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Essays on the Contribution of University of California Cooperative Extension: Knowledge, Agricultural Productivity and Irrigation Water Use Efficiency

  • Author(s): Chatterjee, Diti
  • Advisor(s): Dinar, Ariel
  • González-Rivera, Gloria
  • et al.
Abstract

University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has been an integral part of California’s agriculture, with over a hundred years of research and outreach programs focused towards enhancement of agricultural productivity and water use efficiency. There has been a growing debate among policy makers and bureaucrats around provision of funding in cooperative extension and other federally funded research in agriculture, and possible privatization of the same. With this in mind this dissertation analyzes the impact of UCCE in three areas – creation and dissemination of research-based knowledge aimed at improving agricultural productivity, value of county level agricultural sales, and irrigation water use efficiency. The first analysis involves empirical analysis of the relationship between UCCE’s investments in researchers and non-research provisions including infrastructure, and knowledge production. For capturing knowledge production, a knowledge index is created to incorporate knowledge produced and disseminated by UCCE via an array of different outreach methods. The second analysis involves the estimation of the impact of the knowledge stock created by UCCE through current and lagged expenditures in research and outreach programs at the county level. The analysis makes the hypothesis that current value of agricultural production is impacted by a knowledge stock which is composed by current and older expenditures made by UCCE on research and outreach programs. The knowledge stock enters the estimation function as a sum of current and depreciated value of older expenditures. Estimation results indicate that knowledge stock comprised of current and 5 lagged expenditure variables has a positive impact on current value of agricultural output, thereby providing evidence of a long term impact of current expenditures on future production at the county level. We estimate a net positive benefit accrued to county agricultural production value in the long run. The final analysis estimates the impact of UCCE’s irrigation information on farm level value of average agricultural output per irrigated acre, as well as water use per irrigated acre. The study provides evidence of positive effect of UCCE, on both the outcome variables, and a net positive benefit to an average farm. There is an indication of trade-off between water use and revenue maximization, where users of UCCE irrigation information use more water, but produce higher output. Results provide important policy implications in relation to farmer adoption of water-saving technology prescribed by UCCE, irrigation efficient production and actual water use.

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