FAO calls for more innovative policies in Asia-Pacific to
ensure food security and nutrition in the wake of COVID-19
FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific warns that
the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 requires a greater coordinated response on
many policy levels, particularly to ensure food and nutrition security of
billions of people in the vast Asia-Pacific region.
According to a policy brief released by the FAO Regional
Office, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to food and nutrition
security in Asia and the Pacific, as the economic turmoil caused by the
pandemic and the lockdowns threaten both economic and physical access to
While the slowing global economy has caused widespread job
losses, collapsing incomes, and falling remittances in Asia and the Pacific,
FAO says that this convergence of factors may make food, particularly
nutritious food, less affordable for some, especially the poor as well as
vulnerable groups such as women, children and the disabled.
Furthermore, despite the fact that over the last couple of
months agricultural production and food supply have been less affected and
international food market prices have remained generally soft, the Organization
warns that any disruptions to and possible breakdowns of marketing, logistics
and trading systems – due to the pandemic – could make food unavailable in some
locations at some times.
The report also indicates that the situation in countries
that are engaged in conflict, sheltering large numbers of refugees, or
experiencing particularly severe natural disasters is more fragile, as these
nations are more likely to be severely affected by COVID-19, experiencing the
worse food insecurity and malnutrition.
Addressing such grave concerns, FAO’s Regional Office for Asia
and the Pacific calls on the region’s countries to focus on:
Controlling the spread of the virus and implementing
physical distancing to reduce fear among all labourers, including those working
in food supply chains.
Expanding social protection, in the short-term as part of
countries’ economic stimulus measures, to cover more people and provide more
generous benefits to ensure food access for all, while also reducing the
administrative burden needed to access the funds.
Necessity of working together for Governments and the
private sector to solve disruptions in food supply chains when they
Avoiding export restrictions in international trade to make
sure supply chains continue to function.
Building resilience into food systems to safeguard them against
future economic and health shocks as part of stimulus measures to ensure food
As per Jong-Jin Kim, FAO Deputy Regional Representative and
head of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, in such
circumstances, “clearly we need to adapt many aspects of our present policies
and approaches to growing, harvesting, transporting, processing and selling
food in this evolving era of COVID-19 to secure our nutritional well-being and