Please wait a minute...
Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (7): 1996-2008    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63439-6
Special Issue: 农业经济与管理合辑Agricultural Economics and Management
Agricultural Economics and Management Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Mechanization and efficiency in rice production in China
SHI Min1, Krishna P. PAUDEL2, CHEN Feng-bo1
1 College of Economics & Management, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, P.R.China
2 Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, Louisiana State University (LSU) and LSU Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA
Download:  PDF in ScienceDirect  
Export:  BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Agricultural mechanization and custom machine services have developed rapidly in China, which can influence rice production efficiency in the future.  We calculate technical efficiency, allocative efficiency, and scale efficiency using data collected in 2015 from a face-to-face interview survey of 450 households that cultivated 3 096 plots located in the five major rice-producing provinces of China.  We use a one-step stochastic frontier model to calculate technical efficiency and regress the efficiency scores on socio-demographic and physical land characteristics to find the influencing variables.  Variables influencing technical efficiency are compared at three different phases of rice cultivation.  We also calculate technical efficiency by using the Heckman Selection Model, which addresses technological heterogeneity and self-selection bias.  Results indicate that: (1) the average value of technical efficiency using a one-step stochastic frontier model was found to be 0.74.  When self-selection bias is accounted for using the Heckman Selection Model, the average value of the technical efficiency increases to 0.80; (2) mechanization at the chemical application phase has a positive effect on technical efficiency, but mechanization does not affect efficiency at the plowing and harvesting phases; (3) machines are overused relative to both land and labor, and high machine input use on the small size of landholding has resulted in allocative inefficiency; (4) rice farmers are overwhelmingly operating at a sub-optimal scale.  Future policies should focus on encouraging farmland transfer in rural areas to achieve scale efficiency and allocative efficiency while promoting mechanization at the chemical application phase of rice cultivation to improve technical efficiency. 
Keywords:  technical efficiency        allocative efficiency        scale efficiency        rice farmers        stochastic frontier function  
Received: 22 April 2020   Accepted:
Fund: The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Social Science Foundation of China (14BGL094), the Rice Research System in Guangdong Province, China (2019KJ105) and the EU Project H2020 Program (822730). Paudel’s time on this paper was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funded Hatch projects (#94382 and #94483).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence Krishna P. PAUDEL, E-mail:   
About author:  SHI Min, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

SHI Min, Krishna P. PAUDEL, CHEN Feng-bo. 2021. Mechanization and efficiency in rice production in China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(7): 1996-2008.

Abay K A, Abate G T, Barrett C B, Bernard T. 2019. Correlated non-classical measurement errors, ‘Second best’ policy inference, and the inverse size-productivity relationship in agriculture. Journal of Development Economics, 139, 171–184.
Averch H, Johnson L L. 1962. Behavior of the firm under regulatory constraint. The American Economic Review, 52, 1052–1069.
Cai H L, Yan T Y. 2019. Technology efficiency or allocation efficiency. China Agricultural Economic Review, 11, 237–252.
Chen C, Li Y Q, Liao X Y. 2012. Analysis on the productivity effect of outsourcing in rice production. Chinese Rural Economy, 2, 86–96. (in Chinese)
Chen F B, Herry L, Gerry B, Ding S J. 2016. Household structure, left-behind elderly, and rural migration in China. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 48, 279–297.
Dong H. 2017. Outsourcing service during rice production. Journal of South China Agricultural University, 16, 91–101. (in Chinese)
Heckman J. 1979. Sample selection bias as a specification error. Econometrica, 47, 153–162.
Hu L X, Zhang X H, Zhou Y H. 2019. Farm size and fertilizer sustainable use: An empirical study in Jiangsu, China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 18, 2898–2909.
Imad A, Huo X X, Imran K, Hashmat A, Khan B, Sufyan U K. 2019. Technical efficiency of hybrid maize growers: A stochastic frontier model approach. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 18, 2408–2421.
Ji Y Q, Yu X H, Zhong F N. 2012. Machinery investment decision and off-farm employment in rural China. China Economic Review, 23, 71–80.
Kumbhakar S C, Wang H J, Horncastle A P. 2015. A Practitioner’s Guide to Stochastic Frontier Analysis Using Stata. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom. pp. 203–210.
Lee L. 1978. Unionism and wage rates: A simultaneous equations model with qualitative and limited dependent variables. International Economic Review, 19, 415–433.
Liu G S, Wang H M, Cheng Y X, Cheng B, Lu Z L. 2016. The impact of rural out-migration on arable land use intensity: Evidence from mountain areas in Guangdong, China. Land Use Policy, 59, 569–579.
Liu H Y, Hussain S, Zheng M, Peng S B, Huang J L, Cui K H, Nie L X. 2015. Dry direct-seeded rice as an alternative to transplanted-flooded rice in Central China. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 35, 285–294.
Liu Z, Liu S H, Jin H R, Qi W. 2017. Rural population change in China: Spatial differences, driving forces and policy implications. Journal of Rural Studies, 51, 189–197.
Ma L, Feng S Y, Reidsma P, Qu F T, Heerink N. 2014. Identifying entry points to improve fertilizer use efficiency in Taihu Basin, China. Land Use Policy, 37, 52–59.
Madau F A. 2015. Technical and scale efficiency in the italian citrus farming: Comparison between SFA and DEA approaches. Agricultural Economics Review, 16, 15–27.
