Accounting for growth in global agriculture
Rising prices of agricultural commodities have renewed concerns about constraints to agricultural productivity. To assess productivity trends, total factor productivity (TFP) is generally preferred to partial productivity indexes as an indicator of technical and efficiency changes because it is more closely related to the unit costs of production. But measuring TFP is demanding of data, and developing comprehensive and comparable indexes of international agricultural TFP has been challenging. This study proposes a growth accounting approach, using FAO data on quantity changes in inputs and outputs and aggregating input changes using cost shares derived from other sources, as a consistent way of constructing agricultural TFP indexes for world agriculture. This produces aggregate growth rates for agricultural output, input and TFP at the country, regional and global levels. Results suggest that the rate of agricultural TFP growth accelerated in recent decades, especially in developing countries. Most regions of the world now rely on productivity-based growth rather than resource-based growth to raise agricultural output.
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