We present a conceptual framework depicting the issues and strategies of a firm with an innovation (in product or technology or system). To “implement” the innovation in terms of procurement of feedstock (intermediate inputs), production and processing, and marketing, the innovating firm undertakes strategic design of its supply chain. It must decide how much to produce, what segments of the supply chain to undertake in-house versus sourcing externally, and what institutions such as contracts and standards it will use to coordinate the suppliers assuring its external sourcing. The paper illustrates with cases from developed and developing economies, draws policy implications, and lays out a research agenda.
The farm size and productivity debate has been limited by the focus on land or labor productivity, generally showing respective productivity advantages to smaller or larger sized farms. Our purpose is to provide new perspectives on the debate by bringing together evidence from a set of novel case studies in both rich and poor countries. Common to them are the adoption of total factor productivity (TFP) as the comparative performance measure, and the reliance on panels of farm micro data. The present article presents a synthesis of findings from five case studies in (i) Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda; (ii) Bangladesh; (iii) Brazil; (iv) Australia; and (v) the United States. The preponderance of evidence from these studies suggests that there is no single economically optimal agrarian structure; rather, it appears to evolve with the stage of economic development. Certain farm sizes face relative productivity advantages, such as small farms in Africa. But with economic and market growth, that smallholder advantage will likely attenuate, moving toward constant and eventually increasing returns to size. Yet, importantly, small farms may be quite dynamic, and need not be a drag on agricultural growth until perhaps well into the development process.
In recent decades, agricultural production in the U.S. has continued to shift to large-scale operations, raising concerns about the economic viability of small and midsized farms. To understand whether economies of size provided an incentive for the consolidation of production, the study estimates the total factor productivity (TFP) of five size classes of grain-producing farms in the U.S. Heartland (Corn Belt) region. Using quinquennial Agricultural Census data from 1982 to 2012 the study also compares TFP growth rates across farm sizes to gain insight into whether observed productivity differences are likely to persist. The finding of a strong positive relationship between farm size and TFP suggests that consolidation of production has contributed to recent aggregate productivity growth in the crop sector. The study estimates the extent to which sectoral productivity growth can be attributed to structural change versus other factors including technological change. The study also explores some tradeoffs associated with policies that raise the productivity of small versus large farms.
Many Sub-Sahara African countries have long endured sluggish agricultural productivity growth and a farm structure dominated by smallholders. This prevailing structure has led to public policies focusing on access to land and its distribution as ways to boost agricultural supply. Drawing on data from the Living Standards Measurement Study–Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) for three East African countries (Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda), our purpose is to: test whether smaller farms in these countries are more productive than larger ones; examine how managerial performance varies with farm size; and assess how public policy may improve farm performance. We adopt the Random Parameters Stochastic Production Frontier model to estimate and then decompose Total Factor Productivity (TFP) across different farm size classes. In doing so, we test for possible measurement errors of farmer self-reported land area using Global Positioning System (GPS) data, and explore the imperfect factor markets hypothesis. The results show that across the three countries TFP is higher for smaller farms than for larger ones. Overall, managerial performance is low suggesting that programs designed to enhance managerial capacity would promote farm productivity across all sizes. Other policies are size specific. Access to agricultural input markets improves the productivity of the small farms, while greater spending on transportation infrastructure and extension services enhances the productivity of the large.
The effect of farm size on productivity remains to be one of the longest standing debates in the agricultural development literature. In this paper, we use farm level data for the Australian grains industry from 1989 to 2004 to investigate the relationship between farm size and total factor productivity and its potential determinants. We show that a positive farm-size productivity relationship could be linked to farmer capital choice. In particular, the productivity advantage of larger farms is likely to diminish as farms use contract services to replace self–owned capital, suggesting that the hire of capital services (hereafter ‘capital outsourcing’) may lift the productivity level of small farms compared to their larger counterparts.
In this systematic review, we aim to examine the impact of women's work in agriculture on maternal and child nutrition in South Asia. Building on previous reviews supported under the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) consortium, and recent published literature, we include findings from new LANSA research. While mapping literature onto the gender-nutrition pathways linking agriculture to nutrition (Kadiyala et al., 2014), we also point to conceptual and methodological directions for further exploration emerging from our work. Key amongst these are a focus on seasonality, poverty, and gender relations, moving beyond both an exclusive focus on women as a unified and homogenous group, and agriculture as an unchanging and common set of activities and production processes. Our analysis suggests the need for a more contextualised approach, and for a richer cross-disciplinary framework for effectively addressing the ways in which women's work mediates agriculture's role in improving child and maternal nutrition in South Asia.
