“Belgians are invited to eat more chips, in Britain farmers have poured millions of pints of milk into the ground instead of turning it into butter. In Iran, millions of young chickens – once thought to have been barbecued – have been buried alive. In India, farmers are feeding strawberries to their livestock instead of selling them in markets,” writes The New York Times. Would the Cod-19 pandemic have shattered Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage? In any case, it has severely disrupted international agricultural trade channels and exposed countries specializing in certain crops to hunger. Since 1990, international trade in agricultural products has increased fivefold; 25% of agri-food products are traded intercontinentally. The large agro-food multinationals have taken advantage of and accelerated this development, aided by various free trade treaties. Today, Africa risks paying dearly for its specialisation, which is dependent on wheat and rice imports. Moreover, if the price of cereals is rising, it is not due to any increase in demand but to the export restrictions imposed by Russia or Vietnam. This does not mean, according to many economists, that agricultural production should be “deglobalized”, but rather that intermediate production methods should be adopted that make more room for local diversification of production.
Source: New York Times