Saudi Arabia: G20 Agriculture Ministers to Discuss World Food Security amid Virus Crisis

Riyadh – Asharq Al-Awsat

The agriculture ministers of the Group of 20 major economies, chaired by Saudi Arabia, will hold an extraordinary virtual meeting on Tuesday to act upon the leaders’ commitment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, enhance global cooperation and ensure the flow of critical agricultural products to safeguard global food security and nutrition.

The meeting was initially set to be held on March 21, but the pandemic delayed the plans. The meeting was meant to seek strengthening global food security, and cooperation in the field of sustainable water management.

However, the COVID-19 virus outbreak changed priorities and imposed new challenges related to food security.

Nearly 800 million people lack the necessary food resources, while one billion people still suffer from water scarcity, which makes the issues of ensuring the flow of agricultural commodity products one of the most important topics raised in light of the global economic slowdown.

Saudi Arabia hosted the first G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting on food and water on January 26 and 27. The purpose of the meeting was to take stock of efforts and progress made by the G20 on food security and water action since its last presidency.

The central role of the G20 countries is known in the world food system, as their countries represent about 60 percent of agricultural land, and about 80 percent of global trade in agricultural products.

On Wednesday, G20 finance ministers agreed to suspend debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of the year, a move quickly matched by a group of hundreds of private creditors.

The actions to freeze both principal repayments and interest payments will free up more than $20 billion for the countries to spend on improving their health systems and fighting the coronavirus pandemic, said Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan.