At present, about 209 countries and regions have been affected by Corona virus. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization recognized the disorder as a global pandemic. Global research says domestic food security, overall livelihoods, and commodity prices are likely to be severely impacted by the outbreak of the Corona virus worldwide. Countries can become food crisis and change in overall quality of life.
This time, import demand from one country to another is stagnant as the demand for food is going to be in dire shortages. Which can reduce a large part of the nutrients. As a result, it is also a big responsibility to ensure food supply at this critical moment.
Uncertainty over food availability could spark the export sanctions flow and create a shortage in the global market, the United Nations World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization’s directors said that. They also said that in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, special efforts must be made to ensure that trade flows freely as possible, specially to eliminate food shortages.
It is said that in most countries till now there is sufficient food supply, the situation is normal and markets are still stable. Global cereal stocks are at a comfortable level, wheat and other major staples for 2020 is positive. But if the pandemic continues for a long time, it could be a threat to global food security.
If we look at history, the pandemic has come back to the world many times. However, in the modern world, people saw the pandemic in 1918 which was known as the Spanish flu. It affected about 500 million people worldwide and killed about 50 million (CDC). However, not too long ago, the SARS virus spread from China in the form of pandemic that infected 26 countries.
These two pandemics subsequently endured a severe food crisis in the world, which was taken terrible shape on the poverty line. Quarantines and panic during the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease led to an increase in hunger and malnutrition. The devastating effects of COVID-19 that are going to have a profound impact on the world, especially on low-income people, are easily conceivable.
The entire world is now stagnant because of the Corona virus. As a result, different cities of different countries have already been locked down. Restrictions on movement lead to labor shortages and the misery increases. The global economic downturn is expected to have a major blow to the developing economy. This economic downturn may further aggravate food insecurity. Everyone is now looking for ways to escape the pandemic at home. But the food demand of the people is increasing day by day compared to production. People are unable to work because they are not able to leave the house, which causing severe disruption to food production. Farmers are unable to work at the field level. Almost everyone has to stay home, where we depend mostly on agriculture for food.
Many of the essential ingredients of our indigenous agriculture, such as fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, are heavily dependent on imports. Which we import from other countries and use in domestic farming. In case of Corona pandemic, those countries can not being able to demand. Farmers may have a shortage of raw materials for the ongoing global crisis. As a result, food production is likely to decline.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in the present world, 820 million people suffer from chronic. Of these, 113 million people are facing food insecurity. Hunger is so terrible that it poses a serious threat to their lives and making them dependent on the support of their foreign countries to survive. Researchers believe that this will have a greater impact especially on low-income countries. Including that, food shortages can occur at a huge rate as a result of staff crisis at the field level.
Developing countries are particularly at risk because COVID-19 can reduce labor force, as well as affect production (agriculture, fisheries) in addition to income and livelihoods. In the poorer countries, food demand is most closely linked to income and there Covid-19 will be a significant impact on the income generation opportunities.
This can be a barrier to working on land, taking care of livestock or fishing. They have to face problems in the market to sell their products or buy essential products or due to higher food prices and limited purchasing power. Day laborers will be severely affected by the harvesting and processing and income.
The impact of the disease is expected in agriculture as well as in other sectors. For example, fish provides more than 20 percent of the average protein intake for 3 billion people, more than 50 percent in some less developed countries, and is one of the most widely used commercial media globally.
Corona can have a greater impact on the livelihoods, food security, nutrition and commerce sectors of the fishery communities. Especially, lack of labor can disrupt food production and processing, especially for labor-dependent industries.
Countries should come forward to meet the immediate food needs of their vulnerable populations. In this case, emergency food needs must be met, nutritional prevention and social protection programs should be expanded, distribution of food to the most at-risk families, exemption from tax on basic food for workers in the economic sector, etc. At the same time, multiple payments should be made to help the underprivileged families meet their primary needs.
In order to avoid food shortages, everyone has to come forward, everyone has to work together to end the domestic crisis. Moreover, we should make sure that, there should be no food shortage in the future. Each country has to work together to tackle food shortages. We must make sure that Covid-19 does not create uncontrollable crisis of essential goods and increase hunger and malnutrition without responsibility and proper planning.
The author is a student of Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh