World faces food crisis in wake of coronavirus: UN, WTO


Paris, April 1

The heads of three global agencies warned today of the risk of a worldwide ‘food shortage’ if authorities fail to manage the ongoing coronavirus crisis properly.

Many governments around the world have put their populations on lockdown causing severe slowdowns in international trade and food supply chains. Panic buying by people going into confinement has already demonstrated the fragility of supply chains.

“Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market,” said the joint text signed by Qu Dongyu, head of UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of World Health Organisation (WHO) and Roberto Azevedo, director of World Trade Organisation (WTO).

‘In the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, specially to avoid food shortage(s)’ from developing, they said in their statement.

“When acting to protect the health and well-being of the citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain.”

Over the longer term, confinement orders and travel restrictions risk causing disruptions in agricultural production due to unavailability of agricultural labour and inability to get food to markets.

They also stressed the need to protect employees engaged in food production, processing and distribution, both for their own health and that of others, as well as to maintain food supply chains.

A version of this article appears in print on April 02, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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