New Economics Papers
on Agricultural Economics
Issue of 2008‒07‒05
eleven papers chosen by

  1. Impacts of Ethanol on Planted Acreage in Market Equilibrium By Hongli Feng; Bruce A. Babcock
  3. Agricultural Progress in Cameroon, Ghana and Mali: Why it Happened and How to Sustain It By Joe Dewbre; Adeline Borot de Battisti
  4. Future scenarios of the modernized agriculture and a Sraffian framework for the “return of techniques” scenario By Sortino, Antonio; Chang Ting Fa, Margherita; Piccinini, Livio Clemente
  5. Comparing Price and Non-Price Approaches to Urban Water Conservation By Sheila M. Olmstead; Robert N. Stavins
  6. Challenges for Sustainable Development: Rapid Urbanization, Poverty and Capabilities in Bangladesh By Khan, Haider
  7. Henry Agard Wallace, the Iowa Corn Yield Tests, and the Adoption of Hybrid Corn By Richard C. Sutch
  8. Validation of a predictive model applied to biomass using pyrolysis laboratory experimental results of agricultural residues. By Céline Gisèle Jung; O. Ioannidou; A. Zabaniotou
  9. Climate Change and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century By Melissa Dell; Benjamin F. Jones; Benjamin A. Olken
  10. Distributive impact of structural change: does environmental degradation matter? By Angelo Antoci; Paolo Russu; Elisa Ticci
  11. Toward a Normative Theory of Crop Yield Skewness By David A. Hennessy

  1. By: Hongli Feng (Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD)); Bruce A. Babcock (Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD); Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC))
    Abstract: Land use impacts of biofuel expansion have attracted a tremendous amount of attention because of the implications for the climate, the environment, and the food supply. To examine these impacts, we set up an economic framework that links input use and land allocation decisions with ethanol and agricultural commodity markets. Crops can be substitutes or complements in supply depending on the relative magnitude of three effects of crop prices: total cropland effect, land share effect, and input use effect. We show that with unregulated free markets, total cropland area increases with corn prices whether crops are substitutes or complements in supply. Similarly, higher corn yields from exogenous technical changes lead to cropland expansion. The impacts of yield increases for other crops are ambiguous. With a quantity mandate for ethanol, higher mandates mean larger cropland area if corn and other crops are substitutes in demand. For a given mandate, yield improvement causes total cropland to expand if crop demand is elastic enough, or to contract under a very general condition if crop demand is sufficiently inelastic.
    Keywords: biofuels, complements in supply, ethanol, (in)direct land use changes, substitutes in supply, yield increases.
    Date: 2008–06
  2. By: Christophe Muller (THEMA,University of Cergy-Pontoise)
    Abstract: In rural areas of Less Developed Countries because of market imperfections, the health and nutritional status of peasants may directly depend on the production levels of specific agricultural goods rather than solely on income levels. This channel of health and nutrition determination has never been studied. In order to assess and test the empirical possibility of this channel, we estimate the responses of health and nutritional status of autarkic agricultural households in Rwanda with respect to differences in socio-demographic characteristics and the main agricultural outputs and inputs while controlling for local environment and sampling scheme. Several food outputs are found to have a positive influence on health and nutrition, whereas the production of traditional beers has a negative impact. Moreover, greater land negatively affects health and nutrition, conditionally on agricultural production, perhaps because of a larger relative workload for households who have a large farm. An alternative interpretation of the estimates is that they inform on the validity of the common hypothesis of perfect agricultural input/output markets with no effect of agricultural inputs/outputs on health and nutrition status. This hypothesis is rejected.
    Keywords: Health and nutrition models, Agricultural Households
    JEL: I12 O15
    Date: 2008
  3. By: Joe Dewbre; Adeline Borot de Battisti
    Abstract: This booklet synthesizes findings from analysis of agricultural policy and performance in three African countries: Cameroon, Ghana and Mali. Case studies of each of these countries were undertaken as part of the Support for African Agriculture Project (SAAP), a project largely financed by the French Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The purpose was to identify constraints to agricultural growth and poverty reduction that might be eased through better policy, both domestically and internationally.
