World Food Day | Productivity must increase by 1.75% annually to feed the world
"The rate of global agricultural productivity growth has failed to meet its target, and unless this trend is reversed, the world may not be able to sustainably provide the food, feed, fibre and biofuels needed for a booming global population." This was the most revealing conclusion of the Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) 2016 Report 'Sustainability in an Uncertain Season' which was released last Wednesday. The study states that global agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75 per cent annually in order to meet the demands of an estimated 9.7 billion people in 2050.
According to the report, improving agricultural productivity is not just about producing more or achieving higher yields; it allows more to be produced while maximising the use of and reducing the impact on precious natural resources.
Among other things, increasing agricultural productivity lowers the cost per unit of output, helping producers succeed in today's competitive business environment, and supplies food and other agriculture products for consumers at lower prices. It is part of a comprehensive strategy to sustainably meet global demand for food and agricultural products.
The GHI's annual assessment of global productivity growth (the GAP Index) shows the current rate of growth is only 1.73 per cent.
The analysis shows that the Latin American region, and particularly the southern cone nations of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay comprise the world's largest net exporting zone of agriculture products. These countries and others in Latin America have the potential to vastly increase their productivity to sustainably supply food and other agricultural goods to a growing world.
Harmonising trade rules and improvements in supply chains and infrastructure will enable more timely and beneficial trade to close the future gaps.
The report advocates policies and innovations in five key areas to help the agriculture and food sectors manage uncertain seasons of fluctuating business cycles and climate change, while fostering competitiveness today and sustainable growth tomorrow.
According to the report, the five strategic policy goals necessary to stimulate growth and resiliency in the agricultural value chain are:
1. Invest in public agricultural research, development and extension.
2. Embrace, customise and disseminate science-based and information technologies.
3. Enhance private sector involvement in agriculture and infrastructure development.
4. Cultivate partnerships for sustainable agricultural growth and improved nutrition.
5. Expand regional and global agricultural trade and harmonise standards.
- In support of Policy Two: Embrace, customise and disseminate science-based and information technologies, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has helped, building capacity to promote one health in food systems in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region.
- As microorganisms (such as parasites, bacteria, fungi and viruses) have become increasingly resistant to antimicrobial drugs, IICA, in collaboration with the Ohio State University and supported with funds from the European Union's 10th Economic Development Fund (EDF), is working to build technical capacity of veterinarians, diagnosticians, epidemiologists and other public-health professionals in the LAC Region.
n Similarly, in support of Policy Five: Expand regional and global agricultural trade and harmonise standards, IICA has worked to harmonise trade for food safety in LAC and helped build the technical capacity in Jamaica to develop a commercial sweet potato industry. IICA, in partnership with other regional institutions and with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and US Agency for International Development (USAID), invests in institutional, human, financial and technological resources to build member countries' capacities to harness the power of trade.
- In 2009, IICA formed a partnership with USDA to implement a long-term plan to build capacities of LAC countries to participate in Codex processes and effectively harness agricultural and food trade.
- In 2014, IICA responded to a request from the Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) for technical assistance to bring up to 2,000 acres of land into production for orange flesh sweet potato. The MoAF wanted to take advantage of the growing demand for orange flesh sweet potato in Europe and Canada to help Jamaican farmers improve their livelihoods, while contributing to country's GDP through foreign exchange earnings. Jamaica is now harnessing the power of trade to produce commercial sweet potato products for the first time, providing nutritious foods for growing regional and global demand.