Skip to main content

Estimating the potential to close yield gaps through increased efficiency of chickpea production in Ethiopia


Improved cultivars and agronomic practices have significantly increased chickpea production in Ethiopia in recent decades. Enhanced availability of chickpeas in Ethiopia, therefore, contributes to food, nutrition, and income security of the country. However, we know relatively little about the extent to which farmers have harnessed the full potential of these improved technologies. In this paper, we compare the technical efficiencies and technological gap ratios of chickpea farming in three major chickpea-producing areas of Ethiopia using a two-step meta frontier model. Based on regionally representative data from 681 chickpea-growing farm households in the three regions, we show regional differences in the technical efficiencies, technological gap ratios, and meta technical efficiencies (MTEs). We examined the drivers of these different production levels and identified ways to increase chickpea production while minimizing yield gaps. Improving technical efficiency through improving farmers’ access to improved seed, offering farmers need-based and gender-responsive extension support, encouraging their participation in technology development programs, and appropriate rainwater management would all contribute to harnessing the full potential of improved chickpea cultivars in Ethiopia.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Technical efficiency is the effectiveness with which a given set of inputs is used to produce an output. A farm is said to be technically efficient if the farm is producing the maximum output from the given quantity of inputs, such as labour, capital, and technology.

  2. The ratio of a particular farm’s production frontier to the meta-frontier is defined as the technology gap ratio (Huang et al., 2014).

  3. 4 kert = 1 hectare (ha).

  4. NPS is a new compound fertilizer recently used in Ethiopia containing nitrogen, phosphorous and Sulphur with the ratio of 19% N, 38% P2O5 and 7% S.

  5. Technically, NPS and pesticide use data are not used directly in the model; more specifically, they were used in the form of \(Ln(max\left({input}_{i}, 1-{D}_{i}\right))\) where \(i\) is the particular input.

  6. The LR statistic is defined by, \(\lambda=-2\left[\ln\left( ^{L_{Ho}}/_{L_{\it{H1}}}\right)\right]=-2\left[\ln{L_{Ho}}-\ln{L_{H\mathit1}}\right]\), where \(ln{L}_{Ho}\) is the value of the log‐likelihood function for the stochastic frontier estimated by pooling the data for all groups under the homoscedastic variance component, and \(ln{L}_{\mathit{H1}}\) is the sum of the values of the log‐likelihood functions for the separate group frontiers (Battese et al., 2004, O’Donnell et al., 2008) with a chi‐square (\({\chi}^{2}\)) distribution with degrees of freedom \(d={\textstyle\sum_{j=1}^J}\;dim(\beta^j)-dim(\beta^M)\), where \(\mathrm{dim}(.)\) is the dimension of the parameter. (Huang & Lai, 2017).

  7. The table value of Chi‐square (\({\chi }^{2}\)) distribution with degrees of freedom 38 at 0.1% level is 70.703.

  8. This is a necessary step of the meta-frontier analysis procedure. In the cases when the likelihood ratio test doesn’t not show the difference in technology use among the regions, then it is not suggested to use meta-frontier analysis for the study of technical efficiency.

  9. We used the “frontier” package in R developed by Coelli and Henningsen (2013).

  10. Theoretically, TE score could be anywhere between 1 and 0, with the most efficient farm’s TE score is close to one. Here the highest TE score is 0.9999, and the lowest is 0.1544. therefore, the variation is very high for individual farm households. However, the average TE score of the three regions is between 0.4936 and 0.5678. It may be noted that TE is not indicating the level of technology use but the efficiency of input use; the low TE score farms might be using different inputs inefficiently.

  11. Production frontiers involved here are defined by the model and within the sample values. This implies that there may be techniques of production, not practiced by any of the farmers in the sample, which could yield a much higher output for the same level of input.


  • Abate, T. M., Abebe, B. D., & Taye, M. M. (2019). Technical efficiency of smallholder farmers in red pepper production in North Gondar Zone Amhara Regional State. Ethiopia. Journal of Economic Structures, 8(1), 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Abate, T., Shiferaw, B., Menkir, A., Wegary, D., Kebede, Y., Tesfaye, K., Menale, K., Gezahegn, B., Berhanu, T., & Keno, T. (2015). Factors that transformed maize productivity in Ethiopia. Food Security, 7(5), 965–981.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Abro, Z. A., Alemu, B. A., & Hanjra, M. A. (2014). Policies for agricultural productivity growth and poverty reduction in rural Ethiopia. World Development, 59, 461–474.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Affholder, F., Poeydebat, C., Corbeels, M., Scopel, E., & Tittonell, P. (2013). The yield gap of major food crops in family agriculture in the tropics: Assessment and analysis through field surveys and modelling. Field Crops Research, 143, 106–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ahmed, B., Haji, J., & Endrias, G. (2013). Analysis of farm households’ technical efficiency in production of smallholder farmers: The case of Girawa district, Ethiopia. American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 13(12), 1615–1621.

