Immediate support by United States, Netherlands, Nigeria, Israel
“I express all my satisfaction that the Italian proposal to establish a FOOD Coalition has had the immediate support of many countries including the United States, Nigeria, Netherlands, and others who are communicating their interest at this time” – as stated by Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni, commenting on the meeting held at FAO with the 194 member countries’ representatives, during which Italy has formalized its plan.
“With this proposal of ours –Ms Sereni added – we intend to immediately answer the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez and establish an international mechanism promoted by FAO together with WFP and IFAD to provide all governments with guidelines for action in the difficult post-COVID phase. The FOOD Coalition will be composed of experts, scientists, scholars and stakeholders, first of all to be identified among those countries that are currently at the forefront of health emergency management, which could support FAO experts to identify the different impacts of the pandemic on agriculture and nutrition, for instance, emergency measures and social assistance, establishment of food banks to draw on for supplies, creation of international solidarity networks for interventions in agriculture, studies on the impact of COVID-19 on world food systems”.
“This –the Vice Minister continued – is the right path to develop a medium and long term response, i.e. identifying which food and production systems are more resistant to the crisis and mitigate the devastating effects of increased hunger and of the severe global food crisis that we will face in the coming months”.
“FAO data tell us that the COVID-19 pandemic is already affecting food systems directly through impacts on food supply and demand, and indirectly through a reduction in purchasing power and the ability to produce and distribute food, which will have a diversified impact and will affect the poor and vulnerable more seriously,” Ms Sereni concluded.
Currently, the limited problems of both food supply and demand could intensify within a few weeks as more countries are on lockdown. Key fruit and vegetables come into force and some countries impose restrictions on food exports. FAO expects there will be disruptions in food supply chains starting from April or May. Millions of people around the world are losing their jobs, including food and hospitality workers, which means that as their incomes fall, access to food will be compromised. In the case of millions of migrant farm workers, their inability to work also affects food supply, particularly for labour-intensive, high-value and nutritious crops such as fruit and vegetables. This pincer is likely to lead to hunger for over 119 million people worldwide, particularly in 44 countries already at risk of famine.