This article was originally published on sixdegreesnews.
Studies coming out on the impact of covid-19 point that food security is under an immense threat and farmers are on the brink of loosing their livelihood. here is an example based on a survey in indonesia.
Various policies have been implemented in all countries to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as the policy of practicing physical distancing, enforcing lockdowns and export restrictions. The pandemic outbreak and the policies afterward have affected various aspects of life. One aspect that is also affected by these policies is the food security sector. In Indonesia, the direct and indirect impacts have been felt by the community and will continue if they are not addressed well. In particular, the export restriction policy practiced by many countries could “hurt food security in importing countries“, according to the World Bank.
Food security could be achieved when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability.
This is a dynamic risk and is currently being added to the impact of a pandemic outbreak with various policies that can further affect food security. In the FAO’s latest report, there is an additional 83 to 132 million people who will face food insecurity due to the pandemic. The indirect impact of COVID-19 is still to unfold.
According to an article published by FAO on the Impacts of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition published in September 2020, there are significant disruptions to the food supply chain as the lockdown policy affects food availability, prices, and quality. The rapid phone survey conducted by the World Bank also shows that the widespread impact of Covid-19 has decreased many people’s incomes. The disruption of food availability and quality, inflation, and a decrease in many people’s income lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, especially in countries with low- and middle-income and developing countries.
Farmers are the first to face Food Insecurity threat
Meanwhile, in the agricultural productivity aspect, supply disruption and inflation has caused food production insecurity. As the spearhead of our food system, farmers are a group of people who are vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. Based on a survey conducted in Indonesia by Prisma, a development partnership between the Government of Australia and the Government of Indonesia to accelerate poverty reduction through promoting inclusive economic growth found that 34% of respondents experienced decreasing demand during COVID-19, and 63% of respondents experienced a decrease in the selling price of farm produce. Both issues lead to decreased farmers’ household income. Furthermore, farmers would reallocate their budget, and about 30% of farmers stated that they would reduce their farming capital for the rainy season. The survey was conducted in Central Java, East Java, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, and West Papua.
It’s a global food crisis
The World Bank, in a brief entitled “Food Security and COVID-19“, concluded several “hot spots” that are prone to be affected by food insecurity due to COVID-19, namely (1) vulnerable and conflict-affected countries that have difficulties in logistics and distribution even in normal circumstances, (2) Countries with multiple impacts crises such as extreme weather condition and pests, (3) low-income and vulnerable people, including 820 million people who have previously faced food shortages before COVID-19, and (4) countries with depreciating currencies and which experienced falling commodity prices.
In addition to the COVID, in Asia and Africa, locusts’ plague, the worst in decades so far, is impacting food manufacture across 23 countries. Some of these countries, such as in Sub-Saharan ones, also experience exposure to the risk of rising domestic food prices due to the fact they are net food importers. The findings also show how the world should gather more support for smallholder farmers who often belong to the vulnerable groups due to COVID-19 yet they are key actors of our food system.
Indubitably, the things we face today must be urgently solved. All parties must be actively involved with the first realistic step: hand in hand to stop the spread of COVID-19. The plan of distributing vaccines will be a good step towards the sustainability of all aspects of life. Especially in food security, real efforts should be made to facilitate farmers’ access to agricultural capital as they are the spearhead of food security. The welfare of farmers will significantly affect the well-ordered course of food production to ensure food security. Simultaneously, the world can reinforce the economic sector around the world and avoid the risk of malnutrition caused by not being able to afford the right foods.