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Concern as Covid-19 aggravates food insecurity situation

The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down efforts to fight malnutrition whereby some people do not have access to healthy foods, or lack any foods for their sustenance, actors in the agriculture sector and humanitarian agencies have said.

They voiced the concern on Thursday, October 29, 2020 as Rwanda was joined by its agriculture sector partners to virtually celebrate World Food Day 2020, which is globally celebrated on October 16.

 

Gualbert Gbehounou, the Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said that World Food Day was being celebrated in a challenging context of the Covid-19 pandemic which is aggravating or creating food insecurity in every country of the world.

 

“Indeed, we have to act together to eradicate hunger affecting 700 million people worldwide, and nowadays we have to add, almost 140 million people affected by Covid-19-induced food insecurity,” he said.

 

He urged the focusing of efforts on significantly reducing food loss because it not only contributes to hunger, but it wastes the production of resources such as land, water, fertilisers, and pesticides and labour, among others.

Food security a human right

The Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Gerardine Mukeshimana said that Covid-19 continues to have adverse effects on the lives of people, and increase food insecurity for people across the world.

“The effects of Covid-19 increased, and it is expected that they will continue to increase the number of people who do not have enough food to sustain them,” she said underscoring that food security is a human right.

She said that in Rwanda, the Covid-19 pandemic affected different people who are engaged in the agrifood chain including farmers, traders and agro-processing SMEs, transportation of food, among others.

“It is necessary that we uphold strategies to increase food production, and tackle the identified issues including malnutrition and climate change so that we achieve [the food security] target we set,” she said.

In Rwanda, an estimated 467,000 households, or 18.7 percent of all Rwandan households, are food insecure, according to the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) 2018, which showed that 81.3 percent of the Rwandan population is food secure.

Agrifood systems out of balance

Fodé Ndiaye, UN Resident Coordinator said that in the 75 years since the founding of the UN and FAO, agriculture productivity and agrifood system have come a long way, yet too many people remain vulnerable.

“Even before the pandemic, more than 2 billion people did not have regular access to enough, safe, nutritious food and, [now] nearly 700 million people go to bed hungry. This is not acceptable,” he said.

Yet, he said, the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone.

“Our agrifood systems are out of balance. Hunger and the opposite – obesity -, environmental degradation, food loss and waste and lack of security for food chain workers are only some of the issues that underline this imbalance,’ he said.

“World Food Day is calling for global solidarity to help all population and especially the most vulnerable ones to recover from the crisis and make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all and decent livelihoods for food system workers,” he said.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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