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COVID-19 and the food supply chain

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Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2020. 8:40 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says “it is imperative that countries keep the food supply chains going.”

It recommends, in addition to taking care of health concerns, that “countries should meet the needs of the most vulnerable people, as the measures to contain the pandemic cripple the economy. [And], countries must keep the food supply flowing by prioritizing the health of the workers in the sector and their outputs.”

The FAO emphasizes that there is no international scarcity as last seen during the 2007-2008 global food crisis; the trouble now is getting food to where it is needed. It adds: “Restricting trade is not only unnecessary, it would hurt producers and consumers and even create panic in the markets. For high-value commodities that require workers (instead of machines) for production, countries must strike a balance between the need to keep production going and the need to protect the workers. As countries combat the coronavirus pandemic, they must also make every effort to keep the gears of their food supply chains moving.”

Specific recommendations by the FAO include: expand and improve emergency food assistance and social protection programs; 2. Give smallholder farmers support to both enhance their productivity and market the food they produce, also through e-commerce channels 3. Keep the food value chain alive by focusing on key logistics bottlenecks; 4. Address trade and tax policies to keep the global trade open and 5. Manage the macroeconomic ramifications.

 

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