In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, subsistence agriculture is characterized by significant fluctuations in yield and production due to variations in moisture availability to staple crops. Widespread drought can lead to crop failures, with associated deterioration in food security. Ground data collection networks are sparse, so methods using geospatial rainfall estimates derived from satellite and gauge observations, where available, have been developed to calculate seasonal crop water balances. Using conventional crop production data for 4 years in Ethiopia (1996-1999), it was found that water-limited and water-unlimited growing regions can be distinguished. Furthermore, maize growing conditions are also indicative of conditions for sorghum. However, another major staple, teff, was found to behave sufficiently differently from maize to warrant studies of its own.
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Characterization of yield reduction in Ethiopia using a GIS-based crop water balance model