On the palm oil-biodiversity tradeoff: Environmental performance of smallholder producers

Oil palm remains an important source of rural income in South East Asia. At the same time, Indonesia has become a hotspot for large-scale species extinction and a loss of biodiversity in favour of agricultural production. The present study sets out to assess the environmental performance of smallholder oil palm production with respect to biodiversity. Using a panel dataset that combines conventional farm data together with an account of plant diversity, we estimate a restricted hyperbolic environmental distance function. We integrate loss of biodiversity as an undesirable output into the production model which allows explaining shortfalls in environmental performance and the derivation of shadow prices of biodiversity conservation. We find a substantial environmental inefficiency, which is partly explained by both chemical and manual weeding practices, highlighting the potential for improvements in both the environmental and the economic dimension. Moreover, the value for conserving one species of the average biodiversity on a farmers plantation was $324$ USD in 2018. Payments for ecosystem services schemes could be a viable policy response to conserve meaningful levels of biodiversity while simultaneously allowing smallholders to increase palm oil output. In general, addressing drivers of environmental performance in PES designs amplifies its effect without reducing production levels.

Does it matter how we ship the good apples out? On specific tariffs, transport modes, and agricultural export prices

We use a novel dataset that details trade flows between countries by mode of transport to estimate mode-specific elasticity of trade costs on food product prices. We confirm the finding of others that markups increase with increasing tariffs, but also find heterogeneous effects across modes of transport, where this effect is least pronounced for air-shipped products.

Environmental efficiency and methane abatement costs of dairy farms from Minas Gerais, Brazil

Increasing dairy farm productivity while simultaneously mitigating greenhouse gases emissions is a common policy goal in many countries. In this paper, we assess trade-offs and synergies between these goals for pasture-based dairy farms in Brazil. We …

Technical Efficiency and Farmland Expansion: Evidence from Oil Palm Smallholders in Indonesia

This study investigates the rebound effect in agriculture resulting from increased technical efficiency. In a palm oil smallholder case study, we find that although net land savings prevail as a result of increased technical efficiency, expected land savings are offset by about half due to farmland expansion.

The effect of cognitive function on the poor's economic performance: Evidence from Cambodian smallholder farmers

We ask whether the level of cognitive function can help to explain the differences in economic performance of the poor. Our findings suggest that impeded cognitive function results in a negative economic performance feedback loop, which can be a reason why some farmers appear to be stuck in poverty while others manage to escape it.

The Effect of Variable EU Import Levies on Corn Price Volatility

Here we investigate the effects of the variable corn import levy of the EU on domestic and foreign price volatility. We find that the variable import levy reduced corn price volatility in the EU market, while significantly increasing volatility to the same extent in Argentina.

svars: An R Package for Data-Driven Identification in Multivariate Time Series Analysis

We present the R package svars which implements statistical identification techniques for Structural vector autoregressive (SVAR) models. The package offers both heteroskedasticity based and independence based techniques. Moreover, it includes a rich variety of analysis tools that are well known in the SVAR literature.

The threat of oil market turmoils to food price stability in Sub-Saharan Africa

In this paper we use structural vector autoregressive (SVAR) models to investigate the impacts of global oil market shocks on local corn prices in several SSA countries. Our key findings are that unlike US or global corn markets, African corn markets are much less sensitive to the impacts of oil-specific demand shocks, instead, disruptions in global oil supply can lead to an increase in food prices in several markets.