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Spatial patterns of crop yields in Latin America and the Caribbean:

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  • Wood, Stanley
  • You, Liangzhi
  • Zhang, Xiaobo

Abstract

"From a theoretical perspective crop yields should tend to converge over time and space as: growth in yield potential exhibits diminishing returns; an increasing share of farmers shift to using high yielding varieties (HYVs); barriers to the free flow of knowledge and information are removed; and significant investments continue to be made in supporting institutions whose mandates include facilitating and accelerating the cross-border flow of improved agricultural technologies. Using a new, sub-national crop yield database for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) we examine whether convergence is indeed occurring, and discover it is not. On the contrary, there is evidence of divergence. We test three hypotheses that might help account for this finding: that technology generation has been biased towards production in more-favored production systems leaving behind persistent pockets of production in more marginal lands; that rainfall patterns have changed in ways that exacerbate yield divergence, and that technology spillover across borders remains more problematic than within-country spillover. We find evidence to support all three of these hypotheses. Further work is needed to assess the relative importance of these sources of yield divergence both across and within LAC. As anticipated, rainfall variability is poorly linked to the variability of irrigated crop yields, but more strongly linked to variability in rainfed crops. The results suggest while some countries and regions within countries forge ahead with crop yield improvements there are many areas, often in smaller countries, where the livelihoods of many farmers - and likely a disproportionate share of LAC's rural poor - continue to be constrained by low-productivity agriculture. There remains significant work ahead for national governments and for publicly-funded regional and international agricultural technology institutions to remedy this situation. " Authors' Abstract

Suggested Citation

  • Wood, Stanley & You, Liangzhi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2004. "Spatial patterns of crop yields in Latin America and the Caribbean:," EPTD discussion papers 124, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:124
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    Cited by:

    1. Falck Zepeda, José & Barreto-Triana, Nancy & Baquero-Haeberlin, Irma & Espitia-Malagón, Eduardo & Fierro-Guzmán, Humberto & López, Nancy, 2006. "An exploration of the potential benefits of integrated pest management systems and the use of insect resistant potatoes to control the Guatemalan Tuber Moth (Tecia solanivora Povolny) in Ventaquemada,," EPTD discussion papers 152, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Linacre, Nicholas & Falck-Zepeda, José & Komen, John & MacLaren, Donald, 2006. "Risk assessment and management of genetically modified organisms under Australia's Gene Technology Act:," EPTD discussion papers 157, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. You, Liangzhi, 2012. "A tale of two countries: Spatial and temporal patterns of rice productivity in China and Brazil," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 690-703.
    4. Namara, Regassa E. & Barry, Boubacar & Owusu, Eric S. & Ogilvie, A., 2011. "An overview of the development challenges and constraints of the Niger Basin and possible intervention strategies," IWMI Working Papers H044299, International Water Management Institute.
    5. Namara, Regassa E. & Hanjra, Munir A. & Castillo, Gina E. & Ravnborg, Helle Munk & Smith, Lawrence & Van Koppen, Barbara, 2010. "Agricultural water management and poverty linkages," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 97(4), pages 520-527, April.
    6. Gruère, Guillaume & Giuliani, Alessandra & Smale, Melinda, 2006. "Marketing underutilized plant species for the benefit of the poor: a conceptual framework," EPTD discussion papers 154, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Di Falco, Salvatore & Chavas, Jean-Paul & Smale, Melinda, 2006. "Farmer management of production risk on degraded lands: the role of wheat genetic diversity in Tigray Region, Ethiopia," EPTD discussion papers 153, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    8. Smale, Melinda & Zambrano, Patricia & Falck-Zepeda, José & Gruère, Guillaume, 2006. "Parables: applied economics literature about the impact of genetically engineered crop varieties in developing economies," EPTD discussion papers 158, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    South America; Latin America and the Caribbean;

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services

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