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pandemic disrupts food supply chains in Africa

FAO, WHO and WTO warn of the risk of adding food shortages to the health crisis.

On the continent, the coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns about food security. Traffic restrictions, markets that can no longer be held, freighters and trucks blocked at the borders, more difficult customs clearance. The health crisis and the confinement it implies are weakening agricultural distribution and production chains. Already with price instability resulting from shocks that affect food supply and demand and particularly affects the poorest.

In theory, essential foodstuffs (food, water, petrol) can circulate freely, despite movement restrictions, but the health crisis has reduced the pace of imports / exports, while many countries are far from being self-sufficient. Already, Russia has stopped exporting processed grains; Kazakhstan suspended deliveries of flour, sugar, sunflower oil and certain vegetables; Vietnam has restricted rice sales abroad and stopped imports of cashews …

“Other embargoes, comparable to those introduced during the 2007-2008 crisis are likely if the crisis continues, although the current level of grain stocks, taken as a whole, is far from alarming”, says Jean-Christophe Debar, Farm Foundation Director.

Uncertainties related to the availability of food can trigger a wave of export restrictions (…) which will cause a shortage on the world marketFAO, WHO, WTOat Reuters

International or regional trade plays a crucial role in ensuring global food security. Africa imports (and exports) part of its food needs. The Maghreb countries are big importers of wheat, but it is not too late to gain autonomy.

“National governments should help local communities and citizens to increase local food production (including home and community gardens) through appropriate stimulus measures (financial and in-kind) to strengthen food resilience, to minimize wasting food and avoiding excessive purchases to ensure equitable access to food for all “, recommended a note from the HPLE High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.

“It is therefore a question of increasing local agricultural production, including for self-consumption and via urban agriculture, to strengthen food security, even if the major factor in this is that of access to food. through sufficient income“, says in his blog Jean-Christophe Debar (FARM).

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is also worried about the future: “In the agricultural sector, it is very difficult today to have access to seeds, fertilizers, inputs. If people cannot produce, we will have another crisis, which will be a food crisis. Reason why, at the African Development Bank, we have just started the creation of a platform for African countries to be able to help them import in bulk“, at AfDB President Told RFI, Akinwumi Adesina.

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