The Impact of COVID-19 and Associated Policy Responses on Global Food Security

Edward J. Balistreri, Felix Baquedano, John C. Beghin
August 2022  [22-WP 637]

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Balistreri, E.J., F. Baquedano, and J.C. Beghin. 2022. "The Impact of COVID-19 and Associated Policy Responses on Global Food Security." Working paper 22-WP 637. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


We analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated policy responses on the global economy and food security in 80 low- and middle-income countries. We use a global economy-wide model with detailed disaggregation of agricultural and food sectors and develop a business as usual baseline for 2020 and 2021 called “But-for-COVID” (BfC). We then shock the model with aggregate income shocks derived from the IMF World Economic Outlook for 2020 and 2021. We impose total-factor productivity losses in key sectors as well as consumption decreases induced by social distancing. The resulting shocks in prices and incomes from the CGE model simulations are fed into the USDA-ERS International Food Security Assessment model to derive the impact of the pandemic on food security in these 80 countries. The main effect of the pandemic was to exacerbate the existing declining trend in food security. Food insecurity increases considerably in countries in Asia through income shocks rather than prices effects. We also review trade policies that were put in place to restrict imports and exports of food, and we evaluate their potential for further disruption of markets focusing on the food-security implications.