Global Harvest Initiative is a private sector policy voice for productivity growth throughout the agricultural value chain. GHI was founded in 2009 to advocate for collaborative solutions that can sustainably meet the agricultural demands of a growing world.
GHI and its Member Companies encourage the adoption of policies, practices and technologies that enable agricultural producers to conserve natural resources, adapt to climate change and changing consumer preferences, and improve people’s livelihoods.
GHI has six Member Companies: DuPont Pioneer, John Deere and Monsanto Company are founding members of GHI. Elanco Animal Health joined in 2012. The Mosaic Company and Novozymes became members in 2015.
We are joined by 14 Consultative Partner organizations who share their knowledge and experience in agriculture, conservation, nutrition, and the needs of small scale producers.
Each year since 2010, GHI’s Global Agricultural Productivity Report – or GAP Report - has reported on global progress in addressing the challenge of producing enough food, fiber, feed, and fuel to meet the expected demand of 2050.
The GAP Report is viewed by policymakers and agricultural experts as a ‘gold standard’ product on agricultural productivity from the private-sector perspective.
GHI Member Companies shape the strategic and technical content of the GAP Report. For [name of company], the GAP Report is an opportunity to drive the policies, technologies, innovations, investments and partnerships needed to meet the challenge of 2050.
GHI estimates that global agricultural output will have to double in order to meet the expected demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel.
The primary driver of this increase in demand is population growth, which will reach an estimated 9.6 billion people by 2050. Incomes are also increasing; by mid-century 70 percent of the world’s population will be in the middle class – with most of the change will take place in developing countries.
Doubling agricultural output will increase pressure on already-stressed natural resources. Currently, 70 percent of extracted water worldwide is used for agriculture and 37 percent of land is used for crops and pasture. One-third of agricultural output is lost or wasted during and after harvest.
In addition, climate scientists expect that changing rainfall patterns will make some areas drier and other areas wetter, as well as generate more natural disasters. Agriculture will need to adapt to climate change and manage the risk it brings to farming.
Given these challenges, how will we feed the future? By applying science-based and information technologies, improved practices and forward-looking policies, we can meet the growing demand while also: conserving land, water, energy and other limited resources; adapting to changing dietary patterns and climatic conditions, and improving the livelihoods and living conditions of urban and rural communities.
Agriculture and food systems must become more efficient by adopting technologies and practices that result in more output, while also reducing loss and waste.
This efficiency is known as Total Factor Productivity and is measured by a ratio of agricultural outputs (gross crop and livestock output) to inputs (land, labor, fertilizer, machinery and livestock.) TFP grows when producers use inputs more effectively and precisely or when they adopt improved cultivation and livestock raising practices.
In the case of crops, TFP increases with the use of higher yielding, disease resistant or drought and flood tolerant crop varieties. Timely cultivation and harvesting practices or using precision agriculture also raise TFP.
For livestock, breeding animals for favorable genetic qualities and behavior, using better animal care and disease management practices, and adoption of high quality feeds contribute to greater productivity.
The amount of agricultural output that is generated by TFP varies greatly from country to country.
Low-income countries have boosted their agricultural output dramatically since the mid-1980s. The good news is that a growing share of their output is coming from the efficient of inputs – or TFP. But they have also relied heavily on land expansion to increase agricultural outputs, which is not a sustainable use of natural resources.
Thanks to decades of public and private investments, in high-income countries almost all growth in agricultural output comes from TFP, while inputs such as land and labor have been taken out of agriculture and put to other productive uses. But additional investments are needed to ensure that these countries maintain and increase their agricultural output.
In 2010, GHI calculated that TFP must grow by an average rate of at least 1.75 percent annually in order to double agricultural output through productivity gains. The GAP Index is an annual snapshot of TFP growth compared to the rate of TFP growth required to meet the demands of 2050.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service estimates that since 2002, global TFP has been rising by an average annual rate of only 1.69 percent. While this growth rate does not seem much lower than the required 1.75 percent, when compounded over 40 years, output would grow by 94 percent, six percent short of the target.
The impact of this productivity gap will fall hardest on low-income, food-deficit countries who lack the income to produce or import enough food to meet their nutritional needs. Stagnant or declining productivity will raise prices and the proportion of income required to buy food. Poor urban households will bear the brunt of higher prices, and rural populations will suffer too.
Sub-Saharan Africa is especially vulnerable. Only 15 percent of their projected food demand can be met by maintaining the current TFP growth rate.
India has an extraordinarily productive agricultural sector: they are the world’s second largest rice and wheat producing country. India is the largest producer of pulses and the source of one-fifth of beef traded world-wide. Nevertheless, only 59 percent of India’s projected food demand can be met by maintaining the current rate of TFP growth. India will need to continue investments in TFP policies and innovations, and will also rely on regional and global trade to fill meet its food and agriculture needs.
Latin America is rapidly becoming the next global breadbasket. If Latin America maintains its current rate of TFP growth, they will meet 116 percent of their food demand in 2030 – making them a critical trading partner for countries such as India and China. Already, the Southern Cone nations of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay comprise the largest net exporting zone for agriculture on the planet.
GHI Member Companies and their partners have identified five strategic policy goals that create the environment for increasing TFP growth throughout the agricultural value chain.
Invest in Research and Development: The private sector is a growing source of R&D funding, but greater public sector investment is critical for innovation, basic research and making new techniques and technologies widely available.
Embrace Science and Information Technologies: Technological innovations are the backbone of productive and resilient agricultural production. Access to these innovations will be essential if farmers and producers, of all scales, are to meet the coming demand, particularly in light of climate change.
Enhance Private Sector Involvement in Infrastructure and Rural Development: The private sector can be a critical partner in closing the $80 billion investment gap for the physical, financial, and knowledge infrastructures that facilitate the flow of agricultural goods and services in developing countries.
Remove Barriers to Internal, Regional, and Global Agricultural Trade: Trade policy that is built on transparent and consistently enforced laws, regulations and policies enables farmers of all sizes to take advantage of expanding market opportunities.
Strengthen and Coordinate International Development Assistance: Continued support for the global food security agenda by the international donor community is critical to reducing hunger and malnutrition, and increasing agricultural development and productivity, particularly for small scale producers.
Who We Are + 2015 GAP Report
Global Agricultural Productivity Report
The Global Agricultural Imperative
Global agricultural output will have to double in
order to meet the expected demand for food,
feed, fiber and fuel of 2050.