This network for monitoring the markets of four cereals (soft and durum wheat, barley, corn and rice) in the Mediterranean area has announced in Zaragoza the start-up of this alert system in the face of the current crisis in the grain markets and supplies.
MED-Amin, created in 2014, goes one step further in order to respond to current challenges in the cereal sector, currently marked by great instability in the markets due to factors such as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and high energy prices, among others.
Precisely, in this context of high uncertainty in agricultural markets and taking into account the effects of climate change, the network, made up of 13 CIHEAM countries (International Center for Higher Mediterranean Agricultural Studies), is going to carry out “a new joint effort between network partners and key international experts to move towards a early warning system that makes the Mediterranean more resilient to future shockss”, explained Elen Lemaître-Curri, deputy director of CIHEAM Montpellier, during her speech at the IX MED-Admi meeting at the CIHEAM Zaragoza headquarters.
The conflict in the Black Sea region has exposed the interdependence between food systems, energy markets, world peace and food security. A conflict in which The Mediterranean region is one of the most exposedsince the countries of North Africa and the Near East produce 40% of their wheat needs, a percentage that is similar in Spain in the case of corn.
“Once again, we must note the fragility of our Mediterranean food systems dependent on the prices and availability of raw materials in the exporting regions”, stated Plácido Plaza, CIHEAM’s general secretary, who added that the Black Sea conflict, in particular, has shown that the difficulties of a region that is a source agricultural and energy supply has direct repercussions on Mediterranean economies and communities.
Added to this situation is the climate, which is one more factor that compromises food security in the Mediterranean region. The high temperatures and dry conditions experienced in many areas of the Mediterranean basin in 2022 have affected crop development, reducing yields and production.
It is necessary to move towards more sustainable agri-food models with innovation and knowledge
“The Mediterranean is heating up 20% faster than the world average. This has a direct impact on food security, mainly in the southern and eastern countries of the region. To deal with this situation, it is necessary move towards sustainable agri-food models”pointed out Raúl Compés, director of CIHEAM Zaragoza.
In the meeting, which is being held today and tomorrow in Zaragoza, the General Secretary for Agriculture and Food of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Spain, Fernando Miranda, has also participated, who has stressed that in order to face the great challenge of change climate change and market uncertainties caused by the invasion of Ukraine and by high energy prices, “a sustainable production through innovation and knowledge”in other aspects.
Miranda has stated that “we are facing a food safety crisis -with the pandemic it had already risen to the fore due to the food supply-, but with more serious consequences due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis. We are facing the third food crisis”, also taking into account that of 2008.
“We are in a volatile international context -he adds-, but among all the actors it is a question of introducing normalization factors”, which will result in a drop in the price of cereals and fertilizers, among other elements.
Despite the current situation, asserted that there are no reasons to think about the shortage of cereals for human and animal nutrition in the European Union, although it has recognized that “it is possible that countries that import heavily and have other problems” could be more affected. “In Spain and in the European Union, this scenario does not occur and we do not think it can happen.”
Spain imports around 15 million tons of cereals and oilseeds, a figure that can vary depending on the harvest and the weather, and around 6 and 7 tons of oilseeds. “Are deficient of some cereals, especially for livestock“, which is related to the fact that Spain is a cattle power with a high percentage of exports.
Miranda has also alluded to the impact of the drought, which this summer has been unusually intense and long with heat waves, which shows that “the calendars of some productions shift” for which he has agreed that they be observed to see the trends of the meteorological series to have information and make adaptations.
For his part, the Minister of Agriculture of the Government of Aragon, Joaquín Olona, expressed his concern that the food accessible to all groups, especially the most vulnerable. “We do not have this as resolved as was believed and as in the pandemic. Costs are passed on to consumers.” However, he has delved into the fact that the challenge is for food “to be healthy and affordable. This with current markets is difficult.”
Olona has also focused on the need to have more information, especially in the autonomous communities, when speaking of international markets, which is “accurate and reliable so that the decisions are useful and do not create more problems than solutions. Information is key to the functioning of markets.”
MED-Amin is a market monitoring network for four cereals (soft and durum wheat, barley, corn and rice) in the Mediterranean, which was created in 2014 at the request of the agriculture ministers of the 13 member countries of the CIHEAM. Its origin took place in the world food crisis that began in 2008 with an unusual rise in the world prices of basic foods, particularly cereals.
The network aims to improve the quality of information on cereal markets in the Mediterranean region, which is heavily involved in cereal trade circuits and highly vulnerable to price volatility.
MED-Amin is made up of representatives of ministries and public institutions in charge of market surveillance. Led by CIHEAM Montpellier, one of the four CIHEAM institutes, and supported by experts from the European Commission and the FAO/AMIS secretariat, it also has a technical dialogue and capacity building role.
For its part, CIHEAM is a Mediterranean intergovernmental organization created in 1962 and made up of 13 member states: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey. Its activity is articulated through four institutes located in Bari (Italy), Chania (Greece), Montpellier (France) and Zaragoza (Spain) and the headquarters in Paris.
Its objectives are mainly focused on the protection of the planet through the fight against all forms of waste (natural resources, food and knowledge and knowledge); food and nutrition security by promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems; inclusive development investing in the new generations and in vulnerable territories; and crisis prevention through the management of tensions and working for the resilience of communities.