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Minimize food supply disruptions to the extent possible
Although COVID-19 is a health pandemic, its effects can lead to other issues including a food security crisis if no proper measures are taken. Africa’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture with about two thirds of the population involved in small holder farming activities. The unpredictable spread of the pandemic and ensuing panic is likely to cause disruptions in the food system affecting both the supply and demand of food. Although, it’s too early to assess the impact of COVID-19 on food security, as the novel coronavirus is still spreading and not yet contained, in addition to ensuring the safety of people, urgent measures need to be undertaken to ensure continuity of national agricultural and food supply chains.
Urgent actions at the national and regional levels to prevent food security crisis could include:
Develop strategies to use the current food supply chains efficiently and economically – reduce food losses and waste along the food value chain;
Even in the lock down situation, make special arrangements for essential agricultural production processes such as planting, harvesting, food conservation and processing (depending on season) to happen especially at individual family level. Access to inputs (fertilizers and seed), animal feeds and drugs should be facilitated to the extent possible. Do not miss an agricultural season which only comes once or twice in a year;
Closely monitor food prices and markets, and manage well food reserves to ensure price stability and availability of food and agricultural products;
Use safety net systems to reduce the impact on vulnerable groups. This could be in the form of cash or in-kind transfers.
Promote E-commerce and delivery which allow the couriers to leave a parcel at a convenient spot for the customers to pick up, which rules out person-to-person interaction during lockdown.
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