Today I participated in a Zoom meeting organized by the Nightwatchman Society attended by around 200 participants where the above question was discussed by a panel of four, including myself. The recording of the discussion is here.
I talked about COVID-19 as having offered us an opportunity to appreciate the importance of building resilient food supply chains. There will be more epidemics and pandemics. There will also be shocks caused by climate change. We need to organize our food supplies in ways that can function in these difficult circumstances. I was surprised that I was one of the more pessimistic on the panel about life going back to normal. My view was that protectionist barriers will be put in place in many markets, including many of Sri Lanka’s main export markets. This would require a trade strategy that prioritized bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements in Asia.
Subhashini Abeysinghe, Director of Research at Verite Research, was of the same mind, more or less. She also referred to LIRNEasia’s work in trying to provide tech based solutions to some of the intractable problems in Agriculture.