COVID-19: A threat to food security

  • IASbaba
  • March 31, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate. 

COVID-19: A threat to food security

The economic disruption caused by pandemic & the lockdown is still unfolding (IMF has already declared global recession). Supply chains are disrupted – especially the ones related to food. If not cooperated at global level, this could lead to shortage of food for millions

Do You Know?

  • Currently 113 million people experience acute hunger in the world
  • One in every 9 people in the world is undernourished.
  • Goal 2 of SDGs seeks to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030

Has the pandemic led to food insecurity?

  • No, as of now the countries have sufficient stocks to deal with food needs of people
  • Essentials like milk (Amul Cooperative) and food grains supply chains are working fine
  • However, there has been anecdotal reports of crowded supermarket sieges from some parts of the world

What can be the future problems associated with global food security?

  • Labour shortages may impact the harvest of upcoming produce leading to shortages
  • Shortage of fertilizers, veterinary medicines and other input could also affect agricultural production.
  • Closures of restaurants diminishes the demand for fresh produce and fisheries products, impacting small & marginal farmers that has long term consequences on Urban areas
  • Food processing sector will face difficulties due to shortage of working capital and workers
  • Countries adopt restrictive trade measures to safeguard their own national food security
  • Restricted trade practices will lead serious disruptions in the world food market resulting in increased price volatility & price hikes.
  • Low-income food-deficit countries will be the worst hit in cased of restrictive global food markets, thus precipitating humanitarian crisis (hunger deaths)

Way forward:

  • Avoid restrictive trade practices by National governments
  • Transparency: Information on prices, production, consumption and stocks of food should be made available to all in real time.
  • Ensuring global markets function normally as it is needed for smoothening supply and demand shocks across countries and regions.
  • Proactive role by international organisations like FAO to contain unwarranted panic behaviour in global food markets.


  • Any disruptions to food supply chains will intensify both human suffering and the challenge of reducing hunger around the world
  • Globally coordinated and coherent response is thus needed to prevent this public health crisis from triggering a food crisis in future

Connecting the dots:

  • Democratic nature of International Organisation
  • FAO’s Food Price Index

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