Increasing productivity through enhanced potato production efficiency could be an important move towards food security. In Ethiopia potato (Solanum tubersum L.) production levels and rates have been increasing due to the development and dissemination of improved potato technologies. Despite these efforts by the government, smallholders’ potato productivity has remained below potential. However, empirical studies conducted to estimate level of efficiencies and to identify its determining factors in potato production which would guide policy makers in their efforts to do up its productivity are sparse. The purpose of this study was to analyze the technical efficiency, yield loss due to inefficiency and factors affecting efficiency of rain-fed and irrigated potato farmers in Welmera district of Oromia region, Ethiopia. A two stage sampling procedure involving purposive and random selection of the district, kebeles and samples was used to collect data from 72 households (40 from rain-fed and 32 irrigated) using structured questionnaires during 2009/2010 cropping season. The stochastic frontier and translog functional form with a one-step approach were employed to analyze efficiency and factors affecting efficiency in potato production. The maximum likelihood estimates for the inefficiency parameter showed that both most rain-fed and irrigated potato farmers in the study area were not efficient. The mean technical efficiency (TE) was found to be 81 and 68%, and about 4057 and 6185 kg of potato tubers per hectare were lost due to inefficiency factors for and/or from rain-fed and irrigated potato farmers, respectively. Variables such as education, soil condition and seed tuber size affected TE of both rain-fed and irrigated potato farmers, while age of the household head affected irrigated potato farmers’ TE positively and significantly indicating that experience through age matters in irrigated potato production. The finding implies that there is an opportunity to improve technical efficiency among the rain-fed and irrigated potato farmers by 19 and 32%, respectively. Improving potato productivity needs owing cares of technical efficiency and farm and household socioeconomic characteristics that influenced technical efficiency in smallholder potato production. Train producers to use appropriate seed tuber size and maintain their soil fertility condition by extension and increase the educational level of the household heads through appropriate literacy.
Key words: Stochastic frontier, technical efficiency, rain-fed and irrigated potato, Welmera.
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