World Agricultural Output Growth Rate Slows

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has shown that growth rate for global agricultural productivity was nearly a third slower in the 2010’s compared to 2000’s.  The rate has fallen from 2.72% per year to under 2%.  A measure of ‘total factor productivity’ (TFP) was used, comparing total output with the full set of inputs used in agricultural production. When the total value of agricultural output grows more slowly than the total amount of inputs used, then TFP decreases.  Input intensification and R&D investments during the green revolution drove productivity gains in the ‘60’s and ‘70s.  Since then, productivity growth has slowly declined and TFP growth accelerated, now representing the largest component of growth in agricultural output since the 1980’s. The recent slowdown in rate of growth may be due to climate changes and weather shocks, emergence of new pests and diseases, or slower rate of development and deployment of agricultural technologies.