Drivers of Farm Efficiency and Their Potential for Development in a Changing Agricultural Setting in Kerala, India

  • Agnes Gold
  • Stefan GoldEmail author
Original Article


The agricultural sector is a main source of income for many smallholder farmers in developing countries. In Kerala, the sector faces various challenges linked to land, labour and capital scarcity. This paper explores efficiency levels of farms and identifies measures that increase farm efficiency in a rural region in Kerala. By means of data envelopment analysis (DEA) and subsequent Tobit regression models based on primary data from 333 farms, we show the specific distribution of farm efficiency and explain efficiency differences by various factors relating to socio-economic conditions and farm management. Our analysis finds that average farm efficiency is low. Female farmers, remittances and farm machinery tend to increase farm efficiency, whereas coconut and rice crops as well as fertiliser use tend to decrease efficiency. Our analysis informs the decision-making of farmers and policy-makers, and helps farmers generate marketable surplus that ensures the livelihood of rural communities and drives development.


Farm efficiency Kerala DEA Development Food security Livelihood 



We thank Professor Beatrice Knerr, University of Kassel, and Professor S. Irudaya Rajan, Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Kerala, for supporting data collection. We also acknowledge funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) during fieldwork.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there are no conflicts of interest.


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© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair for Sustainability Management, Faculty of Economics and ManagementUniversity of KasselKasselGermany

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