The impact of drought on technical efficiency of smallholder farmers in hurungwe, Zimbabwe
Increasing drought frequencies due to climate change, pose a serious threat to rain-fed farmers in rural Africa where the policy thrust points to improving efficiency of these farmers. This article uses cross sectional data collected from 411 randomly selected farmers and applies the stochastic frontier method (SFM) to investigate the extent to which drought influences technical efficiency of smallholder farmers in Hurungwe, Zimbabwe. First, technical efficiency of smallholder farmers is computed using the SFM. Second, two groups of farmers, one from drought prone areas and the other from wet ecological zones, are compared with regards to their technical efficiency levels using a binary covariate which classifies the farmers into two groups. The findings show a low level of technical efficiency of maize farmers in Hurungwe. The average technical efficiency level is 45.3%. Drought is found to be detrimental to technical efficiency, with farmers in drought prone areas being 19% less efficient than those in wet ecological zones given their different demographic characteristics. Drought experience, education, farming experience, modern methods of forecasting and access to credit contribute positively to technical efficiency. The findings point to the need for improving technical efficiency of maize farmers. Negative effects of drought on efficiency could be reduced by building irrigation infrastructure in drought prone areas or by reallocating farmers to wet ecological areas. In addition to construction of irrigation infrastructure and reallocation of farmers, we also recommend increased education support, financial inclusion of rural farmers through the development of rural financial institutions and publication of drought related information for farmers’ consumption.
Key words: Farmers, Drought, Technical efficiency, Hurungwe