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Report: Growth in agriculture must catch up to projected demand

Report: Growth in agriculture must catch up to projected demand

BLACKSBURG—Projected agriculture growth needs to catch up with anticipated demand for food and other products, according to an October report from Virginia Tech.

Findings published by the school’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences indicated worldwide agriculture productivity growth is rising at an average annual rate of 1.63%. However, the study also found that to meet the needs of an expected population of 10 billion people by 2050, global agricultural productivity would need to rise by 1.73%.

Despite the disparity, Robert Harper, grain division manager for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, sees a silver lining. “The global agriculture community should be glad that only a slight increase in overall productivity is needed to meet the demand for 2050; the gap between 1.63% and 1.73% seems doable.”

The report noted that agricultural productivity has slowed in traditionally strong regions such as North America, Europe and Latin America, and growth is stronger in China and South Asia. It also determined that more land and water would be needed to meet future production targets, “straining a natural resource already threatened by climate change.”

The report found that environmental policies applied to ecosystem services such as pollination and erosion prevention can increase and sustain productivity gains over time.

“It is positive that the economists compiling the report indicated that increases in overall production do not necessarily mean poor environmental stewardship,” Harper explained. “The ag community is aware and glad to tell consumers outside of ag that economic, agronomic and environmental stewardship all work together.”

For the full report, visit

Media: Contact Harper at 804-290-1105.