The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) produces its “Global Agricultural Productivity Report” update each year to mark the progress made toward sustainably doubling agricultural output leading up to the year 2050.
The GHI uses total factor productivity (TFP) to measure the agricultural productivity growth rate. In this scenario, it is the ratio of agricultural outputs (gross crop and livestock output) per inputs (land, labor, livestock, fertilizer and machinery) used. In agriculture, TFP can be highly variable as yields will rise and fall, reflecting changing weather patterns and other factors. The extended 2012 drought in the U.S.—the world’s largest food-exporting nation—will have a negative impact on global agricultural output and may reduce future TFP growth estimates. Here are selected regional findings from the 2012 GAP Report:
- Sub-Saharan Africa – Only 13 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s total food demand in 2050 can be met if the region’s TFP rate remains constant.
- 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 TFP rate – with increasing demands on limited water supplies, investments will be needed to maintain or advance food production levels
- 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 TFP rate
- Latin America and the Caribbean – The region encompassing Latin America and the Caribbean will produce a substantial food surplus by 2050 if the current TFP rate is maintained, however, investment is needed in infrastructure and continued productivity improvements
The significant gaps in food production illustrated above will need to be closed through investments in productivity improvements, selective expansion, intensification and trade, but sometimes that task is not easy. Climate change, regional economic volatility, population growth and political unrest are often difficult to overcome. More than anything else, the agriculture industry will need strong leadership to meet the challenges ahead, it has been noted.
Animal protein consumption is expected to double across the globe over the next 40 years, as approximately three billion people are expected to diversify their diets with the addition of protein.
Food production updates in the coming years must show improvements for the sake of the worlds billions of people in the lower economic classes.