In January 2019, Virginia Tech will take over the responsibility for producing the Global Agricultural Productivity Report (GAP Report) of the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI), a non-profit founded in 2010 to look at what production agriculture would have to achieve to keep pace with a growing global population.
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. The annual GAP Report updates GHI’s GAP Index, a measure of the rate of global productivity growth, to assess progress towards meeting these needs by 2050.
“The GAP Report has expanded our understanding of the role of productivity in sustainably feeding the world and achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” said Margaret Zeigler, executive director of the Global Harvest Initiative. “Virginia Tech has long been a leader in empowering the next generation of agricultural leaders to help people around the world produce sustainable food while increasing productivity. We are thrilled that they will be the next host of the GAP Report.”
The GAP Report will benefit from the research and relationships of Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) — as well other research initiatives and institutes across the university, including the USAID Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab and the Center for Agricultural Trade.
“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.”
“Innovation and research are essential to keeping pace with the quantity and quality of food that global consumers are demanding. The power of robust public research and multi-stakeholder partnerships are critical to achieve a food-secure world and we all have a role to play. The GAP Report helps inform all participants, including the private-sector agriculture and food industries, about the policies and investments needed today” said Doyle Karr, biotechnology public policy director, Corteva Agriscience, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, and chair of the GHI Board of Directors.
The report aligns with the mission of Virginia Tech’s CALS Global Programs Office (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 enhance students’ global learning and engagement opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders at Virginia Tech. 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.
The GAP Report tracks agricultural productivity growth, a key indicator of innovation adoption and a foundation for sustainability. The 2018 report reveals a concerning downward trend in productivity growth globally and explores the challenges and opportunities for U.S. producers.
“The agricultural industry is facing unprecedented challenges with the need to feed some 9.8 billion people worldwide by 2050,” said Aaron Wetzel, vice president for John Deere’s crop care business and GHI board member. “The GAP Report is critical in tracking agricultural productivity growth and inspiring the public and private sectors to invest in the innovation and technology necessary to sustainably feed our world.”
Future of GHI
In January, 2019, Virginia Tech will take full responsibility for staffing and producing the report. The Global Harvest Initiative and board of directors will transfer all assets and intellectual property to Virginia Tech, and GHI and its board will close.
GHI deputy director, Ann Steensland, will become project coordinator for the GAP Report at Virginia Tech, based in Blacksburg. Zeigler, GHI’s current executive director, will begin a research program across four countries in Latin America, exploring the nexus of agriculture, food security and sustainability in the region.