Indicator 13. Crop yield gap (actual yield as % of attainable yield)

Rationale and definition:

This indicator tracks yield gaps for major commodities, i.e. actual yields relative to the yield that can be achieved under good management conditions, taking into account climate and the sustainable use of water (i.e. water-limited yield potential). This indicator is a benchmark for productivity that shows the exploitable yield gap. Countries could aim, for example, for the majority of their farms to achieve at least 80% of the attainable water-limited yield potential on a sustainable basis, which requires implementing the right policy and technology roadmaps.


It can be disaggregated by crops of highest priority for a country and is suitable for spatial disaggregation, from local to global scales.

Comments and limitations:

This indicator must be interpreted in conjunction with other indicators expressing efficiency of critical resources, such as water and nutrients, to ensure agro-ecologically sustainable solutions. It requires improved data collection and monitoring systems, including modeling and remote sensing.1

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Administrative data, and/or agricultural-based household survey.

Potential lead agency or agencies:


  1. Dobermann, A. and Nelson, R. et al (2013). Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Technical report of the SDSN Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems: Paris, France, and New York, USA.