Journal of Productivity Analysis

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Technical efficiency for Colombian small crop and livestock farmers: A stochastic metafrontier approach for different production systems

  • Ligia Alba Melo-BecerraEmail author
  • Antonio José Orozco-Gallo


This paper assesses the efficiency of crop and livestock production in Colombia by using a sample of 1565 households. The study considers households located in different production systems which differ in geography, climate and soil types. These conditions affect technical efficiency and thus render analysis under the same production frontier as inadequate. For this reason, stochastic metafrontier techniques are preferred, allowing the estimation of technical efficiency within each production system and between production systems in relation to the sector as a whole. Results suggest that households in some production systems could be benefiting from better production conditions due to advantages in the availability of natural resources and climate as well as to more favorable socio-economic conditions. Additionally, we found that, in all systems, households with higher production have higher measures of technical efficiency. Thus, significant gains could be achieved in the sector through measures that contribute to improve the efficiency of households within their production systems and by policies that help reduce the technology gap in relation to the meta-frontier. These policies would bring positive impacts on the quality of life of small farmers and on the productivity of the sector.


Stochastic frontier analysis Technical efficiency Metafrontier production function Colombia 

JEL Classification

C14 Q12 D24 



The authors acknowledge Boris E. Bravo-Ureta, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Connecticut, for his suggestions and guidance to undertake this document; Carlos Gustavo Cano, member of the Board of the Colombian Central Bank, for his recommendations and guidance to find the necessary information for the research; José Gabriel Tafur, from the National Administrative Department of Statistics, for the provision of information and support in processing the database. We also wish to thank Jesus Barrios, Luis Armando Galvis, Jhorland Ayala García and Héctor Zárate for their comments and suggestions, and Helena González and Esteban Larrota for their research assistance. The opinions expressed herein belong to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Banco de la República or its Board of Directors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ligia Alba Melo-Becerra
    • 1
    Email author
  • Antonio José Orozco-Gallo
    • 1
  1. 1.Banco de la RepúblicaBogotáColombia

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