food security: Pandemic, supply disruptions pose a risk to food security; urgent actions are needed, says joint statement led by World Bank

WASHINGTON: The Covid-19 pandemic, the resulting disruption of international supply chains, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that is severely disrupting food, fuel and fertilizer markets, countries around the world must now strengthen safety nets, facilitate trade, stimulate food production and invest in resilient agriculture to avoid any food security crisis.

Qu Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group (WBG) , David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) ) Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala issued a joint statement calling for urgent action to address the global crisis of food safety.

Citing data from the World Food Programme, the joint statement says the number of acutely food insecure people has risen to 345 million in 82 countries. “To make matters worse, around 25 countries have responded to rising food prices by adopting export restrictions affecting more than 8% of global food trade,” he said.

Many countries, including India, have imposed trade restrictions on certain essential products with their own national food security in mind.

In order to avoid further setbacks in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the joint declaration set out short and long-term actions in four key areas, such as immediate assistance to vulnerable people, facilitation of trade and international food supply, increased production and investment in climate-resilient agriculture.

In the short term, the release of food stocks, as needed and in accordance with WTO rules, and the search for a diplomatic solution to evacuate cereals and fertilizers currently blocked in Ukraine, will contribute to improving the availability and affordability of food supplies, he said.

In addition, steps must be taken to encourage farmers and fishers to boost sustainable food production in developing and developed countries and to improve supply chains to meet global demand.

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