FAO outlines measures to mitigate COVID-19 impact on food production

A large farmland used to tell the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: Africa Business Classroom]
A large farmland used to tell the story. [PHOTO CREDIT: Africa Business Classroom]

The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has suggested some proactive measures to curtail the negative impacts of coronavirus pandemic on food and agriculture.

The FAO in a recent statement on its website said to mitigate the impact of coronavirus pandemic on agriculture, countries must meet the immediate food needs of their vulnerable populations, boost their social protection programmes, keep food supply chains flowing and gain efficiencies aimed to reduce costs related to trade.

To effectively do these, the FAO urges countries to ensure that emergency food needs are met, adjust social protection programmes, scale up nutritional support, support management and prevention of undernourishment and adjust school meal programs so as to continue delivering school meals even when schools are shut.

Also, the FAO said countries should boost their social protection programmes, “which could entail increasing transfer amount to people already benefiting from social assistance through a one-off payment.”

It also said countries should ensure multiple payments to help families meet their basic needs, provide complementary entitlement to off-set loss of income for small-scale producers, explore the use of food banks which it says could be done through not only direct provision of food by government including other measures.

Some measures it listed include mobile payment systems to prevent disruptions in delivery of cash entitlements due to restrictions on movement and injection of funds in the agricultural sector.

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Meanwhile, it said many governments have already introduced or boosted protective measures to combat the impacts of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods.

The FAO said such countries should gain efficiencies and try to reduce trade-related costs.

These include imposing measures that would restrict trade and mobility of commodities, reduce food waste and losses, resolving logistics bottlenecks, reviewing trade and policy options, etc.

The food organisation noted that bolstering food security is on the agenda of the more affluent countries where COVID-19 cases are currently most intensely reported.

“Policy makers must monitor trends and take care to avoid accidentally tightening food-supply conditions, something that China has managed so far with creative and adaptive methods.

“Digital technologies have a role to play in anticipating problems and smoothing temporary shortages. Building resilience is a duty for all if we are to reap the benefits of global interdependence,” the FAO statement read in part.

The pandemic has killed over 30, 000 persons across the globe and infected over 700, 000 across all the continents except Antarctica.

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