UN FAO: Take precautions against food supply chain disruptions
By Hu Binyi
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has joined the World Health and World Trade Organizations in appealing to countries to ensure global trade and food supplies as they confront the unprecedented health crisis.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many concerns about food supply disruption. Calling for increased solidarity and collaboration to ensure global food security, senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian from the FAO said all major exporters have adequate export abilities to meet the global food demand but warned of disruptions.
Back in 2007 to 2010, there were huge price surges and oil prices also went up, but "oil now is actually plunging. So there, we do not see a problem."However, he continued, that "at the local level, the situation is quite different, because it is depending on the country. It depends on what food is most consumed, logistics and infrastructure."
"There is danger that if governments do not provide enough support to the whole value chain system to make it works properly, at the end, it will be most affected by the disease, then there will be a lot of discontent and create a panic at their local level," he said.
The three international organizations said millions of people depend on international trade for food and life. Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, that would leave those with low-incomes and those in countries with a food-deficit especially vulnerable.
"For those who live on one U.S. dollar today, who probably do not go to supermarkets, but they basically leave on here and there picking up some food and getting basically a subsistence level. And if they have to also deal with health issue and the fact that they have to be locked down there, it is a tragedy," Abbassian said, warning that we have to get ready, to make sure workers can go farm and the ensure logistic processing.
He noted that all that system at the local level has to be really maintained and to the extent supported by government.
One of the strategic objectives of the FAO is to "increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises."
Abbassian told CGTN that we need to build a safety net to prevent disease, as he said: "Fortunately, on the positive side, I'm sure just as we saw in China, this disease is not permanent. It will go away one day."