Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Yoko Kusunose

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael R. Reed


This dissertation studies agricultural input intensification, defined as the increased use of modern inputs such as hybrid seeds, mineral fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide in African agriculture. It also analyses the potential of this intensification to accelerate productivity growth and tests the effectiveness of two policies, input subsidies and land reforms, in promoting it and consequently in increasing crop yield. In the first essay, we argue that to create the conditions for the emergence of a green revolution in Africa, modern agricultural technologies have to be adopted as a package, not in a piecemeal fashion. This argument is consistent with a conceptual framework that we develop to illustrate the importance of harnessing strategic complementarities among agricultural technologies by adopting them simultaneously rather than sequentially. Based on this framework, we propose a methodology to estimate an index to measure agricultural input intensification in its many dimensions. The index provides a simple and intuitive measure to quantify joint adoption of several inputs and compare it across plots, crops, farmers, and regions. Applying this methodology to maize producers in Burkina Faso and Tanzania, we show that our estimated index is a valid measure of joint input adoption and effectively captures the relative importance of each input as well as the number of different inputs adopted. Using the estimated index, we find that simultaneous adoption of modern inputs in Burkina Faso and Tanzania is limited but not rare. Most importantly, we find that the impact of the adoption of individual modern input on yield is increasing with the level of intensification for others.

In the subsequent two essays, we assess the effectiveness of government’s direct intervention through input subsidies and indirect intervention through land reforms in promoting agricultural input intensification and increasing productivity. Our empirical analyses focus on Burkina Faso, a country that has recently implemented a fertilizer subsidy program and is undertaking profound land reforms to improve land tenure security and land transferability among households. The second essay tests the hypothesis that subsidizing only one input might promote or discourage the use of other inputs. We find that fertilizer subsidy for maize farmers in Burkina Faso crowds in the use of hybrid seeds and crop protection chemicals, but discourages the use of manure. The last essay assesses whether the development of rural land rental markets can facilitate land transferability among farmers and increase input intensification and productivity. The findings suggest that land rental transfers land from less talented or committed farmers to the more able but have minimal impact on input intensification. However, our results show that land renters are more productive and better farm managers. These results suggest that the short-term gains from policies that foster the development of land rental markets in Burkina Faso, and more generally Africa, will likely be in term of efficiency rather than widespread adoption of modern agricultural technologies.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)