    Google Scholar 

  • Akamin, A., Bidogeza, J.-C., & Minkoua, jules rené & Afari-Sefa, Victor. (2017). Efficiency and productivity analysis of vegetable farming within root and tuber-based systems in the humid tropics of Cameroon. Journal of Integrative Agriculture., 16(8), 1865–1873.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alemu, M. D., Tegegne, B., & Beshir, H. (2018). Technical efficiency in teff (Eragrostis teff) production: The case of smallholder farmers in Jamma District, South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia. Journal of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, 4(2), 513–519.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ali, S., & Khan, M. (2014). Technical efficiency of wheat production in district Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan. Sarhad Journal of Agriculture, 30(4), 433–441.

    Google Scholar 

  • Assefa, B. T., Chamberlin, J., Reidsma, P., Silva, J. V., & van Ittersum, M. K. (2020). Unravelling the variability and causes of smallholder maize yield gaps in Ethiopia. Food Security, 12(1), 83–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Battese, G. E., & Coelli, T. J. (1995). A model for technical inefficiency effects in a stochastic frontier production function for panel data. Empirical Economics, 20, 325–332.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Battese, G. E., Malik, S. J., & Gill, M. A. (1996). An investigation of technical inefficiencies of production of wheat farmers in four districts of Pakistan. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 47, 37–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Battese, G. E., Rao, D. S. P., & O’Donnell, C. J. A. (2004). Metafrontier production function forestimation of technical efficiencies and Technology Gaps for Firms Operating Under Different Technologies. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 21, 91–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Battese, G. E. (1997). A note on the estimation of cobb-douglas production functions when someexplanatory variables have zero values. Journal of Agricultural Economics, 48(2), 250–252.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bachewe, F. N., Koru, B., & Taffesse, A. S. (2015). Cereal productivity and its drivers: The case of Ethiopia. ESSP II Working Paper 75. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Washington, D.C.: Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Accessed 27 May 2020.

  • Belete, A. S. (2020). Analysis of technical efficiency in maize production in Guji Zone: Stochastic frontier model. Agriculture & Food Security, 9, 15.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Birachi, E. A., Ochieng, J., Wozemba, D., Ruraduma, C., Niyuhire, M. C., & Ochieng, D. (2011). Factors influencing smallholder farmers’ bean production and supply to market in Burundi. African Crop Science Journal, 19(4), 335–342.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bravo-Ureta, B. E., & Pinheiro, A. E. (1993). Efficiency analysis of developing country agriculture: A review of the frontier function literature. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 22(1), 88–101.

  • Bravo-Ureta, B. E., Solís, D., López, V., Maripani, J., Thiam, A., & Rivas, T. (2007). Technical efficiency in farming: A meta-regression analysis. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 27(1), 57–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coelli, T., & Henningsen, A. (2013). Frontier: Stochastic frontier analysis. Retrieved from R package version 1.1-8.

  • Coelli, T. J., & Battese, G. E. (1996). Identification of factors which influence the technical inefficiency of Indian farmers. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 40(2), 103–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • CSA (Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia). (2019). Agricultural sample survey 2018/19 (2011 E.C.) Report on area and production of major crops. Addis Ababa. 

  • Dercon, S., Gilligan, D. O., Hoddinott, J., & Woldehanna, T. (2009). The impact of agricultural extension and roads on poverty and consumption growth in fifteen Ethiopian villages. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 91(4), 1007–1021.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dessale, M. (2019). Analysis of technical efficiency of small holder wheat-growing farmers of Jamma district, Ethiopia. Agriculture and Food Security, 8, 1–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Geta, E., Ayalneh, B., Belay, K., & Eyasu, E. (2013). Productivity and efficiency analysis of smallholder maize producers in Southern Ethiopia. Journal of Human Ecology, 41, 67–75.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Getachew, T. (2019). Pulse crops production opportunities, challenges and its value chain in Ethiopia: A review article. Journal of Environment and Earth Science, 9, 1.

