Integrated assessment of the determinants of the maize yield gap in Sub-Saharan Africa

Project overview

Project lead: Martin Van Ittersum, Wageningen University

Start date: 1 January 2015

End date: 31 January 2018

Project webpage

Research Council project page

This project aimed to identify the key biophysical and farm and crop management factors that determine the maize yield gap in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and how they related to existing institutional, infrastructural, socio-economic and policy constraints.

The research focused on the major food crop in SSA, maize, mainly produced by small-scale farmers. Maize is consumed in almost all Sub-Saharan African countries, accounting for 30-50% of low-income household expenditure. Addressing yield performance in maize is therefore valuable from both a food security and poverty perspective.The project focused on Ghana and Ethiopia as maize-growing case study countries where we were able to build on existing data and local partnerships.

The main research questions were:

  • What is a scientifically sound and applicable generic framework linking agronomic, socio-economic, institutional, infrastructural and policy factors, explaining maize yield gaps in SSA?
  • What are the main biophysical and farm and crop management factors that help to explain yield gaps in the case study countries?
  • What are the main infrastructural, institutional, socio-economic and policy factors that explain farm and crop management and consequently yield gaps?
  • Which policies and farm management options are key for increasing yield performance in SSA?