LONDON, ENGLAND — High-level dialogue between grain producing and importing countries highlighted this year’s International Grains Council (IGC) Grain Conference as delegates discussed policies and initiatives that could be implemented to enhance the role of global trade in food security. 

During the conference, held June 11-12 in London, two major topics were addressed as opportunities for trade to respond to the global food system: The digitization of the grains value chain as well as the productivity/sustainability nexus.

A particular focus was placed on the temporary removal of tariffs applied to imports of paddy, brown and white rice in Brazil until the end of 2024, in efforts to mitigate the impact of recent heavy rains and flooding in southern Brazil. Furthermore, members also were appraised of recent changes to pulses import policy in India, which has removed import duties on several varieties of pulses to boost domestic supplies.

Reviewing developments from the 2023-24 marketing year, it was noted that grains, oilseeds, rice and pulses faced several challenges, particularly in relation to geopolitical conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and weather events in key production regions.

In addition, a paucity of data and information on policy for some countries underscored the need for the Secretariat to continue to add value to its monitoring and analytical activities, thereby ensuring members have access to the most up-to-date picture to support policy decisions. The IGC’s core publications include the Daily Monitor, the weekly Grain Market Indicators (GMI), the monthly Grain Market Report (GMR) and, more recently, the IGC Grains and Oilseeds Maritime Shipping Dashboard.

To complement its regular market intelligence activities, the IGC agreed to new multi-year projects as part of the 2024-25 work program including:

  • Mapping port connectivity and monitoring port congestion: This project will seek to augment and complement the IGC’s Grains and Oilseeds Maritime Shipments Dashboard;
  • Rice market transparency: The Secretariat will explore ways of potentially enhancing transparency in world markets;
  • Market volatility: Building on existing in-house calculations of historic volatility, work will be undertaken to develop broader, all-encompassing measures of day-to-day price swings in markets covered by the IGC. This is expected to be done in collaboration with external agencies and academic institutions;
  • Trade and food security: It is proposed that exploratory analysis will be undertaken to assess the importance of trade in achieving a resilient global food system in import-dependent nations. The Secretariat will look at the viability of developing a suite of trade-related indicators.

At its 60th annual meeting prior to the conference, the IGC appointed Hamed Oussama Salhi, Algeria, as chairperson for the 2024-25 term and Erin Tomkinson, Australia, as vice chairperson. Salhi is First Secretary of Agriculture at the Algerian Embassy in London. Tomkinson is counsellor, Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, for the Australian mission to the European Union.