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  • Reply to: Is bigger better? Agriculture edition   3 days 18 hours ago

    Research about measuring agricultural productivity is hugely important, but can I ask why we're still talking about the farm size-productivity relationship? Redistributive land reform isn't a policy issue anymore. Large scale agricultural investment is, but variations in productivity over the existing land distribution would tell us very little about how an investor with vastly different access to capital and technology would fare. Not to mention, does anyone expect that we're going to find a farm size-productivity relationship that's generalizable across contexts in any meaningful way?

    Meanwhile, there is still hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on research looking at agricultural productivity using household-survey based measures. It would be tremendously valuable to know what these findings say about that- are there adjustments that should be made to these datasets? Do we need to be using higher-cost approaches to measurement, with fewer studies as a result?

  • Reply to: Is bigger better? Agriculture edition   3 days 23 hours ago

    I was at a recent conference on structural transformation at Yale, at which Andrew Foster and Mark Rosenzweig presented a new (not yet) paper called Input Transaction Costs, Mechanization, and the Mis-allocation of Land: The Irrelevance of the IR. They've been working on this topic for a while and across a series of different papers, but the punchline here is that there's a U shaped relationship that is generally missed because surveys don't measure enough farms above 10 acres, which is where increasing returns to scale start to kick in in their data. They rationalize this with a model of fixed costs in hiring outside labor but also increasing returns to scale in capital (think bigger, more efficient tractors) that generate first a part of the farm size distribution with decreasing returns as farmers switch from inside to outside labor, then increasing returns as they mechanize more and more.

  • Reply to: Is bigger better? Agriculture edition   4 days 3 hours ago
    Thanks Silvio.   The link is now fixed and thanks for pointing out the pacdev session.  
  • Reply to: Is bigger better? Agriculture edition   4 days 5 hours ago

    Perhaps should be titled `Is bigger better? Agriculture in Africa Edition'. While the studies discussed are interesting, this is missing part of the picture. The distribution of farms in Africa should be mostly skewed toward the lower end <5ha <2ha. So what are we really measuring? Is bigger better on small plots?

    I would like to reference here work on a recent farm size-productivity conference, that brings together papers analyzing data from many regions.
    https://www.farmfoundation.org/webcontent/Farm-Size-and-Productivity-A-Global-Look-1942.aspx

  • Reply to: Is bigger better? Agriculture edition   4 days 7 hours ago

    Thanks to Markus for this interesting post. Gourlay et al. cannot be downloaded. By the way, beyond CSAE, a similar session on the IR was organized at Riverside for PacDev2017 (http://economics.ucr.edu/pacdev/program.html). Taylor and Helfand, for instance, refocus the debate on the inappropriateness of partial measures like land productivity.