Russia, Egypt and Nigeria are among the five countries that still need to contribute data to the Agricultural Market Information System set up by Group of 20 countries to avoid a repeat of the 2007-08 food-price crisis.
The others are Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia, David Hallam, head of markets and trade at the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization, said in an interview in Geneva yesterday. Russia was the world’s third-largest wheat exporter in 2011-12, and Egypt was the biggest buyer of the grain, while Nigeria is the world’s biggest rice importer, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.
Rice prices surged in 2008, after the Philippines failed to fill a rice tender following export restrictions by countries including Vietnam and India. That made other grains more expensive and helped push global food prices to a record.
Rome-based AMIS has “fairly complete” data for 18 members, some information from four and “really no useful data at all” from five, Hallam said. AMIS consists of the G-20 members as well as seven countries that are large users or producers of farm products.
“All of the countries we’re working with, there isn’t a single one saying they won’t collaborate,” Hallam said.
AMIS was set up to improve data on stocks and production of corn, wheat, rice and soybeans with the goal of reducing price swings. To fill in the gaps for countries that haven’t directly provided figures, AMIS uses publicly available information as well as data from the International Grains Council and the USDA, according to Hallam.
The five countries have failed to provide data “for a variety of reasons, technical and organizational,” the FAO director said.
“Until we get everybody supplying data which is comprehensive and up to the standards we want, we’re looking at another couple of years,” Hallam said. “This whole exercise is a long-term effort. It’s a similar effort as what was done for oil, and that took eight or nine years.”
Russia faces “an organizational issue” and a resolution may be reached at an AMIS meeting in April, Hallam said.
The Russian agriculture ministry wasn’t available to immediately comment when called by Bloomberg today.
Salisu Na’inna, the spokesman for Nigeria’s agriculture ministry, wasn’t able to comment immediately when called by Bloomberg. Saken Kalkamanov, a spokesman for the Astana, Kazakhstan-based agriculture ministry, wasn’t immediately available for comment when Bloomberg called his office and mobile phones.
Hallam said some countries have been more willing and capable to provide information on production and stocks than may have been expected.
“China is a very active participant,” the FAO director said. “Ukraine is one of the star performers. Indonesia is in the top group of providing everything.”