By Qu Dongyu
The Covid-19 pandemic is putting enormous strains on the public health systems around the world, and millions of people in the world’s most advanced economies are in some form of quarantine.
We know the human toll will be high, and that massive efforts to turn the tide carry a heavy economic cost.
To reduce the risk of an even greater toll – shortage of food for millions, even in affluent countries – the world must take immediate actions to minimise disruptions to food supply chains.
A globally coordinated and coherent response is needed to prevent this public health crisis from triggering a food crisis in which people cannot find or afford food.
For now, Covid-19 has not entailed any strain on food security, despite anecdotal reports of crowded supermarket sieges.
While there’s no need for panic – there is enough supply of food in the world to feed everyone – we must face the challenge: an enormous risk that food may not be made available where it is needed.
The Covid-19 outbreak, with all the accompanying closures and lockdowns, has created logistical bottlenecks that ricochet across the long value chains of the modern global economy.
Restrictions of movement, as well as basic aversion behaviour by workers, may impede farmers from farming and food processors (who handle most agricultural products) from processing.
Shortage of fertilisers, veterinary medicines and other input could also affect agricultural production.