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Despite the importance of maize as a staple crop for food security in Africa, yields in the region are very low in comparison to the rest of the world. To keep up with growing demand, increasing the productivity of Africa’s smallholder farmers, who produce 75 percent of Africa’s maize, is crucial. New crop modelling results suggest that by implementing improved crop management practices, notably supplementary irrigation schemes and fertilizer use, current yields in Africa could potentially double at many locations. Policy makers and researchers should further investigate the applicability of these findings to regional contexts, and build the capacity of farmers in each country to adopt and sustainably apply the most effective combination of management practices.

This Policy Brief is based on the study Rezaei E and Gaiser T (2017) Change in crop management strategies could double the maize yield in Africa. ZEF-Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 239. Bonn: Center for Development Research, University of Bonn.