G20 Agriculture Ministers: Coronavirus measures should not disrupt food supply

14 May 20202 min reading

The Ministers of Agriculture of the G20 adopted a Ministerial Statement on COVID-19, which reaffirms "the importance of working to ensure the continued flow of food, products, and inputs essential for agricultural and food production across borders."

Agriculture and food ministers from the Group of 20 countries agreed at a virtual meeting that emergency measures to stop the spread of the new coronavirus must not upend global food supply chains. Their extraordinary meeting came as coronavirus lockdowns across the world slow global food supply chains, leaving some farmers unable to get their produce to consumers and major producing countries 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 Organization (WTO) rules," a final statement adopted by the group said. “We will guard against any unjustified restrictive measures that could lead to excessive food price volatility in international markets and threaten the food security and nutrition of large proportions of the world population, especially the most vulnerable living in environments of low food security.” the statement noted.

The declaration also points out that G20 countries "will work together to help ensure that sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food continues to be available and accessible to all people, including the poorest, the most vulnerable, and displaced people." The ministers also cautioned against food waste, saying it could "exacerbate food insecurity and nutrition risks and economic loss."

The meeting was also attended by the heads of World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and a representative of the World Bank.

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 labor and transport to sell it. Staple grain supplies are plentiful globally but some producing countries have indicated they would limit their sales abroad to prioritize domestic supply. The limitations come as major food importers strive to beef up their own reserves by upping purchases from abroad.

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