Sustainable agricultural development is an ongoing priority for all countries. While the outlook for meeting the growth rates of production required to meet projected food needs by 2010 to 2030 appears reasonable with wider and more efficient use of existing technology and technology transfer for rice and maize or animal production, it seems less hopeful for crops that have a high proportion of their area in difficult eco-regions, that is, wheat, barley, sorghum, and millet (Oram and Hojjati, 1995). The challenges to adaptation will be significantly affected by the manner in which climate change effects are experienced. A slow change in climate over decades, without a significant change in variation and weather extremes, will facilitate adaptation by farmers themselves, and may demand little new technology transfer in itself. If the future effects include an increase in short-term weather extremes, the ability of farmers to adapt will be severely challenged, and improved technology transfer, such as more reliable long-term weather forecasting, will become critical to their ability to adapt.
It is conceivable that a changed climate will increase agricultural production in some regions. However, more effective technology transfer to developing countries and improved prices of grains could encourage farmers to adopt known adaptation and mitigation technology more widely than the present very low levels or, in some countries, to expand the area cropped.
The Green Revolution technologies and associated policies have played a major role in bringing about a rapid increase in crop yields. These technologies involve the use of high-yielding varieties, fertilisers, irrigation, and plant protection materials. In spite of yield improvements at a global level, crop yields vary considerably among regions and countries. For example, wheat yield varied between 1.5 tonnes per hectare in Africa and 4.8 tonnes per hectare in Europe. Similarly, rice yields also varied between 2.0 tonnes per hectare in Africa and 7.4 tonnes per hectare in Oceania. These differences indicate that the available technologies are not equally adapted to all economic, cultural, or environmental conditions.
The large variations in crop yields among different countries and gaps between farmers' yields and experimental-station yields suggest that a considerable untapped potential exists to increase crop yields in developing countries and countries with economies in transition (CEITs). However, the realisation of this untapped potential depends on the existence of a stable and conducive policy environment. Technology transfer should be a high priority.
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