Pandemic triggers food shortages and more 
Compiled by Walter Sorochan Doctor of Health & Safety

Posted April 25, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the food supply chains. In United States and Canada, many grocery shelves are empty. Farmers are recalculating how much food to grow as restaurants are in lockdown and farmers cannot market all that they produce. Lockdown has changed how many shop for food and what they eat in the western world. But people need to eat to live and survive in order to fight coronavirus!

But writer Ken Jorgustin   Jorgustin: Food crisis & pandemics 2014  was one of the first to sound an alert that pandemics cause food crises. While the ebola virus was spreading in Africa in 2014, he wrote:

"While the pandemic assaults the population, stores will shut down and a devastating food crisis will rapidly develop – starving millions – even those who have escaped the deadly grasp of the virus itself."

"When you consider the follow-on effects of a deadly pandemic such as mandatory shut-down’s, the breakdown of ‘just in time’ delivery systems, people not showing up for work, coupled with the death toll itself, there will no doubt be a food crisis during and after a Pandemic."

World leaders did not heed Jorgustin's warning. Now, there are similar crises and warnings just 6 years later for a new pandemic. With the coronavirus pandemic just about four months old, there are many already without work, on the verge of hunger and starvation in many parts of the world. And most, including governments, are unprepared to deal with emerging the food crisis. How serious is world food crisis?

United Nations [UN] warms of food shortage during the 2020 pandemic. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s chief economist, Maximo Torero Cullen, explained that while the supply of food stocks is plentiful, the lockdowns, restrictions on all but essential work, shutting down work places, shuttering of schools and border closures imposed around the world to limit the spread of the coronavirus are impacting farm workers and disrupting supply chains. Some countries have already begun to take such measures to curtail sharing food with other countries. On March 20, for example, Russia called a halt to the export of buckwheat and other grains for 10 days, while Kazakhstan introduced restrictions on shipments of wheat flour, buckwheat, sugar, several types of vegetables and sunflower oil.  Shaoul: UN warns food shotrage 2020

More than a 25 percent of the world’s farm work is done by migrant workers. In Europe, commercial farm work is dependent on the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of people from poorer countries to harvest food crops. The same is true for United States and Canada. Travel bans have reduced seasonal migration to a trickle, just as farmers are preparing for the harvest amid stockpiling and the most precipitous economic downturn in post-war memory. Farmers in France, Spain, and Italy are warning that ripening fruit and vegetables will be left to rot, leading to severe shortages in April and May. France alone needs 200,000 workers, while Germany requires 300,000. Britain, where the problem is further exacerbated by Brexit, faces a shortage of 90,000 workers. Some two-thirds of these 800,000 difficult and backbreaking jobs, characterized by low pay and long hours, are filled in the harvest season by workers from central and eastern Europe, Latin America and north Africa. But all countries have banned external visitors for 30 days or longer and many borders are closed. Even where travel is allowed, transport is limited, and workers fear they may be barred from returning home if they fall ill.

Africa, South Asia and South America may be hardest hit by the pandemic.  Habiyaremyeby: Food crisis in Africa 2020 Some statisticians point out that two billion people in the world are now hungry and on the verge of starvation.

UN-International Fund for Agricultural Development agency [IFAD] president Gilbert Houngbo stated that the world needs to rebuild the world’s food systems along more sustainable food lines and ensure that agriculture, food chains, markets and trade continue to function.  Ngotho: Funding food crisis 2020

This pandemic will trigger a food shortage even after this pandemic subsides as nations will be slow to change food supply chains.. While the focus in the world is on stopping the spread of coronavirus, the food crisis appears to be an after thought. Politicians are not listening to warnings about the impact that starvation will have on lowering the immune system, and that many people without food will die from starvation and not covid-19. 

The world needs to have a bailout plan for future pandemics and food crises that are sure to occur. But this suggestion may not be enough.

The lesson: The world has been a mess for a long time. The world as we knew it before the coronavirus epidemic was disorganized and lacked international leadership. Previous pandemics gave us many warnings that were ignored by politicians. In the last 100 years of global prosperity, and high technological advancements in medicine, health, communications, internet, computers, robots, intelligent technology and emerging nationalism, nations did little to look after each other .... other than having competitive economic trade wars. The League of Nations after WWI was organized to stop all wars and failed. Although EU tried to unify Europe, it has also been a failed experiment. The world of the past 50 years has not been able to agree on stopping climate change. Individualism and self freedom will need to ompromise and give way to the “common good” and “public benefit." The old saying: "You can't have your cake and eat it too!"

Covid-19 is changing the old world structure of doing business 'the old fashioned way' forever. Eradicating covid-19 in one country does not ensure that someone from another country will not re-infect a country that brought covid-19 under control. All countries must unite as one mother earth and work together to survive. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that " no country is an island unto itself!" No counry can survive by itself, just as man cannot live by himself.  Will there be a unifying big brother to feed the lesser countries?

What will I eat tomorrow? Will you be able to eat tomorrow?

References:

Behsudi Adam and Ryan McCrimmon, "Food goes to waste amid coronavirus crisis," Politico, 04/05/2020.  Behsudi: Food waste 2020

Habiyaremyeby Cedric, "A pandemic-driven food crisis in Africa can be prevented," Opinion/Africa, April 19, 2020.  Habiyaremyeby: Food crisis in Africa 2020

Jorgustin Ken, "Why An Epic Food Crisis Will Follow A Pandemic," Modern Survival Blog, Aug 27, 2014.  Jorgustin: Food crisis & pandemics 2014

Ngotho Agatha, "Sh4.2bn to prevent rural food crisis during pandemic," UN Fund, April 21, 2020.  Ngotho: Funding food crisis 2020

Shaoul Jean, "UN warns that COVID-19 pandemic could trigger global food shortage," World Socialist Web Site, March 30, 2020.  Shaoul: UN warns food shotrage 2020