Regions needing most gain in ag production identified

The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) Wednesday released its third annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report (GAP Report) at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, before an audience of global thought leaders, agricultural industry experts, farmers and international development professionals.

The 2012 GAP Report offers a mixed review of efforts to increase global agricultural productivity. It 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 GAP Report indicate a need for accelerated investment to counter the challenges of climate change and natural resource degradation, said Margaret Zeigler, Ph.D., GHI executive director.

"The 2012 GAP Report determines that we cannot meet future global food demand unless agricultural productivity increases are achieved in every region of the world, continued Zeigler. "To maximize the output of every resource committed to food production, we must facilitate public and private sector investments in developing nations, the application of science- and information-based technologies, liberalized trade, and other policies that will foster this ambitious mandate by 2050.

The 2012 GAP Report includes GHI'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 (TFP), 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.

The following are select 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. 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 TFP 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 TFP 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 TFP 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.

The full 2012 GAP Report is available on the GHI website,