The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) have developed a new online data portal aimed at unlocking the world’s potential to feed a ‘rapidly growing’ population.

The innovation is known as the Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) Portal. It is a planning tool designed to help identify areas for increased global food production while maintaining natural resources base and facing the challenge of climate change, the developers said May 25, 2012 in a statement.

Commenting on the new portal, Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division, Parviz Koohafkan said “GAEZ can help identify where there are ‘bridgeable yield gaps’ and what causes them, allowing for the formulation of appropriate investment policies and the provision of appropriate support to farmers to help them produce more food.”

Yield gap refers to the difference between how much food a farm actually produces and how much food it would be capable of producing if appropriate practices, inputs, technologies and knowledge were applied.

According to the FAO, the world’s region with the highest yield gaps is sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN food agency estimates that world food production needs to increase 60% by 2050 to feed a world population expected to surpass 9 billion people.

By Ekow Quandzie

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