Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Policy briefs

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting not only food trade, food supply chains and markets but also people’s lives, livelihoods and nutrition.

This collection of policy briefs presents a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the pandemic’s impacts on these areas.

Briefs are released on a day-to-day basis. Please check back frequently for the latest available briefs.

For media queries on any of the below topics, please contact [email protected]

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and family farming

Family farmers, especially those operating at a small-scale level, are particularly exposed to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary movement restrictions hinder their access to markets, and the perishable goods and small animals they mostly produce and keep are the most affected by being cut off from markets and slaughterhouses. Also, their access to markets can be undermined due to changes in consumers’ behaviors, the closure of farmer’s markets, and other commercialization channels such as schools and procurement opportunities. Family farmers lacking storage facilities face serious risks to lose their products.

Contact personGuilherme Brady, Chief, Family Farming and Partnerships with Civil Society and Cooperatives Unit (PSUF) of the Partnerships and UN Collaboration Division (PSU)

The dual threat of extreme weather and the COVID-19 crisis: Anticipating the impacts on food availability

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound negative effect on the global economy and is occurring in the context of a rapidly changing climate. This year is expected to be the second hottest in recorded history. Weather forecasts for 2020 indicate a high probability that extreme weather will adversely affect food production in many countries. This brief draws on historical evidence and demonstrates that reductions in national food availability caused by severe weather events tend to be considerably larger in magnitude when they occur during global economic downturns. The risks posed by this dual threat are particularly high for poorer countries that are net food importers. Taking actions to mitigate these adverse effects in the short-term, while building the resilience of agri-food systems to future shocks is critical for avoiding major contractions in food availability and associated risks of food insecurity.

Contact persons: Ada Ignaciuk, Senior Economist and Nick Sitko, Economist, Agrifood Economics Division (ESA), FAO.

COVID-19 and malnutrition: situation analysis and options in Africa

More than 820 million people in the world were hungry in 2018 (FAO, 2019). In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), there were 239 million undernourished people, with a prevalence of 22.8 percent as measured by the Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU), a Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) indicator. The target is to bring this prevalence to zero by 2030 (Ritchie et al., 2018). According to the latest Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), 9.2 percent of the world’s population (or more than 700 million people) were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity in 2018, with Africa having the highest level of 27 percent. Africa remains a laggard in most nutrition indicators, including access to safe and clean drinking water, which directly relates to nutrition outcomes.

Contact personMphumuzi Sukati, FAO Senior Food and Nutrition Officer for Africa

Measures for supporting wholesale food markets during COVID-19

Recent COVID-19 outbreaks in wholesale and retail food markets, slaughterhouses and meat processing plants throughout the world underscore the continued importance of rigorous application of COVID-19 health protocols to minimize disruptions to the food system. This brief is focused on wholesale food markets (WFMs) – common facilities that group multiple food businesses involved in the sale of foodstuffs to food business operators. It offers a set of considerations for ways in which local, provincial and national government can collaborate with WFM authorities and food system actors to protect merchants, workers and customers and to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the absence of an internationally recommended set of protocols, these considerations are based on practices used by WFMs to continue operations in compliance with government health protocols and virus containment measures. Measures taken will naturally differ by local context, location, type of market and its specific operations.

Rural youth and the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all parts of society and livelihoods around the globe. It is though worth recognizing that disadvantaged segments of populations like rural young women and men will be impacted harder, nevertheless, when proactively engaged, they have demonstrated to be innovators in their own sectors to surmount the pandemic impact. As governments and development partners take steps to address the economic and social effects of COVID-19, they should not allow a reversal of the rural youth progress achieved in recent years in terms of inclusion in food systems, access to education, vocational education and training, and access to decent employment. While in the immediate future the majority of global resources will be redirected toward the fight against the virus, rural young women and men, should remain a top priority both during and after the pandemic in order to support them to reach their full potential, allow them to prosper and also ensure a sustainable rural recovery. Furthermore, transforming food systems to be inclusive, sustainable, efficient, healthy and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, should be connected in all COVID-19 recovery measures.

Contact persons: Francesca Dalla Valle, Youth Employment Specialist, and Reuben Sessa, Youth Focal Point and Natural Resources Officer.

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