Food Challenges Communities are Facing Due to Coronavirus

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( — May 23, 2020) —

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the economy, disrupting operations, and delaying supplies. Many businesses face shutdowns since the volume of activity in the market is low, and others face bankruptcy due to low demand.


However, the biggest impact of the coronavirus is on the food industry. Although some countries can deal with food challenges caused by the pandemic, some don’t as they struggle to put food on the table.


Food insecurity


Even before the novel coronavirus, 135 million individuals in the world were already struggling with food insecurity as a result of pre-existing crises or shocks. Therefore, they were already at the end of the hunger spectrum and less capable of fending off the virus.


Here are some food challenges communities are facing due to COVID-19.


1. Disruption in food supply chains


Communities that depend on agricultural production for high-value commodities such as food and vegetables are experiencing a shortage in supplies. This is because of the lockdowns and restrictions on movements that disrupt the food supply chain.


With the limited supply of these products, farmers and buyers are experiencing a hike in prices, making it difficult to purchase these food products for consumption or sale. Transport restrictions and quarantine measures are also disrupting agricultural production, creating food shortages when the demand remains high.


This is likely to impede farmer’s access to markets, impacting their productive capabilities and preventing them from spoiling their produce.


2. Closure of restaurants and food markets


The closure of most food markets, street vendors, and restaurants has reduced traffic for farmers and fishers as the key market for consumption is low. Some restaurants have resorted to safety measures such as take out and drive-through orders, but their demand remains low as more people are eating at home to minimize contact.


Unfortunately, this is affecting the amount of food producers’ supply, creating a massive decline in profits.


3. Food loss and waste


Some communities have put in place blockages in specific transport routes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, this is obstructive to fresh food supply chains, resulting in increased food loss and waste. For example, highly perishable goods such as fish that needs to be sold sooner rather than later are at risk.


To avoid such losses, some communities have cut off the supply of perishable goods to mitigate the risks. However, this only creates a food shortage problem in the community.


4. Loss in production


Many companies are halting or minimizing the manufacture and production of items such as fertilizers, veterinary medicines, and agricultural equipment. With these disruptions, sectors in agriculture in fisheries are experiencing a huge delay in production, affecting food supply to communities.


Furthermore, there is a huge layoff of employees in agricultural sectors to minimize costs. These workers are facing food insecurity issues as they don’t have a source of income to rely on to purchase adequate food items in the long run.


5. A decrease in labor force


Communities that have a high number of positive cases are experiencing a reduction of their labor force in labor-intensive food industries, including meat, fish, and crops. This creates a food challenge as agricultural companies can’t meet consumer demand due to the low production of food.


Food security


Currently, there is enough food in the world to meet everyone’s needs. However, this won’t last long if the coronavirus outbreak continues. Without appropriate policies and regulations to combat food challenges, many communities will join the hungry.


Communities that are more likely going to be affected include vulnerable and poor populations comprising migrants, displaced persons, and third world countries. Luckily, inter-regional trade and local food production can help in minimizing the food insecurity caused by COVID-19.


This will create more markets for farmers and shorter food chains, increasing the supply of food, and meeting people’s demands. It will also improve access to inputs such as fertilizer and outputs such as vegetables and fruits.

Ways that you can help locally is by donating to food banks and providing box lunches to affected communities.