Preventing a Food Crisis Under Covid – 19

The COVID-19 virus, commonly referred to as coronavirus, is spurring dramatic changes to economic, healthcare, transportation, and education systems around the world, with everything coming to a halt and nations shutting down and various cities locking down everywhere one can only imagine the effect it will have on food production and availability in the long run. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still evolving, it is difficult to know the geographic reach and degree of impact we can expect to see across food production and distribution systems. 

As already established COVID-19 is a health crisis, which could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken. The world is already facing food and nutrition security challenges. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 820 million people across the globe are already suffering from hunger. 

Compared to other viruses like Ebola and Zika on the genetic level they work through different processes, they have different transmission pathways, there are differences in susceptibility, the disease progresses differently, and they have different levels of severity.

Despite these observations, there is still much we don’t know about the particular disease dynamics of COVID-19 and the possible impacts it will have on countries, governments, institutions, and communities and how it will further go to affect the welfare of the people. 

In a country like Nigeria where the issue of food security has always been an issue the government has been trying to solve due to the various challenges the country is facing such as the reduction in food production, the internal conflict like Boko haram crisis, the underdeveloped market for produce and access to funds, one can only imagine the looming crisis in the country as the coronavirus spreads and the country prepares gradually for a lockdown. 

Preventing a Food Security Crisis

The novel coronavirus is still spreading and it is difficult to say when it would be contained. So to ensure food security for all, we need to take urgent actions at the global and country levels.

1.  There is a need to closely monitor food prices and markets. Transparent dissemination of information will strengthen government management over the food market, prevent people from panicking, and guide farmers and livestock producers to make rational production decisions. 

2. It is necessary to ensure international and national agricultural and food supply chains function normally. 

3. As lockdown measures increase across the country, delivery companies and e-commerce companies can play a very vital role in delivering food and other items to customers at a convenient spot.

4. Social safety nets should be put in place to protect the most vulnerable and possibly those who are the worst affected or likely to be.

Social safety nets could be in the form of cash, food or essential supplies and should be accompanied by intervention by health and nutrition officials because investing in the health and nutrition of vulnerable populations could lower the mortality rate of diseases such as COVID-19 .

These safety nets are crucial in the post and pre – epidemic period to drive reconstruction efforts.

5. Investment should be tailored to build a more resilient food system which would help to prevent or contain a possible food crisis.

6. There is also a need to build safeguards for the prevention and control of zoonotic diseases.

The government must support companies like livestock247 who are tirelessly working to mitigate the transmission of zoonotic diseases from livestock to humans and also help to do more to prevent future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, SARS and avian flu, including regulating meat, seafood, and wildlife markets.