Technical efficiency of cocoa farms at varying elevation levels in Davao City, Philippines: implications to sustainable upland farming systems

Francis Levi A. Durano, Jon Marx Sarmiento, Larry N. Digal, Pedro A. Alviola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elevation is one of many components that influence agriculture, and this in turn affects the level of both inputs and outputs of farmers. This article focuses on the productivity and technical efficiency of 100 cocoa farms using cross-sectional data from areas ranging from 190 to 1021 m above sea level which were classified as low, medium, and high elevation in Davao City, considered as the chocolate capital of the Philippines. Using stochastic frontier analysis, the results showed that the cost of inputs per ha and the number of cocoa trees per ha significantly increase yield. Farms at high elevations were less technically efficient, as this entails lower temperatures and increased rainfall, and cocoa farming in those areas and conditions can be more challenging, especially with changes in farming practices, terrain, and distance to markets. Other significant variables were age of cocoa farms, married farmers, and age of the farmers. Older farms may be more developed, farmers who are married benefit from their spouses being able to readily contribute as farm labor, and lastly, older farmers’ inefficiency may likely stem from non-adaptation of newer farming practices. With an average technical efficiency of 0.61, 0.63, and 0.26 in low, medium, and high elevation areas, respectively, farmers therefore have an incentive to improve farm practices and consider topographical variations found in high elevation areas. Recommendations for the improvement of technical efficiency of cocoa farms are better connectivity to markets, enhancing farm practices, and continuation and improvement of government programs on cocoa with an added emphasis on research. For farmers in high elevation areas, mitigating solutions such as sustainable agriculture practices and ecolabelling are key to improving efficiency and minimizing the potential negative impact on upland farming systems. Moreover, such adaptation measures may also contribute to sustainability of cocoa farming in high elevation areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Mountain Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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