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NEW YORK: The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that the global coronavirus pandemic may trigger a “looming food crisis.”
FAO said that the global food system is likely to be affected over the next several weeks by the impacts of the COVID-19.
FAO said that a looming food crisis unless measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts across the food system/.
The FAO said that border closures and disruptions to global trade are already creating logistical bottlenecks and that quarantines and shelter-in-place ordinances are keeping farmers and food processors from processing agricultural products, particularly fruits and vegetables.
Shortages of farming inputs like fertilizers and veterinary medicines can further impact food production. All of these factors are likely to cause “disruptions in the food supply chains” in April and May.
The pandemic could prove particularly catastrophic in those areas that are already hit by other food-related crises, like the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are contending with vast swarms of desert locusts that are devouring crops and threatening food security.
The FAO said it was not only concerned about COVID-19’s impact on countries that have pre-existing hunger problems.
Smallholder farmers everywhere are particularly vulnerable to the fallout from the pandemic, as they might be kept from their land by quarantine or other movement restrictions and their access to markets is also likely to be limited as long as the global food supply remains disrupted by the virus.
(with inputs from Agencies)