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Pandemic’s impact on agrifood in Eurasia is as diverse as the region itself

Christian Fernsby |
Prospects for cereal production in Europe and Central Asia are generally positive, but a reduction is expected in regional wheat production, according to a regional FAO policy brief on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.rn

Topics: FOOD   

me food prices in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus peaked but prolonged logistics, trade and market disruptions continue to challenge agrifood value chains, according to the report.

The Europe and Central Asia: Regional food market situation and policy bulletin overviews market supply and demand in the region and looks at the responses to the coronavirus pandemic of agrifood markets, value chains and policies.

The information was gathered through ongoing surveys and monitoring in the region.

Overall cereal production in 2020 is expected to be close to the five year average, but wheat an important staple for export and consumption is expected to be down in the new crop season due to unfavourable weather and hampered access to inputs (such as seeds and fertilizers) in some countries, particularly in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

In the same countries, plus Georgia, the retail prices of most key basic foods saw large increases in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2019, implying a significant increase in the cost of a healthy diet.

All actors in the agrifood value chain not just consumers are affected by the situation.

Some farmers have reported spending less money on food, and some have reported selling productive assets to cope with financial shocks.

According to FAO’s latest surveys, conducted in June, the coronavirus pandemic has had negative impacts on transportation, storage, sales, financial situations, input availability and labour markets.

Despite the easing of lockdown measures, agrifood transport still has not fully recovered, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

These countries also flagged severe storage bottlenecks during the harvesting season.

Disruptions in sales have occurred, among other reasons, due to lower demand and stricter food safety controls, mostly for fruits, vegetables, potatoes and live animals. A larger share of livestock farmers reported financial difficulties than did crop farmers and their traders processors, with the survey showing hampered access to feed, medicines and veterinary products.

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