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Migration and Technical Efficiency in Cereal Production: Evidence from Burkina Faso. Fleur Wouterse International Food Policy Research Institute. OUTLINE. Introduction: Migration and agricultural production Migration and investment in agriculture Migration and loss of labor

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migration and technical efficiency in cereal production evidence from burkina faso

Migration and Technical Efficiency in Cereal Production: Evidence from Burkina Faso

Fleur Wouterse

International Food Policy Research Institute



  • Introduction: Migration and agricultural production
    • Migration and investment in agriculture
    • Migration and loss of labor
    • Migration and technical efficiency
  • Data and study area
  • Analytical model
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Policy implications

Page 2

migration and agricultural production
  • Two important effects of migration
    • Earnings in the form of remittances
    • Loss of labor
  • Changes in household agricultural activities
  • Effect on technical efficiency
  • Migration and investment in agriculture
    • New Economics of Labour Migration (NELM): remittances as a substitute for formal or informal credit enable households to overcome liquidity constraints, invest in new technologies and activities.
  • Migration and loss of labour
    • Migration may compete with other household activities for scarce household resources, including time.

Page 3

migration and agricultural production ctd
  • Migration and technical efficiency
    • Technical inefficiency: inability of household to obtain maximal output from a given set of inputs.
    • Technical inefficiency considered as a measure of management error, rather than income or gross output.
    • Lower inefficiency does not correspond to greater yields or greater income.
    • Low input farmer could achieve a better technical efficiency score than a high input farmer – depends on maximum possible yield from inputs applied.

Page 4

migration and agricultural production ctd1
  • Households with different migration status can differ in terms of efficiency
      • Poverty or rigidities in factor markets may contribute to variations in technical inefficiency based on differential access to labor – i.e. labor lost to migration cannot be replaced by hired labor
    • Access to remittances may encourage resident household members to attend less to farm production and more to other activities
    • In an imperfect market environment, access to remittances may enable households to respond faster to management imperatives
  • Different forms of migration are likely to have different impacts on efficiency

Page 5



  • Household survey conducted by the author in a number of villages in Burkina Faso in 2003.
  • Purposeful selection of villages: incidence of both continental (within Africa) and intercontinental migration (to Europe, mainly Italy).
  • Two villages, Niaogho and Béguédo, selected for this analysis
  • Niaogho and Béguédo situated next to each other in the south of the Central Plateau
  • Central Plateau characterized by high population density, land degradation, and history of outmigration.
  • Random selection of 100 households

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  • Subsistence cropping of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and millet (Pennisetum glaucum) primary activity of households.
  • Cropping on the Central Plateau is rain fed and characterized by a single short cropping season each year.
  • Soils chemically poor with high vulnerability to erosion
  • Labor productivity in staple cropping tends to be low, little investment in fertilizer and limited application of manure.
  • Crop production often combined with livestock keeping.

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  • Agricultural production takes place in imperfect market environment
  • Missing markets for
    • Labor: households make virtually no use of hired labor – some exchange labor is used (“work parties”)
    • Land: land cultivated on hereditary basis - high population density has led to land scarcity - not a single land transaction was recorded in the data.
    • Credit: lack of commercial land market transactions land cannot function as collateral for credit. Restricted options for collateral and collateral substitutes mean that households face severe limitations in accessing a formal credit market

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  • Uncertainty, combined with missing markets for risk, creates incentives to diversify income-generating activities.
  • Diversification through migration:
    • Continental migrants: young men looking for work elsewhere on the African continent, until recently Côte d’Ivoire, now often Ouagadougou.
    • Intercontinental migration: young (Bissa) males migrate to Italy, initially to engage in horticulture around Naples.
    • Intercontinental migration is highly lucrative in terms of remittances sent back to the household but involves high entry costs (transport)
    • Household members who migrate almost always stay away for more than one year.

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Table 1: Farm characteristics by migration status (cereal production)

Page 10



  • Land: intercontinental migrant farms larger compared with the farms of non-migrant and continental migrant households
  • Labour:
    • Non-migrant households: more males than females per hectare.
    • Continental migrant households: number of males and females per hectare is equal,
    • Intercontinental migrant households: more females per hectare compared to males – polygamy & wealth
  • Capital: animal traction most used by households with intercontinental migrants
  • Variable inputs: spending on inputs similar across household groups
  • Output: harvest per hectare similar across household groups

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Table 2: Labour input in days per hectare (cereal production)

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  • Differences in production process by migration status:
    • Preparation and planting – intercontinental migrant households use less male labour
    • Crop maintenance: most labour-intensives stage but migrant households use less male labor – flexibility in weeding decisions depending on information
    • Harvesting – intercontinental migrant households use less male labour
    • Non-migrant households: total labor input per hectare of males is higher than that of females
    • Continental migrant households: input of males and females is almost equal
    • Intercontinental migrant households: labor input of females exceeds that of males.