  • Gwata, E. T. (2010). Potential impact of edible tropical legumes on crop productivity in the small-holder sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Food Agriculture & Environment, 8(3–4), 939–944.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hailemariam, L. (2015). Technical efficiency in teff production: The case of Bereh District, Oromia National Regional State, Ethiopia. M.Sc. Thesis. Haramaya University, Ethiopia. 77.

  • Hassen, N., Adam, B. & Jema, H. (2015). Analysis of technical efficiency of haricot bean production in Misrak Badawacho District, Hadiya Zone, Ethiopia. Science, Technology and Arts Research Journal, 4(1), 234–241.

  • Hayami, Y. (1969). Sources of agricultural productivity gap among selected countries. AmericanJournal of Agricultural Economics, 51(3), 564–575.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hayami, Y., & Ruttan, V. W. (1970). Agricultural productivity differences among countries. American Economic Review, 60(5), 895–911.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hayami, Y., & Ruttan, V. W. (1971). Agricultural development: An international perspective. Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heshmati, A., & Mulugeta, Y. (1996). Technical efficiency of the Ugandan matoke farms. Applied Economics Letters, 3(7), 491–494.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang, C. J., & Lai, H. (2017). A note on the likelihood ratio test on the equality of group frontiers. Economics Letters, 155, 5–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Huang, C. J., Huang, T.H., & Liu, N.H. (2014). A new approach to estimating the meta-frontier production function based on a stochastic frontier framework. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 42(3), 241–254.

  • Jirgi, J., Ogundeji, A., Viljoen, G. & Adiele, M. (2010). Resource use efficiency of millet/cowpea intercropping in Niger State, Nigeria. Paper presented at the Joint 3rd African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE) and 48th Agricultural Economists Association of South Africa (AEASA) Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, 19–23.

  • Jukanti, Aravind & Gaur, Pooran & Laxmipathi Gowda, Cholenahalli & Chibbar, Ravindra. (2012). Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits of Chickpea (Cicer Arietinum L.): A Review. The British journal of nutrition, 108 Suppl 1. S11–26.

  • Kebede, T., Berhane, G., & Gebru., M. (2014). Technical efficiency in teff production by small scale farmers in Tigray. International Journal of Research, 4(10), 85–97.

    Google Scholar 

  • Linh, V. H. (2012). Efficiency of rice farming households in Vietnam. International Journal of Development Issues, 11, 60–73.

  • Mekonnen, D. A., & Gerber, N. (2017). Aspirations and food security in rural Ethiopia. Food Security, 9(2), 371–385.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Majumder, S., Bala, B. K., Arshad, F. M., Haque, M. A., & Hossain, M. A. (2016). Food security through increasing technical efficiency and reducing postharvest losses of rice production systems in Bangladesh. Food Security, 8(2), 361–374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mohammed, A., Tana, T., Singh, P., Korecha, D., & Molla, A. (2016). Management Options for Rainfed Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) in Northeast Ethiopia under Climate Change Condition. Climate Risk Management, 16, 222–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mueller, N., Gerber, J., Johnston, M., Ray, D. K., Ramankutty, N., & Foley, J. A. (2012). Closing yield gaps through nutrient and water management. Nature, 490, 254–257.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mussa, E. C., Gideon, A., Obare, A. B., & Franklin, P. S. (2012). Analysis of resource use efficiency in smallholder mixed crop-livestock agricultural systems: Empirical evidence from the Central Highlands of Ethiopia. Developing Country Studies, 2, 2225–2265.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mussema, R., Yigezu, Y. A., Kemal, S., & Aw-Hassan, A. (2014). Gender perspectives on the dynamics of lentil and chickpea production: The Case of Gimbichu and Minjar-Shenkora Districts, Ethiopia. International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). Accessed 27 May 2020.

  • Nukala, A. (2012). Chickpea revolution. Scientific American, 307(3), 26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Donnell, C. J., Rao, D. S. P., & Battese, G. E. (2008). Metafrontier frameworks for the study of firm-level efficiencies and technology ratios. Empirical Economics, 34(2), 231–255.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ojiewo, C., & Gangarao, N. V. P. R. (2015). Pathways to nutrition: Chickpea revolution in Ethiopia. In ICRISAT (Ed.), Inclusive market-oriented development: Demand driven innovation benefiting the poor (pp. 89–97). ICRISAT IMOD Exemplars Edition: 2, Publisher: ICRISAT.

