New data released in the 2022 Global Agricultural Productivity report reveals the fragility of agricultural systems and global inability to sustainably feed a growing population.
The report suggests that without swift action and long-term resolve, the systems will remain vulnerable to environmental, economic, and societal shockwaves.
Global agricultural productivity growth is in steep decline and current efforts to expand sustainable agriculture production to feed a swelling global population are inadequate to deal with the challenges that the world faces, according to the report.
The 2022 report, Troublesome Trends and System Shocks, is produced by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech in the United States.
To sustainably produce food and agricultural products for more than 9 billion people a year by 2050, agricultural productivity must increase an average of 1.73% annually.
From 2011 to 2020, global agricultural productivity grew at an average of just 1.12% per year, a significant drop from the average growth rate of 1.99% from 2001-2010.
Current efforts to accelerate productivity growth are inadequate, the climate is going to have a significant impact on production and regional inequities around the world exacerbate the problem, the report says.
“When agricultural productivity grows it means we’re producing more with fewer inputs and resources; this increases agricultural sustainability,” associate dean and director of Global Programmes in the college Tom Thompson said.
The report shows that global agricultural productivity growth has slowed dramatically and in the poorer countries it is even shrinking.
“We urgently need to reverse this trend so that we can improve food and nutrition security, sustainability and resilience,” Thompson said.
Governments, the private sector, research institutions, international development organisations and civil society groups need to work collaboratively to create an enabling environment for agricultural innovation, services and knowledge to take root.
In addition, small-scale producers must have access to technology and innovation in order to accelerate productivity growth, improve the resilience of food security, increase incomes and strengthen sustainability.
“Only then can the world be assured that its agricultural systems are sustainable and resilient to shocks. “The technology that is relevant for smallholder producers is there but the systems and incentives are not in place for success.
“We know how to grow agricultural productivity. The most pressing current need is for leaders to enact policies to create an enabling environment for productivity growth.
“That is why we’re strongly focused on getting the lessons of the GAP Report into the hands of decision and policymakers around the world,” Thompson said.