The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries to adopt strict measures that have disrupted production and trade in agricultural and fishery products. As a result, large amounts of perishable products have gone bad and been thrown away. It is urgent to make good decisions and formulate policies to address the impending global crisis and, to do so, it is essential to have accurate information. This is why FAO designed the BigData Tool for monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the food chain, whose quality has been recognised by institutions such as the European Commission.
This digital platform aims to carry out a daily analysis on different issues in order to provide countries with relevant and updated information. It assesses the impact of the pandemic on food and agriculture, value chains, food prices, food security and actions taken. Thus, FAO seeks to provide freely accessible resources on how COVID-19 is evolving and to add value by offering organised information, classifying it by relevance and translating it into analysis and graphics.
The tool is structured in four sections:
- Overall impact of COVID-19.
It monitors tweets from more than 270 newspapers each day and determines which economic and food terms related to COVID-19 are most commonly used. Thus, the most important issues are identified at the global and national level.
- Monitoring food prices.
Prices of 14 staple foods are monitored from 14 February to the present day around the world. This includes, for example, fruit and vegetables, meat, bakery products, dairy products and cereals. Thus, FAO discerns price volatility and its impact on the living standards of each country.
- Semantic Twitter search.
Once registration is completed, the user has access to a large database where all tweets containing #COVID-19 since 1 January 2020 are stored and classified. As a result, FAO identifies emerging issues, trends, related terms, distribution and connections regarding the virus.
- News search
It performs an automatic extraction from the Google news engine of how COVID-19 has impacted food value chains. These can be filtered by country, source, region, product, language, relevance and date.