Global economy

Transparency and policy co-ordination: Valuable lessons on averting a food crisis

16/10/2020 PNG

The COVID-19 outbreak hit the agriculture and food sector on all fronts and there were concerns that the health crisis would develop into a large-scale food crisis similar to the 2007-08 food price crisis.

Rapid access to accurate and timely information about food availability, market conditions and policy measures allowed governments to reassure citizens that there was sufficient availability of staple crops to prevent panic-buying that could lead to artificial shortages and price increases. Some of the market bottlenecks experienced at the time were rather due to sudden demand surges driven by concerns about COVID-19, and to disruptions in trade and transport, notably due to border procedures and quarantine measures.

While there are ongoing and future risks that require attention, transparency is essential for global markets to work and provide a resilient supply of affordable food. In times of crisis, it provides access to reliable information against which to assess risks and identify bottlenecks, and allows for effective responses by policy makers, consumers, producers and traders. Yet, transparency is not automatic: it requires investments in gathering comparable information, monitoring market and policy developments, and communicating clearly about the findings.

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