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Report calls for agriculture productivity gains in Africa, Asia

The Global Harvest Initiative 3rd annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report notes that increased trade is needed in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia to meet rising food demands. Overall, the report offers a mixed review of efforts to increase global agricultural productivity.

The Global Harvest Initiative 3rd annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report notes that increased trade is needed in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia to meet rising food demands. Overall, the report offers a mixed review of efforts to increase global agricultural productivity.

Discussed recently at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, the report finds that investments made more than a decade ago have produced significant increases in agricultural productivity overall, but current productivity growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and other regions will not be sufficient to meet their demands. Without increased trade, public and private sector investments and assistance programs, these regions will be unable to meet rising food demands.

“Global agricultural productivity is on the rise, but the regional measurements from the [report] indicate a need for accelerated investment to counter the challenges of climate change and natural resource degradation,” said Dr. Margaret Zeigler, Global Harvest Initiative executive director.

“The 2012 [report] determines that we cannot meet future global food demand unless agricultural productivity increases are achieved in every region of the world,” said Zeigler.

The report includes the Global Harvest Initiative’s updated GAP Index, an annual measurement on global and regional agricultural productivity growth against regional growth in food demand. The GAP Index is based on the measurement of total factor productivity, which reflects the amounts of total inputs used per unit of output, including comparisons of the growth of output to the growth of input use.

Regional findings from the report:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa –  Only 13 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s total food demand in 2050 can be met if the region’s total factor productivity rate remains constant. This significant gap will need to be closed through investments in productivity improvements, selective expansion, intensification, and trade.
  • Middle East and Northern Africa –  The Middle East and Northern Africa region will be able to satisfy 83 percent of total food demand in 2050 by maintaining its current total factor productivity rate. With increasing demands on limited water supplies, investments in the agricultural value chain will be needed to maintain or advance food production levels. The remainder will need to be met through trade and safety net programs.
  • East Asia –  Due to increased and changing food demands, East Asia will be able to satisfy 74 percent of total food demand in 2050 by maintaining its current total factor productivity rate. The remainder will need to be met through imports and productivity increases.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean –  The region encompassing Latin America and the Caribbean will produce a substantial food surplus by 2050 if the current total factor productivity rate is maintained. However, investment is needed in infrastructure and continued productivity improvements to maximize the region’s prospects to become a net food exporter.
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