Agricultural productivity is not just essential for sustainably meeting the demands of a growing world. The technologies and practices that enable producers to produce more output with the same amount, or less inputs, can also be harnessed to cultivate resilience.
Yield and total factor productivity are ratios of outputs to inputs, but they are not the same, and the distinction matters.
Yield measures output per unit of a single input, for example, the amount of crops grown on a hectare of land. Yields can increase through productivity growth, but they can also increase by applying more inputs, called input intensification. Therefore, an increase in yield may or may not represent improvements in sustainability.
Total factor productivity captures the interaction between multiple agricultural inputs and outputs. (Ortiz-Bobea et al., 2021) TFP growth indicates that more farmers generate more crops, livestock, and aquaculture products with the same amount or less land, labor, fertilizer, feed, machinery, and livestock. As a result, TFP is a powerful metric for evaluating and monitoring the sustainability of agricultural systems.