Latin America and the Caribbean region can help feed a global population of nine billion people in 2050 provided the region implements key policy actions to bolster agricultural productivity, according to a new report released by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Drawing on knowledge and experience from more than 30 public and private sector partners, The Next Global Breadbasket: How Latin America Can Feed the World outlines challenges, recommendations and action items for policy makers, the donor community, farmers, agribusiness, and civil society.

Population growth and dramatic diet changes will, over the next several decades, place great stress on agriculture worldwide. To meet the expected demand, governments and producers must work together to create sustainable, market-driven systems of food production. The Next Global Breadbasket describes the role of LAC in addressing this challenge, as well as its opportunity to increase development, reduce poverty, and support social progress across the region.

“Latin America has immense potential to help meet our planet’s growing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel in a sustainable, productive way. By putting in place a comprehensive agenda of pro-agriculture policies, Latin America can attract the investments and innovations to become the 21st century global breadbasket,” said Dr. Margaret M. Zeigler, Executive Director of the Global Harvest Initiative.

Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11 percent of the value of current world food production and represent 24 percent of the world’s arable land. The region has about 28 percent of the world’s land that has been identified as having medium to high potential for sustainable expansion of cultivated area, and 36 percent share of land that is within six hours travel time to a market.

“Already the largest net food exporting region in the world, LAC has achieved only a fraction of its potential to expand agricultural production for regional consumption and global export,” according to Ginya Truitt Nakata, Operations Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). “The next 10 to 20 years offer a critical window of opportunity to advance new forms of productive and environmentally sustainable agriculture in the region.”

The report illustrates the opportunities, obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of realizing that potential, and how the private and public sectors can and must move forward together. Key areas for policy action and investment include:

  • Agriculture Science, Research, and Development
  • Knowledge and Extension Services for Farmers
  • Transport and Logistics Infrastructure
  • Irrigation, Water Management and Mechanization Technology
  • Regional and Global Trade
  • Farmers’ Access to Financial Services: Managing Risk and Availability of Credit
  • Cooperatives and Producer Associations
  • Reduction of Post-Harvest Losses

To download the full report, please go here.

NOTE: On May 13, 2014, IDB and GHI, together with their partners, will present these critical recommendations to an audience of Washington, D.C.-based thought leaders, policy makers, and the media through two events designed to raise awareness of the issues and potential for future public-private partnerships as well as advocate for increased development assistance for agriculture to the region. The events will launch a longer-term conversation about the role of Latin America in sustainably meeting regional and global food and agriculture demand. Speakers include leaders working in and for the LAC region from the private sector, multilateral development agencies, and trade, development, and environmental organizations.