Modern Agricultural Value Chains and the Future of Smallholder Farming Systems

39 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2020

See all articles by Meilin Ma

Meilin Ma

Purdue University-Department of Agricultural Economics

Richard J. Sexton

University of California, Davis - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Date Written: January 22, 2020

Abstract

Smallholder farms continue to play a prominent role in many developing countries. A substantial debate has emerged regarding the future role of smallholder farms as a means to lift rural households out of poverty and contribute to food security as part of modern agricultural value chains. This paper builds a conceptual model to compare household income and total food output under smallholder production versus a hypothetical setting wherein households cease engaging as farm owner-operators, but supply land and labor to consolidated commercial farms. Based on the empirical literature, we calibrate the model to quantify the advantages in accessing working capital and output marketing that can plausibly accrue to large-scale farming operations and offset any labor efficiency decrement compared to smallholder farms. Results show that households can earn more from renting out land and labor into competitive factor markets for a wide range of plausible market conditions. The higher the price premium commanded by and less the loss in labor efficiency on large farms, and the tighter the credit constraints on smallholders, the greater is the income advantage from supplying inputs to large farms over operating small farms. An output advantage also accrues to large farms under similar conditions.

Keywords: Developing Countries, Food Value Chains, Land and Labor Institutions, Modern Agricultural Markets, Smallholder Farms

JEL Classification: O13, Q15, Q18

Suggested Citation

Ma, Meilin and Sexton, Richard J., Modern Agricultural Value Chains and the Future of Smallholder Farming Systems (January 22, 2020). Agricultural Economics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3667994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3667994

Meilin Ma (Contact Author)

Purdue University-Department of Agricultural Economics ( email )

West Lafayette, IN 47907-1145
United States
7654966198 (Phone)
47907 (Fax)

Richard J. Sexton

University of California, Davis - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

One Shields Avenue
327 Voorhies
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-2219 (Phone)

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