Global agricultural productivity not growing as fast as food demand: Report

What is the News?

Global Agricultural Productivity Report (GAP Report) 2021 has been released by Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture, US and Life Sciences.

Few basic Terms to Know

What is Agricultural Productivity? Agricultural productivity is measured as the ratio of agricultural outputs to inputs. Agriculture productivity increases when more agricultural products are produced with the same amount or fewer resources.

What is Yield? Yield measures output per unit of a single input, for example, consider a condition where the same amount of crops is harvested 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.

What is Total Factor Productivity(TFP)? TFP captures the interaction between multiple agricultural inputs and outputs. 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. 

What are the key findings of the GAP report?

Growth of TFP: Total Factor Productivity (TFP) is growing at an annual rate of 1.36% (2020-2019). This is below the Global Agricultural Productivity Index that has set an annual target of 1.73% growth to sustainably meet the needs of consumers for food and bioenergy in 2050.

Reasons for Low TFP Growth: TFP growth is influenced by climate change, weather events, changes in fiscal policy, market conditions, investments in infrastructure and agricultural research and development.

TFP Growth in Different Regions: Middle-income countries, including India, China, Brazil, and the countries of the former USSR, continue to have the most robust TFP growth rates. 

On the other hand, Low-income countries, home to many small-scale farmers, have a negative TFP growth rate of -0.31 percent annually. 

Impact of Human-caused Climate Change on TFP: Human-caused climate change has slowed global agricultural productivity growth by 21 percent since 1961. In drier regions of Africa and Latin America, climate change has slowed productivity growth by as much as 34 percent. 

What are the suggestions given by the GAP report?

The report suggested investing in agricultural research and development, embracing science-and-information-based technologies and improving infrastructure for transportation, information and finance.

The report also suggested cultivating partnerships for sustainable agriculture, economic growth and improved nutrition, expanding and improving local, regional and global trade and reducing post-harvest loss and food waste.

What does the GAP Report say about India?

India has seen strong TFP and output growth this century. The most recent data shows an average annual TFP growth rate of 2.81 percent and output growth of 3.17 percent (2010–2019.) 

However, the implications of climate change for India’s agricultural sector are profound. By the end of the century, the mean summer temperature in India could increase by five degrees Celsius. This rapidly rising temperature, combined with changes in rainfall patterns could cut yields for India’s major food crops by 10 percent by 2035.

In addition to the challenges for environmental sustainability, India’s small-scale farmers face significant obstacles to economic and social sustainability.

Source: This post is based on the article Global agricultural productivity not growing as fast as food demand: Report published in ‘Down To Earth’ on 22nd October 2021.

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