Members of the AMIS Rapid Response Forum met for a consultation meeting on 28 May 2020 to discuss the food security implications of COVID-19, and to prepare for more targeted actions depending on the evolution of the crisis. Particular concern was raised regarding the impact of the anticipated economic shock on food and agriculture, which will drastically impede people's access to food.
On the positive side, meeting participants emphasized that the global food supply situation at present is broadly comfortable. Despite some spot areas of concern (e.g. dry conditions in the EU and Ukraine), global production of the four AMIS crops (wheat, maize, rice and soybeans) is generally expected to meet anticipated demand in 2020/21. At regional level, however, there are several developments that need to be monitored closely, including the ongoing desert locust outbreak in East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of South Asia that poses a serious threat to local grain production.
Regarding transport and processing, members pointed out that for many of the challenges that had appeared earlier in the pandemic, countries were able to identify innovative solutions to keep markets supplied. However, some sectors such as meat have been disproportionately affected, which will require particular attention going forward.
Outcomes of the consultation will feed back into the next meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers, who - at their extraordinary meeting on COVID-19 in April - had called on AMIS to actively support the G20 in identifying options to help safeguard global food security.
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Tassos Haniotis of the European Commission assumed his role as AMIS Chair, taking over from Mr. Marcelo Fernandes Guimarães of Brazil.