Coronavirus threatens to trigger new round of global food crisis: China official

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BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The global coronavirus pandemic threatens to cause a huge shock to international food trade and trigger a new food crisis, a top agriculture official in China said on Monday.

The comments came as coronavirus outbreaks roiled global agriculture supply chains and upended trade, and after some countries restricted exports of main grains and increased procurement for reserves.

“The fast spreading global epidemic has brought huge uncertainty on international agriculture trade and markets,” said Yu Kangzhen, China’s deputy agriculture minister.

“If the epidemic continues to spread and escalate, the impact on international food trade and production will definitely worsen, and might trigger a new round of food crisis,” Yu said during a video conference on the country’s agriculture outlook.

The pandemic and measures some countries took to secure domestic supplies have inhibited normal trade and supplies, and caused some major price fluctuations, Yu added.

China is also fighting with the deadly African swine fever, which has slashed its pig herd by at least 40% and is still spreading. The country has reported 13 new cases of African swine fever since March.

“African swine fever risks have significantly increased, as pig production recovery accelerates and more piglets and breeders get transported,” Yu said.

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