GAP Report® 2015 - Digital

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Declaring that eradicating poverty and hunger is both the “greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development,” United Nations member states in September 2015 adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious agenda to end hunger and poverty once and for all by 2030. The SDGs are designed to protect the planet, to preserve natural resources and to create the conditions necessary for sustainable and inclusive economic growth and prosperity. The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) applauds and supports this cooperative effort of governments, multilateral institutions and civil society.

In the spirit of the SDGs, the Global Harvest Initiative is delighted to present our 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®): Building Sustainable Breadbaskets.

A vibrant agriculture and food sector is a powerful foundation for broad-based, inclusive economic growth and development, creating multiplier effects throughout the entire economy. In addition to those employed directly in agriculture and food production, manufacturing, marketing and sales, there are many others who provide training, financial services, energy, technology, equipment and transportation, adding value to and creating jobs in all economic sectors. With the right policies, innovations and knowledge-based practices, agriculture systems provide sufficient, nutritious and affordable food, conserve natural resources, raise people out of poverty, empower women and girls and generate sustainable economic growth across a variety of industries. Scientific and technological advancements improve productivity, reduce the environmental footprint of food production and help mitigate its contribution to climate change.

Our 2015 GAP Report® highlights the impressive legacy of the United States’ conservation agriculture system, which was built in the wake of the 1930s Dust Bowl crisis and created a vibrant agricultural economy and abundant food supply. It demonstrates that threats can be overcome, but continued commitment and investment are necessary to generate new innovations to conserve soil, water and other precious natural resources, assuring that we are maintaining a sustainable breadbasket for tomorrow’s challenges. The report also shines a spotlight on Zambia, a country that is diversifying its agricultural production systems and building its capacity to become a regional breadbasket in southern Africa.

Tackling global hunger and ensuring future generations have access to sufficient affordable and nutritious food in the face of population growth and climate change requires immediate attention from public and private sectors alike. Together we must create food and agriculture systems that incorporate transparency, best practices of productivity, conservation, animal well-being and responsible stewardship, from farmer to consumer, building resilience at every step of the value chain.

This should be our shared vision of agriculture; we should settle for nothing less.

Margaret M Zeigler signature

Margaret M. Zeigler
Executive Director
Global Harvest Initiative


The Global Agricultural Imperative 4
The Critical Importance of Boosting Agricultural Productivity 7
The Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) Index 11
Building Blocks for Sustainable Breadbaskets — Five Strategic Policy Goals 14
Cultivating Resilient Food and Agriculture Systems in the USA 16
The Seeds of Success: Innovation and Extension 20
Healthy Soils: The Legacy of the U.S. Conservation System 23
New Directions for Farm Policy:The 2014 Farm Bill 25
Growing Challenges for Productivity and the U.S. Agricultural Value Chain 28
The U.S. Agriculture & Food Value Chain 30
Growing Solutions through Value Chain Innovation and Collaboration 32
Collaborations to Conserve Soil, Water and Produce More Sustainably 32
Water Use Efficiency, Quality and Management 36
Livestock, Nutrition and the Environment: A Global Research Challenge 39
Farm Smart and Conserve Smart: Precision Agriculture and Precision Conservation 40
Agricultural Biologicals: New Solutions from Nature 43
Agriculture Can Help Mitigate Climate Change 44
Managing Risk and Building Safety Nets for American Farmers 46
Moving Food, Feed, Fiber and Fuel to Market — The Infrastructure Imperative 48
Innovations to Reduce Hunger and Improve Nutrition 49
Consumers Impact the Agricultural Value Chain 50
Building a Sustainable Breadbasket in Zambia 52
Zambian Agriculture by the Numbers 54
TFP Is on the Rise — With Room to Grow 56
Zambia’s Agricultural Value Chain 58
Land and Water: The Roots of Productive Agriculture 60
Lots of Water…But Not Everywhere 62
Investing in Productivity 63
Knowledge is Key 65
Social Protection and Productivity 66
Shifting Investment Priorities 67
Expanding Markets for Maize, and More 68
Improving Livelihoods and Nutrition Through Agricultural Value Chains 71
Endnotes, TFP & US (Pages 1–51) 74
Endnotes, Zambia (Pages 52–73) 76