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Agriculture ministry, FAO, WFP ease COVID-19 food insecurity impacts

Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Food Programme (WFP) are cooperating with the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to draft a response plan and provide direct assistance to farmers continuing to produce food for their communities.
FAO, WFP now are completing an assessment of the COVID-19 impact on farmers and smallholders across Laos in supporting the ministry’s assistance to farmers including the supply of seeds, home gardening kits, animal healthcare items and technical support.

Speaking to the support, FAO Representative in the Lao PDR, Mr Nasar Hayat said the organisation was already implementing several emergency projects to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the country’s agricultural sector.
“Through this support, we seek to improve nutrition, diversify incomes and restore the purchasing power of the most vulnerable families so that they can meet their critical needs without selling their assets,” he said.
With extensive expertise in strengthening communities’ safety nets, food security, food safety and trade, FAO was pleased to offer its expertise to help the Lao government to safeguard the livelihoods and food security of the most vulnerable population groups, he added.
In the absence of timely and effective policies, millions more people worldwide are likely to suffer hunger as a result of the COVID-19-triggered recession, FAO noted in its analysis published on its website on April 24.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 will be felt more in the poor communities of the countries which depend on food imports, such as the Lao PDR.
FAO analysis found that if GDP growth in the 101 net food-importing countries declines by 2 to 10 percent, hunger could affect an additional 14.4 million to 80.3 million people across these countries.
This could lead to a longer-term setback to global Zero-Hunger efforts and a crisis with potentially severe consequences in the long run.
Border closures, quarantines, and disruptions in markets, supply chains and trade, have disrupted people’s access to sufficient, diverse and nutritious food, especially in countries hit hard by the virus or already affected by high levels of food insecurity.
Additionally, with the significant slowdown of the world’s economies and the increasing rates of unemployment, the demand for food will decrease. In turn, prices will likely go down as well, thus reducing the sales and revenues of the agricultural sector.
Globally, some 820 million people around the world are experiencing hunger – consuming an insufficient amount of calories for a healthy and active life.
Hunger and chronic undernourishment are particularly damaging on children’s growth and development; the effects are irreversible and carry long-term implications for future and sustainable development. 
The UN system has asked donors for US$110 million under a consolidated UN humanitarian appeal of March 25 to fund the FAO emergency response to COVID-19 and facilitate its efforts to protect the food security of vulnerable rural populations worldwide.
“Globally, there is enough food for everyone. Policymakers around the world must be careful to avoid the mistakes made during the 2007-2008 food crisis, and avoid turning this health crisis into a food crisis,” the FAO Representative in Lao PDR said while noting there was adequate food supply so far with stable markets.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 15, 2020)

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