  • Ojiewo, C., Monyo, E., Desmae, H., Boukar, O., Mukankusi-Mugisha, C., Thudi, M., ... Varshney, R. K. (2019). Genomics, genetics and breeding of tropical legumes for better livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Plant Breeding, 138(4), 487–499.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rawal, V., & Navarro, D. K. (2019). The global economy of pulses. Rome, FAO. Accessed 27 May 2020.

  • Seyoum, E. T., Battese, G. E., & Fleming, E. M. (1998). Technical efficiency and productivity of maize producers in eastern Ethiopia: A study of farmers within and outside the Sasakawa-Global 2000 project. Agricultural Economics, 19, 341–348.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sorecha, E., Tsehai, K., Hadgu, G., & Lupi, A. (2017). Exploring the impacts of climate change on chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) production in central highlands of Ethiopia. Academic Research Journal of Agricultural Science and Research, 5(2), 140–150.

  • Sherlund, S. M., Barrett, C. B., & Adesina, A. A. (2002). Smallholder technical efficiency controlling for environmental production conditions. Journal of Development Economics, 69, 85–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tiruneh, W. G., & Endrias, G. (2016). Technical efficiency of smallholder wheat farmers: The case of Welmera District, Central Oromia, Ethiopia. Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, 8, 39–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tittonell, P., & Giller, K. E. (2013). When yield gaps are poverty traps: The paradigm of ecological intensification in African smallholder agriculture. Field Crops Research, 143, 76–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Verkaart, S., Mausch, K., Claessens, L., & Giller, K. E. (2019). A recipe for success? Learning from the rapid adoption of improved chickpea varieties in Ethiopia. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 17(1), 34–48.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Van Ittersum, M. K., & Rabbinge, R. (1997). Concepts in production ecology for analysis and quantification of agricultural input-output combinations. Field Crops Research, 52(3), 197–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Ittersum, M. K., van Bussel, L. G. J., Wolf, J., Grassini, P., van Wart, J., Guilpart, N., Claessens, L., de Groot, H., Wiebe, K., Mason-D’Croz, D., Yang, H., Boogaard, H., van Oort, P. A. J., van Loon, M. P., Saito, K., Adimo, O., AdjeiNsiah, S., Agali, A., Bala, A., … Cassman, K. G. (2016). Can sub-Saharan Africa feed itself? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(52), 14964–14969.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Verkaart, S., Munyua, B. G., Mausch, K., & Michler, J. D. (2017). Welfare impacts of improved chickpea adoption: A pathway for rural development in Ethiopia? Food Policy, 66, 50–61.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Wassihun, A. N., Koye, T. D., & Koye, A. D. (2019). Analysis of technical efficiency of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production in Chilga District, Amhara National Regional State, Ethiopia. Journal of Economic Structures, 8, 34.

  • Wogayehu, A., & Tewodros, T. (2015). Factors Affecting production and market supply of haricot bean in southern Ethiopia. Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development, 6(15), 103–109.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wongnaa, C. A. (2013). Analysis of factors affecting the production of cashew in Wenchi Municipality. Ghana. Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 8(1), 16–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • World Bank. (2020). Ethiopia Poverty Assessment: Harnessing Continued Growth for Accelerated Poverty Reduction. Washington DC. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

Download references


The authors thank Thomas Falk, D. Kumaracharyulu, Anthony Whitbread, and Tilahun Amede of ICRISAT for their inputs; Conrad Murendo, Nigussie Girma, Chichaybelu Mekasha for guiding the fieldwork, and Ketema Alemu and Tesfashbamlak Mola for data collection. Funding from BMGF through Tropical Legumes-III (Grant ID- OPP1114827) and CRP Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC) through CGIAR Fund Donors and bilateral funding agreements is gratefully acknowledged. The authors sincerely thank two anonymous reviewers and the editors for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shalander Kumar.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kumar, S., Das, A., Hauser, M. et al. Estimating the potential to close yield gaps through increased efficiency of chickpea production in Ethiopia. Food Sec. 14, 1241–1258 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Chickpea production
  • Technical efficiency
  • Stochastic meta-frontier
  • Technology gap
  • Yield gap
  • Potential production loss
  • Ethiopia