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KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY

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Publication | 26 October 2020

Are small farms more performant than larger ones in developing countries?

Global Food and Nutrition Security

Meta-regressions of around 1000 cases published over the period 1997–2018 suggest that the direction of the relationship between land area and agricultural performance strongly depends on the performance indicator selected. Net value and efficiency indicators show that larger farms tend to be more performant than smallholders, while the simpler but ubiquitous gross output indicators support an inverse relationship (IR). In addition, this study also indicates a decreasing record of IR in the literature over time, regardless of the indicator used. This may be partially explained by improvements in assessment techniques but, more importantly, by agricultural structural changes. Our results invite reconsidering IR as a central assumption when formulating agricultural support in rural development policy.