The COVID-19 knows no boundaries. The entire world is in crisis. Movements are restricted and funds are deployed to combat the virus. The success of the measures implies coherent and robust plans for our food systems.
FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero Cullen outlines a framework for how countries can think about and craft these plans.
“We can see signs that pressures due to lockdowns are beginning to impact supply chains, such as the slowdown in the shipping industry”, says Mr Torero Cullen. “These supply chains have to be kept alive, for everybody obviously and in particular for the most vulnerable”.
He explains that the priority should be put on supporting the emergency food assistance and safety nets for vulnerable populations. Schools are closed which means that millions of children will miss out on school meals. Also, lockdowns mean reduced income for a lot of people that are already struggling to put food on the table every day. Programs to accelerate payments or unemployment insurance should be enhanced. “To be sure, food banks and efforts by charities and non-governmental organizations can also be mobilized to deliver food”, adds Mr Torero Cullen.
“We must and we will survive the coronavirus pandemic. But we must understand - now - the enormous damage that measures taken to combat it will inflict on our global food system. FAO has a lot of expertise on these matters and can help countries that need fast-tracked policy advice. By working together, we can mitigate that, and need to do so. Enacting the measures mentioned above, and actively seeking international cooperation, can help all countries brace for the battle to be engaged jointly.”
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