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Optimizing cropland cover for stable food production in Sub-Saharan Africa using simulated yield and Modern Portfolio Theory

  • Per Bodin
  • Stefan Olin
  • Thomas Alan Miller Pugh
  • Almut Arneth
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 1571-1606
Publication/Series: Earth System Dynamics Discussion
Volume: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Copernicus Gesellschaft mbH
Additional info: Published online: 05 Dec 2014

Abstract english

Food security can be defined as stable access to food of good nutritional quality. In Sub Saharan Africa access to food is strongly linked to local food production and the capacity to generate enough calories to sustain the local population. Therefore it is important in these regions to generate not only sufficiently high yields but also to reduce interannual variability in food production. Traditionally, climate impact simulation studies have focused on factors that underlie maximum productivity ignoring the variability in yield. By using Modern Portfolio Theory, a method stemming from economics, we here calculate optimum current and future crop selection that maintain current yield while minimizing variance, vs. maintaining variance while maximizing yield. Based on simulated yield using the LPJ-GUESS dynamic vegetation model, the results show that current cropland distribution for many crops is close to these optimum distributions. Even so, the optimizations displayed substantial potential to either increase food production and/or to decrease its variance regionally. Our approach can also be seen as a method to create future scenarios for the sown areas of crops in regions where local food production is important for food security.


  • Physical Geography


  • ISSN: 2190-4995
E-mail: stefan [dot] olin [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se

Postdoctoral fellow

Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science

+46 46 222 38 30



Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Lund University
Sölvegatan 12
S-223 62 Lund

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