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Integrating Soil Science into Agricultural Production Frontiers

Report
Authors Anders Ekbom
Yonas Alem
Thomas Sterner
ISSN 1403-2465
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Economics, Environmental Economics Unit
Language en
Links hdl.handle.net/2077/31781
Keywords soil analysis, stochastic production frontier, agricultural productivity
Subject categories Economics

Abstract

This paper integrates soil science variables into an economic analysis of agricultural output among small-scale farmers in Kenya’s highlands. The integration is valuable because farmers’ choice of inputs depends on both the status of the soil and socio-economic conditions. The study uses a stochastic production frontier in which the individual farm’s distance to the frontier depends systematically on individual factors. We show the importance of including key soil properties and find that phosphorus has a negative output elasticity, suggesting that farms may be using the wrong fertilizer mix. Hence, the central policy implication is that while fertilizers are generally beneficial, their application needs to be based on better soil information. This highlights the importance of strengthening agricultural extension, increased access to markets, and more diversified supply of production inputs.

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