A Stochastic Frontier Analysis of Technical Efficiency of Maize Production Under Minimum Tillage in Zambia

Minimum tillage and other conservation agriculture practices are not only associated with income gains but are also claimed to be the panacea to the declining agricultural productivity and soil degradation problems in Africa and across the world. The few studies on technical efficiency related to the agricultural sector performance in Zambia have not attempted to determine how technically efficient smallholder farmers that produce maize under minimum tillage are. This study used stochastic frontier analysis based on both the half-normal and exponential model distributions on 2008 cross-sectional nationally representative data of 160 smallholder maize farm households that adopted minimum tillage in Zambia. Results indicate that maize farmers face increasing returns to scale (1.074) implying that there were opportunities for them to improve their technical efficiency as they were operating in stage I of their production functions. The half-normal and exponential model distributions indicate average technical efficiency scores of 60 and 71.7 percent, respectively. Their respective lowest efficiency scores were 9.3 and 8.5 percent. The highest efficiency scores for the half-normal and exponential model distributions were 89.3 and 90.9 percent. Maximum likelihood estimation results show that marital status, level of education of household head, square of household size, off farm income, agro-ecological region III, distance to vehicular road and access to loans are statistically significant factors that affect technical efficiency of smallholder maize farmers that practice minimum tillage in Zambia. The study calls for increased infrastructural development through construction of improved road network, schools and colleges in remote areas as a means to increasing accesss to knowledge and other agricultural services in order to enhance their technical efficiency levels. It also recommends promotion of minimum tillage practices in recommended agro-ecological regions to improve their technical efficiency. The study further acclaims for increased access to loans by smallholder maize farmers that practice minimum tillage as this would in one way induce them to invest in improved varieties and equipment that would help enhance their technical efficiency in Zambia.

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Sustainable Agriculture Research, Volume 04, Number 2

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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