Quantifying trade-offs between future yield levels, food availability and forest and woodland conservation in Benin

Confidence Duku*, Sander J. Zwart, Lenny G.J. van Bussel, Lars Hein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Meeting the dual objectives of food security and ecosystem protection is a major challenge in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). To this end agricultural intensification is considered desirable, yet, there remain uncertainties regarding the impact of climate change on opportunities for agricultural intensification and the adequacy of intensification options given the rapid population growth. We quantify trade-offs between levels of yield gap closure, food availability and forest and woodland conservation under different scenarios. Each scenario is made up of a combination of variants of four parameters i.e. (1) climate change based on Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs); (2) population growth based on Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs); (3) cropland expansion with varying degrees of deforestation; and (4) different degrees of yield gap closure. We carry out these analyses for three major food crops, i.e. maize, cassava and yam, in Benin. Our analyses show that in most of the scenarios, the required levels of yield gap closures required to maintain the current levels of food availability can be achieved by 2050 by maintaining the average rate of yield increases recorded over the past two and half decades in addition to the current cropping intensity. However, yields will have to increase at a faster rate than has been recorded over the past two and half decades in order to achieve the required levels of yield gap closures by 2100. Our analyses also show that without the stated levels of yield gap closure, the areas under maize, cassava and yam cultivation will have to increase by 95%, 102% and 250% respectively in order to maintain the current levels of per capita food availability. Our study shows that food security outcomes and forest and woodland conservation goals in Benin and likely the larger SSA region are inextricably linked together and require holistic management strategies that considers trade-offs and co-benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1581-1589
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume610-611
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Food availability
  • Food security
  • Forest and woodland
  • Population growth
  • Yield gap closures

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