The study was conducted to assess tomato productivity and determine characteristics that influence technical efficiency among smallholder farmers in Kirinyaga County using the production function approach. Data were collected by administering structured questionnaires to a sample of 384 respondents randomly selected from six wards using multistage stratified and probability proportionate to size sampling procedures. The study adopted cross-sectional survey design and primary data on tomato yield, production system, input usage and farmer demographics were collected. The stochastic Cobb Douglas production function was used to estimate the frontier production and efficiency levels using maximum likelihood. Tobit multiple regression was used to determine farm and farmer characteristics that impact technical efficiency. Results showed that respondents were inefficient with an average technical efficiency of 39.55% with greenhouse more efficient than open field system. Household size, production systems, seed type, fertilizer, extension and market information significantly and positively influenced technical efficiency, while land size was significant and inversely influenced technical efficiency. Results revealed a possibility to increase technical efficiency in tomato production using certified seeds and recommended fertilizer levels. In addition, policy interventions aimed at subsidizing costs of establishing greenhouses would serve as an incentive to motivate farmers to use technologies in tomato production.
Key words: Cobb Douglas production function, production systems, technical efficiency, Tobit regression
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