Food waste prevention has become an issue of international concern, with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 aiming to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030. However there is no review that has considered the effectiveness of interventions aimed at preventing food waste in the consumption stages of the food system. This significant gap, if filled, could help support those working to reduce food waste in the developed world, providing knowledge of what interventions are specifically effective at preventing food waste. This paper fills this gap, identifying and summarizing food-waste prevention interventions at the consumption/consumer stage of the supply chain via a rapid review of global academic literature from 2006 to 2017. We identify 17 applied interventions that claim to have achieved food waste reductions. Of these, 13 quantified food waste reductions. Interventions that changed the size or type of plates were shown to be effective (up to 57% food waste reduction) in hospitality environments. Changing nutritional guidelines in schools were reported to reduce vegetable waste by up to 28%, indicating that healthy diets can be part of food waste reduction strategies. Information campaigns were also shown to be effective with up to 28% food waste reduction in a small sample size intervention. Cooking classes, fridge cameras, food sharing apps, advertising and information sharing were all reported as being effective but with little or no robust evidence provided. This is worrying as all these methods are now being proposed as approaches to reduce food waste and, except for a few studies, there is no reproducible quantified evidence to assure credibility or success. To strengthen current results, a greater number of longitudinal and larger sample size intervention studies are required. To inform future intervention studies, this paper proposes a standardised guideline, which consists of: (1) intervention design; (2) monitoring and measurement; (3) moderation and mediation; (4) reporting; (5) systemic effects. Given the importance of food-waste reduction, the findings of this review highlight a significant evidence gap, meaning that it is difficult to make evidence-based decisions to prevent or reduce consumption-stage food waste in a cost-effective manner.
Land degradation and inadequate faecal sludge management are two major issues in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The transformation of human excreta into soil amendments and their wide-scale adoption could improve soil health and contribute to solving the sanitation crisis in SSA. There are however perception challenges around these fertilisers because of the potentially harmful components they contain such as pathogens and heavy metals, which can be removed with appropriate treatment such as composting. A major barrier to the wide scale commercialisation of human excreta derived fertiliser (HEDF) is the unclear regulations surrounding their use. The aim of this study was to identify barriers to the use of HEDF by farmers participating in the horticultural export market with Kenya as focus area since horticultural exports are a major contributor to the country’s economy. Global GAP is the most widely adopted standard for quality assurance of horticultural crops and the use of human sewage sludge is currently not allowed on certified farms. Interviews with stakeholders along the food export chain highlighted the complex interactions that exist between them and showed that Global GAP certified farmers were not willing to use HEDF on their farms even if local regulations recognise treated sludge as a valid input to agriculture. Several countries (like the UK, Sweden, Australia and the USA) created specific certification or assurance schemes to improve public perception of biosolids. The creation of a similar assurance or certification scheme specific to fertilisers made from source-separated human excreta would be a step into formalising them as a product, establishing production procedures, limits on contaminants content as well as testing protocols. Such a certification scheme could increase the confidence of regulating bodies in HEDF and lead to their acceptance by global farming standards.
Farmers adopting and implementing innovations, such as new technologies and new products, often require “collaborative inter-segment innovation” by other actors in other segments of the value chain, such as wholesalers implementing new product innovations such as supply of commercial fish feed and chemicals and buying and marketing non-traditional fish species. We tested whether the clustering, and thus economies of agglomeration with implied lower transaction costs, encourage and facilitate farmers to innovate. That potential determinant of farmer choices has not been studied in agriculture or aquaculture or indeed the food sector. We use a unique data set from our own primary survey of the aquaculture value chain in Bangladesh, including micro data for 1500 fish farm households and 20 districts (77 villages) for meso level data. We calculate an index to include both horizontal agglomeration and vertical interconnections among actors in the value chain. We find being in an area with a high clustering index is associated with a higher probability of farmers using more modern inputs and growing non-traditional commodity fish species, controlling for farmers’ other characteristics as well as proximity to cities.
This paper demonstrates that religion and religiosity affect norms, which affect food consumption patterns and production. Heterogeneity and asymmetric information lead to multiple certification channels as well as multiple supply chains. Major supply chains may address multiple constituencies that are secular or less religious. Technological change affects norms and thus the food system. We obtain these results by analyzing the food systems for meat products in Israel where there are three religions – Jews, Muslims, and Christians – and people assign themselves three levels of religiosity – secular, conservative, and orthodox. Israel has multiple Kosher and Halal certifiers and several specialized supermarket chains for orthodox groups. Its main supermarket chains serve secular and some conservative segments. The immigration of secular Jews from Russia led to the proliferation of non-Kosher supply chains and products, and increased consumption of pork. New technologies and higher incomes led to emergence of fast food chains serving orthodox Jews that had previously tended to eat at home.
