During the next 30 years, the world’s population will grow larger and more prosperous. Demand will soar for agricultural goods, especially high-value products, such as meat, milk, fruits and vegetables, timber, oilseeds, and bioenergy.

Agricultural productivity growth is imperative for meeting the needs of a growing world while addressing threats to human and environmental well-being, including climate change and food insecurity.

At a virtual event at 9 a.m. on June 15, the Global Agricultural Productivity Initiative, or GAP Initiative, at the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will present a vision for invigorating food and agricultural systems. Experts working with large- and small-scale farmers around the world will share their perspectives.

“Investments in productivity growth in agriculture will help us achieve sustainable agriculture and food security, even in the face of climate change,” said Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

In agriculture, productivity is measured as total factor productivity. When more crops, livestock, and aquaculture products are produced using the same amount, or less, land, labor, fertilizer, machinery, feed, and livestock, that is an increase in total factor productivity.

To sustainably produce the food and agricultural products needed in 2050, total factor productivity needs to grow by an average of 1.73 percent per year.

“The most recent data show that we are consistently falling short of that target,” said Ann Steensland, leader of the GAP Initiative.

Increased greenhouse gas emissions, food and nutrition insecurity, and land erosion are just some of the potential consequences of not meeting growth targets. Small-scale farmers and low-income households are particularly vulnerable.

“To accelerate this growth, we need to ensure that all farmers, especially those at smaller scales, have access to science-based innovation and information,” said Tom Thompson, associate dean and director of CALS Global.      

A distinguished panel of GAP Initiative partners will discuss this challenge:

  • Jennifer Billings, Global Agricultural Development Lead, Corteva Agriscience
  • Pawan Kumar, Director of Agricultural Development, S.M. Sehgal Foundation (India)
  • Stewart Leeth, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, Smithfield Foods 
  • Ginya Truitt Nakata, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, International Potato Center (CIP)
  • Mel Oluoch, Regional Director, Sasakawa Africa Association
  • Ben Pratt, Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, The Mosaic Company 
  • Natasha Santos, Vice President of Global Stakeholder Strategy, Bayer Crop Science 
  • Megan Seibel, Farmer and Director of the VALOR Program, Virginia Tech 
  • Aaron Wetzel, Vice President, Small Ag & Turf Production Systems, John Deere
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