G20 agriculture officials say pandemic control measures should not disrupt food supply

Food and agriculture ministers from the G20 agree that emergency measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 must not erode global food supply chains.
calendar icon 22 April 2020
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According to Reuters, the virtual meeting on Tuesday 21 April occurred amid global lockdowns that are slowing the global food supply chains. Across G20 nations, farmers are struggling to get their goods to consumers and major producing countries are restricting exports.

"We agree that emergency measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic must be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary, and that they do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global food supply chains, and are consistent with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules," a final statement emailed by the group said.

A senior World Bank official, Mari Pangestu, also warned at Tuesday's meeting against import barriers and export restrictions, urging global cooperation to avert food crises.

The ministers agreed that they would guard against measures that could lead to excessive food price volatility in global markets or threats to food supplies.

The ministers also cautioned against food waste, saying it could "exacerbate food insecurity and nutrition risks and economic loss."

Lockdowns have hit some farmers hard as demand from restaurants and other buyers vanished, and trashing crops has in some cases became more economically viable than paying for labour and transport to sell it.

"The coronavirus crisis is a wake-up call for the whole world - joint action and solidarity are what is needed at this time," UAE minister of state for food security Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said at the meeting, adding that global food supply chains were facing "serious disruptions."

Saudi Arabia's minister for environment, water and agriculture, Abdulrahman al-Fadhli, said his country would work with other states and organisations to make sure food supply chains remained resilient as the battle against Covid-19 continues, the ministry said.

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