Evaluating the synchronicity in yield variations of staple crops at global scale

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Masayuki Yokozawa, Shizuoka University, Shizuoka, Japan
Reflecting the recent globalization trend in world commodity market, several major production countries are producing large amount of staple crops, especially, maize and soybean. Thus, simultaneous crop failure (abrupt reduction in crop yield, lean year) due to extreme weather and/or climate change could lead to unstable food supply. This study try to examine the synchronicity in yield variations of staple crops at global scale.

We use a gridded crop yields database, which includes the historical year-to-year changes in staple crop yields with a spatial resolution of 1.125 degree in latitude/longitude during a period of 1982-2006 (Iizumi et al. 2013). It has been constructed based on the agriculture statistics issued by local administrative bureaus in each country. For the regions being lack of data, an interpolation was conducted to obtain the values referring to the NPP estimates from satellite data as well as FAO country yield.

For each time series of the target crop yield, we firstly applied a local kernel regression to represent the long-term trend component. Next, the deviations of yearly yield from the long-term trend component were defined as ΔY(i, y) in year y at grid i. Then, the correlation of deviation between grids i and j in year y is defined as Cij(y) = ΔY(i, y) ΔY(j, y). In addition, Pij = <ΔY(i, y) ΔY(j, y)> represents the time-averaged correlation of deviation between grids i and j. Bracket <...> means the time average operation over 25 years (1982-2006).

As the results, figures show the time changes in the number of grid pairs, in which both the deviation are negative. It represent the time changes in ratio of the grid pairs where both crop yields synchronically decreased to the total grid pairs. The years denoted by arrows in the figures indicate the case that all the ratios of three country pairs (i.e. China-USA, USA-Brazil and Brazil-China) are relatively larger (>0.6 for soybean and >0.5 for maize). This suggests that the reductions in crop yield occurred synchronically in three countries in these years, which are the simultaneous lean years (as of lower yield compared to that of long-term trend).