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

Towards farm innovation and enabling policies

Maize in Ghana's Upper West Region. c. Neil Palmer/CIAT

Maize in Ghana's Upper West Region. c. Neil Palmer/CIAT

Professor Martin Van Ittersum, Wageningen University

Start: Jan 2015  |   End: Jan 2018

Project webpage
Research Councils UK project page

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

The research focuses 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 will focus on Ghana and Ethiopia as maize-growing case study countries where we can build on existing data and local partnerships. Enhanced understanding for these two countries from West and East Africa should have wider meaning.

The main research questions are:

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

Project publications and resources

Journal article: A comparison of statistical and participatory clustering of smallholder
farming systems - A case study in Northern Ghana

Journal article: Yield gap analysis with local to global relevance—A review
Journal article: Yield gaps and resource use across farming zones in the central rift valley of Ethiopia