The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says it is imperative for nations to evolve measures to mitigate hunger associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Marco Cantillo, FAO’s Deputy Director, Agriculture Development Economics Division, in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja, said that global economic activities would be greatly affected as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
“ Large scale consequences for the incomes and welfare of all, but especially for the most vulnerable food import-dependent countries.
“ In the absence of timely and effective policy responses, this will exacerbate an already unwelcome increase in the number of people who do not have enough to eat,” he said.
Cantillo said that a report produced by the FAO with other UN partners had last year warned of economic slowdowns and downturns that explained rising undernourishment in 65 of 77 countries.
The International Monetary Fund had just slashed its global gross domestic product forecast by 6.3 per cent, making FAO’s analysis more relevant as part of a worldwide toolkit to prevent the health crisis from triggering starvation.
He said that in January the IMF anticipated global GDP would expand by 3.3 per cent but in April when much of the world was shutting down to contain the spread, it issued a new forecast of minus 3.0 per cent.
“ Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is home to the world’s highest hunger rates and where the average age is around 20 years, must now brace for its first recession in a quarter of a century.
”Analysing data of food supply since 1995, linked to FAO’s statistical development of the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) indicator, and correlating them to past local economic trends in countries that are net food importers, we find that millions of people are likely to join the ranks of the hungry as a result of the COVID-19-triggered recession.”
Cantillo said that the number would vary according to the severity of GDP growth contractions, ranging from 14.4 million to 80.3 million depending on the scenario.
The actual outcome could be worse if current inequalities in access to food are worsened, something that absolutely should not be allowed to happen.
“The world is not facing food shortages, which was why FAO has from the pandemic’s outset advocated that all countries must do their best to keep food supply chains alive.
“With the new estimates emerging from a strictly economic analysis – based on food supply and availability and not other central pillars of food security.
“FAO is emphasising that all countries must also foster measures to protect people’s ability to access food that is locally, regionally and globally available,” Cantillo said.