Do Agricultural Extension Programmes Reduce Poverty and Vulnerability? Farm Size, Agricultural Productivity and Poverty in Uganda


The present study examines the relationship between farm size, agricultural productivity and access to agricultural extension programmes in reducing poverty and vulnerability drawing upon LSMS panel data in Uganda in 2009-2012 covering three rounds. We first estimate household crop productivity using stochastic frontier analysis that can allow for stochastic shocks in the production function. Second, we have found a negative association between farm size and agricultural productivity for output per hectare, intensity of land use and net profit per hectare, but not for technical efficiency, suggesting that smallholders are generally more productive than large-holders. It is misleading to consolidate land or neglect smallholders in favour of large farmers on the grounds of economy of scale in crop production. Third, the effect of different types of agricultural extension programmes - namely NAADS or government, NGO, cooperatives, large farmer, input supplier and other types extension service providers - on the crop productivity is estimated by treatment effects model which controls for the sample selection bias associated with household participation in the agricultural extension as well as unobservable factors at household levels. It is found that participation in agricultural extension programs significantly raised crop productivity only in a few cases, but increased household expenditure per capita in all cases. Fourth, a substantial share of households was found to be vulnerable and education was found to be the key to reducing poverty and vulnerability. Finally, improvement in agricultural productivity reduces static poverty, but does not lead to reduction in household vulnerability. Agricultural policies tailored to local needs, such as agricultural extension programmes, should be thus combined with poverty or vulnerability alleviation policies targeting smallholders or the landless households.


Agricultural productivity, Farm size, Agricultural extension, Poverty, Vulnerability, Treatment effects model, Uganda

JEL Classification

C21, C31, I32, N57, O13, O16


Katsushi S. IMAI
School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, UK
Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration
Kobe University
Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe
657-8501 Japan
Phone: +81-78-803-7036
FAX: +81-78-803-7059

Md. Faruq HASAN
Department of Agricultural Extension, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University, Bangladesh

Eleonora PORRECA
University of Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy