Abstract for: Might Continued Emphasis on Maize at the Expense of More Drought Tolerant Crops Endanger Food Security in the Horn of Africa?
Maize is widely grown in Africa including in drier areas where alternate crops will often perform better. Although maize will fail in drought years, it produces substantially higher yields than alternates, like sorghum and millet, in wet years. Although people tend to select which crops to grow based on recent experience with crop harvests and market prices, there is a widespread preference for maize even in areas where planting it is risky. This can lead to crop failures when rainfall varies from year to year. Introduction of higher yielding maize varieties might, under some conditions, cause increases in food shortages by further incentivizing the planting of maize in inappropriate situations. A preliminary model helps to investigate this and related issues.