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A productive, sustainable global agricultural system relies on public policies and investments that mitigate and manage the negative impacts of the agricultural business cycle for producers, consumers and the environment, while reducing waste and loss in the value chain and creating opportunities for economic growth and innovation. GHI and its partners have identified five strategic policy goals to stimulate growth and resiliency in the agricultural value chain. Click on the logos below to read a full description each policy, as well as case studies from our partners, from the 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®).
Agriculture research and development (R&D) and extension programs are essential public goods and the principal drivers of Total Factor Productivity (TFP). Along with private sector and collaborative research, public R&D in agriculture plays an essential role in fostering agricultural innovation systems. National agricultural research systems can be innovation centers for local and national food security. Innovations, technologies and practices developed through publicly-funded agricultural research help producers around the world remain competitive by increasing the productivity and sustainability of production, reducing loss and waste in the value chain and enabling them to adapt to, and even mitigate, climate change. Consumers of agricultural products benefit from the lower, more stable prices and increased access to safe, nutritious food resulting from these investments.
Science-based and information technologies help producers manage the ever-present risks in agriculture while improving sustainability and competitiveness. Advanced plant breeding through biotechnology, as well as the use of naturally occurring microbials, enhances drought tolerance and yields, while disease management practices keep livestock healthy and productive. Efficient irrigation and cultivation technologies improve water productivity and reduce labor burdens, particularly for women and small-scale farmers, enabling them to increase their output and profitability. Innovative storage and cold chain technologies ensure that more agricultural products reach markets rather than landfills. Information technology allows farmers to access vital information on market prices, weather, pests and soil health, and precision agriculture and data management tools help producers reduce costs and conserve scarce resources. New bio-innovation is building a bio-economy with broad benefits for the environment and society. Public policies that support the development, customization and dissemination of these technologies to farmers of all scales and the entire value chain are essential to nearly doubling global agricultural output sustainably by 2050.
Policies that support and incentivize private sector investment in physical and human infrastructures are crucial to increasing the productivity and sustainability of agriculture. Public-private partnerships to develop road, water, rail and airport infrastructures can open up new markets and reduce transaction costs for producers and retailers. Access to reliable and affordable electricity and internet makes farmers more efficient and competitive, while reducing loss and waste in the value chain. Partnerships between government, industry and communities to develop an educated, healthy and entrepreneurially-minded workforce will stimulate off-farm employment and reduce rural poverty while generating the innovations to ensure that agriculture is productive and sustainable for generations to come.
In striving to develop their agricultural economies and reduce malnutrition, governments often seek to leverage partnerships with local and international private businesses, nongovernment organizations, foundations, multilateral institutions and development agencies. The increasing demand for resources from traditional donor countries to address the global refugee crises and to prevent famine in places afflicted by prolonged drought is straining development budgets, making collaboration with private sector essential. For this to happen, development assistance programs must move beyond a “project” mentality and embrace integrated, market-driven approaches that generate inclusive benefits for farmers, processors, retailers and consumers, while striving to increase gender equity and improve nutrition. Developing technical and administrative skills of local populations, businesses and institutions sets the stage for successful long-term development.
An enabling policy environment for regional and global trade includes transparent policies and consistently enforced laws and regulations, as well as coherent trade rules across countries. Forward-looking, harmonized trade agreements create opportunities to more efficiently move sustainably produced agriculture products to markets that need them, benefitting both the environment and consumers. Since many countries do not have the human or financial capacity to effectively manage regional and global trade opportunities, policies need to focus on building country and regional capacity to facilitate agricultural trade, with an eye toward helping small and medium-scale farmers access larger markets, increase their incomes and expand their businesses. Improvements in trade policies and infrastructure will enable consumers around the world to access a wider variety of foods, as well as staple foods, at competitive prices. And it will help create employment opportunities along the agricultural value chain and in supporting industries.
Click here to read GHI’s publication International Trade and Agriculture: Supporting Value Chains to Deliver Development and Food Security.
Claudia Garcia, Senior Director of Global Corporate Affairs for Elanco, discusses embracing science and information based technologies.
JB Penn, Chief Economist for John Deere, explores how to remove barriers to global and regional trade in agriculture.
Keith Fugile, Economist, Resource and Rural Economics Division, USDA Economic Research Service, analyzes how to improve agricultural research, funding, structure and collaboration.