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The lockdowns and trade restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in shortages of some major food commodities on international and local markets. In this policy brief, we discuss and analyze Georgia's response to the crisis in terms of food security and agricultural policy. Furthermore, we provide recommendations to ensure fewer disruptions in food supply chains and low volatility in food prices.
Images of empty shelves in grocery stores worldwide have emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, this has had little to do with an actual shortage of food products but rather has reflected the behavior of panicked consumers who are hoarding food. While some earlier publications perceived no imminent threats from the pandemic to global food security, more recent articles called attention to proper policy responses to reduce the potential negative impacts of COVID-19 on local and global food systems and food security.
An average Georgian household spends more than 40% of its budget on food. Food prices are important determinants of access to food and stability of food security. In order to assess the stability of prices the paper looks at food price volatility for major commodities (not restricted to primary commodities only) consumed by Georgian households. Price volatility is important because both low and high prices affect different stakeholder groups (producers, consumers, exporters etc.) in different ways.
Agricultural input subsidy programs are meant to increase crop production, contributing in this way to improved food security and rise of incomes of stallholder farmers. An important goal of such programs is to develop efficient input supply systems, improving farmers’ access to inputs and adoption of new technologies (e.g., use of new seed varieties, fertilizers, and pesticides).