Sources of technical efficiency of the smallholder maize farmers at Etunda Irrigation Project in Omusati region, Namibia
Ndjodhi, Matheus Nangolo
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In an effort to increase food production and improve food security in the country, government of the Republic of Namibia established green scheme projects in various parts of the country. This Endeavour aims to achieve increased food production where comparative advantages exist. Strengthening of agricultural productivity through increased production is critical in eradication of poverty, increased food security and betterment of the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers in the rural areas. Maize is one of the staple food crops in the country and is predominantly produced by smallholder farmers, both under irrigation and rain-fed conditions. Low productivity in agriculture particularly in the crop sector has been observed over time. This has raised a concern about food insecurity among communities whose livelihoods are heavily dependent on agriculture. Therefore, increasing the technical efficiency levels of the farmers through enhancing support services, as well as facilitating easy access to basic inputs, would be among the best appropriate approaches to achieving increased productivity. There is no information currently available about the sources of technical efficiency of the smallholder maize farmers in Namibia; hence the need for this study. This study sought to explore the potentials for improving production efficiencies among the smallholder maize farmers at the Etunda Irrigation Scheme in Omusati region of Namibia. The primary objectives of the study were to quantify the levels of technical efficiencies and to identify factors affecting the technical efficiency levels of smallholder maize farmers in the study area, using the Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) double bootstrap approach in a Principal Component (PC) regression. Primary data was used to produce the estimates and determinants of technical efficiency. Since the population of the smallholder farmers at Etunda Irrigation Project is small, all the farmers were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The empirical results revealed that the technical efficiency of smallholder maize farmers is relatively high with an average score of 72 %. However, the efficiency levels vary and range between 36 % and 100 %. This suggests that, high levels of production inefficiency exist among farmers and there is a potential for the inefficient farmers to increase the efficiencies by 32 % when utilizing the existing resources better. The factors that were found to contribute positively to the high levels of technical efficiency included age of the farmers, plot size, livestock manure, planting in summer, market access and training. The study recommended policy interventions to promote farmer- to- farmer skills transfer, improve extension services, increase farming plots, and encourage the use of livestock manure and regular training for the farmers.