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Modelling Investment Optimization on Smallholder Farms through Multi-criteria Decision Approaches: An Example from Ethiopia

  • William Seitz
  • D La Torre

We use data from the Ethiopia Rural Household Survey and the Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency to demonstrate a set of techniques for estimating optimal investment allocation in smallholder farming. The approaches treat farming tasks, constraints, and investments as a portfolio problem, characterized by multiple competing objectives. We formulate several versions of the multi-objective problem and solve them in three alternative ways; 1) using standard Markowitz portfolio optimization, 2) using a weighted goal programming model, and 3) a multi-horizon mean variance goal programming model, estimating all model parameters using real data. The main benefit of the goal programming formulation is the possibility to simplify in a single criterion problem complex situations in which the Decision Maker (DM) faces a trade-off between two or more objectives. We discuss the importance of portfolio allocations for smallholder farmers in minimizing risk and increasing return, and discuss how these approaches provide a framework that can be extended to practical applications in smallholder farming.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2014-06.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2014-06
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  1. Belaid AOUNI & Cinzia COLAPINTO & Davide LA TORRE, 2008. "Solving stochastic multi-objective programming through the GP model," Departmental Working Papers 2008-18, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  2. Stefano A. Caria & Paolo Falco, 2014. "Does the Risk of Poverty Reduce Happiness?," Development Working Papers 363, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 07 Apr 2014.
  3. Harry Markowitz, 1952. "Portfolio Selection," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 7(1), pages 77-91, 03.
  4. Luisa Menapace & Gregory Colson & Roberta Raffaelli, 2013. "Risk Aversion, Subjective Beliefs, and Farmer Risk Management Strategies," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(2), pages 384-389.
  5. Frank Ellis, 2000. "The Determinants of Rural Livelihood Diversification in Developing Countries," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 289-302.
  6. Mahmud Yesuf & Randall A. Bluffstone, 2009. "Poverty, Risk Aversion, and Path Dependence in Low-Income Countries: Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1022-1037.
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