"Looming food crisis" unless global supply chain takes action, FAO reports

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The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that Covid-19's negative impacts will lead to a worldwide food crisis unless measures are taken fast to mitigate the pandemic's effects across the food system.

It says that both supply and demand will fall due to uncertainty in global markets. The compounding effects of "border closures, quarantines and market, supply chain and trade disruptions could restrict people access to sufficient...sources of food", FAO analysts said in a statement.

Disruptive forces in the "complex web" of the global food supply chain that are currently happening as a result of Covid-19 will inevitably lead to strain, logistical challenges and labor shortages, it details. It anticipates that transport challenges and blockages will be "particularly obstructive for fresh food supply chains" like fruits and veggies.

However, we might not yet see the negative impact of these changes in the fresh produce sector. This is likely because lower production volumes coming from the fruit and vegetable industries currently are "not yet noticeable because of the lockdowns and disruption in the value chain".

Following these disruptions, the FAO states that it expects to see big shifts in the food supply chains in April and May.

Speaking on those who may be most impacted by Covid-19's market, supply chain, and food security implications, the FAO lays out specific areas to be aware of and how it will confront food insecurity in the upcoming months.

The organization is particularly concerned about countries that are already grappling with hunger and social or political crises. As the pandemic will likely cause hunger and food insecurity on a larger scale, there are some communities that will be more impacted than others, it explains.

Most vulnerable populations amid a potential food security crisis may be small-scale farmers who have restricted or entirely severed connections with essential avenues, purchasing power, and supply chains.

Children are also considered part of the at risk groups globally as many kids depend upon meal programs that are currently not operating or have limited access - like in Latin America and the Caribbean where 85 million children utilize FAO-supported food security programs.

In response to the ongoing crisis, FAO says that it's sharing global policy advice to spread guidelines to ensure food supply chains are protected and populations receive necessary supplies. In particular, it is interested in lessening negative impacts in developing countries.

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