Economy WFP concerned about risks of food shortage

WFP concerned about risks of food shortage

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Published on : 04/03/2020 – 19:31

In a report released Friday, April 3, the UN humanitarian agency is concerned about the risk of food shortages created by the coronavirus pandemic, which threatens hundreds of millions of people worldwide, mainly in Africa.

Usually, the risks of food shortages are caused by supply problems, in the event of a poor harvest, or by problems linked to demand, in the event of financial difficulties of the purchasing States. In an “unprecedented” way, this time “we have both at the same time”, worries the World Food Program.

The state of stocks is not alarming, the foodstuffs exist, but the problem is more linked to transport difficulties, consequence of containment measures which slow down for example maritime transport, or to the irrational behavior observed on the markets.

Market panic

Argentina, for example, has blocked trucks at some of its very important grain export ports Says Tiphaine Walton, spokesperson for the World Food Program.

Investors are panicked by the prospect of a global recession, fueled by issues raised around the world, such as the lack of seasonal labor on French farms, a factor also cited by WFP. Oil prices have fallen, those of food raw materials are very low: good news for the countries which import it, but also a factor of uncertainties. As for the countries that export raw materials, they mechanically see their incomes fall. And, consequently, their possibilities to import food.

Stocks exist

We have the stock to compensate in the near future, once again recalls Tiphaine Walton, but some more fragile economies depend a lot on their exports of oil or copper for example, and do not have a successful agricultural sector. So they depend on their imports, and these countries are likely to have a problem quickly. We are thinking of Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria and the Congo.

Humanitarians prepare

WFP says it is preparing for the worst, even if for the moment no shortage is noted anywhere. ” We follow market prices, we are preparing to install increased systems for monitoring food and economic vulnerability in several countries, explains Tiphaine Walton. The UN agency is finally pre-positioning additional food stocks in its humanitarian depots, mainly in Africa. ” We also anticipate the problems of closing borders, transporting equipment and humanitarian personnel by reflecting on the positioning of boats, planes or trucks to transport this aid. Food distribution operations could also be replaced by cash transfers on a case-by-case basis.

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