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  • Hypotheses:
  • Migrant households of either type do not follow a strategy of cereal cropping intensification i.e. remittances do not lead households to invest more in inputs
  • The effect of migration differs by destination of the migrant.
    • Continental migration associated with a balanced labor input of males and females
    • Intercontinental migration associated with more use of female compared with male labor

Page 14

analytical model
  • Estimation of technical efficiency in cereal production: non-parametric approach
    • No need to make arbitrary assumptions regarding the functional form of the frontier and the distributional form of the error
    • Relatively less data demanding, works well with small samples, as compared with the parametric approach
    • Drawback: attributes all the variation from the frontier to inefficiency - frontier it estimates is likely to be sensitive to measurement errors or other noise in the data - use a bootstrap method to address this problem
  • Data Envelopment Analysis to estimate output-oriented technical efficiency index (appropriate in missing market environment where households use fixed quantities (land, labor) of inputs to produce a maximum amount of output)
  • Allowing for variable returns to scale (DEA-VRS)

Page 15

analytical model1
  • Sources of technical inefficiency: factors that relate to
    • Managerial ability
    • Endowment of physical capital
    • Financial market access
  • Problems using Tobit:
    • Efficiency scores are not independent (calculation of the efficiency score for one farm household necessarily involves all other farm households in the sample) - error term will be serially correlated and standard inference is not valid.
    • Efficiency scores are likely to be biased in finite samples.

Page 16

analytical model2
  • Double bootstrap (Simar and Wilson, 2007):
  • standard DEA efficiency point estimates are calculated
  • estimates are integrated in a bootstrap procedure
  • the bootstrap procedure produces bias-corrected efficiency estimates;
  • the bias-corrected efficiency estimates are used in a parametric bootstrap on the truncated maximum likelihood;
  • thus creating standard errors for the parameters of the regression.
  • confidence intervals are then constructed for the regression parameters as well as for the efficiency scores.

Number of bootstrap replications set equal to 2000.

Page 17


Page 18`

  • Mean technical efficiency estimate measures range from 1.21 to 1.39
  • Figure 1 shows the distribution of the efficiency scores for the different groups of households.
  • The distribution for households with intercontinental migrants resembles that of non-migrant households but is shifted towards the right, indicating lower efficiency.
  • The distribution for continental migrant households is less dispersed so that more households have efficiency estimates closer to 1, resulting in higher efficiency.
  • Substantial shortfalls in cereal production efficiency exist.

Page 19


Table 3: Truncated regression of determinants of bias-corrected technical efficiency

Page 20

  • Negative relationship between continental migration and technical inefficiency - households with continental migrants are more efficient
  • No relationship exists between intercontinental migration and inefficiency
  • Missing or incomplete markets, for labor, credit and insurance, create the possibility of asymmetric impacts of migration and remittances on efficiency across the asset distribution (farm equipment, cattle, female/male labor ratio) – estimation of interactions:
    • The interaction effect of intercontinental migrants with the value of farm equipment is negative, direct migration effect is not significant intercontinental migration through its effect on the value of farm equipment positively affects technical efficiency.
    • The interaction of intercontinental migration with the dummy for the female-to-male labor ratio is strongly positive and significant, the direct migration effect remains insignificant intercontinental migration through its impact on the female to male labor ratio negatively affects efficiency.

Page 21

  • The positive effect of intercontinental migration on efficiency through the quality of productive capital offset by a negative effect from its disturbing effect on the gender balance.
  • For continental migrant households the direct migration effect strongly significant for all interactions.
  • Findings with asset-migration interactions suggest that although asset-rich intercontinental migrant households could improve technical efficiency in cereal cropping through investment in farm equipment, the pronounced imbalance between males and females in labor input has a strong negative effect on inefficiency.

Page 22

  • Destination of migrants is an important explanatory factor in inefficiency.
  • Continental migration is associated with improved efficiency by shifting labor time of male adults away from cereal production.
  • The lack of a positive relation between intercontinental migration and efficiency is explained by a distortion of the gender balance in the household, with females becoming the prominent provider of labor in cereals.
  • The ability of households to adopt cereal production to changing factor endowments implies that migrant households remain involved in staple cropping.
  • Cereal production practices are not transformed from traditional to modern.
  • A missing market environment forces households to allow for flexibility in their production practices and to make investments in traction equipment—not to increase productivity, but to retain flexibility.
  • A missing market for labor does not allow for ambitious production plans likely to lead to seasonal manpower constraints.

Page 23

policy implications
  • Migration and remittances have development implications - most relevant for policymakers.
  • A benchmark for development useful in the current context is how migration and related remittances reshape migrant-sending economies.
  • Even though intercontinental migration provides households with the required liquidity and the value of productive capital is higher for these households, technical efficiency does not improve.
  • If migrants leave in response to a lack of productive investment opportunities in the local economy, then remittances alone will not suffice to transform agricultural production.
  • Productive investments are strongly related to the level of market formation and local economy conditions.
  • Thus, to maximize benefits of migration, imperfections in the market environment will still need to be addressed.

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