Yield risks in global maize markets: Historical evidence and projections in key regions of the world

Published in Weather and Climate Extremes, 2018

Recommended citation: Chen, B, Villoria, NB. "Yield risks in global maize markets: Historical evidence and projections in key regions of the world." Weather and Climate Extremes. 2018. 19: 42– 48

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Simultaneous worldwide crop failures stemming from a more unstable climate may reduce the scope for international trade to compensate food shortages and stabilize food prices across the various regions of the world. Understanding the effects of changes in crop productivity on global markets requires knowledge about the extent to which crop yields may be systematically related across producing and consuming centers. This short communication contributes to this knowledge by investigating the potential changes in the strength of two key sources of supply risks in global maize markets: yield variance and cross-country yield correlation. We focus on the largest producing and consuming countries of the world. We capitalize on yield projections from the Global Gridded Crop Model Intercomparison project. Exploratory analysis of the skill of the underlying GGCMI models in reproducing key moments of the distribution of observed yields reveals that they overstate observed variances but faithfully reproduce observed patterns of cross-country correlations. We find no evidence of an increase in the degree of cross-country dependency of maize yields. We also find a higher incidence of what would be considered extremely low maize yields by present-time standards stemming from the projected downward trend in yields levels toward mid-century. The weak dependency of maize yields across countries, an the possibility of reducing the higher incidence of extremes through policies aimed to reverse the climate-induced downward trends in yields, suggest that international trade can become a valuable tool to ameliorate the effects of more unstable crop yields. Keywords: Extremely low yields; Maize markets; Food prices; Agricultural yields; Systemic risk in agriculture; Global agriculture; AgMIP; Global gridded crop model intercomparison