Evaluation of food security based on DEA method: a case study of Heihe River Basin

  • Jinyan Zhan
  • Fan Zhang
  • Zhihui Li
  • Yue Zhang
  • Wei Qi


Food security has always been a major issue for most regions or nations across the world. Its complete definition covers productivity, ability and accessibility. In remote and less developed areas, food supply mainly depends on self-sufficiency rather than regional commercial trade. Given limited resources, it is necessary to evaluate agricultural production in this kind of area, so as to improve long-term and stable food production to achieve food security. Heihe River Basin (HRB) is famous for its arid and semi-arid climate, as it is located in the inland of Northwest China. Taking the Heihe River Basin as case study area, we analyzed the total factor productivity of 11 counties of the HRB over 1990–2012. Further, agricultural production efficiency was estimated based on Data Envelopment Analysis and the Malmquist index, in which four input indicators (sown area, agriculture and farm labor, general agricultural machine power and fertilizer) and one output indicator (gross agricultural production) were taken into consideration. The results showed that agricultural production was unbalanced in the HRB for the entire period between 1990 and 2012. The agricultural scale efficiency remained basically unchanged in the HRB, and technical change was the main influencing factor on agricultural production.


Food security Data Envelopment Analysis Malmquist index Big data Heihe River Basin Total factor productivity Agricultural production efficiency 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of International (regional) Cooperation and Exchange Programs (Grant No. 71561137002), the research funds from State Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71533004). Data and method support from the research funds from State Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 91425303) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFA0602500) are also appreciated.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinyan Zhan
    • 1
  • Fan Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhihui Li
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Yue Zhang
    • 5
  • Wei Qi
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of EnvironmentBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Center for Chinese Agricultural PolicyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.College of Resource Environment and TourismCapital Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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