Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Total Factor Productivity, Technical Efficiency, Technology Adoption, Impact Evaluation, Aflatoxin, Groundnuts, Smallholders, Ghana, Mozambique, Uganda

Major Advisor

Boris Bravo-Ureta

Associate Advisor

Nathan Fiala

Associate Advisor

Carl M. Deom

Associate Advisor

David Jordan

Field of Study

Agricultural and Resource Economics


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Agricultural productivity growth is a primary driver of economic development throughout the world. In Africa, productivity growth has lagged behind the rest of the world, resulting in food shortages and continued reliance on subsistence agriculture by smallholders. The challenges from climate change, population growth, and rural food insecurity, have made it all the more difficult to increase productivity in Africa. In addition, chronic poverty and limited access to resources are major hurdles to regional productivity growth. Initiatives to address these issues rely on foundational studies that are used to justify programs and policy. This dissertation takes a multi-faceted approach and makes a contribution to the literature by providing micro-econometric evidence of agricultural production for smallholder groundnut farmers in selected African countries.

Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is a highly nutritious legume grown throughout the world. It contributes to the diversity of smallholder production portfolios and is used in rotations and intercropping to increase soil health and fertility. Each of the following chapters offer a distinct perspective that together sheds light on important dynamics at the nexus of agricultural production and development. Findings suggest that agricultural extension plays a critical role in enhancing the well-being of smallholders through increased productivity and food safety. The second chapter evaluates the lasting impact of an intervention in Uganda to increase adoption of high-yielding groundnut varieties with results that indicate a twenty one percent increase in adoption. In chapter three, total factor productivity and technical efficiency is analyzed for smallholder groundnut producers in Mozambique and reveals low productivity among the sample. Extensions efforts to increase adoption of productivity enhancing practices and hybrid seeds is underscored. Chapter four includes data from chapters two and three in addition to data for Ghana to examine smallholder knowledge and levels of aflatoxins. The findings indicate that self-reported knowledge is positively associated with village-level extension, while aflatoxin levels are inversely associated with both village-level extension as well as the adoption of good management practices. Furthermore, adoption of good agronomic practices alone can greatly increase both total output and quality, while reducing aflatoxin pressure through enhanced crop vigor.