2012 GAP Report®

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Executive Summary


2012 GAP ReportThe Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) is a private sector policy voice for agricultural productivity growth throughout the value chain to sustainably meet the demands of a growing world.

GHI releases an annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) to serve as a benchmark to analyze agricultural productivity growth.

The 2012 GAP Report® focuses on the most recent global agricultural productivity growth rate and compares it to the rate required to meet estimated demand growth. The report also analyzes global and regional productivity, as each region faces unique opportunities and challenges.

In 2010, GHI’s inaugural GAP Report® calculated that global agricultural total factor productivity (TFP) must grow by an average rate of at least 1.75 percent annually to double agricultural output by 2050. Recent findings indicate that global TFP is rising at an average annual rate of 1.84 percent.

But regional differences exist, and achieving necessary food production by 2050 requires improving the productivity of farmers in every major region, and across all scales of agriculture, from the smallholder to the commercial exporter.

Meeting future demand requires improving practices in growing and handling crops and livestock, and improving transportation, processing, and food production through infrastructure and capital investment.

Regional Productivity and Food Demand Findings

  • Food demand in Asia will result primarily from rising incomes rather than population increases. In East Asia, food demand is estimated to grow 3.64 percent each year between 2000 and 2030. In South and Southeast Asia, food demand is estimated to grow annually by 2.75 percent. If these regions maintain the TFP growth rate of the last decade (3.05 percent for East Asia and 2.48 percent for South and Southeast Asia), a significant food deficit gap will likely be met through imports.
  • In the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), food demand is expected to grow at a rate of 2.14 percent by 2050. Productivity growth for the region over the past decade has averaged 1.9 percent. Because almost half of food in the MENA region is imported and water scarcity is increasing in the region, a growing food gap will need to be filled through a combination of productivity increases, imports, and government safety net food assistance programs.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the average annual growth in food demand is projected to be 2.83 percent per year from 2000 to 2030, primarily due to population increase. With the most rapid regional rate of population growth in the world, and with TFP growth rates on average of 0.5 percent, a significant food demand gap will become much greater unless Sub-Saharan Africa accelerates productivity growth rates, sustainably expands land or intensifies production.
  • The estimated growth in food demand in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region is 1.8 percent per year from 2000 to 2030. TFP growth from the last decade is 2.74 percent and if maintained or accelerated, this region may expand exports, increase production of biofuels, or withdraw some land from production for conservation.
  • The vast region comprised of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (transition countries) has enormous agricultural production potential. Agricultural productivity in this region is relatively low (0.8 percent for 1991-2000 and 2.3 percent for 2001-2009) and improvements could significantly raise output, meeting local and regional demand as well as allowing for exports.
  • Developed countries face relatively low growth in food demand. They are also the most productive, with the lowest use of inputs per unit of output. If investment in science and technology is sufficiently robust to allow productivity to grow at historical rates, then developed nations as a whole should be able to meet their demand for food and biofuel, maintain land and water for conservation, urbanization and recreation, and maintain their historic agricultural export levels.

Sustaining and Accelerating Agricultural Productivity Growth Through Effective Policy Reform

  • Effective public policies establish an enabling environment that encourages investments in capital, technology, and labor for agricultural productivity growth. GHI recommends policy positions that will support increases in productivity.
  • GHI emphasizes the need for increased private and public sector funding for agricultural development, and notes that successful approaches are beginning to make an impact in many developing countries. Development assistance funding to improve infrastructure and establish procedures that reduce corruption can mobilize additional private sector resources for productivity improvements.
  • Investments by the public and private sector in agricultural research and development (R&D) make significant contributions to growth in agricultural productivity. Investment by the public sector is necessary and must continue in the coming decades.
  • New science- and information-based technologies can improve productivity along the entire agriculture value chain. Implementing rule-based and predictable regulatory systems will allow these new technologies to be adopted and used by developing country farmers.
  • Trade liberalization through multilateral, regional, or bilateral trade agreements can be a major contributor to economic growth by expanding market access, improving efficiency, and increasing investment in the food and agriculture sectors. For developing countries, these gains are most likely to materialize when agreements and related development assistance facilitate market development.
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*The print edition of the 2012 GAP Report states on page 31 that TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) countries also account for more than half of the world’s population and have a rapidly growing middle class.” The corrected language is “TPP countries also account for nearly ten percent of the world’s population and have a rapidly growing middle class.”