Agricultural emissions reduction potential by improving technical efficiency in crop production
CONTEXT: Global and national agricultural development policies normally tend to focus more on enhancing farm productivity through technological changes than on better use of existing technologies. The role of improving technical efficiency in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction from crop production is the least explored area in the agricultural sector. But improving technical efficiency is necessary in the context of the limited availability of existing natural resources (particularly land and water) and the need for GHG emission reduction from the agriculture sector. Technical efficiency gains in the production process are linked with the amount of input used nd the cost of production that determines both economic and environmental gains from the better use of existing technologies. OBJECTIVE: To assess a relationship between technical efficiency and GHG emissions and test the hypothesis that improving technical efficiency reduces GHG emissions from crop production. METHODS: This study used input-output data collected from 10,689 rice farms and 5220 wheat farms across India to estimate technical efficiency, global warming potential, and emission intensity (GHG emissions per unit of crop production) under the existing crop production practices. The GHG emissions from rice and wheat production were estimated using the CCAFS Mitigation Options Tool (CCAFS-MOT) and the technical efficiency of production was estimated through a stochastic production frontier analysis. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that improving technical efficiency in crop production can reduce emission intensity but not necessarily total emissions. Moreover, our analysis does not support smallholders tend to be technically less efficient and the emissions per unit of food produced by smallholders can be relatively high. Alarge proportion of smallholders have high technical efficiency, less total GHG emissions, and low emissions intensity. This study indicates the levels of technical efficiency and GHG emission are largely influenced by farming typology, i.e. choice and use of existing technologies and management practices in crop cultivation. SIGNIFICANCE: This study will help to promote existing improved technologies targeting GHG emissions reduction from the agriculture production systems.