Mind the (yield) gap(s)

maize-gapWhat is a “yield gap”? The term might be rooted in the science of crop production ecology, but it is now increasingly used as a device to frame policy. The journal Food Security carries an article by Future Agricultures member Jim Sumberg discussing this issue.

Mind the (yield) gap(s), Food Security, October 2012

Abstract: This paper explores the origin of the notion of “yield gap” and its use as a framing device for agricultural policy in sub-Saharan Africa. The argument is that while the yield gap of policy discourse provides a simple and powerful framing device, it is most often used without the discipline or caveats associated with the best examples of its use in crop production ecology and microeconomics.

This argument is developed by examining how yield gap is used in a selection of recent and influential agricultural policy documents. The message for policy makers and others is clear: “mind the (yield) gap(s)”, for they are seldom what they appear.

Photo: drought tolerant maize development in Thailand by CIMMYT on Flickr