SciDev.net investigates how the third major food crisis this century affects consumers and if food systems can be more resilient to shocks. Rob Vos, division director (Markets, Trade, and Institutions) shares his perspective on export bans and restrictions and the state of the agri-food supply chains. The article features IFPRI interactive maps on food inflation and cites IFPRI analysis on domestic food prices.
Vos explains that restricting or banning food exports to protect local communities tends to be counterproductive as it increases global food prices. With about 17 percent of traded food products having come under some level of export restriction, “that’s big in commodity markets,” and “more than what we saw at the height of export restrictions in the 2010-2011 crisis.”
Global prices for rice, wheat, maize, and vegetable oil have been affected by export bans, adds Vos, while volatile market prices give rise to further speculation by traders and investors. “Importers in countries don’t know how to adjust prices or what to expect next. That typically is a bad signal.”