Are small-scale rice farmers in eastern India really inefficient? Examining the effects of microtopography on technical efficiency estimates

Nobuhiko Fuwa, Christopher Edmonds, Pabitra Banik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


The article analyzes how controlling for differences in land types (defined by position on a low-scale toposequence) affects estimates of farm technical efficiency for rice farms in eastern India. Contrasting previous research, we find that farms are considerably more technically efficient when efficiency estimates are carried out at the plot level and control for plot characteristics rather than at the farm level without such controls. Estimates show farms cultivating modern varieties are technically efficient and plots planted with traditional varieties on less productive lands (upland and midupland) operate close to the production frontier. Significant technical inefficiency is found on more productive lands (medium and lowland plots) planted with traditional rice varieties. The finding that these smallholder rain-fed rice farms are efficient cultivators on some plots contrasts with previous findings of farm-level inefficiency (i.e., rejects overarching explanations linked to farm operator ignorance or lack of motivation) and suggests more complex explanations are required to address the inefficiency that is present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-346
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 May
Externally publishedYes



  • India
  • Productivity
  • Rice
  • Stochastic frontier production function
  • Technical efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Forestry
  • Economics and Econometrics

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