New Research Shows that Eggplant Farms Can Improve Technical Efficiency and Increase Productivity By Almost 50 Percent
A recently completed study on the productivity and technical efficiency of selected eggplant farms in the Philippines revealed that in the short run, there is scope for increasing productivity by 48 percent. The study, conducted by Dr. Cesar Quicoy from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), considered several factors that influence the efficiency of eggplant farms.
Dr. Quicoy implemented the said study as part of his SEARCA Professorial Chair Grant, which ended this June 2010. He mentioned that his research was also funded in part by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR). He presented his findings to the public for the first time at the Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) on 24 August 2010 at SEARCA, UPLB. He is currently an Assistant Professor and was the former Chair of the Department of Economics, Colleges of Economics and Management, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB.)
His research, titled “Productivity and Technical Efficiency of Eggplant Farms In Selected Provinces of the Philippines: A Stochastic Frontier Production Function Approach”, aimed to assess the factors that influence the farm level technical efficiency of eggplant farms in major producing provinces of the Philippines. Dr. Quicoy selected 104 respondents for his study using stratified random sampling, distributed among three provinces, namely, Pangasinan, Batangas, and Quezon, which he identified as the top eggplant producing provinces in the country.
The study presented the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers that could affect their farming knowledge and practices. These included educational attainment, family size, and age among others. The survey also showed that most farms are located far from Barangay roads and other public infrastructures. According to Dr. Quicoy, “in spite of various programs of the government, poverty especially in the rural areas remains widespread”.
As for the farming methods and techniques practiced by the farmers, it was revealed that most of the farmers still use chemical pest control, and only a handful of them regularly observe ecologically sensitive or environment-friendly practices. Fifty-six percent of the farmers reported that eggplant is their primary crop, while the rest reported planting rice, corn and vegetables, along with eggplant. The study also surveyed the farm inputs used by the farmers, including labor, fertilizer, pesticides, and seeds, among others.
In analyzing the farmers’ efficient utilization of resources, Stochastic Frontier Production Function statistical model was used to determine which of the factors significantly affect the efficiency of production.
Accordingly, the significant variables affecting productivity of eggplant farms were labor, fertilizer and pesticides used in eggplant production. With regards to the inefficiency variable included in the model, the parameters of age and number of trainings attended by farmers were statistically significant. This implies that younger farmers were more efficient in eggplant production as compared to older farmers. One baffling result, noted Dr. Quicoy, is that the number of training a farmer received was shown to be positively significant to inefficiency. He explained that, based on the analysis, the more training about eggplant production a farmer participates, the less efficient he/she becomes in terms of production. Dr. Quicoy solicited suggestions from the audience to explain this particular result. A participant during the ADSS suggested that this could be attributed to the attitude of the farmer-trainee, as some farmers tend to be over enthusiastic when learning something new, and tend to incorrectly practice their new skill or knowledge. Another ADSS participant suggested that the result could also depend on the provider of the training the farmers attended; whether it’s from a reliable institution such as the Department of Agriculture, or from private companies that may want to increase sales of their products.
Dr. Celeste Cadiz, Head of the Knowledge Management Department of SEARCA offered that the result could also depend on the time when the training was done. She proposed that if it was given during production season, then this could mean that the farmers spent more time away from their farms, resulting in low crop yield.
Based on the survey, Dr. Quicoy concluded that eggplant farmers in the three provinces could increase their productivity by at least 48 percent if appropriate quantity and quality of inputs will be used. He then recommended several means that could help farmers increase efficiency, including access to capital and credit, improved roads, encourage the use of certified seeds and adoption of environment-friendly pest management practices. He also expressed the need to stabilize eggplant prices through production programming.