    Date: 2008–06
  4. By: Sortino, Antonio; Chang Ting Fa, Margherita; Piccinini, Livio Clemente
    Abstract: Rural areas in Europe are characterized by several agricultural models and paths. We can schematically divide them in two typologies of agriculture: the modernized and the traditional agriculture. The first typology is characterized by agricultural techniques of production pervaded by industrial (or modernized) elements and values. It is based on the most fertile soils of the European rural areas. The modernized agriculture has also reached elevated levels of productivity but it lacks in socio-environmental terms (i.e. biodiversity losses). The traditional agriculture, instead, has his base on the less favored areas and it is an unintentional keeper of traditional and virtuous techniques and elements (i.e. crop rotation and local genetic resources). It is such because it does not accept exogenous elements (i.e. mountainous agriculture where mechanization is applied with low efficiency/effectiveness) and it has therefore remained excluded from the processes of industrialization. The weak point of traditional agriculture, which has caused its decline, is the economic inefficiency. It is however an unknowing producer of positive externalities (i.e. safe food, local genetic resources, landscape). In our paper we try to assess the hypothesis of the return of traditional elements and techniques in the modernized agriculture. In order to analyze the problem, we shall introduce the theoretical framework of the “re-switching of techniques” from the neo-ricardian theory (Sraffa 1960). Sraffa, within the “re-switching” framework, pointed out that a low-capital-intensive technique may be competitive both at a relatively low and high rate of profit. Finally, after we have shown two examples of economic models of “re-switching of techniques”, we shall build an example of “re-switching” for the short period and an original example with multiple-switching points.
    Keywords: Re-switching of techniques; modernized agriculture; traditional agriculture; sustainable development.
    JEL: Q00 Q19
    Date: 2008–01–05
  5. By: Sheila M. Olmstead; Robert N. Stavins
    Abstract: Urban water conservation is typically achieved through prescriptive regulations, including the rationing of water for particular uses and requirements for the installation of particular technologies. A significant shift has occurred in pollution control regulations toward market-based policies in recent decades. We offer an analysis of the relative merits of market-based and prescriptive approaches to water conservation, where prices have rarely been used to allocate scarce supplies. The analysis emphasizes the emerging theoretical and empirical evidence that using prices to manage water demand is more cost-effective than implementing non-price conservation programs, similar to results for pollution control in earlier decades. Price-based approaches also have advantages in terms of monitoring and enforcement. In terms of predictability and equity, neither policy instrument has an inherent advantage over the other. As in any policy context, political considerations are important.
    JEL: L95 Q25 Q28
    Date: 2008–06
  6. By: Khan, Haider
    Abstract: The main purpose of this paper is to examine the causes and consequences -- in particular, the policy implications -- of the ongoing urbanization in Bangladesh. Like many other Asian developing countries, a rapidly increasing share of the population of Bangladesh migrates to urban centers in search for employment opportunities outside agriculture in industrial enterprises or the services sector. For the first time in its history, the urban population is growing faster than the rural population, At the same time, the labor force in non-agriculture is growing faster than the labor force in agriculture. But the employment opportunities in either sector are not growing adequately. This paper attempts to analyze the emerging trends and patterns of urbanization in Bangladesh within a dynamic dual-dual framework with a strong emphasis on rural-urban migration and the informal sectors. The analysis pinpoints, among other things, the need to build up productive capacities in order to create adequate employment and incomes for the rapidly growing population---particularly in the urban areas.The development of productive capacities, which is a precondition for the creation of productive employment opportunities, is a central element of viable poverty reduction strategy for Bangladesh as well. Without significant poverty reduction it is impossible to think of viable urbanization on the basis of sustainable development criteria in this poor country. Both for independent ecological reasons and for the implications of ecological damage for rising inequality and poverty, such a strategy must also be ecologically sustainable in the long run. The donors, especially the OECD/ DAC countries, should provide the necessary financial backing for such a sustainable and equitable development strategy for Bangladesh. It is necessary to reverse the trends in aid, and to provide a much larger share of aid for productive sector development, including the development of rural and urban areas, and the development of agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in line with the perspective of the dual-dual model. Although urban centers mostly host non-agricultural industries, sustainable urbanization also strongly depends on what happens in the agricultural sectors. Productive employment opportunities in rural areas are important in order to combat an unsustainable migration from rural areas to urban centers, and productive employment opportunities in urban centers are essential to absorb the rapidly increasing labor force in the non-agricultural sector.
    Keywords: Urbanization; Bangladesh; Dual-Dual Model; Informal Sector; Poverty; Employment; Capabilities.
