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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Monsanto established an aggressive target of doubling yields in four major crops over a 30-year period. This goal is highly relevant as global forecasted demand of corn, oilseeds and cotton over this same period will increase significantly. 

Unfortunately, farmers’ abilities to meet this increase in demand by boosting yields (output per unit of land) is constrained by their access to innovative management practices and seed technology. 

Monsanto is tracking progress against this production goal based on the policy environment established by the major producing countries of each crop. Based on a recent expert analysis by The Context Network, countries can be objectively classified into three distinct policy groups: leading, transitional and remaining. The Context Network convened an independent expert panel who analyzed both publicly available data and proprietary Context data to develop their classification plan. 

Each country is classified based on enabling agricultural productivity through innovation (agronomic practices, plant breeding, and biotechnology) and investment. Based on these classifications, Monsanto will track and publish progress toward the goal of doubling yields for leading countries. 

These countries offer a policy environment that supports innovation and investments across all of the three yield growth pillars: agricultural practices, plant breeding and biotechnology. Farmers in these countries will have access to new technology and the opportunity to implement innovations at a relatively faster rate. 

Through 2010, farmers in leading countries are making progress toward the goal of doubling yields. Canola and cotton farmers in these countries are effectively on track with this goal, with yields that are 33 percent and 30 percent higher than 2000 levels, respectively. Leading country corn farmers have increased yields by 20 percent since 2000. Soybean farmers in leading countries have increased yields the least among our focus crops, with an 11 percent gain in yields since 2000. 

In each crop, however, farmers in leading countries are outperforming farmers in transitional and remaining countries in absolute yield enhancement. With a decade of yield monitoring history, this data strongly supports the main point of this goal and demonstrates that supportive country-level policies for investment and innovation across the three primary yield growth pillars are highly correlated with superior results in yield performance achieved by farmers. 

The Context Network report can be read here

This article is excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. The full report can be found at Monsanto.com.

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