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Determinants of Economic Farm-Size–Efficiency Relationship in Smallholder Maize Farms in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa

Ajuruchukwu Obi () and Balogun Taofeek Ayodeji ()
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Ajuruchukwu Obi: Department of Agricultural Economic and Extension, University of Fort Hare, Alice, Eastern Cape 5700, South Africa
Balogun Taofeek Ayodeji: Department of Agricultural Economic and Extension, University of Fort Hare, Alice, Eastern Cape 5700, South Africa

Agriculture, 2020, vol. 10, issue 4, 1-18

Abstract: The economic farm-size–efficiency relationship for maize remains unclear. A question that has yet to be answered conclusively is whether farm size affects productivity. The debate on land-appropriation-without-compensation ultimately revolves around the optimal land size and conditions under which farmers can benefit from a more rational utilization of available land. As important as the farm-size–efficiency debate is, it has not received much attention since the launch of the land reform programme. Again, the farm sizes examined in the previous studies reflected large-scale commercial agriculture and were mainly in relation to wheat production rather than the dietary staple of maize. This paper applied parametric efficiency measures under alternative distributional assumptions to data generated from 267 maize-farming households, to understand the economic farm-size–efficiency relationships and their determinants. It emerged that, while farm size is a key determinant of economic efficiency in maize production, its effect on technical efficiency is still contested. Findings suggest that farmer support should be prioritized, and the government’s efforts to make farmers more productive should emphasize gender equity and optimal use of land.

Keywords: economic farm size; trans-log stochastic frontier; land reform; cost and economic efficiency (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q1 Q10 Q11 Q12 Q13 Q14 Q15 Q16 Q17 Q18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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