World on the brink of worst food crisis in 50 years, UN warns

World on the brink of worst food crisis in 50 years, UN warns

The UN has warned that the world is on the verge of the worst food crisis in at least 50 years as the recession following the COVID-19 pandemic may put basic nutrition beyond impoverished people's reach. The organization has urged governments to take prompt action to prevent further disaster as 49 million more may fall into extreme poverty due to the outbreak.

Food systems are failing and the pandemic is making things worse, said UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, on June 9, 2020.

"Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults."

Although harvests of crops are holding up and export bans and protectionism have been largely avoided so far, the worst of the pandemic's impacts and the recession that will follow is yet to be felt. 

This year, about 49 million more may fall into extreme poverty due to the coronavirus as the number of people who are severely food insecure will rapidly expand.

"Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruptions in the food supply chain," Guterres pointed out. "We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic."

The secretary-general plotted a three-point plan to restore the world's ailing food systems and avoid further harm.

First, countries must focus aid on the worst-affected regions to ward off immediate disaster and for governments to prioritize food supply chains. 

"That means designating food and nutrition services as essential while implementing appropriate protections for food workers. It means preserving critical humanitarian food, livelihood, and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups."

"And it means positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems," he added.

Second, countries must strengthen social protection systems for nutrition by safeguarding access to safe and nutritious food, especially for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people, and other vulnerable groups.

"This includes supporting children who no longer have access to school meals," he continued.

Third, people must invest in the future by building a more inclusive and sustainable world.

"We have an opportunity to build a more inclusive and sustainable world," Guterres said. "Let us build food systems that better address the needs of food producers and workers. Let us provide more inclusive access to healthy and nutritious food so we can eradicate hunger."

According to Maximo Torero, the chief economist of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the world's food systems were under threat as never before in modern times, as the coronavirus outbreak and lockdowns hinder people's ability to buy and sell food.

"We need to be careful," Torero reminded, "this is a very different food crisis than the ones we have seen."

The UN's report on the pandemic's impact on food security shows that harvests are healthy and supplies of staple foods are robust, but most people get theirs from local markets, which are affected by the lockdowns.

Loss of income attributed to lockdowns are also putting food out of reach for many people who are already struggling. Although global markets remained steady, the price of basic necessities has started to hike in some nations.

Lockdowns are slowing down harvests while millions of seasonal laborers are not able to work. Food waste has hit damaging levels as farmers are forced to throw perishable produce as the result of supply chain problems. Meat industry plants have been forced to close as well.

"The Covid-19 crisis is attacking us at every angle," said Agnes Kalibata, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for the 2021 food systems summit.

"It has exposed dangerous deficiencies in our food systems and actively threatens the lives and livelihoods of people around the world, especially the more than 1 billion people who have employment in the various industries in food systems."

Kalibata added that there was also a chance for countries to improve food systems, alongside reducing poverty and increasing worldwide resilience.

"Food has always brought people together and it can again if we build back better as it relates to our food systems."

Featured image credit: Prayag Tejwani/Unsplash


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Terry Gardner 1 year ago

I know, what about limiting the amount of people that are produced in the World? That's are start.

Mark 1 year ago

Please note the areas where this will occur. If I didn't know any better, it would appear the famine is racist.

whiskey tango foxtrot 1 year ago

So when will the UN "take immediate action"? What good are they? Do they do ANYTHING?

Jorge Furtado 1 year ago

China prepared against the Wuhan virus, had few deaths, but did not prevent the virus from being taken to the rest of the world

JNS 1 year ago

The UN is the biggest culprit in denying naturally occurring geological and climate events such as the GSM we are entering! We are too arrogant to learn from history, thus are destined to repeat history!

steven collier 1 year ago

CORONA VIRUS was a hoax from the start ,deliberately contrived to destroy our food supply chains when they knew that the GRAND SOLAR MINIMUM would already impact is a depopulation agenda by a few evil bureaucrats who run our planet..we need to remove them

chris baron 1 year ago

bullshit. it's deliberate depopulation agenda. soulless Godless demons in disguise as human beings think they have to cull the herd. communists believe in evolution they think that genocide is part of the natural order of things. As natural selection acts solely by the preservation of profitable modifications, each new form will tend in a fully-stocked country to take the place of, and finally to exterminate, its own less improved parent-form and other less-favoured forms with which it comes into competition.

Char I 1 year ago

Food waste is shameful when so many others are in need. We need to work on problems in the supply chain. The recent example of farmers being forced to throw out produce recently was so sad when so many are hungry in the world.

Bill H 1 year ago

Isn't it weird that the folks who "prepped" were made objects of ridicule by a good majority of people and now they are about the only people who are not terrified of 2020-2021.

Thomas Edward Magner (@Bill H) 1 year ago


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