Ag production isn't growing fast enough to meet the future demands of the world's expected population in 2050, according to the fifth annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report released last week at the World Food Prize Symposium.
The GAP Index is an annual snapshot of agricultural productivity growth measured against growth in global population and food demand. According to the report, global agricultural productivity is not accelerating fast enough to meet the expected agricultural demand by 2050 through sustainable practices.
The trend means a challenge is ahead: how to sustainably provide for a larger population. The 2014 GAP Report reviews the issues surrounding productivity and what might need to change to improve production.
"This year's report shows a clear gap that could dramatically impact people all around the globe," said Dr. Margaret Zeigler, executive director of GHI.
Zeigler said raising productivity across all regions and farms of all sizes means long-term investments in research and development, improved trade agreements and a commitment to apply science-based technology and information.
"We must also promote the empowerment of women in society and in agricultural production, as their contributions will be key to lifting up the nutritional status of the next generation," she said.
The GAP Index is based on the measurement of total factor productivity, the ratio of agricultural outputs to inputs. Total factor productivity rises when outputs increase and inputs remain constant.
GHI 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.
As the global rate of productivity growth begins to stagnate, GAP serves as a call to action to invest in proven strategies that boost productivity and conserve the natural resource base, GHI said.
The GAP report also examine beneficial developments in agriculture and food production, such as the successful growth of food grains and dairy in India.
New challenges are emerging, however, as a rising middle class seeks a more diverse diet and malnutrition is still rampant. Lower water availability and climate change are still concerns also, GHI said.
The report traces India's significant progress and delves more deeply into specific policies and innovations that can promote sustainable food and agricultural systems, not only in India, but around the world.
The report also reviews several productivity gaps that still exist in several regions. For example, in East Asia, only 67% of food demand by 2030 will be met from within the region if the current rate of productivity growth is maintained.
Further, at current rates of productivity growth, Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to meet only 15% of food demand in 2030, which will require significant imports, or food assistance, or opening up new land to development that may not be suitable for sustainable production.
The report also points out that in Latin America, overall regional production is expected to exceed demand with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay leading this increase in productivity.
This region will likely serve as a critical source of food and agricultural supply to meet the demand of Asia's growing and more affluent and urban population.
Read the full report on the Global Harvest Initiative website.