Will Latin America become the world’s new ‘bread basket’? With changes, report says that it’s possible due to amount of arable land

Jul 12, 2015 | 0 comments

By Sara Wyant

With new policies designed to improve agricultural productivity, Latin America and the Caribbean region can help feed a global population of nine billion people in 2050, according to a new report released today by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Ecuador is the world's largest producer of bananas.

Ecuador is the world’s largest producer of bananas.

“The challenge is much wider than simply producing more food,” notes IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno in the report. “It is about resolving humanity’s greatest challenge of the 21st Century – feeding a rapidly growing global population without expanding farming into environmentally sensitive areas, without diminishing the productive capacity of the land already under cultivation and without compromising on quality.”

Moreno also says inclusion and enabling smaller, family farming operations and their rural neighbors to benefit from these changes is another key part of the challenges.

“With agricultural growth and prosperity comes a chance to address persistent hunger and poverty within the region itself, an opportunity the region cannot afford to squander.”

The report, “The Next Global Breadbasket: How Latin America Can Feed the World” outlines challenges, recommendations and action items for policy makers, the donor community, farmers, agribusiness, and civil society. More than 30 public and private sector partners contributed to the project.

“Latin America has immense potential to help meet our planet’s growing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel in a sustainable, productive way. By putting in place a comprehensive agenda of pro-agriculture policies, Latin America can attract the investments and innovations to become the 21st century global breadbasket,” said Dr. Margaret M. Zeigler, Executive Director of the Global Harvest Initiative.

The report also notes that Latin American countries, including Ecuador, Peru and Chile, could also become the world’s largest exporter of seafood.

The Global Harvest Initiative estimates that if the LAC region maintains its current Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth rate of 2.67 percent per year, food demand within the region can be met and exceeded by 2030, enabling the region as a whole to vastly increase its contributions to global agricultural markets and thereby increase its share of food and agriculture exports.

Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11 percent of the value of current world food production and represent 24 percent of the world’s arable land. The region has about 28 percent of the world’s land that has been identified as having medium to high potential for sustainable expansion of cultivated area, and 36 percent share of land that is within six hours travel time to a market.

“Already the largest net food exporting region in the world, LAC has achieved only a fraction of its potential to expand agricultural production for regional consumption and global export,” according to Ginya Truitt Nakata, Operations Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). “The next 10 to 20 years offer a critical window of opportunity to advance new forms of productive and environmentally sustainable agriculture in the region.”

The report illustrates the opportunities, obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of realizing that potential, and how the private and public sectors can and must move forward together. Key areas for policy action and investment include:

• Agriculture Science, Research, and Development
• Knowledge and Extension Services for Farmers
• Transport and Logistics Infrastructure
• Irrigation, Water Management and Mechanization Technology
• Regional and Global Trade
• Farmers’ Access to Financial Services: Managing Risk and Availability of Credit
• Cooperatives and Producer Associations
• Reduction of Post-Harvest Losses

Credit: AgriPulse, http://www.agri-pulse.com



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