African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6688

Full Length Research Paper

Analysis of factors affecting technical efficiency of smallholder farmers: Comparing time-varying and time-invariant inefficiency models

Kisu Simwaka1*, Stuart Ferrer2 and Geoff Harris1
1School of Economics and Finance, University of KwaZulu-Natal, J Block, 3rd Floor, Westville Campus, Durban, South Africa. 2South African Cane Growers Association, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 14 April 2013
  •  Published: 01 August 2013


This paper estimates technical efficiency and identifies factors that explain differentials in technical efficiency for affected and non-affected households. We use time-varying and time-invariant inefficiency models of production. The results show that fertilizer, labour, seeds, and age are found to have contributed significantly to technical efficiency for affected farm households under both time varying and time-invariant models. On the other hand, only fertilizer contributed significantly to technical efficiency of non-affected farm households. In general, results show that Malawian farmers are generally technically efficient. Nevertheless, there is still scope for improvement of the productivity of small-scale farmers, as some farm households, particularly female headed households with mortality, are still operating at low levels of efficiency. Two main policy issues emerge from the results of this study. Firstly, all types of obstacles that could limit the use of farm inputs should be removed. This should include complete liberalisation of purchase and distribution of such inputs and the development of some low-cost technology to reduce labour constraints on the farm. Secondly, there is need to develop social capital in smallholder farming through the recommencement of farmers’ clubs or by setting up agricultural cooperatives.


Key words: Technical efficiency, smallholder agriculture, integrated household surveys.