Analysis of technical efficiency among smallholder rice Farmers in Eastern and Southern Provinces of Rwanda
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Since 2004, rice is a priority crop for food security and poverty reduction in Rwanda. The crop was found capable of giving the highest yield in the marshlands compared to other crops and its consumption has been growing over the years, surpassing the domestic supply since the 1980s. In a bid to attain self-sufficiency, the country made remarkable efforts to develop the subsector. These were mainly directed towards the expansion of the area under rice, organisation of farmers' cooperatives and easy access to inputs. Despite these efforts, the country continues to rely on imports and the current productivity of.rice is still very low compared to the potential yield. The failure to reach the expected potential yield suggests a lack of technical efficiency in the production process. This study aimed, at assessing rice producers' technical efficiency as well as its determinants in Ntende and Cyili schemes respectively located in the Eastern and Southern provinces of Rwanda. It used a Stochastic Frontier Analysis (SFA) with the Cobb-Douglas function on a random sample of 185 rice farmers. The results indicated that in Rwanda, the size of land, quantity of pesticides used and involvement of family labour in rice farming activities were the significant determinants of paddy production. The results also showed that the average yield in the sample was 4.81tons per hectare and the mean technical efficiency (TE) was 72% implying that rice farmers were operating below the production frontier. Results showed that if the average .farmer should produce at 100% of TE, hislher average yield should reach to 6.7 tons per hectare. Moreover, if the average farmer is compared to the one having the highest TE in the study sample, results indicates that the former would have reduced the inputs by 23% for the same current output. Regarding the determinants of TE, the age of rice farmers was found positively affecting technical inefficiency which indicated that as farmers become older, the inefficiency effects increase and TE decreases. On the other hand, trainings on rice farming practices and visits of extension agents were found to decrease inefficiency and significantly increase with TE. The implication of the study is that, there is an opportunity to increase paddy production through increased technical efficiency. To achieve this, the study recommends an increased number of extension officers' visits, training of farmers as well as a close follow-up to the older farmers.