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Can Agricultural Households Farm Their Way Out of Poverty?

Gbemisola Oseni, Kevin McGee, Andrew Dabalen
World Bank
November 1, 2014

This World Bank paper examines agricultural productivity's determinants and its link to poverty by using nationally representative data from the Nigeria General Household Survey Panel, 2010/11.

The findings indicate an elasticity of poverty reduction with respect to agricultural productivity of between 0.25 to 0.3 percent, implying that a 10 percent increase in agricultural productivity will decrease the likelihood of being poor by between 2.5 and 3 percent. The most important factors in increasing agricultural productivity are land, labor, fertilizer, agricultural advice, and diversification within agriculture.

The results indicate a finding about the inverse relationship between land size and productivity that is commonly found in the literature. More specifically, a 10 percent increase in harand-vested land size will decrease productivity by 6.6 percent, all else being equal. In a simulation exercise where land quality is assumed to be constant across small and large holdings, the results show that if farms in the top land quintile had half the median yield per hectare of farms in the lowest quintile, production of the top quintile would be 10 times higher. The higher overall values of harvests from larger land sizes are more likely because of cultivation of larger expanses of land, rather than from efficient production. It should be noted that having larger land sizes in itself is not positively correlated with a lower likelihood of being poor. This is not to say that having larger land sizes is not important for farming, but rather it indicates that increasing efficiency is the more important need that could lead to poverty reduction for agricultural households. 

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