Essays on Microfinance, Copperatives and their Impact on Smallholders' Agricultural Technology Use and Efficiency in Ethiopia

Abate, Gashaw Tadesse (2014) Essays on Microfinance, Copperatives and their Impact on Smallholders' Agricultural Technology Use and Efficiency in Ethiopia. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


Financial constraints and limited access to markets are the most important obstacles for economic development in developing economies that are largely dependent on agriculture. Lack of access to credit and output markets, in particular, is frequently identified as a key barrier to transformation of subsistence agriculture. The fundamental problems are related to information asymmetry, lack of collateral and limited economies of scale. Innovative institutional mechanisms, in the form of microfinance and producer organizations, offer ways to address information asymmetry and increase scale economies. This dissertation examines the outreach, financial performance and impact of microfinance institutions as well as the key drivers of agricultural cooperatives and its impact on smallholder farmers efficiency in Ethiopia. To meet these objectives four data sets from Ethiopia, one institutional and three household survey data, are used. The analysis of microfinance generally focuses on examining the trade-offs between outreach to the poor and financial sustainability by ownership forms (shareholder owned vs. memberowned). The outreach-financial sustainability trade-offs analyzed first using the institutional survey data. The empirical results show that serving the poor and financial sustainability are challenging objectives to achieve together. There is also evidence that suggests the presence of mission drift. Second, the role of ownership form on outreach, financial performance and cost-efficiency is analyzed within the framework of efficient ownership assignment theories using regression and stochastic cost frontier approaches. This analysis aims at testing whether the commonly held proposition of greater efficiency of shareholder firms in microfinance by policy advocates is empirically supported. The results reject the superiority of shareholder-owned microfinance over financial cooperatives. In fact, the evidence here supports the advantages of member-owned microfinance on cost efficiency and balancing the double bottom-lines of microfinance. Third, the impact of access to microfinance credit on farmers investment on agricultural inputs is assessed using propensity score matching (PSM) and control-function-regression methods that address potential participation selection biases. Results from both approaches show that access to credit increased the use of productivity enhancing inputs among borrower farmers. Indeed, farmers that borrow from financial cooperatives tend to invest more on modern inputs. The analysis of agricultural cooperatives tested theoretical propositions from organizational and the new institutional economics theories on the drivers of agricultural cooperatives incidence and farmers membership and patronage decisions. Discrete choice models are employed for the empirical analysis. The results indicate that the incidence of agricultural cooperatives in Ethiopia is more related to the countervailing market power argument than to the transaction cost reduction hypothesis. Despite open membership polices, the analysis on farmers participation indicates that membership and patronage decisions are related and significantly influenced by location, asset and relational specificities. Finally, the impact analysis estimated technical efficiency gains of membership in agricultural cooperatives and employed matching and stochastic production frontier techniques. The evidence suggests that membership in agricultural cooperatives significantly enhances efficiency gains among smallholder farmers.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Local Development and Global Dynamics (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:26
Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS P/02 POLITICA ECONOMICA
Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/06 ECONOMIA APPLICATA
Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/11 ECONOMIA DEGLI INTERMEDIARI FINANZIARI
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