COVID-19: Maintaining food security in crisis situations

Akinmutola Abayomi

The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines food security as a situation where all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their preferences, and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

Food and medicines remain the basic needs of man.

However, with the partial and total lockdown across the world arising from the coronavirus pandemic which by origin; is a zoonotic disease arising from interactions between humans and wildlife, many businesses including restaurants have been affected due primarily to social distancing and restriction of the movement of humans, goods, and services from one location to another.

It is no longer news that many countries have even banned the export of food, and other commodities, so, they can remain self-sufficient. This has led to food logistics challenges, deliberate hoarding by some greedy individuals and panic buying. This may pose a serious threat to food security in no distance time, particularly to the vulnerable population including; children, pregnant women, senior citizens, obese, and underweight persons, and those with immune-compromised status.

Many people have already started noticing a hike in prices of staple foods like wheat, garri, rice, and beans.

Tubers, meats, fruits, vegetables, and perishable commodities, are not exempted from the price increase. Government around the world has made a lot of effort in maintaining food security over the years, but more can still be done particularly at this time.

To ameliorate these challenges, adequate price control mechanisms and price monitoring systems for food products is necessary. Quality supervision of food items by the appropriate organs of government is very important in guaranteeing their safety and quality, especially during this pandemic.

Logistical support to encourage unhindered transportation of food items from source locations to destinations, home deliveries to help reduce human interactions and prevent the possibility of getting infected is also required in this regard.

Strict regulation of the sales of wildlife, especially in designated markets to prevent further spread of other diseases, special concession, more subsidies and rebate for indigenous farmers would also go a long way in cushioning the impact of this pandemic. Palliatives from government, religious bodies, traditional rulers, non-governmental organizations,  private individuals, and from all and sundry will also help to maintain food security during this period.

Akinmutola Abayomi.

Clinical Pharmacist, Nigeria.

Vanguard

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