Agricultural Productivity Growth, Efficiency Change and Technical Progress in Latin America and the Caribbean

May 2010
This paper analyzes total factor productivity growth in agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean between 1961 and 2007 employing the Malmquist Index, a non-parametric methodology that uses data envelopment analysis (DEA) methods. The results show that among developing regions, Latin America and the Caribbean shows the highest agricultural productivity growth. The highest growth within the region has occurred in the last two decades, especially due to improvements in efficiency and the introduction of new technologies. Within the region, land-abundant countries consistently outperform land-constrained countries. Within agriculture, crops and non-ruminant sectors have displayed the strongest growth between 1961 and 2001, and ruminant production performed the worst. Additional analysis of the cases of Brazil and Cuba illustrates potential effects of policies and external shocks on agricultural productivity; policies that do not discriminate against agricultural sectors and that remove price and production distortions may help improve productivity growth.