The Effects of Drought on Crop Yields and Yield Variability: An Economic Assessment

  •  Inoussa Boubacar    


Sahel is a drought-prone area in West Africa, and the agriculture sector remains the main source of employment in the rural communities. However, inter-annual rainfall variability significantly hampers the performance of agriculture in Sahel. Over the past four decades, drought episodes have been the norm rather than the exception in the region. Using a just-Pope stochastic production function, this paper assesses crop yields responses to persistent drought spells in eight countries of Sahel. Six-month standardized precipitation indexes (SPI) along with degree-days indexes were calculated and maximum likelihood estimations were carried out for specific crops using data spanning 1970 to 2000. The results show that while an increase in the degree-days tends to be harmful to crop yields, SPI and precipitation intensity index have statistically positive impacts on the mean crop yields. The adaptation to climate variability suggests a modernization of the farming techniques such as the reliance on irrigated agriculture.

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