Although over 40 jurisdictions have adopted a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) for public health worldwide, it is still debated in many places. Policy processes can influence the prospect of an SSB tax, its design and its public health benefits. To get an insight into such processes, we undertook a case study of the soda tax enacted in France on the 1st of January 2012. Newspaper articles (2003–2013) and institutional documents (2007–2012) were identified using keywords and search engines. Qualitative data extraction and analyses were performed on a thematic and chronological basis, with guidance from Kingdon’s multiple streams theory (MST). Triangulation was enhanced by using complementary sources. This study shows that in August 2011, the French government surprisingly announced a €3.58 cent/L excise tax on SSBs, excluding juices with no added sugars and non-calorically sweetened beverages (NCSBs). As part of a large budgetary plan, the proposal aimed to reduce SSB consumption and raise revenue that was earmarked for health care. Several conditions contributed to opening a policy window: The announcement occurred in the context of severe budgetary deficits; soda tax scenarios had already been discussed at a high level; and the bill was supported by convinced political leaders. Subsequently, the tax successfully passed through the legislative process due to a series of unexpected events, but its public health rationale and design were weakened. The first event was the disorganised reaction by the food industry, despite their sharp opposition to the tax. The next event was the support of the soda tax that came from a majority of Deputies, provided that the revenues would serve another purpose: relieving wage costs in the farming sector. Finally, policy entrepreneurs favoured a compromise to make the tax politically acceptable and legally viable: The tax rate doubled, the scope was extended to NCSBs and revenues were split between health care and agriculture. This study sheds light on influence factors that could be taken into account by public health actors willing to influence soda tax policy processes.
Palm oil is a cooking oil and food ingredient in widespread use in the global food system. However, as a highly saturated fat, palm oil consumption has been associated with negative effects on cardiovascular health, while large scale oil palm production has been linked to deforestation. We construct an innovative fully integrated Macroeconomic-Environmental-Demographic-health (MED-health) model to undertake integrated health, environmental, and economic analyses of palm oil consumption and oil palm production in Thailand over the coming 20 years (2016–2035). In order to put a health and fiscal food policy perspective on policy priorities of future palm oil consumption growth, we model the implications of a 54% product-specific sales tax to achieve a halving of future energy intakes from palm cooking oil consumption. Total patient incidence and premature mortality from myocardial infarction and stroke decline by 0.03–0.16% and rural-urban equity in health and welfare improves in most regions. However, contrary to accepted wisdom, reduced oil palm production would not be environmentally beneficial in the Thailand case, since, once established, oil palms have favourable carbon sequestration characteristics compared to alternative uses of Thai cropland. The increased sales tax also provokes mixed economic impacts: While real GDP increases in a second-best Thai tax policy environment, relative consumption-to-investment price changes may reduce household welfare over extended periods unless accompanied by non-distortionary government compensation payments. Overall, our holistic approach demonstrates that product-specific fiscal food policy taxes may involve important trade-offs between nutrition, health, the economy, and the environment.
The long-standing debate on the relationship between farm size and productivity has been generally limited by the range of farm sizes evaluated and the definition of productivity. In this paper we use data from three Brazilian agricultural censuses to address these issues. In particular, we introduce a wider distribution of farm sizes than presently available from the literature and we employ total factor productivity (TFP) as our performance measure. In doing so, we test which farm size class had the highest TFP levels in 1985 and 2006, how factor productivity growth varied within and across farm size classes between those years, and which policy or factor had the greatest productivity enhancing effect. When examining TFP growth, we move beyond the common decomposition into technical and efficiency changes by identifying the complete distribution of farm productivity performances. We find that by 2006 a U-shaped distribution of productivity over farm sizes had emerged. Considerable 1985–2006 TFP growth differences are prevalent; positive rates for the majority accompany stagnant or negative rates for some. Public education investments were associated with faster productivity growth regardless of farm size, while technical assistance’s positive effect and credit’s negative effect were associated with larger farm sizes. The role of specialization varied by size.
This paper examines the agricultural productivity-farm size relationship in the context of Bangladesh. Features of Bangladesh’s agriculture help overcome several limitations in testing the inverse farm-size productivity relationship in other developing country settings. A Stochastic Production Frontier (SPF) model is applied using data from three rounds of a household panel survey to simultaneously estimate the production frontier and the technical inefficiency functions. The ‘correlated random effects’ approach is used to control for unobserved heterogeneous household effects. Methodologically, the results suggest that SPF models that ignore the inefficiency function are likely mis-specified, and may result in misleading conclusions on the farm size-productivity relationship. Empirically, the findings confirm that the farm size and productivity relationship is negative, but with the inverse relationship diminishing over time. Total factor productivity growth, driven by technical change, is found to have been robust across the sample. Across farm size groups, the relatively larger farmers experienced faster technical change, which helped them to catch up and narrow the productivity gap with the smaller farmers.