Can we close the global agricultural productivity gap?
By Sara Wyant
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
Des Moines, IA. Oct. 12 - The short-term answer is a resounding “yes,” but the long-term solutions to global hunger and food security remain a challenge, according to a new Global Agricultural Productivity Report™ (GAP Report™) released today at the World Food Prize Symposium. The report was produced by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI).
Compared to the inaugural 2010 GAP Report, the authors found progress in the current growth rate of agricultural productivity worldwide but those improvements might not be enough to maintain the current growth rate over each of the next 40 years. These challenges are especially critical in overcoming deficiencies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where the vast majority of global population growth will occur.
“The 2011 GAP Report sheds new light on the steps necessary to address the challenge of feeding the more than nine billion people expected to inhabit the earth by 2050,” said Dr. William G. Lesher, Global Harvest Inititative's Chairman of the Board.
“We can be cautiously optimistic about the new evidence of faster productivity growth revealed this year, but the long-term solutions to hunger and food security remain daunting. We must continue to pursue key policies with proven results in improving global agricultural productivity and development, such as investing in agricultural research, removing trade barriers, adopting new technologies and innovation and enhancing the role of the private sector.”
Factoring in new data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the 2011 GAP Report includes an updated GAP Index™, which measures the difference between the current rate of global agricultural productivity growth and the rate required to meet future needs.
“Based on the new FAO estimates, the current rate of global total factor productivity (TFP) is 1.74 percent, on target for the projected rate required each year to produce enough food to feed the world by 2050,” said Dr. Keith Fuglie, Branch Chief for Resource, Environmental and Science Policy of the Resource and Rural Economics Division of the Economic Research Service, USDA. “But many parts of the world are falling short; Africa's TFP rate, for example, is growing at less than one percent a year. A productivity measure like the GAP Report allows us to track TFP progress on both a global and regional scale, and gauge the capacity to feed a growing global population in the future.”
Total factor productivity reflects the amounts of total inputs used per unit of output, including comparisons of the growth of output to growth of input use.
“Combined, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia will account for nearly 90% of the population growth over the next 40 years. In these regions and throughout the world we are also seeing a notable increase in protein-based diets, which will increase overall demand on agriculture,” said Dr. Neil Conklin, President of the Farm Foundation, NFP. “Looking past the necessary productivity improvements to meet future needs, even greater challenges to address hunger and food security lie in our ability to facilitate the movement of food through international trade and to develop the necessary infrastructure to support more food production such as roads, processing, and storage facilities.”
Through national-level case studies of the emerging market economies of Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Ghana, the GAP Report highlights how select policies can help address hunger and food security while also addressing poverty by empowering farmers with new technologies to boost productivity.
While each of the four profiled nations applied a different strategy with varying levels of success, active government support for the agriculture industry, investment in research, the adoption of science-based technologies and a shift toward more open markets enabled all four nations to achieve meaningful increases in agricultural productivity.
The full 2011 GAP Report is available on GHI's website, http://ow.ly/6T2yA.
The Global Harvest Initiative was established in 2009 as a partnership among Archer Daniels Midland Company, DuPont, John Deere, and Monsanto with the goal of addressing hunger and food insecurity by sustainably closing the global agricultural productivity gap. For information about GHI membership, programs, and to access studies, reports and resources, visit: http://www.globalharvestinitiative.org
For more Agri-Pulse news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com