Pandemic Shows Agriculture’s Strategic Importance

The COVID-19 pandemic, which the whole world has been fighting courageously for more than a year, has resulted in consequences of unprecedented proportions in all segments of everyday life, business and the economy, but also reminded us, once again, that food is our most important resource

During the first days and weeks after the declaring of the pandemic, we witnessed similar scenes in all countries, regardless of their level of economic development and the habits of consumers – customers rushed en masse to shops to procure basic foodstuffs and secure for themselves supplies of flour, oil, yeast, rice, sugar, eggs, meat, pasta, frozen pastries, canned food etc.

And even at the global level, to this day, demand has increased on the international market for all goods from the agricultural sector, as countries are striving to ensure their own food security and create significant stockpiles, while we are also seeing record-breaking prices of agricultural products being reached.

Agriculture has been confirmed as the most important area of economic activity, and has shown stability, robustness and adaptability under these circumstances, continuing to produce at full speed and to distribute food to consumers on the domestic market and conduct export activities.

One such example is also represented by Serbian agriculture, which last year provided full food security to the population, gave a significant contribution to the country’s total GDP and managed to break records in terms of foreign trade exchanges.

Serbia realised exports of agricultural and food products in 2020 with a record high value of 4.2 billion dollars, as well as a foreign trade surplus of 1.85 billion dollars.

Serbia realised exports of agricultural and food products in 2020 with a record high value of 4.2 billion dollars, as well as a foreign trade surplus of 1.85 billion dollars

Serbian agricultural exports have grown by as much as 50 per cent over the last two years. And export prospects are expanding even further – the Chinese market is now open to corn from Serbia, while exports of Serbian products to Bahrain – which is interested in forest fruits and berries, beef and lamb, but also all vegetable crops – are expected to be able to commence soon. A readiness to deepen cooperation with Serbia in agriculture has also been expressed by Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Thus, producers from Serbia will have an opportunity to achieve even higher exports and better profits, given the continuing trend of increased demand for food around the world, as well as the constant growth of food prices that has been recorded for months.

According to the latest report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the prices of food products on global markets continued to rise in March, for the tenth consecutive month, with prices of dairy products, meat and vegetable oils rising the most.

The FAO Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of five basic foodstuffs – vegetable oils, dairy products, meat, cereals and sugar – averaged 118.5 points in March this year, which was 2.1% higher than in February and the highest level since June 2014.

Comment By Zoran Panović

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