New report rings alarm bells on food security in 2050

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-10-18 9:45:55

The 2012 Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) Report was launched Wednesday at the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, with warnings of regional food security challenges despite global progress.

The GAP report, released by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI), a private-sector voice for productivity growth throughout the agricultural value chain to sustainably meet the demands of a growing world, offers a mixed review of efforts to increase global agricultural productivity.

It finds that investments made more than a decade ago have produced significant increase in agricultural productivity overall, but current productivity growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and other regions will not be sufficient to meet their demands. Without increased trade, public and private sector investments and assistance programs, these regions will be unable to meet rising food demands.

"Global agricultural productivity is on the rise, but the regional measurements from the GAP report indicate a need for accelerated investment to counter the challenges of climate change and natural resource degradation," said Margaret Zeigler, GHI executive director.

"The 2012 GAP report determines that we cannot meet future global food demand unless agricultural productivity increases are achieved in every region of the world," she said. "To maximize the output of every resource committed to food production, we must facilitate public and private sector investments in developing nations, the application of science and information-based technologies, liberalized trade, and other policies that will foster this ambitious mandate by 2050."

For Sub-Saharan Africa, the report predicts a shortfall of 87 percent of total food demand in 2050 if the total factor productivity (TFP) rate remains constant. The TFP is the ratio of agricultural outputs (gross crop and livestock output) per inputs (land, labor, livestock, fertilizer and machinery) used. Investments in productivity improvements and trade are needed for any break through in the region.

Changing diets, not population growth, will be the primary driver of increasing food demand in Asia. In East Asia, food demand is estimated to grow at 3.65 percent each year between 2000 and 2030. Only 74 percent of total food demand will be satisfied in 2050, while the rest needs to be met through imports and productivity increases.

In the Middle East and Northern Africa, said the report, there will be a 17 percent food shortage in 2050. With increasing demands on limited water supplies, investments in the agricultural value chain will be needed to maintain or advance food production levels. Trade and safety net programs will meet the rest of the needs.

Latin America and the Caribbean region, on the other hand, will produce a substantial food surplus by 2050. However, investment is needed in infrastructure and continued productivity improvements to maximize the region's prospects to become a net food exporter.

Developed countries face relatively low growth in food demand. They are the most productive and have the lowest use of inputs per unit of output. According to the report, if investment in science and technology is sufficient to allow productivity to grow at historical rates, these countries should be able to meet their demand for food and biofuel, and maintain historic agricultural export levels.

This is the third annual GAP report issued by the Global Harvest Initiative during the World Food Prize symposium started on Wednesday.

Posted in: Food

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