MARCH 2014 ISSUE (VOL 43 NO 1)
Abstract: There is an urgent need to regenerate agriculture to increase productivity, support economic development and address concerns regarding food security. The fundamental question is whether the more efficient use of natural resources can help to reduce malnutrition and food insecurity while providing adequate food supplies to feed a burgeoning population in an environmentally sustainable way. In this paper, three pathways are considered: expanding existing arable land to include crop– animal systems; intensifying existing land use; and expanding production in less favoured areas (LFAs). Silvo–pastoral systems, common in rainfed areas, are often underestimated with regard to their capacity for carbon sequestration, value addition and increased productivity. Animals can also support improved livelihoods and can be used as an entry point for the development of LFAs. However, the varied and complex issues related to such development require an interdisciplinary approach that addresses demographics, socioeconomics, resource allocation, value chains, trade and marketing. Combined with effective development policy, the goals of sustainable food production and environmental protection are achievable. This paper reviews the issues and sets out options for improving the management of natural resources to support agricultural development.
Abstract: Recent unseasonal weather events and assessments of the potential impacts of climate change and variability on agriculture reveal that there is a pressing need to consider the range of adaptation options available to farmers, including their technical suitability, economic viability and environmental impact. This paper reviews the potential role of weather forecasting with reference to agriculture, including a brief assessment of its current status and uptake, its suitability and target use, issues associated with investment and benefit, and the constraints to wider uptake.
Abstract: European agriculture has undergone considerable structural changes in the last two decades, with a decreasing number of farms and increasing farm size. One important question is whether these changes have been translated into improvements in technical efficiency. The paper provides a comparative analysis of farm technical efficiency in eight EU member states. More specifically, the authors focus on the relative performance fluctuation over time – namely, whether poorly performing farms always remain inefficient whilst some farms are always efficient. The most striking results are as follows. First, there is a remarkable robustness of farm efficiency stability across countries: on average, 60% of farms maintain their efficiency ranking in two consecutive years, while 20% improve and 20% worsen their positions. Second, there is a clear difference between the mobility indicators with respect to farm technical efficiency ranking between the EU15 and the new member states (NMS) included in the study. Due to unstable economic conditions, farms in NMS are more mobile than those in the EU15. Finally, using second-stage regression of mobility scores on a set of farm-specific explanatory variables, some explanations of the mobility patterns are offered.
Abstract: Film antitranspirants are polymers sprayed on plants to reduce loss of water from transpiration. Early reviews of film antitranspirants logically concluded that the polymers would not be useful on crops because photosynthesis was also reduced. This conclusion is re-evaluated here, taking account of more recent knowledge of drought damage mechanisms. Research at Harper Adams University shows that film antitranspirants applied to wheat before the drought-sensitive stage of meiosis can increase yield, despite reducing photosynthesis, and that this increase is associated with improved pollen viability. It is concluded that use of film antitranspirants has potential as a crop management technique to reduce drought damage to wheat, and possibly to many other crops.
Abstract: Productivity analysis is a frequent topic on the agenda for many researchers, whose efforts are focused on establishing adequate measurement criteria and then applying them to specific case studies. Based on accountancy micro-data for 2000 to 2009 for a group of fruit- growing farms, the purpose of this study was to verify the similarity between two methods of productivity measurement: the total factor productivity (TFP) index and the Malmquist index. The results broadly confirm the substantial congruence of the two indices and show an increase in the productivity of fruit farms in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. However, the results should be carefully interpreted, since the productivity fluctuations during the decade suggest that this kind of analysis should be conducted using medium to long-term time-series data. Furthermore, the TFP index seems to be generally higher than the Malmquist index, implying that these measures are suitable for an overview of trends rather than exact measures of productivity.
Abstract: Agriculture can influence air quality via emissions of ammonia, soil dust and soot. These can be emitted into the atmosphere during farming practices, and contribute in different amounts to the total emissions and concentrations of air particulate matter (PM). The exact contribution of Flemish agricultural emissions to total air PM concentrations and to negative health effects are not well known. In this paper, agricultural emissions in Flanders and the processes leading to secondary PM are reviewed, together with their associated health effects. Agricultural ammonia emissions are a major contributor to local formation of secondary PM, and can increase above normal levels during some smog episodes. From a health perspective, secondary PM formed by ammonia is considered less important. Epidemiological studies suggest that combustion-related particles are the cause of negative health effects, although a reduction in ammonia emissions would reduce acidification and eutrophication of ecosystems. The World Health Organization currently considers PM2.5 as the best indicator for assessing human health effects. Setting an additional limit value for combustion-related particles would target potentially more harmful particles.
Abstract: In recent years, many forestry projects have been implemented in developing countries. In China, a variety of large-scale afforestation and reforestation programmes have been carried out with multiple objectives, such as livelihood improvement and carbon sequestration. As in many developing countries, these projects have been implemented in a smallholder context. This paper investigates the determinants of smallholder participation in large forestry projects. Using the case of camellia, it explores the determinants of smallholder participation using a probit regression model. To distinguish between participation in international and government-run projects, a bivariate probit regression model is used. The findings show that only 37% of households in the sample had participated in the Camellia project; a major reason for the low participation rate is perceived tenure insecurity. The results of the bivariate probit model show that the education level of the household head and household size have a positive impact on the likelihood of household participation. The more ‘off-farm’ activities are taken up in a household, the less likely a household is to participate in an international project. For a government project, household size also has a positive impact on the likelihood of participation. Chinese forestry is diversifying since the devolution of forestland use rights, with a majority of households hesitating to invest, while some risk investment and others depend on government subsidies. The main policy implication is that, if the Chinese government wishes to achieve its goal of 1.68 million hectares of camellia, then improving tenure security is crucial.
Abstract: Trade is an essential component of modern society, with nations signing bilateral trade agreements to engage in various forms of economic integration. Developing countries in southern Africa are also involved in economic integration to underpin development. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) became a free trade area in 2008 for the economic integration of its members. This study evaluates the impact of the SADC Free Trade Agreement (SADC FTA) on South African agricultural trade using the Poisson Pseudo-Maximum Likelihood (PPML) specification of gravity model to determine the significance of variables within the model. Bilateral trade data were obtained from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics (UN Comtrade) database and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), while data on gross domestic product and population were sourced from the World Bank Development Indicators (WDI) database. The results show that there has been a net trade-creating effect and increasing intra-SADC bloc trade in beef. Intra- regional trade in maize has also been stimulated by the implementation of the agreement.
Abstract: Poland reports its greenhouse gas emissions annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This report also includes an estimation of uncertainty; for Poland, a simplified method based on error propagation is currently used. In this paper the authors estimate uncertainty concerning agricultural emissions in Poland in 2011 using an alternative Monte Carlo analysis. They compare the results from these simulations against the error propagation method. For methane emissions, the simulation results are similar to the simplified uncertainty estimation method and give a mean value of 576.8 Gg with an uncertainty range of –21.7% to +25.8%. The more pronounced differences between methods are for nitrous oxide emissions, for which the mean value of 73.5 Gg N2O was calculated, but the uncertainty is more asymmetrical, ranging from –50.0% to +79.9%. The policy implications of these differences are outlined.