Stories tagged: crop yields

New research on global warming impacts on crop yields

Screen shot 2011-04-12 at 14.16.05An increase in peak temperatures could be more damaging to crop yields than rising average temperatures, new research suggests.

The study by Stanford University researcher David Lobell, looked at the relationship between crop yields and changing meterological conditions, such as higher temperatures, in Africa. Rather than rely on crop-simulation models, the research, published in Nature Climate Change, used a data set of more than 20,000 historical maize trials in Africa, combined with daily weather data, that showed a nonlinear relationship between warming and yields.

The results showed that a relatively small increase from 31˚ C to 32˚ C could cause twice the amount of damage to crops with as much as 40% of yields lost, even when drought is out of the equation. Under drought conditions the damage is more severe, with yields decreasing by 1.7% every day that temperatures are higher than 30˚ C.

Roughly 65% of present maize-growing areas in Africa would experience yield losses for 1 °C of warming under optimal rain-fed management, with 100% of areas harmed by warming under drought conditions.

The results indicate that data generated by international networks of crop experimenters represent a potential boon to research aimed at quantifying climate impacts and prioritizing adaptation responses, especially in regions such as Africa that are typically thought to be data-poor.

Farmer Outreach Boosts Crop Yields and Income

For millions of farmers in Bangladesh, increasing crop yields and boosting income is a struggle amid challenges such as lack of access to technology, post-harvest losses, financing and natural calamities. As most farmers know little about using crop protection products responsibly, pollution of the environment has been a common problem in rural Bangladesh.

Mizanur Rahman, the proud owner of an 8-hectare farm in Comilla in south-eastern Bangladesh, has been growing rice, potatoes and corn on his land for the last 10 years. However, like many other farmers in the region, Rahman used to struggle with low productivity, pest infestation, power outages and financing.

I was farming for 10 years, but I didn’t enjoy good yields until I attended a CropLife Asia training program two years ago

To improve farmers’ livelihoods in the country, the Bangladesh Crop Protection Association (BCPA) joined with CropLife Asia to educate farmers on increasing productivity through Good Agricultural Practices. In 2009, the partners aim to train 6,000 farmers in 120 villages nationwide, up from 5,000 in 100 villages a year earlier.

Developing farmers’ skills in the responsible use of pesticides has not only helped boost crop yields, but has reduced growers’ costs. Previously, farmers were spraying excessively, lacking knowledge in identifying specific pest infestations and choosing appropriate products.

After being trained, I applied pesticides more efficiently. This resulted in a 20 percent drop in expenses. At the same time, production rose 10 percent. My crops are also bigger and healthier these days, said Rahman.

For Rahman, training on how best to tap into new agricultural technology has boosted his income and living standards for his family. He can now afford to rent a house in Comilla town, 20 km away from his farm house in Shialdhair, so that his eldest daughter, 8, can save on an arduous daily commute to school. Rahman appreciates the many benefits training has brought him.

With knowledge from the training, not only has my income risen – I’m also contributing to food safety.

To expand outreach to Bangladesh’s more remote communities, BCPA screened documentary films on responsible product use practices. In addition, it distributed thousands of posters on judicious use of pesticides at BRAC community service centers nationwide. BRAC is an NGO committed to rural development. In Asia and Africa. Displaying these posters in BRAC centers throughout rural areas of the country has helped to generate greater awareness among farmers on responsible product use.

Visit to learn more about work towards sustainable agriculture across the Asia Pacific region.