Agriculture production and productivity must increase to meet growing demand. The global population is projected to top 9 billion people by 2050, and with it a growing middle class will move away from a grain-based diet to more meat, dairy, and fresh produce. Much of this population and income growth will occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. As 85 percent of food is eaten in the country in which it is produced, food production gains are needed in those regions in particular. A focus on increased production in these regions can help alleviate poverty, spur economic development, and promote political stability.
Increasing productivity will require significant investments in agricultural research, education, and extension, particularly in areas where productivity growth is lagging, such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Investments must support diversified farming systems and practices that are resilient to changing climate. They must also conserve increasingly scarce water resources and land and improve soil health and habitat.
In both the near and long-term, U.S. trade and food aid policy and foreign assistance should support, not undermine, productivity in developing countries and provide smallholder farmers with access to markets. As income levels and purchasing power rise in developing countries, U.S. producers will benefit from expanding markets. The United States, and the world, will also benefit from less poverty, more economic development, and political stability that these investments can bring about.