Essays on Farm Technology Adoption, Technical Efficiency and Productivity in Smallholder Food Crop Agriculture in Kenya
Ogada, Maurice Juma
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With the rapidly increasing population and the associated decline in landholding sizes, the government of Kenya has realized that agricultural extensification is no longer possible for most parts of the country. Consequently, development and promotion of land-augmenting technologies such as inorganic fertilizers and improved seeds have been pursued as the most viable alternatives towards increasing agricultural productivity. However, adoption of farm technologies in the country remains low among smallholders and widely varying across regions. Moreover, even where these improved technologies have been well adopted, productivity has stagnated for most crops. Thus, this thesis sought to analyse factors that influence adoption of improved farm technologies, measure technical efficiency and establish factors that influence its variation across households, and estimate the effects of adoption of improved technologies on crop yields among the smallholders. To address the first objective, inter-dependence of inorganic fertilizer and improved maize varieties adoption decisions was examined. For the second objective, data envelopment analysis was used to compute the technical efficiency scores. Tobit model was then used to establish the factors that influence inter-household variation in technical efficiency. In response to the third objective, yield differences were examined among complete, partial and non-adopters of inorganic fertilizer and improved maize varieties using combined Difference-in-Differences and Propensity Score Matching. Overall, the thesis makes contribution in terms of both literature and methodology. Results showed that adoption decisions on related technologies were inter-dependent. Such decisions were also influenced by farmer characteristics, plot-level factors and market imperfections. The smallholders were found to be technically inefficient, producing only 60 per cent of the possible output. Great inter-household variations in technical efficiency existed, influenced by farmer characteristics, production environment and production risks. Inorganic fertilizers and improved maize varieties were found to increase yields especially if adopted as a package and if farmers were more efficient. Policy implication of these findings is that the government, the technology developers and the development partners should have a two-pronged approach in scaling up yields among the smallholders. Foremost, they have to implement incentives to accelerate complete adoption of these technologies. Easing market imperfections would be an important step towards this. Second, they should address the constraints to farmer efficiency. Viable alternatives include improving transport and marketing infrastructure, encouraging the smallholders to supplement inorganic fertilizer with manure, enhancing irrigated agriculture, advising smallholders to keep optimal plot sizes, and entrenching secure land tenure.