On September 9, 2021, Dr. Azimzhan Khitakhunov conducted a seminar on the risks of rising food prices with a focus on Central Asian economies.
Dr. Khitakhunov mentioned that the recent increase in food prices remains one of the highest in the last decade, which puts many countries at risk. Dr. Khitakhunov presented a list of causes of higher food prices, including climate change, rising oil prices, export restrictions, growth in demand, and others. According to his presentation, the pandemic contributed significantly to the increase in food prices. Dr. Khitakhunov noted that developing nations are suffering from a triple whammy: higher commodity prices, increased freight costs and wait times, and reduced purchasing power.
The Central Asian countries are also at risk due to climate change and the consequences of the pandemic. As an example, Dr. Khitakhunov mentioned the recent dry weather conditions in Kazakhstan and the potential risks of export restrictions on grains, which may put at risk the whole Central Asian region. To stabilize food prices and improve food security in Central Asia, Dr. Khitakhunov provided a list of recommendations, including coordinated regional policy, food assistance, and trade liberalization.