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New perspectives on farm size and productivity

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  • Rada, Nicholas E.
  • Fuglie, Keith O.

Abstract

The farm size and productivity debate has been limited by the focus on land or labor productivity, generally showing respective productivity advantages to smaller or larger sized farms. Our purpose is to provide new perspectives on the debate by bringing together evidence from a set of novel case studies in both rich and poor countries. Common to them are the adoption of total factor productivity (TFP) as the comparative performance measure, and the reliance on panels of farm micro data. The present article presents a synthesis of findings from five case studies in (i) Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda; (ii) Bangladesh; (iii) Brazil; (iv) Australia; and (v) the United States. The preponderance of evidence from these studies suggests that there is no single economically optimal agrarian structure; rather, it appears to evolve with the stage of economic development. Certain farm sizes face relative productivity advantages, such as small farms in Africa. But with economic and market growth, that smallholder advantage will likely attenuate, moving toward constant and eventually increasing returns to size. Yet, importantly, small farms may be quite dynamic, and need not be a drag on agricultural growth until perhaps well into the development process.

Suggested Citation

  • Rada, Nicholas E. & Fuglie, Keith O., 2019. "New perspectives on farm size and productivity," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 147-152.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:84:y:2019:i:c:p:147-152
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2018.03.015
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    Cited by:

    1. Ayerst, Stephen & Brandt, Loren & Restuccia, Diego, 2020. "Market constraints, misallocation, and productivity in Vietnam agriculture," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C).
    2. Eric C. Edwards & Martin Fiszbein & Gary D. Libecap, 2020. "Colonial Origins, Property Rights, and the Organization of Agricultural Production: the US Midwest and Argentine Pampas Compared," NBER Working Papers 27750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Tasso Adamopoulos & Loren Brandt & Jessica Leight & Diego Restuccia, 2017. "Misallocation, Selection and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis with Panel Data from China," Working Papers tecipa-593, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    4. Gourlay, Sydney & Kilic, Talip & Lobell, David B., 2019. "A new spin on an old debate: Errors in farmer-reported production and their implications for inverse scale - Productivity relationship in Uganda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    5. Omotilewa, Oluwatoba J. & Jayne, Thomas S. & Muyanga, Milu & Aromolaranc, Adebayo & Liverpool-Tasieb, Lenis Saweda O. & Awokuseb, Titus, 2020. "A revisit of farm size and productivity: Empirical evidence from a wide range of farm sizes in Nigeria," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304210, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    6. Mensah, Edouard R. & Kostandini, Genti, 2020. "The inverse farm size-productivity relationship under land size mis-measurement and in the presence of weather and price risks: Panel data evidence from Uganda," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304477, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Thanh Ngo & Hung V. Vu & Huong Ho & Thuy T. T. Dao & Hai T. H. Nguyen, 2019. "Performance of Fish Farms in Vietnam–Does Financial Access Help Improve Their Cost Efficiency?," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(3), pages 1-10, August.
    8. Amadu, Festus O. & McNamara, Paul E. & Miller, Daniel C., 2020. "Yield effects of climate-smart agriculture aid investment in southern Malawi," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agrarian structure; Agriculture; Crop yields; Farm size; Land productivity; Total factor productivity (TFP);

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets
    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy

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