8 practices to minimize the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on agricultural development and food security
By Susan Karimiha, Fatemeh Malekian, Tatiana LeGrand, Mariano Sobalbarro, Cedric Habirayemye, Chuck Chopak and Russ Webster
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on International Agricultural development and Food Security
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, lives around the world have become disrupted. Throughout the world, social distancing, curfews and, in some cases, stay at home orders, have become common practice. In addition to the immediate health risks posed by the virus, there will be significant impacts on the livelihoods of individuals in resource-limited settings and farms throughout the world. Previous research on epidemics and pandemics suggests long term social and economic impacts on agricultural livelihoods and food security (Gatiso et al., 2018; World Bank, 2019; Muzari et al., 2014; Asenso-Okyere et al., 2010). As an example, in the short term and on an individual level, in a recent interview aired on a Honduran news station, a female farmer cried, “We need to eat! What are we going to eat? My fruit over there is already rotten. They tell us to stay in the house. But how will we eat?” The impact of the virus on immediate poverty, malnutrition, and hunger, is especially apparent in resource-limited settings. The pandemic is a double threat to vulnerable communities—hunger and malnutrition further compromise the immune system—placing many in the highest risk group for COVID-19 with less resilience to fight the virus. Furthermore, the economic consequences of the virus on employment impacts the ability of people to purchase goods and produces an increase in market volatility.
Travel restrictions impact trade, international business, and training opportunities. Adjustments to social events are already taking place around the world, with cultural and religious gatherings which involve food traditions (e.g. Easter, Diwali, Passover, Ramadan, funerals, weddings). Just recently, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) experts suggested that the reduction in economic growth following the COVID-19 outbreak could increase poverty rates by 1.7%-3.0%, with varying magnitude in different regions, and prices are falling for many agricultural commodities.
Development initiatives may consider the following recommendations for minimizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture and rural development.
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