Variability in grain yields

implications for agricultural research and policy in developing countries

Jock R. Anderson, P. B. R. Hazell

Variability in foodgrain yields and production has entered into the food policy agenda in the wake of the Green Revolution, but debate and decisionmaking have been stifled for lack of a systematically gathered body of cogent evidence.

Research by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on countries and crops shows that, in most cases, increases in yield variability and, more important, a loss in offsetting patterns of variation (increased correlations) in crop yields between regions are the predominant sources of the increase in production variability.

In view of the importance of this issue to national breeding programs and to the international agricultural research centers, the Deutsche Stiftung fur Internationale Entwicklung (DSE) and IFPRI convened an interdisciplinary workshop for an intensive four-day discussion of a broad range of issues associated with increasing yield variability. There were about 60 participants, including biologists, social scientists, and policymakers, with particularly strong representation from CGIAR centers.