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Should African Rural Development Strategies Depend on Smallholder Farms? An Exploration of the Inverse Productivity Hypothesis

ACCOUNTING AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS AGRICULTURAL GROWTH AGRICULTURAL LABOR AGRICULTURAL POLICIES AGRICULTURAL PRACTICE AGRICULTURAL PRICES AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY AGRICULTURAL SECTORS ANIMALS AVERAGE YIELDS CEREAL YIELDS CGIAR CHEMICAL FERTILIZER CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS CLIMATE CLIMATIC CONDITIONS COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE COMMERCIAL FARMING CROP CROP PRODUCTION CROP SEASONS CROPS CULTIVATED LAND DECISION MAKING DEFORESTATION DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS DEVELOPMENT POLICY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES DRIVERS ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY ECONOMIC GROWTH ECONOMIES OF SCALE ELASTICITY FAMILY FARMS FAMILY LABOR FAO FARM FARM INCOME FARM INCOMES FARM PRODUCTIVITY FARM PROFITABILITY FARM SIZE FARM YIELDS FARMER FARMERS FARMING FARMING HOUSEHOLDS FARMING METHODS FARMING SYSTEMS FARMS FEED FERTILIZER FERTILIZER USE FOOD POLICY FOOD PRICE VOLATILITY FOOD PRICES FOOD SECURITY FREE MARKETS GLOBAL FOOD GLOBAL FOOD PRICES GRAIN GRAINS GREEN REVOLUTION GROWING SEASON GROWTH THEORY HERBICIDES HUMAN CAPITAL HUNGER HYBRID SEED HYBRID SEEDS HYBRIDS IFPRI INTERCROPPING INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE LABOR FORCE LABOR MARKET LABOR MARKETS LIVELIHOODS LIVING STANDARDS MAIZE MAIZE FARMERS MAIZE PRODUCTION MAIZE YIELDS MOTIVATION NATURAL ENDOWMENTS OPTIMIZATION ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OUTPUTS PESTICIDE PLANTING POLITICAL ECONOMY POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS PRICE VOLATILITY PRODUCE PRODUCTION FUNCTION PRODUCTION FUNCTIONS PRODUCTION INCREASES RETURNS TO SCALE RICE RICE YIELDS RURAL DEVELOPMENT RURAL LABOR SAFETY SAFETY NETS SCALE EFFECTS SHADOW PRICES SMALL FARMERS SMALL-SCALE FARMERS SMALLHOLDER AGRICULTURE SOIL CHARACTERISTICS SOIL FERTILITY SOILS STATISTICAL ANALYSIS SUBSISTENCE CROPS SURPLUS LABOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE WEALTH WHEAT
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa
2013-01-02T19:41:35Z | 2013-01-02T19:41:35Z | 2012-09

In Africa, most development strategies include efforts to improve the productivity of staple crops grown on smallholder farms. An underlying premise is that small farms are productive in the African context and that smallholders do not forgo economies of scale -- a premise supported by the often observed phenomenon that staple cereal yields decline as the scale of production increases. This paper explores a research design conundrum that encourages researchers who study the relationship between productivity and scale to use surveys with a narrow geographic reach, when policy would be better served with studies based on wide and heterogeneous settings. Using a model of endogenous technology choice, the authors explore the relationship between maize yields and scale using alternative data. Since rich descriptions of the decision environments that farmers face are needed to identify the applied technologies that generate the data, improvements in the location specificity of the data should reduce the likelihood of identification errors and biased estimates. However, the analysis finds that the inverse productivity hypothesis holds up well across a broad platform of data, despite obvious shortcomings with some components. It also finds surprising consistency in the estimated scale elasticities.

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