FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Key messages

General public:

  • There is no need to hoard or excessively stockpile foods at home. COVID-19 has not directly affected food production.
  • Shop sensibly – buying too many fresh foods at one time will mean you cannot eat them all before they spoil. That wastes food – and it wastes your money.
  • There is no evidence that food transmits the coronavirus, so do not deny nutrition to yourself or your families. Help yourself to fresh or well-packaged processed foods. Maintain a healthy diet for you and your family. In stressful times this is important to keep you healthy.
  • Wash hands before and after handling produce at home, wash the produce before cooking, and follow good household cleaning and cooking practices.
  • Keep in mind that the people who produce your food, like smallholder farmers and fishers, and those that bring it to market, truck drivers, warehouse workers and the staff at markets and supermarkets are our food heroes during this pandemic. Keep a warm place in your heart for them.
  • Buy food from small businesses and shops to support their livelihoods in these difficult times.
  • If you have a chance to share your food, or support the food banks, community groups or charities that provide free food to venerable groups of people, please do so. We are in this together and so generosity and caring for one another is important during this time of crisis.

 Policy makers:

  • While COVID-19 requires an immediate policy response to public health, access to nutritious and affordable food for all people must be part of that response.
  • Policy makers, government departments and the private sector must work together to ensure that the value chains that deliver our food are coordinated and functioning properly
  • Up to date market information on prices, production, consumption and stocks should be transparent and available to all. This will reduce uncertainty and reassure shoppers and suppliers.
  • It is important to keep domestic and international supply lines open and to not restrict trade or impose rules that would hinder the mobility of those commodities, domestically or internationally. Any disruptions to food supply chains by poor policy management will intensify human suffering.

Local authorities should ensure the following human and food safety measures:

  • Physical distancing between vendors
  • Sufficient space for customers to circulate; defined entry and exit points
  • Separation between plant foods (fruits, vegetables), animal foods (meat, fish) and dry foods (rice, pulses)
  • Supply of clean water and ice as well as sanitation facilities
  • Cleaning of retail and storage areas, cold boxes and transport (trucks, vans) that bring in the food
  • Vendors, handlers, drivers and all involved in the retail of food are aware of hand washing and have sanitizers and masks.