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Survey Measurement Errors and the Assessment of the Relationship between Yields and Inputs in Smallholder Farming Systems : Evidence from Mali (English)

An accurate understanding of how input use affects agricultural productivity in smallholder farming systems is key to designing policies that can improve productivity, food security, and living standards in rural areas. Studies examining the relationships between agricultural productivity and inputs typically rely on land productivity measures, such as crop yields, that are informed by self-reported survey data on crop production. This paper leverages unique survey data from Mali to demonstrate that self-reported crop yields, vis-à-vis (objective) crop cut yields, are subject to non-classical measurement error that in turn biases the estimates of returns to inputs, including land, labor, fertilizer, and seeds. The analysis validates an alternative approach to estimate the relationship between crop yields and agricultural inputs using large-scale surveys, namely a within-survey imputation exercise that derives predicted, otherwise unobserved, objective crop yields that stem from a machine learning model that is estimated with a random subsample of plots for which crop cutting and self-reported yields are both available. Using data from a methodological survey experiment and a nationally representative survey conducted in Mali, the analysis demonstrates that it is possible to obtain predicted objective sorghum yields with attenuated non-classical measurement error, resulting in a less biased assessment of the relationship between yields and agricultural inputs. The discussion expands on the implications of the findings for (i) future research on agricultural intensification, and (ii) the design of future surveys in which objective data collection could be limited to a subsample to save costs, with the intention to apply the suggested machine learning approach.


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    Yacoubou Djima,Ismael, Kilic,Talip

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    Policy Research Working Paper

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    Africa West,

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    Survey Measurement Errors and the Assessment of the Relationship between Yields and Inputs in Smallholder Farming Systems : Evidence from Mali

  • Keywords

    measurement error; Crop; data collection and analysis; crop yield; household labor; smallholder farming system; agricultural input; survey measurement error; factor of production; data quality control; nationally representative survey; received advice; allocation of labor; managing natural resources; machine learning; crop production; survey data; household size; sorghum production; land area; agricultural productivity; instrumental variable; regression results; labor input; land productivity; multivariate regression; input use; cotton plot; standard measurement; agricultural economics; empirical result; cultivated land; standard error; positive relationship; crop harvest; chemical fertilizer; conversion factor; household survey; independent variable; summary statistic; agricultural survey; study area; descriptive statistic; Land tenure; plot location; agricultural season; crop cultivation; measure of use; farm organization; agricultural household; household questionnaire; measurement methods; remote sensing; random selection; small farm; terrain type; point estimate; methodological research; sample household; cultivated area; euclidean distance; empirical application; plot boundary; resource constraint; policy relevance; recent years; Population Density; economics research; soil quality; sample plot; literacy level; household production; empirical evidence; parameter estimate; predictor variable; gold standard; household level; yield improvement; enumeration area; present evidence; labor hour; negative correlation; Research Support; multivariate model; development policy; open access; per household; household characteristic; policy perspective; empirical analysis; smallholder farmer; broad access; yield point; yield gain; future research; rural area; living standard; national survey; designing policy; production function; explanatory variable; welfare outcome; agricultural data; agriculture extension; global population; survey design; impact measurement; organic fertilizer; food producer; dependency ratio; research assistance; policy standpoint; systematic measurement; data system



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Yacoubou Djima,Ismael Kilic,Talip

Survey Measurement Errors and the Assessment of the Relationship between Yields and Inputs in Smallholder Farming Systems : Evidence from Mali (English). Policy Research working paper,no. WPS 9841,LSMS Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.