Accelerating global agricultural productivity growth at all scales of production is imperative to meet the needs of consumers and address threats to human and environmental well-being.
During the next 30 years, the world’s population will grow larger and more prosperous.
Demand will soar for food and agricultural goods, including meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, timber, oilseeds for cooking and industrial uses, and biomass for energy, heat, and cooking.
At the same time, the natural resource base and ecosystems that support agricultural production are under stress from climate change, soil degradation, and poor water management.
Poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition remain stubbornly high, condemning hundreds of millions of people to ill health and unfulfilled potential.
Productivity growth is driven by innovative agricultural technologies, improved practices, and attention to ecosystem services and biodiversity.
WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH?
In agriculture, productivity is measured as Total Factor Productivity, or TFP. An increase in TFP indicates that more crops, livestock, and aquaculture products were produced with the same amount, or less, land, labor, fertilizer, machinery, feed, and livestock.
INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY IS ABOUT MORE THAN SCALE
TFP grows when producers increase output using improved technologies and practices, such as advanced seed varieties, precision mechanization, efficient nutrient and water management techniques, and improved animal care practices. Using agricultural inputs efficiently to generate more output reduces agriculture’s environmental impact and lowers costs for producers and consumers.
Traditionally, high-income countries with large-scale farms and connections to global markets are the most efficient.
Yet productivity growth is possible at all scales of production.
PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH AROUND THE WORLD
Using the latest improvements in precision agriculture and data analytics, in combination with high-yielding, herbicide-tolerant crops, a large-scale farmer in Brazil can produce soy for the global market without cutting down forests to increase output.
With healthier feed and improved housing, a small-scale dairy farmer selling to local markets in Kenya can increase milk output using fewer animals and generating less methane emissions.
By cultivating mangos with drip irrigation, a farmer in India can harvest a robust crop using less land and water.
Integrating pig, feed crop, and aquaculture production enables a small-scale farmer in Vietnam to sustainably increase output and diversify income sources.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T PRIORITIZE PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH
TFP needs to increase by an average of 1.73 percent each year to sustainably meet consumer needs in 2050,
but the world is not keeping pace with this target.
A CALL TO ACTION
Strategic policies, Investments, and partnerships support and accelerate productivity growth.
in public agricultural R&D and extension systems
Public-sector agricultural R&D and extension systems, generate innovation and information that farmers of all scales need to sustainably increase productivity and resilience.
science- and information-based technologies and practices
Science- and information-based technologies and practices enable producers of all scales to increase output, control costs, and manage risk
infrastructure and market access for agricultural inputs and outputs
Access to markets for agricultural inputs, outputs, and services supports economic growth, diminishes waste and loss, and reduces costs for producers and consumers.
partnerships for sustainable agriculture and improved nutrition
Public-private producer partnerships support sustainable, equitable agricultural development, reduce poverty, and improve
and improve regional and global trade
Forward-looking trade agreements facilitate the cost-effective movement of agricultural inputs, products, and services to the people who need them.
post-harvest loss and food waste
Reducing loss and waste increases the availability and affordability of nutritious food and decreases the pressure on land and water resources.