Qian W R, Wang D Z, Zheng L Y. 2016. The impact of migration on agricultural restructuring: Evidence from Jiangxi Province in China. Journal of Rural Studies, 47, 542–551.
Schmidt P, Lovell C A K. 1979, Estimating technical and allocative inef?ciency relative to stochastic production and cost frontiers, Journal of Econometrics, 9, 343–366.
Sha W B, Chen F B, Mishra A K. 2019. Adoption of direct seeded rice, land use and enterprise income: Evidence from Chinese rice producers. Land Use Policy, 83, 564–570.
Shee A, Stefanou S E. 2015. Endogeneity corrected stochastic production frontier and technical efficiency. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 97, 939–952.
Tan S, Heerink N, Kuyvenhoven A, Qu F. 2010. Impact of land fragmentation on rice producers’ technical efficiency in South-East China. NJAS-Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences, 57, 117–123.
Tang J J, Folmer H, Xue J H. 2015. Technical and allocative efficiency of irrigation water use in the Guanzhong Plain, China. Food Policy, 50, 43–52.
Wang H J, Schmidt P. 2002. One-step and two-step estimation of the effects of exogenous variables on technical efficiency levels. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 18, 129–144.
Wang S L, Huang J K, Wang X B, Tuan F. 2019. Are China’s regional agricultural productivities converging: How and why? Food Policy, 86, 1–10.
Wang X B, Yamauchi F, Huang J K. 2016. Rising wages, mechanization, and the substitution between capital and labor: Evidence from small scale farm system in China. Agricultural Economics, 47, 309–317.
Wang X B, Yamauchi F, Huang J K, Rozelle S. 2018. What constrains mechanization in Chinese agriculture? Role of farm size and fragmentation. China Economic Review, 62, 101221.
Watkins K B, Hristovska T, Mazzanti R, Wilson C E, Schmidt L. 2014. Measurement of technical, allocative, economic, and scale efficiency of rice production in Arkansas using data envelopment analysis. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 46, 89–106.
Yan J, Chen C, Hu B L. 2019. Farm size and production efficiency in Chinese agriculture: Output and profit. China Agricultural Economic Review, 11, 20–38.
Yang J, Huang Z H, Zhang X B, Reardon T. 2013. The rapid rise of cross-regional agricultural mechanization services in China. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 95, 1245–1251.
Yang J, Wang H, Jin S Q, Chen K, Riedinger J, Pen C. 2016. Migration, local off-farm employment, and agricultural production efficiency: Evidence from China. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 45, 247–259.
Yang Z H, Mugera A W, Zhang F. 2016. Investigating yield variability and inefficiency in rice production: A case study in central China. Sustainability, 8, 787.
Yi Q, Chen M Y, Sheng Y, Huang J K. 2019. Mechanization services, farm productivity and institutional innovation in China. China Agricultural Economic Review, 11, 536–554.
Zhang C, Shi G M, Shen J, Hu R F. 2015. Productivity effect and overuse of pesticide in crop production in China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14, 1903–1910.
Zhang L X, Su W L, Eriksson T, Liu C F. 2016. How off-farm employment affects technical efficiency of China’s farms: The case of Jiangsu. China & World Economy, 24, 37–51.
Zhang X B, Yang J, Thomas R. 2017. Mechanization outsourcing clusters and division of labor in Chinese agriculture. China Economic Review, 43, 184–195.
Zhang X B, Yang J, Wang S L. 2011. China has reached the Lewis turning point. China Economic Review, 22, 542–554.
Zhong M, Zhu Y C, Chen Q H, Liu T J, Cai Q. 2019. Does household engagement in concurrent business affect the farm size-technical efficiency relationship in grain production? Evidence from northern China. China Agricultural Economic Review, 11, 125–142.
Zhou Y P, Shi X P, Heerink N, Ma X L. 2019. The effect of land tenure governance on technical efficiency: Evidence from three provinces in eastern China. Applied Economics, 51, 2337–2354.
Zhu W J, Paudel K P, Luo B L. 2021. The influence of land titling on the disparity between willingness to accept willingness to pay values. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 64, 930–953.
[1] ZHOU Wen-bin, WANG Huai-yu, HU Xi, DUAN Feng-ying. Spatial variation of technical efficiency of cereal production in China at the farm level[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2021, 20(2): 470-481.
[2] QIN Shi-le, Lü Xin-ye.
Do large-scale farmers use more pesticides?  Empirical evidence from rice farmers in five Chinese provinces 
[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2020, 19(2): 590-599.
[3] Imad Ali, HUO Xue-xi, Imran Khan, Hashmat Ali, Khan Baz, Sufyan Ullah Khan. Technical efficiency of hybrid maize growers: A stochastic frontier model approach[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2019, 18(10): 2408-2421.
[4] Ajapnwa Akamin, Jean-Claude Bidogeza, Jules René Minkoua N, Victor Afari-Sefa . Efficiency and productivity analysis of vegetable farming within root and tuber-based systems in the humid tropics of Cameroon[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2017, 16(08): 1865-1873.
[5] TIAN Xu, SUN Fei-fei, ZHOU Ying-heng. Technical efficiency and its determinants in China’s hog production[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2015, 14(6): 1057-1068.
[6] ZHOU Ying-heng, ZHANG Xiao-heng, TIAN Xu, GENG Xian-hui, ZHANG Peng, YAN Bin-jian. Technical and environmental efficiency of hog production in China -A stochastic frontier production function analysis[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2015, 14(6): 1069-1080.
No Suggested Reading articles found!