COVID-19 Threats to Food Security
Published on: 21.05.2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected food systems all over the world. It has disrupted local and regional agriculture value chains, international trade, and poses a risk to livelihoods and household food security. However, the pandemic reality differs from poor and rich countries and hitherto surveys expect that the economic consequences in poor countries will be more distressing than the pandemic itself.
“In any scenario, the most affected will be the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population, (including migrants, the displaced, and those hit by conflict). Countries in protracted crises also suffer from underinvestment in public health, which will amplify the pandemic’s impacts,” FAO Q&A: COVID-19 pandemic – impact on food and agriculture.
On its part, the United Nations point out that quick measures are needed to guarantee that food supply chains are kept alive to mitigate the risk of large shocks that have a considerable impact on everybody, especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.
The UN urges counties to:
Meet the immediate food needs of their vulnerable populations,
Boost social protection programs,
Keep global food trade going,
Keep the domestic supply chain gears moving, and
Support smallholder farmers’ ability to increase food production
Fact: More than 821 million people regularly go to bed hungry, of whom 100-plus million suffer from acute hunger, largely due to man-made conflicts, climate change, and economic downturns
In the meantime, FAO analysis shows the pandemic could increase the depth of hunger worldwide.
If this happens it will mean a major setback in the progress made towards achieving zero hunger (SDG2).
Restriction of movement will hinder both food-related service logistics and agricultural labor.
On the other hand, many poor economies that depend on food imports are witnessing a loss of value in their currencies that could result in food-price spikes. Also countries with high levels of public debt will feel the struggle of getting enough financial resources to face the health crisis and its financial consequences. The same applies to countries that are highly dependent on tourism revenues. Travel restrictions are still in place in hundreds of countries. Stats from the World Tourism Organization confirm the following: “Out of all 217 destinations worldwide, 156 (72%) have placed a complete stop on international tourism according to the data collected as of 27 April 2020. In 25% of destinations, restrictions have been in place for at least three months, while in 40% of destinations, restrictions were introduced at least two months ago.”
On the other hand, natural disasters such as the locusts’ swarms that are devouring crops, grasslands, and trees could bring East Africa and other regions on the verge of a food crisis.
So far the obvious is that the coronavirus outbreak has highlighted inequalities in almost every sector, food systems included. Hence, there will be a need to transform the way how agriculture, aquaculture, and other food systems work towards more sustainable approaches.
How has the COVID pandemic affected agriculture and food systems in your country? What do you think would be a solution to make agriculture and food more resilient in your community?
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