Pandemic, supply disruptions pose risk to food security, says World Bank led joint statement

The Covid-19 pandemic, its resultant interruption in international supply chains, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine severely disrupting food, fuel and fertilizer markets, countries across the world now need to strengthen safety nets, facilitate trade, boost food production, and invest in resilient agriculture to avert any food security crisis.

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

Citing World Food Programme data, the joint statement said the number of acute food insecure people increased to 345 million in 82 countries.

“Making matters worse, around 25 countries have reacted to higher food prices by adopting export restrictions affecting over 8 percent of global food trade,” it said.

Many nations, including India, have put some sort of trade restrictions on some essential commodities keeping in mind their own domestic food security.

In order to avoid further setbacks in achieving the sustainable development goals, the joint statement laid down short and long-term actions in four key areas such as providing immediate support to the vulnerable, facilitating trade and international supply of food, boosting production, and investing in climate-resilient agriculture.

In the short term, releasing food stocks, as appropriate and consistent with WTO rules, and finding a diplomatic solution to evacuate the grains and fertilizers currently blocked in Ukraine, will help address the availability and affordability of food supplies, it said.

Further, actions must be taken to encourage farmers and fishers to boost sustainable food production both in developing and developed countries and improve the supply chains to meet the global demand.

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