What we’re Reading: Prevent the Next Food Crisis Now
The Covid-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11thMarch 2020 (WHO, 2020) has had dire effects on the socio-economic development of countries across the globe. It has resulted in governments channeling greater portions of national revenue to domestic public health and security to ensure the coordination, containment, and prevention of the virus. Consequently, a number of developing countries face a great deal of economic backlash.
Among others, the authors of this blog posits that the pandemic’s secondary effect may cause the most damage, precisely a hunger pandemic for the most vulnerable people. The blog further indicates that “the number of chronically hungry people increased by an estimated 130 million in 2020 to more than 800 million. Thus, a record of 235 million people worldwide will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, a 40% increase from last year”.
The anticipated food crisis as a result of the pandemic sounds alarming and needs urgent preventive measures. Food shortage is a huge barrier to development. Evidently, food insecurity and hunger existed in many developing countries before the pandemic. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) seeks to “end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 (UN, 2018)”. However, here is the case of a pandemic which has stretched government budgets, collapsed businesses, and made many redundant within this short period of time.
Footprints of a food crisis was experienced in Ghana during the partial lockdown in early 2020 mainly due to hike in food prices, coupled with a lack of constant flow of income by some households. With the increasing wave of the pandemic globally, it would be prudent if early responses in humanitarian assistance are put in place, especially in developing countries. Conversely, it takes collaborative efforts of governments and international development agencies to help mitigate this possible crisis.
To this effect, as governments focus on managing the pandemic, adequate resources must be invested into sustainable agriculture, food processing, food banks, and small-scale businesses.The modernization of farming in most developing countries may yield agricultural productivity.Small and medium scale farmers must be incentivized with adequate skills, equipment and technology to enhance production in large quantities.
In addition, governments in developing countries can grant farmer tax reliefs and soft loans in this period to boost their production. Infrastructural development in the aspect of modern warehouses and food processing industries could equally be taken up to mitigate post-harvest losses. International development agencies in partnership with government could as well support young farmers and entrepreneurs in agriculture; through trainings and funds to set up reliable and sustainable food banks that would help the most vulnerable in society.
In a nutshell, it should be government priority to implement policies and programmes such as the ‘Ghana CARES’ programme; to help stabilize their economies, support businesses, and above all ensure food security after the pandemic (MOFEP, 2020).
Lowcock, M. &Trotsenburg, A. V. (2021). Prevent the next food crisis now.Retrieved, 06-02-2021 from https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/prevent-next-food-crisis-now?cid=ECR-E-NewsletterWeekly-EN-EXT&deliveryName=DM92978
Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (2020). Government Launches GH₵100 Billion CARES Programme. Retrieved, 07-02-2021 from https://www.mofep.gov.gh/news-and-events/2020-11-20/government-launches-gh₵100-billion-cares-programme
United Nations (2018). The 17 Goals | Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved, 07-02-2021 from https://sdgs.un.org/goals.
World Health Organization (2020). WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020. Retrieved, 07-02-2021, from https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020.http://www.youngdiplomatsghana.org/blog/2021/03/20/what-were-reading-prevent-the-next-food-crisis-now/http://www.youngdiplomatsghana.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/woman-daughter.jpghttp://www.youngdiplomatsghana.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/woman-daughter-150x150.jpgFeature