Higher Chinese demand for feed grains and the imposition of Russian wheat export duties are pushing global food prices higher. Higher prices will benefit food exporters, including Australia, but will increase living costs for populations in poorer, import-reliant countries.
The latest move indicates growing, if belated, concern around the environmental and economic viability of damming the Mekong River.
While it is difficult to prove the allegation that Addis Ababa deliberately blocked the delivery of food aid, it is likely to tarnish the reputation of its reform-minded Prime Minister.
A study finds that the southern hemisphere will be especially at risk as terrestrial water storage falls, increasing the risk of violence within states.
The launch of the Mekong Dam Monitor is likely to place further pressure on Beijing to provide timely, accurate and robust hydrological data on water levels and dam operations on the Mekong River.
Covid-19 and Food Security in the Pacific: Considerable Challenges with an Opportunity to “Build Back Better”
While the health implications of Covid-19 in the South Pacific have been limited, the economic consequences of the pandemic have been severe. The loss of tourism revenue and remittances from overseas have reduced incomes and household spending. The economic downturn has limited economic access to food supplies, which has weakened food security. Efforts to “build back better” in the wake of the pandemic could focus on agricultural development, with significant benefits for regional food security.
The imposition of Chinese trade barriers against Australian agricultural exports have been widely reported, but they leave a series of unanswered questions. Why is China targeting particular industries with particular instruments? What are the costs of the barriers for Australia and China? What are the drivers from within China? How can Australia realistically respond?
Discussions between New Delhi and agricultural interest groups are unlikely to achieve consensus. The market reforms are likely to be implemented and will assist in improving food security outcomes.
While most of the South-East Asian region has managed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus and prevent a public health crisis, the regional economic downturn has resulted in weaker food security and a rise in poverty.