There are plenty of food stocks in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which will be enough for the crisis period associated with the pandemic, and its aftermath. In addition, the region is expected to have an almost record amount of wheat production in 2020. This was reported by the UN News Center with reference to a study by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). The study does not review the situation in the countries of the European Union. The authors are focused only on 14 countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The document provides an encouraging assessment of the food situation in the region. Nevertheless, FAO experts believe that difficulties in the food market cannot be avoided, associating the main problems with the transportation, storage and sale of agricultural products.
“There is enough stock of basic foodstuffs, however, due to measures taken in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of countries had logistical failures that impede the distribution of food products…”, the FAO press release says.
Gathering information, FAO experts turned directly to farmers, suppliers and sellers. They found that most of the measures taken to combat the pandemic affected the fish products manufacturing and marketing, a chain of restaurants, street market farmers, and transportation services. Food producers were faced, in particular, with a lack of storage space.
At the international level, wheat prices – the most important commodity in the region – have not changed. Nevertheless, fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic aftermath caused in April some increase in its value in exporting countries: Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.
In the current environment, governments in the region are striving to ensure sufficient food supplies and avoid a rise in prices for basic food products against the backdrop of market shocks and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19outbreak.
Official Ashgabat was first to declare the importance of preserving transport and logistics routes. Speaking at the online summit of the heads of Turkic-speaking in April this year, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov pointed out the necessity to maintain the sustainability and stability of trade and economic relations and transport links between states during the pandemic. According to the Turkmen Leader, Ashgabat is working to ensure that these relations are regular, and reliable schemes of mutual deliveries and transit are maintained. As an example, Berdimuhamedov cited the coordinated actions of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, thanks to which ferry services across the Caspian Sea between the ports of Turkmenbashy and Baku continue to operate, providing transport links over the vast geo-economic space.
The Turkmen leader promoted the same idea at the online summit of the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in early May this year.
“We must quickly and fully restore transport links between countries and regions, including transit corridors, and look for new routes. This work will logically lead to the creation of a new transport and logistics infrastructure in vast areas, and, consequently, to solutions to many social problems, overcoming unemployment, creating new jobs”, the head of state said then.