The report of the G20 Agriculture Vice Ministers and Deputies released in 2012 followed up on the work of the 2011 Agriculture Ministers’ Action Plan [link to post on Action Plan]. The report discusses the progress made on a variety of initiatives, including the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), the Rapid Response Forum (RRF), the GEO-GLAM Crop Monitor, and the Tropical Agriculture Platform.
The report also highlighted the need to address other important factors impacting agriculture and food security, including post-harvest waste and loss, input subsidy programs, efficient water use, and climate and weather risk mitigation strategies.
The Vice Ministers/Deputies meeting took place prior to the Mexico G20 Ministerial meeting, which focused on ways to sustainably improve agricultural productivity growth, particularly for smallholder producers. The Interagency Report to the Mexican G20 Presidency laid out 233 points intended to provide practical actions to meet this goal. According to the report, there is a significant gap between farmers’ yields and technical potential yields for major crops, due largely to a lack of proper input use and insufficient adoption of new, more efficient agricultural technologies. This is especially true on small family farms. In order to meet this challenge, increased investment into research and development and continuous innovation will be needed to increase sustainable input use, conserve limited natural resources, and limit waste.
Input subsidy programs to increase input use and improve productivity have become popular in recent years. As the report points out, though, problems remain with the market structure of fertilizer markets in many areas of the world. These problems include lack of access to fertilizers in rural areas due to high cost and insufficient infrastructure, as well as the potential for improper or overuse, which can have significant environmental impacts and actually decrease productivity. To address these challenges, the report recommends the promotion of intra-regional trade and investment in infrastructure to close access gaps, programs to reduce costs or provide incentives for smallholders, and policies that ensure the types and amounts of fertilizers being used are appropriate for conditions in each region.
In addition to increasing investments in agricultural innovations, the report highlights the need to improve smallholders’ access to financial mechanisms, such as insurance. When farmers have adequate access to credit and insurance, they are better able to manage risk and more likely to invest in productive assets. Innovative programs like micro-insurance and weather-based index insurance can help close this gap in access.