A UN agency, World Food Programme, WFP, has called for global health and humanitarian response to fight Coronavirus, COVID-19, in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
The UN agency said in its official twitter account @WFP that no country in the world would ever be free from the grip of the terrible COVID-9 if they don’t work together.
“If we don’t work together to fight it now in the poorest and most vulnerable places on our planet, you will not be free from the new virus.’’
According to the agency, while no specific food can prevent disease, a healthy diet can help promote a stronger immune system and protect your body against illness.
Meanwhile, in new report released by WFP, the agency said the unfolding Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was so far having little impact on the global food supply chain, but that could later change for the worse.
The agency gave the warning in a report entitled,“ COVID-19: Potential impact on the world’s poorest people: A WFP analysis of the economic and food security implications of the pandemic”.
The agency said the impact of the virus on global food supply could change soon – if anxiety-driven panic by major food importers takes hold.
According to the UN agency, the global markets for basic cereals are well-supplied and prices generally low.
However, it said, given the highly globalised nature of food production and supply, commodities need to move from the world’s ‘breadbaskets’ to where they are consumed – and COVID-19-related containment measures are starting to make this more challenging.
“Disruptions are so far minimal; food supply is adequate, and markets are relatively stable.
“The global cereal stocks are at comfortable levels and the outlook for wheat and other staple crops is positive for the rest of this year.
“But we may soon expect to see disruptions in food supply chains”, said WFP Senior Spokesperson, Elizabeth Byrs.
Byrs further explained that if big importers lose confidence in the reliable flow of basic food commodities, panic buying could ensue, driving prices up.
Elaborating, a seasoned grain market analyst at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), quoted anonymously in the report, said the problem is not supply, but “a behavioral change over food security”.
“What if bulk buyers think they can’t get wheat or rice shipments in May or June? That is what could lead to a global food supply crisis,” the analyst said.
For low-income countries, the consequences could be devastating, with long-term repercussions, with coping strategies coming at the expense of such essential services as health and education.
It recalled that when a food price crisis struck in 2008, the world’s poorest households – which typically spend the largest share of income on food – suffered disproportionately.
Using the economic pillar of the Proteus food security index – and taking into account dependency on primary commodities such as fuel, ores and metals for export earnings – the report said that countries in Africa and the Middle East are most vulnerable.