Resource use efficiency among maize farmers in Ghana

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Agriculture & Food Security
Background: Despite the enormous importance of maize in Ghana, maize farmers in the country continue to experience low yields, making Ghana self-insufficient in the production of the crop. For maize farmers to be helped to increase productivity, the focus should not only be on whether or not they have adopted productivity-enhancing technologies, but it is necessary to carefully examine whether they are even making maximum use of the technologies or inputs available to them. This study analysed resource use efficiency for Ghana’s maize farms. Methods: The data used were obtained through a cross-sectional survey of 576 maize farmers in the Northern Savannah, Transitional, Forest and Coastal Savannah zones of Ghana using structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics, stochastic frontier analysis and the ratio of marginal value product to marginal factor cost were the methods of analysis employed. Results: The results showed that generally, maize farmers in Ghana were inefficient in their use of resources available to them. Fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, seed, manure and land were underutilized, while labour and capital were overutilized by the farmers. The results further showed that maize farmers in Ghana exhibit increasing returns to scale, indicating that the famers can increase their output by increasing the use of some of the key resources. Conclusion: Incentives and strategies aimed at encouraging farmers to optimize the use of fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, seed, manure and land are recommended to ensure improved maize productivity in Ghana. Currently, incentives and strategies could take the form of better management by government of the current fertilizer subsidy programme and efficient input distribution through farmer-based organizations to ensure easy access by farmers.
This article is published by Agriculture & Food Security and also available at DOI 10.1186/s40066-016-0076-2
Efficiency, Maize, Productivity, Resource use, Stochastic frontier