Closing system-wide yield gaps to increase food production and mitigate GHGs among mixed crop–livestock smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa
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Henderson, B., Godde, C., Medina-Hidalgo, D., Wijk, M. van, Silvestri, S., Douxchamps, S., Stephenson, E., Power, B., Rigolot, C., Cacho, O. and Herrero, M. 2016. Closing system-wide yield gaps to increase food production and mitigate GHGs among mixed crop–livestock smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural Systems 143:106–113.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/69537
In this study we estimate yield gaps for mixed crop–livestock smallholder farmers in seven Sub-Saharan African sites covering six countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Senegal and Burkina Faso). We also assess their potential to increase food production and reduce the GHG emission intensity of their products, as a result of closing these yield gaps.We use stochastic frontier analysis to construct separate production frontiers for each site, based on 2012 survey data prepared by the International Livestock Research Institute for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program. Instead of relying on theoretically optimal yields—a common approach in yield gap assessments—our yield gaps are based on observed differences in technical efficiency among farms within each site. Sizeable yield gaps were estimated to be present in all of the sites. Expressed as potential percentage increases in outputs, the average site-based yield gaps ranged from 28 to 167% for livestock products and from 16 to 209% for crop products. The emission intensities of both livestock and crop products registered substantial falls as a consequence of closing yield gaps. The relationships between farm attributes and technical efficiency were also assessed to help inform policy makers about where best to target capacity building efforts. We found a strong and statistically significant relationship between market participation and performance across most sites. We also identified an efficiency dividend associated with the closer integration of crop and livestock enterprises. Overall, this study reveals that there are large yield gaps and that substantial benefits for food production and environmental performance are possible through closing these gaps, without the need for new technology.