FAO expresses concerns about food security amid lockdowns

-The Hagstrom Report

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has posted a document titled “A battle plan for ensuring global food supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.”

FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero Cullen said, “Global food trade has to be kept going. One of every five calories people eat have crossed at least one international border, up more than 50% from 40 years ago. Low- and middle-income countries account for around a third of the world’s food trade, which provides very significant contributions both to incomes and welfare. Countries that depend on imported food are especially vulnerable to slowing trade volumes, especially if, as has been happening, their currencies decline. While retail food prices are likely to rise everywhere, their impact is more adverse when sudden, extreme and volatile, and where food costs account for a larger share of household budgets and where spikes can have longer-term effects on human development and economic productivity in the future.”

CNBC noted that some countries are beginning to hoard supplies.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that prices of wheat and rice, two of the world’s staple grains, are rising sharply. “Difficulties moving grain within countries and across borders, coupled with frenzied buying, could exacerbate the impact of the pandemic on the global food market,” the Journal said.

“The price of wheat futures trading in Chicago, the global benchmark, has risen 15% since mid-March and reached as high as $5.72 a bushel Monday, bucking the coronavirus-induced economic downturn that has hurt most commodity markets. European prices also jumped as quarantine measures in France, one of the world’s biggest wheat producers and a hotspot for coronavirus infections, made it difficult to transport grain. Meanwhile, the price of a variety of Thai rice, a key benchmark for international trade, has jumped 17% to $490 a metric ton since the start of the year, according to the International Grains Council,” the Journal added.

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