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GHI Selects Virginia Tech as the New Host of the GAP Report®
New partnership brings fresh voices, deeper analysis and new audiences to the annual report’s discussion of productive sustainable agriculture
December 3, 2018, Washington, DC — Begininning in January 2019, Virginia Tech will take over the responsibility for producing the Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) of the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI), a non-profit founded in 2010 to look at what production agriculture would have to achieve to keep pace with a growing global population.
The GAP Report is a call to action, urging world leaders to invest in proven strategies to produce food, feed, fiber, and biofuel in a sustainable manner. The annual GAP Report updates GHI’s GAP Index™, a measure of the rate of global productivity growth, to assess progress towards meeting these needs by 2050.
“The GAP Report has expanded our understanding of the role of productivity in sustainably feeding the world and achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, “ said Margaret Zeigler, executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative. “Virginia Tech has long been a leader in empowering the next generation of agricultural leaders to help people around the world produce sustainable food while increasing productivity. We are thrilled that they will be the next host of the GAP Report.”
The GAP Report will benefit from the research and relationships of Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) — as well other research initiatives and institutes across the university, including the USAID Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab and the Center for Agricultural Trade.
“The college is well positioned to serve as a host for the report given the breadth of its programs in food, agriculture, and nutrition and its emphasis on addressing global food security issues,” said Tim Sands, president of Virginia Tech. “The college’s initiative to grow public-private partnerships, its investment in international programs, and the new Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia, all benefit the GAP Report and its stakeholders.”
“Innovation and research are essential to keeping pace with the quantity and quality of food that global consumers are demanding. The power of robust public research and multi-stakeholder partnerships are critical to achieve a food-secure world and we all have a role to play. The GAP Report helps inform all participants, including the private-sector agriculture and food industries, about the policies and investments needed today” said Doyle Karr, Biotechnology Public Policy director, Corteva Agriscience™, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, and chair of the GHI Board of Directors.
The report aligns with the mission of Virginia Tech’s CALS Global Programs Office (CALS Global), a unit within the college that was formed in 2016 with the goal of building partnerships, creating new opportunities, and empowering success while serving globally. The GAP Report will be produced by CALS Global under the leadership of Tom Thompson, the college’s associate dean and director of global programs.
“Presenting the GAP Report is a testament to CALS’ expanding global footprint, and Virginia Tech’s growth as a global land-grant university and engagement in issues that span the world,” said Tom Thompson, the college’s associate dean and director of global programs. In order for us to help to sustainably meet the needs of a growing global population, it is vital that we expand our reach and find new ways to connect and collaborate with scientists and students around the world.”
GAP Report Provides Critical Insights on Sustainable Food and Agriculture Systems
The GAP Report tracks agricultural productivity growth, a key indicator of innovation adoption and a foundation for sustainability. The 2018 report reveals a concerning downward trend in productivity growth globally and explores the challenges and opportunities for U.S. producers.
“The agricultural industry is facing unprecedented challenges with the need to feed some 9.8 billion people worldwide by 2050,” said Aaron Wetzel, vice president for John Deere’s crop care business and GHI board member. “The GAP Report is critical in tracking agricultural productivity growth and inspiring the public and private sectors to invest in the innovation and technology necessary to sustainably feed our world.”
The 2018 GAP Report contains more than 30 examples of partnerships and innovations that improve productivity, while protecting natural resources and improving the lives of producers and consumers around the world, including drought-tolerant maize and biofortified millet varieties for African farmers; animal welfare practices that reduce the environmental footprint of pork production; precision mechanization technologies for farmers of all scales; and, nutrient management practices that improve soil health and protect water quality.
“The food and agriculture industry is much more inventive and sophisticated than many people realize,” said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods and GHI board member. “The GAP Report brings these innovations to life, highlighting how leading companies are tackling the challenges facing our industry and the growing global demand for food.”
The report also illustrates the critical importance of investing in agricultural research, infrastructure, trade, science and innovation, and international development partnerships.
The GAP Report has a global following, providing compelling insights to national and international policymakers, agribusinesses, U.N. agencies, universities, researchers, and non-governmental organizations. The report’s findings are presented each year to an international audience in Des Moines, Iowa, at the World Food Prize/Borlaug Dialogue and shared in a wide array of global policy forums.
CALS’s Growing Global Initiatives
In 2017, CALS Global launched a new partnership with the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management at Egerton University in Kenya, a World Bank-funded African Center of Excellence whose mission is to improve food security along the agricultural value chain. A cohort of five early-career CALS faculty traveled to Kenya as part of a year-long program. The cohort participated in training on how to form global networks, map research challenges, understand the global agricultural innovation system, and are currently working with Kenyan colleagues to compete for funding.
CALS Global has also established a relationship with the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at Hebrew University of Jerusalem to collaborate on research and student exchange programs pertaining to growing safe and nutritious food, securing healthy water, and preparing a new generation of leaders in agriculture and life sciences.
The GAP Report will enhance students’ global learning and engagement opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders at Virginia Tech. Students in the college’s new minor, Global Food Security and Health, will have the opportunity to become involved in the many issues the report addresses.
In January, 2019, Virginia Tech will take full responsibility for staffing and producing the report. The Global Harvest Initiative and board of directors will transfer all assets and intellectual property to Virginia Tech, and GHI and its board will close.
GHI deputy director, Ann Steensland, will become Project Coordinator for the GAP Report at Virginia Tech, based in Blacksburg. Margaret Zeigler, GHI’s current executive director, will begin a research program across four countries in Latin America, exploring the nexus of agriculture, food security and sustainability in the region.
To read the 2018 GAP Report®: Agriculture for a Healthy Sustainable World, visit globalagriculturalproductivity.org. The 2019 GAP Report® will be released in October 2019 at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.