As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds governments, and international and regional organizations, have stepped up to mitigate the immediate sufferings of the population and prepare the masses for the long-term consequences. The global economic slowdown sent major shockwaves to rich and poor countries that were dependent on exporting primary commodities and revenues from transport and tourism. This sluggish economic situation has resulted in unemployment, declining work wages, diminishing fiscal revenues, and long-term consequences for global development.
Impact on Food Supply Chain
This pandemic has offered an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-design the way to consume and produce food worldwide. Since the announcement of global lockdowns, people have witnessed panic buying, miles-long queues, and vacant grocery shelves, resulting in pandemic-induced runs on food. As per the State of Food Security and Nutrition, in 2018, approximately 820 million people slept hungry, while one-third of all lacked essential nutrients and minerals. In fact, according to the latest UN estimation, another 83 million people and possibly as many as 132 million might go hungry in 2020 as an outcome of the economic recession lit by the COVID-19 outbreak.
From complexing the supply value chains to creating a massive impact on the ecosystem, the novel coronavirus outbreak has exposed the fragile food supply systems. Several countries have faced significant challenges in securing access to food in the right proportion, frequency, and diversity, required to feed the population. In addition to agriculture, other related sectors, such as livestock and fisheries, have been hit hard due to market disruptions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the overall global meat production is anticipated to fall by 1.7% in 2020 due to animal diseases, COVID-19 related unsettling, and lingering effects of drought.
Call to Action
While the COVID-19 outbreak poses a challenge to the global food system and processes, it also offers a timeless opportunity to make the food system more resilient, environmentally sustainable, and healthy for all. Several global organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the World Food Program, are supporting governments worldwide to rebuild their food system after the COVID-19 crisis.
Mentioned below are a few suggestive measures:
- Resilient Food Supply Chains – Owing to the food insecurity, price fluctuations, and malnutrition, it is vital for countries to have efficient food supply chains that are resilient to any economic shocks in the future. Empowering small producers and retailers and mobilizing financial and technical assistance across rural areas can help in building stronger food supply chains.
- Adopting Regenerative Farming Techniques – Shifting toward regenerative methods for land and ocean farming can offer lucrative opportunities for small farmers and locals while healing the ecosystem.
- Switching to Decarbonization – Given the need to address the climate crisis, it is high time for people to change their lifestyle choices to green pathways such as plant-based food and beverage alternatives, reduce their waste production, optimize water usage, and decarbonize the atmosphere for healthier future.