UN body calls pandemic a threat to global food supply

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said COVID-19 threatens global food security that must be alleviated by ensuring supply chains are not disrupted.

Agriculture ministers from G20 countries held a joint meeting, where FAO director-general Qu Dongyu said preserving access to safe food and nutrition is an essential health response to the pandemic.

“We need to collaborate with every actor in the supply chain, build public-private partnerships and promote innovation,” Qu said in a news release.

The call was convened by Saudi Arabia, the country currently holding the rotating G20 presidency.

In her statement to the group, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to ensure the continued movement of food products and inputs among the G20 countries.

According to her office, she also “encouraged members to be transparent and mindful of trade rules when adopting domestic measures to address the crisis.”

Qu urged G20 agriculture ministers to “include long-term goals in their policy framework” according to an FAO release.

“The crisis opens an opportunity to accelerate food system transformation,” Qu said, noting e-commerce tools as an example. “New business models are needed. It is the time to speed-up e-commerce in agriculture and food systems across the globe.”

In Canada, there has been a rapid increase in the number of people shopping for groceries online.

According to a report from the World Trade Organization, 80 countries and customs territories have introduced export prohibitions as a result of the pandemic.

Three of the 13 WTO member countries (or 39 if European Union members are counted individually) have notified the organization of export restrictions on food stuffs.

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