Countries should shore up global food security - GulfToday

Countries should shore up global food security


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

The warning by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres that the COVID-19 pandemic could push nearly 50 million more people into extreme poverty deserves serious attention and countries should act immediately to shore up global food security.

Millions were already grappling with hunger and malnutrition before the pandemic.

While there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone, more than 820 million people still do not get enough to eat, and numbers no doubt will rise.

As per UN, some 144 million children worldwide under the age of five are stunted, meaning they are too small for their age, mainly due to malnutrition.

COVID-19 has been reported in practically every corner of the planet.

The pandemic has killed at least 411,588 people worldwide since it surfaced in China late last year, according to an AFP tally.

More than 7.25 million cases have been registered in 196 countries and territories.

The United States is the worst-hit country with 112,006 deaths, followed by Britain with 40,883, Brazil with 38,406, Italy with 34,043 and France with 29,296 fatalities.

Moscow health authorities say 15,713 people died in May during the coronavirus epidemic, which is 5,715 more than in May 2019.

As Guterres points out, even in countries with abundant food, COVID-19 risks disrupting food supply chains.

Food systems are failing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse.

The solution, as UN officials point out, is for countries to designate food and nutrition services as essential, while also implementing protections for those who work in the sector.

It means preserving critical humanitarian food, livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups and positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.

Authorities should also scale up support for food processing, transport and local markets, and to ensure food systems can continue to function by keeping trade corridors open.

Relief and stimulus packages must reach the most vulnerable, including small-scale food producers and rural businesses.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc around the world, the UAE’s resilient food system is tackling head-on the issues related to the global food supply, as recently pointed out by Mariam Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security.

While giving an insightful overview of initiatives focused on building the resilient food system in the UAE at the Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed second virtual session, the minister coherently outlined how the establishment of the State Ministry for Food Security enabled food security to receive dedicated attention locally across all stakeholders in the country.

The swift actions taken by the Ministry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as setting up the Emirates Food Security Council to coordinate efforts across all federal entities and local authorities, proved timely and decisive.

As soon as the global pandemic hit, the council held an extraordinary meeting to develop an early mechanism system to monitor food imports and local food production capacity potential.

The council also connected with the Food Security Alliance companies in the UAE to best prepare for all scenarios.

Frontline workers and those working behind the scenes to ensure that the UAE food supply chain is not disrupted deserve all praise.

The best way out, as UN officials say, is for countries to build food systems which address the needs of both producers and workers, and to eradicate hunger by ensuring more people have access to healthy, nutritious food.

Related articles

Other Articles