Sunday, May 19, 2024

How COVID-19 threatens food security

Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has aggravated an unresolved global challenge .
The upsurge in the infections has lead to a number of countries face enormous level of food shortage around the world leading to acute hunger.

The disastrous pandemic originated disruption in food and agricultural markets because of lack of movement thereby affecting the livelihood of the people. Export restrictions being imposed by various countries disturbed the trade of predominant food causing limited access to food especially in the areas where people go by fresh day to day purchases , covering mainly the poor and BPL.

Restriction of movement, or basic reluctance by workers can deter farmers from farming and food processors from processing. Lockdown leading to closure of restaurants and limited opening of grocery stores diminish demand for fresh produce, affecting both producers and suppliers, primarily small farmers. Visibly, radical employment and income drop in 2020 led to a growth in food insecurity .Even the least alarming estimate suggests that a large proportion of households were eating less than usual at the time of national lockdown. This hardship lasted well beyond the imposed lockdown. Data from various sources prove a vivid increase in number of food insecurity , some 20 million adults -10 percent of all adults in the country reported that sometimes or often they did not have enough food at house to eat in the continuous 7 days, according to the Household Pulse Survey data collected from 26 May 2021 to June 7 2021.

Global hunger numbers were already dire before the outbreak of COVID-19, which only underlines how desperate the situation has now become.

World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that as of April 2021, 296 million people are undernourished in the 35 countries within which it works—a whopping 60 percent more than the figure recorded just a year ago.

Rising food prices have only magnified the problem for the world’s poorest. The cost of food increased significantly in 2020. The International Labour Organization (ILO) recently observed that in late 2019 and early 2020, food prices first began increasing in Central and Southern Asia following the outbreak of the pandemic, shortly before they did in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, as the wider region was the first to be affected by the virus. Such sharp price rises have had profound impacts on households all over the world but particularly those lower-income households that spend a larger proportion of their incomes on food.

Yumna Ahmad
Yumna Ahmad
Yumna Ahmad is an independent journalist based in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh.

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