Alarming new data show the fragility of agricultural systems and the global inability to sustainably feed a growing population | VTX

Global agricultural productivity growth is in steep decline and current efforts to expand sustainable agricultural production to feed a growing world population are insufficient to meet the challenges facing the world, according to the Global Agricultural Productivity Report 2022 ( GAP Report) which was released on October 4 at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Without quick action and long-term resolution, systems will remain vulnerable to environmental, economic and societal shock waves, shows data from the 2022 GAP report, titled “Troubling Trends and Systemic Shocks”. The GAP report is produced by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.

To sustainably produce food and agricultural products for more than 9 billion people in 2050, agricultural productivity must increase by an average of 1.73% per year. From 2011 to 2020, global agricultural productivity grew by an average of just 1.12% per year, a significant decline from the average growth rate of 1.99% from 2001 to 2010, according to the Department’s Economic Research Service. of Agriculture (USDA).

Current efforts to accelerate productivity growth are insufficient, the climate will have a significant impact on production, and regional inequalities around the world compound the problem, the report says.

“When agricultural productivity increases, it means that we produce more with fewer inputs and resources; it increases agricultural sustainability,” said Tom Thompson, associate dean and director of global programs at the college. “The data presented in the GAP 2022 report shows that global agricultural productivity growth has slowed significantly, and in the world’s poorest countries it is even contracting. We urgently need to reverse this trend so that we can improve food and nutrition security, sustainability and resilience.

The current downward trajectory of agricultural productivity growth must be reversed. Climate change, conflict and extreme weather events add several layers of difficulty and complexity to an already difficult task.

Governments, the private sector, research institutions, international development organizations and civil society groups need to work together to create an enabling environment for agricultural innovation, services and knowledge to take root. In addition, small producers must have access to technology and innovation in order to accelerate productivity growth, improve food security resilience, increase incomes and enhance sustainability. Only then can the world be confident that its agricultural systems are sustainable and resilient to shocks.

Lana T. Arthur