Research Topics

EPAR Technical Report #240
Publication Date: 07/28/2016
Type: Data Analysis
Abstract

There is a wide gap between realized and potential yields for many crops in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Experts identify poor soil quality as a primary constraint to increased agricultural productivity. Therefore, increasing agricultural productivity by improving soil quality is seen as a viable strategy to enhance food security. Yet adoption rates of programs focused on improving soil quality have generally been lower than expected. We explore a seldom considered factor that may limit farmers’ demand for improved soil quality, namely, whether farmers’ self-assessments of their soil quality match soil scientists’ assessments. In this paper, using Tanzania National Panel Survey (TZNPS) data, part of the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA), we compare farmers’ own assessments of soil quality with scientific measurements of soil quality from the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD). We find a considerable “mismatch” and most notably, that 11.5 percent of survey households that reported having “good” soil quality are measured by scientific standards to have severely constrained nutrient availability. Mismatches between scientific measurements and farmer assessments of soil quality may highlight a potential barrier for programs seeking to encourage farmers to adopt soil quality improvement activities. 

EPAR Technical Report #310
Publication Date: 11/20/2015
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

Cereal yield variability is influenced by initial conditions such as suitability of the farming system for cereal cultivation, current production quantities and yields, and zone-specific potential yields limited by water availability. However, exogenous factors such as national policies, climate, and international market conditions also impact farm-level yields directly or provide incentives or disincentives for farmers to intensify production. We conduct a selective literature review of policy-related drivers of maize yields in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and pair the findings with FAOSTAT data on yield and productivity. This report presents our cumulative findings along with contextual evidence of the hypothesized drivers behind maize yield trends over the past 20 years for the focus countries.

EPAR Technical Report #303
Publication Date: 08/10/2015
Type: Data Analysis
Abstract

Common estimates of agricultural productivity rely upon crude measures of crop yield, typically defined as the weight harvested of a crop divided by the area harvested. But this common yield measure poorly reflects performance among farm systems combining multiple crops in one area (e.g., intercropping), and also ignores the possibility that farmers might lose crop area between planting and harvest (e.g., partial crop failure). Drawing on detailed plot-level data from Tanzania’s National Panel Survey, our research contrasts measures of smallholder productivity using production per hectare harvested and production per hectare planted.

An initial analysis (Research Brief - Rice Productivity Measurement) looking at rice production finds that yield by area planted differs significantly from yield by area harvested, particularly for smaller farms and female-headed households. OLS regression further reveals different demographic and management-related drivers of variability in yield gains – and thus different implications for policy and development interventions – depending on the yield measurement used. Findings suggest a need to better specify “yield” to more effectively guide agricultural development efforts.

 

EPAR Research Brief #312
Publication Date: 07/30/2015
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

This brief reviews the evidence of realized yield gains by smallholder farmers attributable to the use of high-quality seed and/or improved seed varieties. Our analysis suggests that in most cases, use of improved varieties and/or quality seed is associated with modest yield increases.  In the sample of 395 trials reviewed, positive yield changes accompanied the use of improved variety or quality seed, on average, in 10 out of 12 crops, with rice and cassava as the two exceptions.

EPAR Technical Report #245
Publication Date: 04/10/2015
Type: Data Analysis
Abstract

A farmer’s decision of how much land to dedicate to each crop reflects their farming options at the extensive and intensive margins. The extensive margin represents the total amount of agricultural land area that a farmer has available in a given year (referred to interchangeably as ‘farm size’ or ‘agricultural land’). A farmer increases land use on the extensive margin by planting on new agricultural land. The intensive margin represents area planted of crops as a proportion of total farm size. A farmer increases the intensive margin by increasing output within a fixed area. This analysis examines cropping patterns for households in Tanzania between 2008 and 2010 using data from the Tanzania National Panel Survey (TZNPS).  This brief describes changes in farm size, total area planted, and area planted of select annual crops to highlight the dynamic nature of farmer’s cropping choices for a sample population of 2,246 agricultural households that reported having any agricultural land in 2008 or 2010. Throughout the brief, we present summary statistics at the national level and compare them with household-level data to show how results vary depending on how the sub-population is defined and how average measures can mask household level changes. We analyze these questions in the context of smallholders (defined as households with total agricultural land area as less than two hectares) and farming systems.  

EPAR Technical Report #98
Publication Date: 10/12/2010
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

Cereals and pulses are important food and cash crops for farmers and rural households in Ethiopia. Despite the economic and food security importance of these crops, data and opinion suggest a yield gap: actual smallholder farm yields do not achieve estimated potential yields for wheat, sorghum, maize, lentils and peas. Furthermore, cereal prices in Ethiopia fall between import and export parity prices, limiting their international trading prospects. Although there are significant wheat imports, these reflect the influx of food aid, rather than competitive trade on the international market. The purpose of this brief is to estimate yield gaps in important Ethiopian crops in order to identify potential areas for productivity gains. We find that wheat, sorghum and maize all exhibit the potential for yield gains to increase domestic food availability. Additionally, all three crops experienced significant spikes in yield in the 2006 season. Further investigation into the climate conditions and policy in place that year may generate potential strategies to increase future yields. Analysis of Ethiopian lentil and pea yields suggest that productivity gains may be possible to increase food availability. Limited access to improved technologies appears to be the main constraint to pulse productivity in Ethiopia. Opportunities to increase lentil and pea yields appear to exist through increasing cultivation of improved varieties.

