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Agricultural Informatization and Technical Efficiency in Maize Production in Zambia

Gershom Endelani Mwalupaso (), Shangao Wang (), Sanzidur Rahman (), Essiagnon John-Philippe Alavo () and Xu Tian ()
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Gershom Endelani Mwalupaso: College of Economics and Management, China Center for Food Security Studies, Nanjing Agricultural University, No. 1 Weigang, Nanjing 210095, China
Shangao Wang: College of Economics and Management, China Center for Food Security Studies, Nanjing Agricultural University, No. 1 Weigang, Nanjing 210095, China
Essiagnon John-Philippe Alavo: College of Economics and Management, China Center for Food Security Studies, Nanjing Agricultural University, No. 1 Weigang, Nanjing 210095, China
Xu Tian: College of Economics and Management, China Center for Food Security Studies, Nanjing Agricultural University, No. 1 Weigang, Nanjing 210095, China

Sustainability, 2019, vol. 11, issue 8, 1-17

Abstract: The cropland productivity gap between Africa and the rest of the world is widening. Fortunately, increasing farmers’ access to useful agricultural information reduces the costs of searching for information, thereby leading to higher agricultural productivity and sustainability. This study investigates the association between the adoption of mobile phones to collect agricultural information and farmers’ technical efficiency (TE) in Zambia. Different from previous studies, we focus on the actual use of mobile phones by farmers rather than mere ownership. Farmers were selected using a two-stage sampling procedure, and the Cobb-Douglas (CD) production function is adopted to estimate the association using two approaches—the conventional stochastic production frontier (SPF) and propensity score matching-stochastic production frontier (PSM-SPF) model. In both cases, we found that the use of mobile phones is significantly and positively associated with farmers’ TE. However, the conventional SFP model exaggerates the TE scores by 5.3% due to its failure to mitigate biases from observed variables. Regarding the agricultural growth indicators (income and output) related to TE, a close inspection reveals that increasing mobile phone use to close the TE gap between the two groups could result in a 5.13% and 8.21% reduction in severity of poverty and extreme poverty, respectively. Additional research is essential to corroborate the findings and analyze the potential causal mechanisms. Our study provides strong evidence to promote mobile phone use in agricultural production in rural Zambia.

Keywords: agricultural informatization; mobile phone use; maize production; technical efficiency; sample-selection model: Zambia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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