Agricultural biodiversity, farm level technical efficiency and conservation benefits : an empirical investigation

Karunarathna, Kolombugamage Muditha Rathnamala (2012) Agricultural biodiversity, farm level technical efficiency and conservation benefits : an empirical investigation. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The issues involved in agricultural biodiversity are important and interesting areas for the application of economic theory. However, very little theoretical and empirical work has been undertaken to understand the benefits of conserving agricultural biodiversity. Accordingly, the main objectives of this PhD thesis are to: (1) Investigate farmers’ valuation of agricultural biodiversity; (2) Identify factors influencing farmers’ demand for agricultural biodiversity; (3) Examine farmers’ demand for biodiversity rich farming systems; (4) Investigate the relationship between agricultural biodiversity and farm level technical efficiency. This PhD thesis investigates these issues by using primary data in small-scale farms, along with secondary data from Sri Lanka. The overall findings of the thesis can be summarized as follows.

Firstly, owing to educational and poverty issues of those being interviewed, some policy makers in developed countries question whether non-market valuation techniques such as Choice Experiment (CE) can be applied to developing countries such as Sri Lanka. The CE study in this thesis indicates that carefully designed and pre-tested nonmarket valuation techniques can be applied in developing countries with a high level of reliability. The CE findings support the priori assumption that small-scale farms and their multiple attributes contribute positively and significantly to the utility of farm families in Sri Lanka. Farmers have strong positive attitudes towards increasing agricultural biodiversity in rural areas. This suggests that these attitudes can be the basis on which appropriate policies can be introduced to improve agricultural biodiversity.

Secondly, the thesis identifies the factors which influence farmers’ demand for agricultural biodiversity and farmers’ demands on biodiversity rich farming systems. As such they provide important tools for the implementation of policies designed to avoid the loss agricultural biodiversity which is shown to be a major impediment to agricultural growth and sustainable development in a number of developing countries. The results illustrate that certain key household, market and other characteristics (such as agricultural subsidies, percentage of investment of owned money and farm size) are the major determinants of demand for agricultural biodiversity on small-scale farms. The significant household characteristics that determine crop and livestock diversity include household member participation on the farm, off-farm income, shared labour, market price fluctuations and household wealth. Furthermore, it is shown that all the included market characteristics as well as agricultural subsidies are also important determinants of agricultural biodiversity.

Thirdly, it is found that when the efficiency of agricultural production is measured in practice, the role of agricultural biodiversity has rarely been investigated in the literature. The results in the final section of the thesis show that crop diversity, livestock diversity and mix farming system are positively related to farm level technical efficiency. In addition to these variables education level, number of separate plots, agricultural extension service, credit access, membership of farm organization and land ownerships are significant and direct policy relevant variables in the inefficiency model. The results of the study therefore have important policy implications for conserving agricultural biodiversity in Sri Lanka.

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ID Code: 57990
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Wilson, Clevo & Robinson, Tim
Keywords: agricultural biodiversity, farm level technical efficiency, conservation benefits
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Economics & Finance
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 08 Mar 2013 03:02
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 10:46

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