The Economics of Agricultural Labour Markets in Sudan: A Case Study of Gezira Scheme

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Elgozouli, Osman Mohammed Babikir
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The main objective of this study is to analyze some economic aspects of the agricultural labour market in irrigated agriculture with reference to Gezira Scheme, which may help in drawing some soundly based policy implications. The analytical techniques used to test for the study hypotheses are; descriptive statistics, the Cobb-Douglas production function, other econometric analysis such as multiple and Tobit regressions. Then, based on household theory, a quantitative farm household model was developed using non-linear programming. The study depends mainly on primary data which have been collected by means of a structured questionnaire and direct interviewing with the Gezira tenants who grew cotton, wheat, sorghum and groundnut crops for the season 2003/2004. Also, necessary secondary data have been used. A multi-stage stratified random sample of 150 respondents was selected. As well a sample of 60 respondents was selected from the hired workers in Gezira Scheme. The descriptive analysis revealed that the farmers are a homogenous group, the majority of them are within the productive age group and their average family size was an indicative of large potential labour force. The analysis of the socio-economic characteristics of the agricultural workers revealed that they were young; on average and regarding their source they could be either seasonal, local or labour from camps who prefer to work as sharecroppers with the tenants than to work as hired labourers. The descriptive analysis of some related aspects to the rural labour markets in Gezira Scheme assured the existence of some non-market institutions such as sharecropping practices. Also it was observed that the interviewed tenants tried to diversify their income sources and there were some reported cases of internal and external migration among the tenants’ households. Generally, the production function analysis showed that factors of labour and average cost of variable inputs (proxy for capital) were found to be of utmost importance for the production of the studied crops. However, the assessment of the labour market efficiency revealed that the shadow wages were significantly deviated from their market levels. The results of the log-linear multiple regression for the determinants of labour supply and demand showed that these forces were affected by factors related to the household characteristics, economic and non-economic variables. Also regarding household wages and incomes, the econometric results showed that they were mostly affected by some variables related to human and physical capital beside some of the household socio-economic characteristics. Based on the farm household model results, the comparison of the derived shadow wage of labour with their market wage assured low returns of labour and that the studied farm households appeared to behave contrary to what is stated in the neoclassical agricultural household models. The study recommended some solutions to the problems related to the agricultural inputs, mainly, labour and ways of their effective enrollment in farm work and raising their returns levels.
Gezira Scheme
University of khartoum