The pandemic of COVID-19 has affected the availability of food worldwide. Due to the restrictions imposed, supply chains have been interrupted, exports have been banned by some countries, catering facilities have been closed and unemployment has risen. The world agricultural system has not been prepared for this unexpected situation and therefore it must be adapted. At the same time, this opens up the opportunity for improvement, which will make it much easier for countries to overcome possible future crises. Even before the pandemic broke out, there were several issues regarding food safety and security worldwide. The ageing and poverty of farmers, climate change, urbanization and the lack of technology are the most common examples.
In a Joint Statement of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank on the Impact of COVID-19 on Food Safety and Nutrition, issued in April 2020, a clear conclusion was reached: Countries must work together to ensure food for all. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only led to a dramatic loss of lives worldwide but also poses a challenge with profound social and economic consequences, including threats to food and nutrition security. Representatives of all participating institutions agree that agriculture and its food-related logistics services should be considered a priority. Greater efforts are needed to ensure the smooth functioning of the food chain and to produce sufficient safe and nutritious food for global use.
Countries should strengthen cooperation during this pandemic. It is important to ensure that policy regulations, such as short-term trade restrictions, do not cause harm to global markets. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink our food systems, and agriculture must be a clear priority to ensure continuity of food supply worldwide. Countries should be able to ensure safe food access to every citizen. It is more important to focus on the agricultural sector of the country and target local production rather than an import.
COVID-19 will not be the only food security intruder we are going to experience in our lives. There will be many more and countries must be prepared to ensure the continuity of the food and supply chain.
Picture credit: YPARD Europe