    JEL: C68 O17 O53
    Date: 2008–06
  7. By: Richard C. Sutch
    Abstract: This research report makes the following claims: 1] There was not an unambiguous economic advantage of hybrid corn over the open-pollinated varieties in 1936. 2] The early adoption of hybrid corn before 1937 can be better explained by a sustained propaganda campaign conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Agard Wallace. The Department's campaign echoed that of the commercial seed companies. The most prominent hybrid seed company, Pioneer Hi-Bred Company, was founded by Wallace and he retained a financial interest while serving as Secretary. 3] The early adopters of hybrid seed were followed by later adopters as a consequence of the droughts of 1934 and especially 1936. The eventual improvement of yields as newer varieties were introduced explains the continuation and acceleration of the process.
    JEL: N12
    Date: 2008–06
  8. By: Céline Gisèle Jung (Centre Emile Bernheim, Solvay Business School, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels.); O. Ioannidou (Chemical Engineering Department, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.); A. Zabaniotou (Chemical Engineering Department, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece.)
    Abstract: Pyrolysis is the initial step in most of the biomass thermal conversion processes, and the most depending on the properties of biomass. In the current study, three agricultural residues: olive tree prunnings, rapeseed residues and soya residues have been pyrolyzed and gasified in a captive sample and a fixed bed reactor, respectively. Yields and heating values of the gaseous and solid products were estimated. The experimental results were further compared with the results from a predictive model based in the proximate analysis estimated from the raw materials thermogravimetric and ultimate analysis. The comparison between the pyrolysis results and the predictions from the model showed to have deviations ranged between almost zero to 17%. The higher deviations appeared in the amount of heating values of the char. For the gasification results, on the other hand, the model is only be used for predictions in the energetic value the gas produced due to the differences in the assumptions taken respectively in the experimental procedure and the model.
    Keywords: predictive model, biomass, pyrolysis, gasification, mass balance, energy balance
    Date: 2008–06
  9. By: Melissa Dell; Benjamin F. Jones; Benjamin A. Olken
    Abstract: This paper uses annual variation in temperature and precipitation over the past 50 years to examine the impact of climatic changes on economic activity throughout the world. We find three primary results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries but have little effect in rich countries. Second, higher temperatures appear to reduce growth rates in poor countries, rather than just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects in poor nations, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and aggregate investment, and increasing political instability. Analysis of decade or longer climate shifts also shows substantial negative effects on growth in poor countries. Should future impacts of climate change mirror these historical effects, the negative impact on poor countries may be substantial.
    JEL: O11 O13 O40 Q54
    Date: 2008–06
  10. By: Angelo Antoci (Università degli Studi di Sassari); Paolo Russu (Università degli Studi di Sassari); Elisa Ticci (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche)
    Abstract: Vulnerability to reduction of natural capital depends on defensive substitution possibilities that, in turn, are affected by the availability of other productive factors. However in several developing countries asset distribution tends to be highly skewed. Taking into account these elements, this paper proposes a model considering an economy polarized into two classes (the rich and the poor) and characterized by the following stylized facts income and productivity of the rural poor is highly dependent on natural resources; labour remuneration in rural sector represents the opportunity cost for wage labour; the rich can partially substitute natural capital with physical capital accumulation and wage labour employment. In this context, agents differ for feed back mechanisms and interactions between their choices of production and environmental dynamics. Moreover environmental depletion may trigger economic transition, but the structural change is likely to result regressive.
    Keywords: structural change, environmental externalities, economic development, poverty alleviation.
    JEL: D62 O11 O13 O15 O41 Q20
    Date: 2008
  11. By: David A. Hennessy (Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD))
    Abstract: While the preponderance of empirical studies point to negative crop yield skewness in a wide variety of contexts, the literature provides few clear insights on why this is so. The purpose of this paper is to make three points on the matter. We show formally that statistical laws on aggregates do not suggest a normal yield distribution. We explain that whenever the weather-conditioned mean yield has diminishing marginal product, then there is a disposition toward negative skewness in aggregate yields. This is because a high marginal product in bad weather states stretches out the left tail of the yield distribution relative to that of the weather distribution. Turning to disaggregated yields, we decompose unconditional skewness into weather-conditioned skewness plus two other terms and study each in turn.
    Keywords: conditional distribution, crop insurance, negative skewness, spatial heterogeneity, statistical laws.
    Date: 2008–06

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