Agricultural Productivity in the WANA Region
The interest of governments, international organizations, NGOs and the general public has recently been aroused by studies considering the use of existing agricultural technology, the use of innovations in such technology and the production of agricultural goods. The attention received by such studies has grown as a result of an unprecedented wave of trade liberalization in the world (involving bilateral, regional and multilateral tradeintegration processes), coupled with concerns over food security, high rates of population growth and the use of limited and frequently degraded natural resources. In this context, the Malmquist Index, used to measure agricultural productivity, is a powerful tool, providing insights into whether or not a country is approaching what may be termed best practice by using and disseminating existing technology (efficiency change), and/or by innovating technology (technical change). Using the Malmquist Index on a sample of 12 countries within West Asia and North Africa (WANA) indicated that, between 1961 and 1997, Turkey, Tunisia, Syria and Algeria (in that order) were the most productive countries. Following them, in terms of agricultural productivity, were Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, while Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen and Ethiopia were the least productive countries of the 12 considered. Recurring negative results, with respect to both technical change and efficiency change, in Ethiopia, Sudan, Pakistan and Yemen, suggest that governments and national and international organizations and research institutions should make greater efforts to strengthen agricultural research and extension services if food security and competitiveness are to be improved.