Plataforma técnica sobre la medición y la reducción de las pérdidas y el desperdicio de alimentos

COVID-19, FLW and Food Systems in Latina America and the Caribbean

Jamaica

Jamaica’s Hotels Convene to Plan Sustainable COVID-19 Tourism Recovery. Discussions were held virtually and in-person for the purpose of exploring strategic opportunities for Jamaica’s tourism sector to rebuild itself better than before in recovering from the impact of COVID-19. Conversations centered on such topics as food waste recycling, ways for hotels to reduce their reliance on imported food, and the benefits of practicing more robust local sourcing and incorporating farm-to-table strategies moving forward. Access here the original article. (Private sector, food waste, food banks, February 2021)

Argentina

During the pandemic in 2020, the role of Food Banks in Argentina became more relevant, based on the important role of social protection and community support through food assistance. An online article published in occasion of the Food Waste Index Report launch is describing the situation. (Argentina, March 2021) (Food waste, Food Banks)

The government is providing food to over 11 million people, having an increase of around 3 million since the COVID-19 crisis started. It is estimated that this is costing around 926 million euros to the State. Moreover, a new law is being discussed to give a cash payment to soup kitchen workers. It is forecasted that this payment would benefit 8 thousand soup kitchen and around 80 workers. Original articles: El Pais, here and here. (Argentina, Governmental initiatives, November 2020)

The Buenos Aires food bank, that with its partners feeds around 500 thousand people on a daily basis, not only has seen a significant increase of its operations, but it also had to adapt them. Regarding the increase of its operations, although the number of beneficiaries has increased by 239% the quantity of food has only increased by 60%. Concerning its operations, the food bank had to change the way it daily delivers its food to the 40-45 soup kitchens to avoid agglomerations in its warehouse. Original articles here and here. (Argentina, food banks, November 2020)

The operations of the Soup Kitchen Los Bajitos has significantly been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The type of beneficiaries has changed. Whilst in the past they worked mostly with children, now they are feeding whole families. The possibility of eating in the soup kitchen facilities had to be stopped and now the beneficiaries have to bring their own “tappers” to take way the cooked food. Owing to the age of many volunteers -and its vulnerability against the virus- many of them have been asked to stay at home. Nutrition-wise the food provided has changed as the demand for its services has significantly surged. For instance, the soup kitchen is no longer offering fruits and fish, which was provided at least once every month. (Argentina, logistics, donations, November 2020)

In Costa Rica and Nicaragua, for more than 15 days cargo trucks from both countries were blocked in the border. The reason was that as a sanitary measure the public authority in Costa Rica restricted the entry of foreign drivers into the country. (Original article in Spanish)

In Ecuador, the number of street vendors significantly increased due to the fact that informal middlemen and smallholders are not able to sell their fruits and vegetables in nearby markets and fairs. The agriculture authorities are exploring new market opportunities for these vendors, as well as urging local authorities to control the quality of the products. (Original article in Spanish)

In the Dominican Republic, according to the Ministry of Agriculture every month around 2 million poultry remain unsold due to Covid-19. Thus, the public authorities in order to support the sector have been buying poultry (8 million until end of May) and now they are also paying the refrigeration cost of some producers. (Original article in Spanish)

In Guatemala, after the images of fruits and vegetables being thrown away were widely circulated in the country, the federal and the local government have been discussing and undertaking some projects to improve or build rural collection centres. (Original in Spanish here)

Peru:

  • In order to increase market the availability of agricultural products and stabilize prices, the Ministry of Agriculture has extended direct sale outlets of farmers (called Mercados Itinerantes). It is estimated that around 200 Itinerant markets have been established in the whole country. (Original in Spanish here and other)
  • Social distancing was not possible to be done as around 71% of Peruvians livelihood depends in informal activities, which are normally carried out in crowded places (Original in Spanish here)
  • Around 78% of poor households in Peru does not have a refrigerator, which forces them to go more frequently to markets and supermarkets for food, increasing the possibility to spread the disease. (Original in Spanish here)
  • Restrictions limiting the opening hours and days of markets and supermarkets -e.g. closed during weekends- have caused overcrowding in these places. Ultimately, these places have become diseases hotspots (e.g. nearly 86% of stall vendors from the Victoria Fruit markets have contracted the disease). (Original in Spanish here). 

In Cuba, the government has asked its citizens for financial donations to finance the productions of food. This in order to solve the current rationing and food shortage problems of the country. (Original in Spanish here

In the Dominican Republic, the government has approved an additional USD 53M credit line for the agriculture sector of which around USD 7M will be used to financed 70 associations of smallholders. (Original in Spanish here)

In Colombia, the government has established a specific credit line for the agriculture sector, aiming to provide financial support to small (40%), medium (40%) and big enterprises (20%). (Original in Spanish here

In Chile, smallholders from the region of Magallanes jointly with the Agriculture Minister are organizing themselves to sell their crops online (vegetables and fruits). The delivery is made at the farmers gate or home delivered, following adequate social distancing measures. This online market has mainly benefited elderly producers that due to their age are more vulnerable to Covid-19 and cannot go to their stall - Original News in Spanish and here

In El Salvador, “El Centro para la Defensa del Consumidor (CDC)” (The consumer Ombudsmen department) is conducting regular inspections to retail shops across the country to verify that the prices of 42 basic goods remain under the terms defined by the government, amidst customers complaints of food price speculation - Original News in Spanish

In Argentina, foodbanks have had to increase its operations. For instance, the 17th of April the NGO “Barrios de Pie” doubled its distribution points form 1 thousand to 2 thousand, reaching almost four hundred thousand people. The situation, however, is quite concerning as in some places some NGO cooks are verbally assaulted -when they run out of supplies- and that there is still a lot of people who -in spite of needing it- do not turn to food banks as they find it humiliating - Original News in Spanish

In Bolivia, the city hall of the biggest city in the country has ordered a 5-day closure of some supermarkets stores as they are located in areas with a high number of infected people infected. Notwithstanding, the mentioned supermarket will be allowed to home delivery, they have been required to do “a deep disinfection, both of their sales rooms and of all their products”. The impact needs to be seen but it would be important to know how the disinfection will be done and what will be the impact in other retail shops remaining open (like popular street markets) - Original News in Spanish

In Ecuador, during the first weeks of the lockdown consumers purchases -from a nutrition point of view- were mainly aimed at basic goods like rice (90% increase), freeze meat (84% increase) sugar (increase), powder milk (80% increase), etc.). And the following weeks consumers purchases aimed both at balancing their diets (vitamins) and other products (like cookies or flour) - Original News in Spanish

In Costa Rica, the apex fisher association has been supporting its members by the establishment of storage centers, which has benefited around 1 300 fishers (Original in Spanish).

In Mexico, agriproducers of the Valle de Banderas have complained about bribes from local administrators of public storage centers (Original in Spanish).

In Ecuador, the smallholder’s association “Movimiento Nacional Campesino” in response to the closure of some public markets are opening storage centers/retail shops in popular neighbourhoods in the country (Original in Spanish).