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Game Theory and Preventing the Global Food Crisis Caused by Covid

Food insecurity is a crisis facing our entire world, intensified by the introduction of the coronavirus. Governments throughout the globe are fighting to keep their citizens fed and alive. To do this at maximum efficiency, international trade of agricultural products is necessary to sustain the population’s diverse nutritional needs. The coronavirus has slowed production, disrupted distribution channels, and transportation of these essential commodities. Similar to the rest of the world, the pandemic, although affecting everyone, has disproportionately hurt the poorest populations, something countries are trying to prevent in this food crisis. Keeping food prices low, for this community especially, is a top concern. The governments have had to adapt their trade strategies to provide a steady supply of food to their citizens while controlling inflation caused by the market.


Game theory can be used to analyze how the action of one player in a game can affect the payoff and action of another player and vice versa. Governments usually employ game theory when deciding how and what to export to other countries and import themselves. In normal times, each country will evaluate their food stocks and decide whether to decrease or increase its trade barriers. The dominant strategy for both parties is to lower the trade barriers and increase global food trade because they both gain the most payoff from this option. This allows the countries to maintain diverse diets as well as have food for all of their citizens. During Covid-19, these trade barriers can be more costly due to keeping all those in the food channels safe, controlling the spread of corona within the country (meaning limiting imports), and the fear of diminishing food stocks in each individual country. The country’s governments need to work to keep these barriers low. The worry is that in this game countries will change their strategy and increase their trade barriers, thinking they will be more beneficial, not cooperating in global trade. With the strategy of one country changing to increasing trade barriers, this could make other countries also change their strategy, harming the circulation of the food supply. The only way in which these countries will be able to survive with enough food for their people is through a partnership with others. This mutualistic relationship between countries with low trade barriers is essential to mitigating this crisis.

Preventing global food crisis caused by COVID-19


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October 2020