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How will East African maize yields respond to climate change and can agricultural development mitigate this response?

Frank Davenport (), Chris Funk and Gideon Galu
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Frank Davenport: University of California Santa Barbara
Chris Funk: University of California Santa Barbara
Gideon Galu: University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara and Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET)

Climatic Change, 2018, vol. 147, issue 3, 491-506

Abstract: Abstract We analyze the response of Kenyan maize yields to near-term climate change and explore potential mitigation options. We model county level yields as a function of rainfall and temperature during a period of increased regional warming and drying (1989–2008). We then do a counter factual analysis by comparing existing maize yields from 2000 to 2008 to what yields might have been if observed warming and drying trends had not occurred. We also examine maize yields based on projected 2026–2040 climate trends. Without the observed warming and drying trends, Eastern Kenya would have had an 8% increase in maize yields, which in turn would have led to a net production increase of 500,000 metric tons. In Western Kenya, the magnitude of change is higher but the relative changes in predicted values are smaller. If warming and drying trends continue, we expect future maize yields to decline by 11% in Eastern Kenya (vs. 7% in Western Kenya). We also examine whether these future losses might be offset through agricultural development. For that analysis, we use a household panel dataset (2000, 2005) with measurements of individual farm plot yields, inputs, and outputs. We find that under a scenario of aggressive adoption of hybrid seeds and fertilizer usage coupled with warming and drying trends, yields in Western Kenya might increase by 6% while those in Eastern Kenya could increase by 14%. This increase in yields might be larger if there is a corresponding increase in usage of drought-tolerant hybrids. However, wide prediction intervals across models highlight the uncertainty in these outcomes and scenarios.

Date: 2018
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