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Sources of total-factor productivity and efficiency changes in China’s agriculture

Liu, J. ORCID:, Dong, C. ORCID:, Liu, S. ORCID:, Rahman, S. ORCID: and Sriboonchitta, S. (2020) Sources of total-factor productivity and efficiency changes in China’s agriculture. Agriculture, 10 (7). 279. ISSN 2077-0472

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/agriculture10070279


The core of agricultural development depends on agricultural production efficiency improvement, and total-factor productivity growth is its significant embodiment. Hence, it is essential to address the question of “how to improve China’s agricultural productivity and efficiency in order to achieve growth and sustainability of agriculture in the future”. This paper estimates indices of China’s agricultural technical efficiency (TE) scores, total-factor productivity (TFP), and its two components, technological change/progress (TC) and technical efficiency change (EC), using provincial-level panel data of 30 provinces from 2002 to 2017 by applying a stochastic frontier approach (SFA). The paper also identifies determinants of TE, TC, and TFP using selected indicators from four hierarchical levels of the economy, i.e., farm level, production environment level, provincial level, and the state level, by applying a system-GMM method. Results reveal that agricultural labor, machinery, agricultural plastic film, and pesticides are the significant drivers of agricultural productivity, with no significant role of land area under cultivation. Constant returns to scale exist in China’s agriculture. The agricultural technical efficiency level fluctuated between 80% and 91% with a stable trend and a slight decline in later years, while TFP improved consistently over time, mainly driven by technological progress. Among the determinants, government investment in agricultural development projects significantly drives TC and TE, while the experienced labor force significantly increases TE. The disaster rate significantly reduces TE but promotes TC and TFP. The literacy rate significantly improves TC and TFP. However, government expenditures in “agriculture, forestry, and water” significantly reduce TE, TC, and TFP. Policy recommendations include (1) increased levels of mechanization and agriculture film use while avoiding an increase in pesticide use, (2) a continued increase in government expenditure in agricultural development projects, R&D to improve technological progress, and diffusion of modern agricultural technologies, and (3) investment in education targeted at the farming population in order to continue the growth in the productivity and sustainability of China’s agriculture.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:104407
Publisher:MDPI Publishing


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