The relationship between technical efficiency in agriculture and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
This paper analyzes the impact of agricultural technical efficiency on the propensity of farmers to convert natural land into agricultural plots, i.e., to deforest, in the Brazilian Legal Amazon (BLA). A two-step econometric approach is adopted. A bootstrapped translog stochastic frontier that is a posteriori checked for functional consistency is used to assess technical efficiency and these estimates are put into a land-use model to assess the impact of productivity on deforestation. Analysis of agricultural census tract data suggests that technical efficiency has a U-shaped effect: both less and more efficient farms use more land for their agricultural activities and so have a positive effect on deforestation. However, the majority of farms in the BLA are on the ascendant slope, so that efficiency implies more deforestation in the BLA. The poor environmental valuation of the Brazilian forest, the uneven land distribution, and the problem of the de facto openly accessed forested and “unproductive” lands in the BLA could explain the U-shaped effect of technical efficiency on the conversion of forested land into agricultural land.
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