EPAR Technical Report #82
Publication Date: 07/16/2010
Type: Research Brief
Abstract

EPAR’s Poultry Markets in West Africa series provides an overview of poultry market trends across West Africa and compares the opportunities for poultry sector development in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The briefs in this series provide detailed country-specific poultry market analyses. The primary resources for these analyses included many reports prepared in response to the avian influenza epidemic, which may explain some of the emphasis on the importance of biosecurity in the available literature. We find that the West African poultry sector faces high production costs, safety concerns due to lack of sanitary controls, and technical constraints in processing and marketing. In addition to biological issues, the lack of breeders, marketing, and processing technology present technical constraints to poultry sector growth.  

EPAR Research Brief #91
Publication Date: 07/09/2010
Type: Research Brief
Abstract

This report provides an overview of poultry market trends in Benin as compared to the wider West African region. In Benin, live chickens, hens, poultry meat, and eggs for consumption are subject to the 20 percent Common External Tariff (CET), which facilitates an influx of cheap poultry imports from the European Union (EU). Live turkeys and other poultry, reproducers, and hatching eggs are subject to a 5 percent tariff. In the late 1990s, Benin experienced an influx of cheap poultry products primarily from the EU. By 2002, annual poultry imports reached approximately 24,000 tons, more than the poultry imports of any other country in West Africa.  In 2004 and 2005, Benin banned imports of poultry and poultry by-products from countries affected by avian influenza. Current information about the poultry industry in Benin is limited. The primary sources for this analysis are a FAO poultry sector review from 2006, a poultry sector project report from the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), and a 2006 assessment by the Benin Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fishing. We find that the poultry sector plays an important economic, social and cultural role in Benin. Poultry and egg production is a major contributor to the agricultural sector and is an important source of nutrition and income for Beninese households. The poultry sector in Benin has the potential to improve the nutritional wellbeing and income security of a large percentage of the population. Traditional smallholders produce the majority of poultry products domestically; however, current production is limited due to low productivity, poor biosecurity, and lack of inputs. We find that a reduction of foreign imports and greater institutional support for the industry may help domestic producers reach their potential.

EPAR Research Brief #92
Publication Date: 07/07/2010
Type: Research Brief
Abstract

This report provides an overview of poultry market trends in Sierra Leone as compared to the wider West African region. Sierra Leone did not adopt the Common External Tariff (CET) until 2005, however 2004 tariff rates were already on par with official CET rates. The tariff for live chickens, hens, poultry meat and eggs for consumption remains at 20 percent, which facilitates an influx of cheap poultry imports from Europe. Live turkeys and eggs for hatching are subject to a 5 percent tariff. There is little public information available regarding poultry production in Sierra Leone. The primary sources for this analysis are Government of Sierra Leone documents responding to the avian influenza epidemic in the West African region. This report provides a brief overview of consumption and consumer preferences, domestic production, trade, the political environment, and opportunities for future poultry development in Sierra Leone. Because of the small amount of information regarding poultry production in Sierra Leone, we find that further information is necessary to understand the scope of opportunity for poultry market development.

EPAR Research Brief #88
Publication Date: 06/16/2010
Type: Research Brief
Abstract

This report provides an overview of poultry market trends in Côte d’Ivoire as compared to the wider West African region. Côte d’Ivoire experienced an influx of cheap poultry products between 2000 and 2005, contributing to a significant increase in poultry consumption during those years. In 2005, Côte d’Ivoire banned imports from countries affected by avian influenza and increased taxes on all other imported poultry. The primary sources for this analysis are the FAO-Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) poultry sector review from 2008 and the information provided by the Interprofession Avicole Ivoirienne (IPRAVI) on their website. IPRAVI is the umbrella organization overseeing Côte d’Ivoire’s poultry sector. We find that smallholders produce the majority of poultry in Côte d’Ivoire. Common production practices lead to low productivity, poor bio-security, and limited distribution opportunities. Since the influx of cheap poultry imports between 2000 and 2005 and the import ban of 2005, overall consumption of poultry has declined along with imports, suggesting significant market potential for domestic poultry products. We provide specific areas for interventions to improve poultry productivity, based upon evidence from the African Development Bank and the FAO. Furthermore, we examine analyses from the FAO that suggest there is sufficient infrastructural capacity to expand the poultry sector and increase smallholder productivity.