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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2024

A decade of maize yield gap studies in sub-Saharan Africa: how are farm-level factors considered?

Hall, Ola; Wahab, Ibrahim; Dahlin, Sigrun; Hillbur, Per; Jirstrom, Magnus; Oborn, Ingrid


The study of yield gaps has become more complex, prompting the use of varied approaches to measure yields and a wider range of factors to explain these gaps. In the Global North, the focus is on precision farming, whereas in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), a broader perspective is necessary due to pronounced variability in farmland conditions. While biogeophysical and management factors have been traditional focal points in yield gap analyses, socio-economic and institutional factors are increasingly recognized as significant, especially in SSA. This review synthesizes research from the past decade in SSA that integrates biogeophysical, management, farm characteristics, and institutional factors in yield gap discussions. The findings indicate a slow shift in including socio-economic factors, with management, particularly nutrient supply and crop management, remaining predominant. However, there is a growing trend towards methodological diversity, such as the adoption of remote sensing and GIS in recent years. Case studies from Kenya and Ghana, utilizing field surveys, interviews, panel data, and spatial analysis, highlight how a multifaceted approach can enhance our understanding of the various elements influencing maize yield gaps in SSA.


Productivity gaps; considered factors; farm level; maize; food security

Published in

International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
2024, Volume: 22, number: 1, article number: 2293591