Sources of Productivity Growth in Wheat: A Review of Recent Performance and Medium- to Long-Term Prospects
Sources of yield growth in wheat are investigated based on a stylized framework of technical change. Evidence suggests that the relative contribution of input intensification to yield growth has diminished in recent years and is likely to continue to decline in the future. One potential source of yield growth in wheat during the medium to long term is improved efficiency of input use, rather than input intensification, through sustainable wheat production practices rather than pure input increases. Other large gains could be made with continuous adoption of newer and better modern varieties based on advances in wheat breeding. Wide crossing and biotechnology could improve the stability of wheat yields in the intermediate term; their long-term impact on yield under optimal conditions is less certain. World wheat demand is likely to grow more slowly over the next 30 years than it did in the past 30 years. At the same time, a wider variety of technological options will need to be tapped over the next three decades to achieve the necessary gains in wheat yields. Research costs per unit of increased wheat production are likely to be somewhat higher. Nonetheless, continued investment in wheat research is necessary to achieve production levels consistent with constant or slowly declining real world wheat prices.
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