Rice Yields and Yield Gaps in Southeast Asia: Past Trends and Future Outlook
European Journal of Agronomy paper of the month
Rice yields and yield gaps in Southeast Asia: Past trends and future outlook written by A.G. Laborte, C.A.J.M. de Bie (ITC), E.M.A. Smaling (ITC), P.F. Moya, A.A. Boling, M.K. van Ittersum article of the month European Journal of Agronomy 36 (2012) 9–20.
Alice Laborte carried out her postdoc at ITC's department of Natural Resources from mid 2009 to mid 2010 through an Erasmus Mundus Window scholarship. At present she is works for the International Rise Research Institute (IRRI) in the Phillipines.
Rice production must increase to meet future food requirements amid strong competition for limited resources. Yield gap analysis is a useful method to examine how large the ranges are between potential, desirable rice yields and those actually realized in farmers’ fields. We analyzed farmers’ yields in wet and dry seasons in four intensively cropped rice areas in Southeast Asia and explored opportunities for reducing the yield gap to meet future food requirements. We found yield gaps of 2.0–5.0 t ha−1 between average and climatic yield potential and 1.2–2.6 t ha−1 between average and best farmers’ yields. In relative terms, average yields varied between 43% and 75% of the climatic yield potential and 61% and 83% of the best farmers’ yields. Farmers with best yields were generally more educated, and used fertilizers and labor more efficiently than average farmers. The yield gaps between average and best farmers’ yields are higher in rice-importing countries (Indonesia and Philippines) compared with rice-exporting countries (Thailand and Vietnam). Assuming no change in diet, closing the existing yield gap between average and best-yielding farmers can sufficiently cover the yield increase needed for 2050 in the three countries, except for the Philippines, where yield increase must be even higher. Trend analysis of yield increases of a population of farmers in Central Luzon (Philippines), which included a learning curve analysis, well described the process of technology adoption from 1966 to 2008, leading to higher yields. Using this analysis, for the Philippines, we predicted yields to increase (from 2007/2008 to 2050) by only 18% with current cultivars, production technologies, and prevailing conditions. Therefore, structural changes are needed to boost farmers’ yields to close the yield gap faster. Investments in technology transfer and institutional arrangements are suggested.
The abstract is reprinted from the European Journal of Agronomy, Volume 36, Issue 1, A.G. Laborte, C.A.J.M. de Bie, E.M.A. Smaling, P.F. Moya, A.A. Boling, M.K. van Ittersum, Rice yields and yield gaps in Southeast Asia: Past trends and future outlook, Pages 9-20, Copyright (2012), with permission from Elsevier.