Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 16, 2013 – Agricultural productivity is growing and on pace to meet the demands of a growing, hungry world for now, but several challenges remain – especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and other less developed countries, according to a new report released just prior to the World Food Prize Symposium here.

The Global Harvest Initiative released its 4th Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) before a packed crowd of industry leaders, academics and foreign dignitaries.

“The overall findings of the 2013 GAP Report indicate that over the past decade, countries are managing to maintain growth in productivity on global average. But those findings should not downplay the serious and urgent fact that we must maintain an increasing rate of global agricultural productivity year after year for the next 40 years.” said Dr. Margaret Zeigler, GHI executive director.

Three primary challenges to achieve food security goals were identified:

  • Lagging total factor productivity (TFP) growth rates in low-income countries;
  • Barriers to regional and global agricultural trade;
  • Low levels of investment by developing countries in agricultural research and development as a share of their agricultural GDP.

For example, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a significant productivity gap whereby at the current rate of TFP growth, only 25 percent of the region’s needs would be met by 2050. Filling this expanding food gap by 2030 will require improved cultivation and livestock practices, better quality and more precise inputs, selective expansion to high-quality agricultural lands and imports.

Other countries, such as China, will not be able to meet domestic demand, despite growth in agricultural productivity, and will need to import from countries with surpluses to fill the gap, according to the GAP report.

China’s food demand is expected to grow threefold by 2030, and at their current rate of productivity China will need to meet 28 percent of this demand through imports.

The 2013 GAP Report notes that trade facilitation is vital for connecting countries with growing demand, such as China, to countries with surplus, such as Brazil. Today Brazil is China’s largest trading partner.

Continued public investments by high-income countries in research, development and technology will be crucial for low-income countries, which lack the resources to make significant R&D investments, according to the report. Access to technological advancements is essential for farmers and agro-industries in low-income countries where agriculture accounts for 29 percent of the GDP, but only invest one-ninth of what industrial countries invest in agriculture R&D.

GHI’s signature GAP Report features the GAP Index™, which provides an annual snapshot of progress in meeting the global agricultural productivity growth rate necessary to sustainably provide 9 billion people in 2050 with sufficient, nutritious and affordable food.

The GAP Index is based on the measurement of total factor productivity (TFP), the ratio of agricultural outputs to inputs. Total factor productivity rises when outputs increase and inputs remain constant. The Global Harvest Initiative has been focused on agricultural productivity and the importance of TFP since 2009, and released its inaugural GAP Report in 2010 at the World Food Prize.

Several agriculture experts joined Zeigler in presenting the 2013 GAP Report at today’s release event, including Claudia Garcia, Senior Director, Global Market Access, Elanco, Ruth Campbell, Managing Director, Technical Learning and Standards, ACDI/VOCA, and Dr. Robert Herdt, Adjunct Professor, International Agriculture and Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University Resources

  The full 2013 GAP Report is available on the GHI website:

GHI’s membership includes DuPont, Elanco, IBM, John Deere, and Monsanto. For more about the initiative:,

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