Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
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    News digest - 08.09/11/2020

    Apologies! The Digest service will be interrupted for two weeks starting on 30/11/2020.

    Selected daily news on food chain disruptions and countries responses to the COVID-19 impact on food chains.

    15 August 2019, Gatundu, Kenya - A worker gets some eggs in a chicken farm near Gatundu, Kiambu Conty, Kenya on August 15, 2019.
    ©FAO/Luis Tato

    FOOD CHAIN DISRUPTIONS

    Today’s media coverage highlights two food supply chain disruptions: the first one occurred in the Netherlands, where an outbreak of bird flu in a poultry farm led the local authorities to order the culling of around 35,700 broiler chickens and the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture to ban poultry imports from the Netherlands; the second occurred in Panama, where Hurricane Eta has affected the country’s agricultural production (just like in Guatemala) and caused the death of around 20 people.

    Philippines bans poultry imports from the Netherlands

    After the Dutch authorities ordered the culling of 35,700 broiler chickens, following an outbreak of bird flu in a poultry farm, the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture has announced a temporary ban on poultry imports from the Netherlands. Since the country has also banned poultry imports from Brazil due to the reported presence of Covid-19 particles on some Brazilian poultry exports to China and the United States, the reduced imports could result in price increases and in the tightening of the supply of processed poultry products.

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    Hurricane Eta hits Panama

    As mentioned in the last issue of this daily news digest, Hurricane Eta affected Guatemala’s agricultural production. Similarly, the tropical storm has hit Panama, causing losses to farmers by affecting crops directly, and by causing difficulties to the transportation of the commodities. The storm also caused the death of around 20 people and affected the tourism sector, which was already weakened by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

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    IMPACT ON COMMODITIES AND FOOD PRICES

    Last week, food prices have increased in Pakistan and in West Africa: more in particular, Pakistan saw a hike in the price of pulses, chicken, ginger and onions, while Mauritania and Nigeria witnessed an increase in the price of basic staples. The prices increased in Mauritania due to a roadblock in Guerguerat, which Moroccan exporters have to cross in order to bring food products to Nouakchott, while Nigeria is still struggling with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and of the global slump in crude oil prices.

    Food prices increase in Pakistan

    The prices of essential kitchen items such as pulses, chicken, ginger and onions have seen a further hike last week in Pakistan, while egg prices witnessed a slight reduction. Sugar and wheat flour (two fundamental commodities for the country, which has been affected by a shortage for months), on the other hand, have seen no changes in price, despite the arrival of imported commodities.

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    Transport issues determine high food prices in Mauritania

    In Nouakchott, Mauritania, fruits and vegetables are currently sold for very high prices, due to a roadblock in Guerguerat, a small village in Western Sahara (the territory that is disputed between Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic) that represents the only crossing point between Mauritania and Morocco (the country’s largest food supplier).

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    Nigeria struggles with alarming increase in food prices

    Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and to the global slump in crude oil prices, Nigeria is currently struggling with economic depression, which translates into a limited access to funds and an increase in the cost of living. More in particular, the prices of foodstuffs (including basic staples like tomatoes, onions, pepper, rice and beans) have reached alarming levels.

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    COUNTRIES' RESPONSE

    In the Philippines, a provincial government has recently provided food assistance to people that were hit by Typhoon Rolly in the Bicol region. In India, on the other hand, the country’s government has approved 27 projects that were previously announced by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and whose aim is to improve the country’s cold chain infrastructure in order to boost exports. Finally, two research institutions in Nigeria have partnered to develop a new maize variety that will improve food security for the country’s farmers thanks to the fact that it is drought tolerant and pest resistant.

    Provincial government provides food assistance to people hit by typhoon in the Philippines

    The local government of Northern Samar (a province in the Philippines that is located in the Eastern Visayas region) has recently supported people in the Bicol region that have recently been hit by Typhoon Rolly. More in particular, the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office has claimed that around 500 sacks of rice, 200 boxes of assorted canned goods, 200 boxes of bottled water and 100 boxes of cereal drink and powdered milk have been shipped to the Bicol region.

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    India’s government approves new cold chain development projects

    The Indian government has approved 27 new projects that were announced by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and are set to improve the local cold chain infrastructure, in order to reduce food losses and waste and boost the export potential of the country’s local agri-food sector. The cold chain projects were funded by the central government (that provided an INR 2 billion grant) and will be implemented in 11 states.

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    New pest and drought resistant maize variety developed in Nigeria

    Thanks to the joint efforts of the Institute for Agricultural Research and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, a new maize variety (called Tela Maize) that is characterized by an improved pest resistance and drought tolerance will be released to the Nigerian farmers in 2022. When eventually released, this variety will be able to enhance food security in the country, amidst the challenges posed by climate change.

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    REGIONAL FOCUS

    The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)’s mandate is to provide for the research and development needs of the region’s agriculture sector: since the Caribbean countries are over-reliant on food imports, CARDI has been working with partners to produce and supply planting material to farmers and stakeholders (in Jamaica, for example, it is collaborating with a brewer to produce planting material for youth that are engaged in cassava production). In Europe, meanwhile, the current emergency related to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases is putting further pressure on food service, which determined a decrease in poultry imports.

    AMERICAS – CARDI supports CARICOM’s farmers by providing quality planting material

    The members of the Caribbean Community are over-reliant on food imports, due to the poor access to good planting material, which represents a major constraint to agricultural production. The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) is currently working to strengthen the regional food supply chains in order to reduce the reliance on food imports and the food security of the members of the Caribbean Community, for example by producing and supplying quality planting material to farmers and stakeholders for commodities like pulses, root crops, forages and vegetables.

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    EUROPE – Poultry imports decrease in Europe

    Due to the high pressure on food service (where traditionally imported poultry products are sold) in the European countries, caused by the growing number of Covid-19 cases, the European food service market is oversupplied with poultry products, meaning that imports (especially from Brazil, where several plants were banned from exporting due to the salmonella outbreaks experienced earlier this year) have recently weakened.  

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