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Essays on agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Aziza Kibonge, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Agriculture is the predominant sector in many of SSA (Sub-Saharan Africa) countries, capable of enhancing the economic development process while reducing poverty. However, the performance of this sector in SSA has been low compared to other developing countries, characterized by fluctuations over the decades. This study looks at the evolution of total factor productivity (TFP) growth rates, technical change and efficiency change in 41 countries in SSA, from 1960 to 2006. It also examines the potential role of institutions and political variables, climatic factors and water scarcity, as well as CO2 emissions from deforestation. The first chapter examines the association between agricultural productivity rates and institutions. The results show an annual growth in TFP of 0.6% with technical change playing a major role in determining TFP. Variables such as colonial heritage and years of independence are shown to contribute in explaining the gap in countries performance. The second chapter provides a better understanding of the role of climatic factors (precipitation, irrigation, drought and temperature) on total agricultural productivity rates. The effect of water is explicitly incorporated in productivity measurements using an indicator of drought developed from the standard precipitation index. Results suggest that agricultural productivity is sensitive to climate variability; Precipitation and temperature have a positive effect on agricultural production. Once drought and irrigation are accounted for, the gap in countries performance decreases and increases respectively. The third chapter is an attempt to "correct" TFP measurement in SSA's agriculture for CO2 produced as a result of land clearing needed in agriculture. The results suggest that (i) when CO2 is a joint output of the sector using an output distance function, TFP growth rates are higher as the same amount of inputs are used to produce two outputs instead of one; (ii) When CO2 emissions due to land clearing are treated as an input using a production function, it is effectively treated as a 'bad' output, and punishes the sector with lower TFP growth rates.

Subject Area

Agricultural economics|Sub Saharan Africa Studies

Recommended Citation

Kibonge, Aziza, "Essays on agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3559694.