10 March 2021, Rome – Open and clear meals commodity markets and environment friendly provide chains are paramount to make sure that everybody has entry to ample, secure and nutritious meals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and past, FAO Director-Common QU Dongyu mentioned right this moment on the opening of the 74th Session of the FAO’s Committee on Commodity Issues (CCP).
“The pandemic has resulted in a twin shock to meals and agricultural markets, hitting each: provide and demand,” Qu mentioned. He identified that the measures launched to manage the virus brought about disruptions to agri-food provide chains affecting the worldwide buying and selling system and, particularly, the least developed international locations that depend upon commerce for his or her meals safety.
To this finish, the Director-Common famous that FAO’s work below the mandate of the Committee on Commodity Issues helped to calm markets and information coverage selections, by offering up-to-date info on market situations, monitoring coverage developments, and proposing coverage choices to keep away from the well being disaster turning into a worldwide meals disaster.
Referring to the pandemic as “an astonishing wake-up name on the fragility of our agri-food methods and the vulnerabilities we face,” the Director-Common pressured that the present disaster additionally offered a possibility to redouble and refocus world efforts to construct again higher.
“It made it clear that business-as-usual is not a viable possibility, and that we should change our meals consumption and manufacturing patterns,” the FAO chief mentioned alluding to the problem of reworking world agri-food methods in direction of safer and extra nutritious meals for everybody, whereas making certain environmental sustainability.
Spike in world meals costs
In his remarks, Qu additionally expressed considerations in regards to the spiking meals costs, registering their ninth consecutive month-to-month rise in February and reaching their highest degree since July 2014. He mentioned it might make it troublesome for a lot of international locations to pay their meals import payments, with potential implications for meals safety and vitamin, particularly for essentially the most weak and poor.
To deal with this problem, he underlined the significance of accelerating transparency for market situations and insurance policies to scale back uncertainty and make sure the correct functioning of commodity markets. Doing so requires funding and capability improvement, he added, encouraging FAO Members to make use of such mechanisms as the Agricultural Market Data System (AMIS) and the International Data and Early Warning System (GIEWS).
Regardless of an important function commerce performs in offering the variability and availability of meals to customers, the Director-Common additionally warned about sure dangers it poses. He highlighted that commerce liberalization should be accompanied by measures to make sure that farmers and employees which can be adversely affected by import competitors are lined by ample social safety programmes and have entry to technical help to construct capability to enhance their productiveness.
Bridging the digital divide
The Director-Common additionally welcomed the Committee’s intention to give attention to digital innovation amongst different points this yr.
“The way forward for agriculture is in digital applied sciences. They will produce important beneficial properties by way of effectivity, assist markets to operate higher, and facilitate meals commerce”, he famous, citing for instance e-commerce in meals and agricultural merchandise which helps to reinforce farmers’ entry to markets.
Nonetheless, to make sure that these beneficial properties are shared by all, it’s essential to scale back the present digital divide and handle the precise wants of smallholder farmers, Qu added.
The Director-Common reiterated FAO’s help to all Members with progressive and transformative approaches, together with FAO’s evidence-based, country-led and country-owned Hand-in-Hand Initiative, the holistic COVID-19 Response and Restoration Programme, and the newly developed FAO Strategic Framework that focuses on the agri-food methods transformation to make them extra environment friendly, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.
COVID-19 impression on commodities
In the course of the opening session, FAO Chief Economist Máximo Torero Cullen offered further insights into the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on numerous agri-food commodity markets and commerce. He mentioned that monitoring of market and coverage responses to COVID-19 has proved that agri-food methods are extra resilient than different sectors of the financial system. International meals markets stay effectively equipped and prospects are beneficial, at the least for fundamental foodstuffs.
Nonetheless, he pressured that the issue was extra in regards to the entry to meals somewhat than its availability. Torero mentioned that the worldwide financial contraction triggered by the pandemic resulted in growing unemployment charges and an total discount in incomes and buying energy, forcing individuals to change to cheaper, much less nutritious diets.
Whereas vegetable oils, sugar, meat, dairy and fisheries merchandise have all been affected by the declining or stagnating demand, the meat and fisheries sectors have been extra affected by disruptions in manufacturing processes and restrictions on the motion of employees and fishing vessel crews, Torero added.
CCP is the oldest FAO’s Technical Committee established in 1949 that critiques world points impacting the manufacturing, commerce, distribution and consumption of meals and agricultural merchandise. It’s made up of 113 FAO Members, plus observers.
The Committee’s 74th Session, going down just about on 10-12 March, is reviewing the most recent developments in meals and agricultural markets and examines market outlook, together with medium-term projections. The delegates can even focus on the findings of FAO’s flagship publication The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) 2020 on the theme “Agricultural Markets and Sustainable Improvement: International worth chains, smallholder farmers and digital improvements”. Moreover, CCP74 will present steering on FAO’s work programme in commodity markets and commerce for the interval 2022-25 and past.