What the COVID-19 led Global Economic Recession could mean for Rice-Based Food Security in Asia

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By Harold Glenn A. Valera, Jean Balié, and Valerien O. Pede

An economic slowdown is now on the horizon due to the COVID-19 crisis. A recent World Bank report tells us that an economic slowdown in 2020 is inevitable, as suggested by its revised lower global growth forecast.

This dark outlook deepens the hardship of people who have lost income due to the lockdown and economic stoppage. While an economic slowdown has many negative impacts, one of the most important is the fall in real income. A substantially lower disposable income can weaken food security among the poor, as people find it more difficult to afford the food they want. In Asia, where rice is the main food staple, we expect that variations in income will impact rice demand. More precisely, falling income is expected to force poor people to shift to less expensive staples. Thus, a key question is the extent to which the current economic slowdown may raise the demand for rice. A related question is whether the global rice system is capable of supplying this demand and can avert any negative impact on rice-based food security. The answers to these questions have important bearing on the type of policy interventions that governments should contemplate to address poverty and food security risks, especially in developing countries where large fractions of the population are already suffering from limited or erratic access to health care and other essential services.

Rice consumption and economic slowdown

The COVID-19 pandemic, initially seen as a public health crisis, has triggered two types of GDP forecasts, one in which output continues to grow but at a slower rate than before, and one in which there is no growth but instead a period of fall in…

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