The Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — which has long been a leader in empowering people around the world to produce sustainable food while increasing productivity — will become an even larger knowledge platform when it presents the Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) Report® in 2019.

The GAP Report is a call to action, urging world leaders to invest in proven strategies to produce food, feed, fiber, and biofuel in a sustainable manner to meet the demands and needs of a growing world. The report’s findings are presented each year to an international audience in Des Moines, Iowa, at the World Food Prize/Borlaug Dialogue. In previous years, the report was produced by the Global Harvest Initiative.

“The college is well positioned to serve as a host for the report given the breadth of its programs in food, agriculture, and nutrition and its emphasis on addressing global food security issues,” said Tim Sands, president of Virginia Tech. “The college’s initiative to grow public-private partnerships, its investment in international programs, and the new Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia, all benefit the GAP Report and its stakeholders.”

Since it was first published in 2010, the GAP Report has developed a global audience, with compelling insights for national and international policymakers, agribusinesses, U.N. agencies, universities, researchers, and nongovernmental organizations.

The GAP Report tracks agricultural productivity growth, a key indicator of sustainability. The 2018 report reveals a concerning downward trend in productivity growth globally and explores the challenges and opportunities for U.S. producers.

The report aligns with the mission of CALS Global, a unit within the college that was formed in 2016 with the goal of building partnerships, creating new opportunities, and empowering success while serving globally. The GAP Report will be produced under the leadership of Tom Thompson, the college’s associate dean and director of global programs.

“Presenting the GAP Report is a testament to CALS’ expanding global footprint, and Virginia Tech’s growth as a global land-grant university and engagement in issues that span the world,” Thompson said. “In order for us to help to sustainably meet the needs of a growing global population, it is vital that we expand our reach and find new ways to connect and collaborate with scientists and students around the world.” 

GAP Report conference
Panelists at the 2018 GAP Report Launch at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, included Mercy Lung’aho, nutrition lead for Africa, International Center for Tropical Agriculture, and Aaron Wetzel, vice president, A&T Global Platform, Crop Care, Agriculture and Turf Division, John Deere.

“The GAP Report has expanded our understanding of how agricultural productivity plays a powerful role in helping feed the world and in achieving the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Virginia Tech’s expertise and networks will add new voices to the report and expand its audience in the U.S. and across the globe,” said Margaret Zeigler, executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative.

The 2018 GAP Report contains more than 30 examples of partnerships and innovations that improve productivity, while protecting natural resources and improving the lives of producers and consumers around the world, including drought-tolerant maize and biofortified millet varieties for African farmers; animal welfare practices that reduce the environmental footprint of pork production; precision mechanization technologies for farmers of all scales; and, nutrient management practices that improve soil health and protect water quality.

The report also illustrates the critical importance of investing in agricultural research, infrastructure, trade, science and innovation, and international development partnerships.  

The adoption of the GAP Report is one of many ways in which CALS Global is working with partners around the globe. 

In 2017, CALS Global launched a new partnership with the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management at Egerton University in Kenya, a World Bank-funded African Center of Excellence whose mission is to improve food security along the agricultural value chain. A cohort of five early-career CALS faculty traveled to Kenya as part of a year-long program. The cohort participated in training on how to form global networks, map research challenges, understand the global agricultural innovation system, and are currently working with Kenyan colleagues to compete for funding. 

CALS Global has also established a relationship with the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at Hebrew University of Jerusalem to collaborate on research and student exchange programs pertaining to growing safe and nutritious food, securing healthy water, and preparing a new generation of leaders in agriculture and life sciences. 

The report will also enhance students’ global learning and engagement opportunities. Students in the college’s new minor, Global Food Security and Health, will have the opportunity to become involved in the many issues the report addresses. In the future, undergraduate and graduate internship positions will be available to help support the report’s creation. Hosting the report also creates opportunities to produce educational materials for K-12 students. 

The GAP Report will benefit from these relationships, as well other research initiatives and institutes across the university, including the USAID Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab and the Center for Agricultural Trade.

To read the “2018 GAP Report: Agriculture for a Healthy Sustainable World,” visit The 2019 GAP Report will be released in October 2019 at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.

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