assumption, the average technical efficiency of the sample was 67.3%. A similar pattern of scores was shown for IWUE; although in this case the average IWUE was even lower (42%). This implies that when all other inputs remain constant, the current output could be produced using, on average, 58% less irrigation water. We conclude that farmers' technical training in greenhouse management, investments in water saving technologies and the existence of a fertigation technique on farm have a significant and positive effect on their level of IWUE. However, IWUE is significantly and negatively affected by the proportion of total farm land allocated to greenhouses.
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