FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation

FAO: coronavirus will not prevent us from eradicating global hunger

Photo: © FAO
31/03/2020

 

Message by Oleg Kobiakov,

Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation 

 

Dear Russian citizens!

Today, all the peoples of the world courageously fight the coronavirus pandemic, which knows no borders, mobilize all their potential and help each other. The quarantine measures imposed by governments do not divide us, but, on the contrary, unite us, strengthen our solidarity and sense of ownership.

I assure you that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is fully involved in activities aimed at reducing and mitigating the risks of COVID-19.

Throughout human history, famine was the grim companion of such manmade and natural disasters as wars, genocide, natural catastrophes, epidemics, often claiming more lives than the cataclysms that produced it.

FAO was founded 75 years ago by the nations that won the World War II with the primary goal of putting an end to hunger, once and forever. Now, FAO is determined not to let a new pandemic set us back in this battle and put millions of people at risk of undernourishment and starvation, especially in the developing countries.

No nation is immune from the stark consequences of the epidemic for food security. Isolation and movement restrictions disrupt food production and trade on domestic and international markets. Surges in fuel prices, disruptions in the inputs supply chain of seeds and fertilizers, and barriers to labor threaten the planting season and the future harvest.

Recently, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu speaking online from Rome at  the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Summit on COVID-19 urged the leaders of world’s most prosperous countries to take urgent measures to assure smooth running of global food systems, in particular access to food. 

“We have to ensure that food value chains are not disrupted and continue to function well and promote the production and availability of diversified, safe and nutritious food for all,” he said, “… and governments should strengthen social safety nets to maintain the access of the most needy to food.” 

What exactly does FAO do to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food systems? We have set the following priorities:

(1) to support developing countries to anticipate and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts on their populations’ food security and livelihoods; 

(2) to contribute to discussions on mitigating COVID-19’s impacts on global food trade and markets; 

(3) to assist countries and research institutions in ongoing research to identify potential animal hosts of the virus and reduce spill-over effects to humans. 

FAO is monitoring and sharing information on the disease situation through its emergency prevention systems and its experts’ advise on prevention and control measures to support veterinary services.

FAO is coordinating prevention, preparedness and detection activities in animals, in liaison with WHO and OIE under One World – One Health approach. The One Health vision is a unifying force to safeguard human and animal health, to reduce disease hazards and to ensure safe food supply through effective and responsible management of natural resources. 

The Joint FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is working, through its veterinary diagnostic laboratory network in 64 countries, to ensure readiness to rapidly detect SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals as well as to conduct thorough surveillance of virus circulation in the environment. 

FAO is providing equipment and deploying experts to support the on-going research and agriculture-based livelihoods assessments in its efforts to inform a response to alleviate the effects of the epidemic.

At the same time, FAO itself is in the bulls’ eye of the epidemic – employees of its headquarters in Rome are relentlessly working with full devotion in the face of a real human drama unfolding in Italy. Among the FAO employees there are infected and, sadly, victims of the coronavirus.

Dear friends,

the historical memory of the Russian people and of all the peoples of Russia holds reminiscences of hardships associated with devastation, disease and famine that you heroically overcame and elevated your country to the frontiers of progress and prosperity.

Today, misfortune fell upon our common home, and we are fighting it together. The FAO Members look at modern Russia, hoping that it will make solid contribution to global struggle away with the virus, and support them as the world's breadbasket, a leading producer of food that is vital for human health and spirits.

We will stand united, and together we shall overcome!