A World of Productive
Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture Around the World

Farmers, ranchers, fishers and forest managers around the world are improving the productivity and sustainability of our food and agriculture systems, even as they grapple with climate change, economic uncertainty and political instability.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their food choices, as well as the price and safety of what they eat. The 2017 GAP Report captures the perspectives of farmers and consumers, shedding light on their challenges, choices and opportunities.

 

EXPLORE THEIR STORIES:


MERCY - KENYA

MERCY – KENYA

Mercy is a young professional in Nairobi who appreciates the price and selection at her local supermarket.

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JERRY & EMMA - USA

JERRY & EMMA – USA

Jerry is a row crop farmer practicing restorative farming. His daughter Emma has a pork production business.

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AVA & BEN - USA

AVA & BEN – USA

Ava and Ben are young, urban consumers concerned with how their food is produced.
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DONA ROSA AND DON JULIO - COLOMBIA

DOÑA ROSA AND DON JULIO – COLOMBIA

Rosa and Julio raise cattle in an agroforestry system featuring forest and forage grasses.

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MINH & TRANG - VIETNAM

MINH & TRANG – VIETNAM

Minh and Trang grow rice on two hectares of land in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

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SHEN NIANZI - CHINA

SHEN NIANZI – CHINA

Shen Nianzi wants to diversify her family’s diet but is concerned about food safety.

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KRISHNA AND GITA - INDIA

KRISHNA AND GITA – INDIA

Krishna has a thriving cotton farm and Gita grows tomatoes for local markets.

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ESTER AND DALMANI - KENYA

ESTER AND DALMANI – KENYA

Ester is a successful dairy farmer and her daughter Dalmani is studying seed science.

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What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Sustainable agriculture must satisfy human needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base; sustain the economic vitality of food and agriculture systems and improve the quality of life for farmers, ranchers, forest managers, fishers, agricultural workers and society as a whole.

satisfies human needs

By 2050, the world will need to sustainably produce nutritious and affordable food, feed, fiber and biofuel for nearly 10 billion people.

Enhances environmental quality and the natural resource base

By improving soil, nutrient and water management practices, increasing livestock productivity and promoting biodiversity through mixed cropping systems and agroforestry, producers can supply food and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustains the Economic Vitality of Agriculture

Producers need technologies and strategies that enable them to sustain and improve their operations in good times and bad. Consumers need a reliable supply of safe, nutritious affordable food.

Improves the lives of agricultural producers and society as a whole

Sustainable agriculture improves lives by increasing access to nutritious foods, mitigating climate change, empowering women and small-scale farmers and supporting the health and prosperity of rural communities.

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What is Productivity in Agriculture?

Figure 1: Total Factor Productivity (TFP)

Agricultural productivity is distinct from output, which refers to the gross amount produced, or yield, which measures the amount of output per unit of land.

Total Factor Productivity, or TFP, is the ratio of agricultural outputs (gross crop and livestock output) to inputs (land, labor, fertilizer, feed, machinery and livestock). TFP measures changes in the efficiency with which these inputs are transformed into outputs (Figure 1).

Productivity on the Rise, With Room to Grow

TFP accounts for the largest share of growth in global agricultural output today (Figure 2). In the 1960s, millions of farmers increased their yields using inputs such as advanced seed varieties, fertilizers, irrigation and machinery. As farmers began to use those inputs more efficiently, (increasing their output while using the same amount or fewer inputs), TFP’s contribution to agricultural output grew.

In high-income countries, all agricultural output is now generated by TFP (Figure 3). In low-income countries, TFP is increasing, but land expansion is still the primary driver of agricultural output growth (Figure 4).

For the following figures, sources of agricultural output growth are:

  • TFP – Gross amount of crop and livestock outputs per inputs (labor, capital and materials)
  • Inputs/Land – Gross amount of fertilizer, machinery, feed, labor and other inputs per hectare of agricultural land
  • Irrigation – Extension of irrigation to agricultural land (which raises the number of crop harvets per year as well as yield per harvest)
  • Land Expansion – Opening up additional land resources to extend production
Figure 2:
Sources of Growth in Global Agricultural Output, 1961-2014

Figure 3:
Sources of Growth in Agricultural Output: Low-Income Countries, 1961-2014

Figure 4:
Sources of Growth in Agricultural Output: High-Income Countries, 1961-2014

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The Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) Index™

The Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) Index

The 2017 GAP Index™ reveals that for the fourth straight year global TFP growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably double agricultural output by 2050. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) estimates that since 2004, TFP growth globally has been rising by an average annual rate of only 1.66 percent.

While the global growth rate is close to the target, the TFP growth rate in low-income countries is insufficient to achieve the goal of doubling agricultural productivity for small-scale farmers outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Policies and Investments for
Productive Sustainable Agriculture

The right public policies and investments will foster productive sustainable agriculture. The Global Harvest Initiative and its partners have identified five strategic policy goals that stimulate growth and resiliency in the agricultural value chain.

INVEST IN PUBLIC AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT AND EXTENSION

Research and development (R&D) and extension programs drive the productivity and sustainability of food and agriculture systems. The knowledge and innovations developed in the public sector are transformed into products and practices that improve crops, livestock, soil and water health and agricultural machinery and manufacturing.

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Embrace, Customize and Disseminate Science-Based and Information Technologies

Science-based and information technologies help producers manage the ever-present risks in agriculture while improving sustainability and competitiveness.

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ENHANCE PRIVATE-SECTOR INVOLVEMENT IN AGRICULTURE AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Public-private partnerships stimulate investment in physical infrastructures, human capital and community resilience. Roads, water, rail and airport infrastructures open new markets, while financial systems and telecommunications networks connect producers and consumers to capital and knowledge.

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CULTIVATE PARTNERSHIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND IMPROVED NUTRITION

Development assistance programs support the transformation to productive sustainable food and agriculture systems. Community participation in program design and collaboration with private-sector actors sets the stage for successful long-term development. Increasing food security, nutrition and incomes helps communities thrive.

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FOSTER CAPACITY FOR REGIONAL AND GLOBAL TRADE

Forward-looking trade agreements efficiently move products to markets that need them, benefiting producers and consumers. An enabling policy environment for regional and global trade includes transparent policies and consistently enforced laws and regulations, as well as coherent trade rules and standards across countries.

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2017 GAP Report Launch at the World Food Prize

2017 GAP Presentation

2017 Panel Discussion