Global food supply at risk due to coronavirus pandemic, UN warns

Global food supply at risk due to coronavirus pandemic, UN warns
China will have advantage because of technologies and the invesments it has made in the last decade. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned that because of the novel coronavirus pandemic shuts down businesses globally and sends countries into lockdown, the disruptions are threatening to cut off supply chains of food supply and increase food insecurity.

“Supermarket shelves remain stocked for now,” FAO said in a report released late last month. “But a protracted pandemic crisis could quickly put a strain on the food supply chains, a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers and more.”

However, the issue, is not scarcity — at least, not yet. Rather, it’s the world’s drastic measures in response to the virus.

Movement restrictions, Border closures and disruptions in the shipping and aviation industries have made it harder to continue food production and transport goods internationally — placing countries with few alternative sources at high risk.

Airlines companies across the world have grounded thousands of planes and ports have closed — stranding containers of food, medicine, and other products on tarmacs and holding areas, said the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development on March 25.

In a paper last month, UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) warned that heightened instability in global supply will affect the poorest citizens most.

Even private companies and organizations have called for immediate action to address the looming food catastrophe.

An open letter to world leaders from politicians, scientists, and companies like Uniliver and Nestle said: “Governments, businesses, civil society and international agencies need to take urgent, coordinated action to prevent the COVID pandemic turning into a global food and humanitarian crisis.”

China will have advantage because of technologies

In January and February, China was the worst-hit country. Thousands of new cases were being reported each day in that time.

The country imposed sweeping restrictions, disrupting business in virtually all sectors.

But modern China is a completely different country. With new wealth and technologies, China has been working for years to improve its food security. The country spent tens of billions of dollars this past decade purchasing major seed businesses.

FAO report said China’s continuing effort to its food sector appears to have softened the blow to the food industry this time around.

The Chinese government subsidizes $20 million dollars to help the agriculture sector to revive, and invested in technology including unmanned vehicles and agricultural drones that could keep supply chains moving without human contact, the report said.

State-run news agency Xinhua said, when people go to work in the field, the wear government-provided masks and protective equipment, and were given disinfectant from local authorities.

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