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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has issued six ways countries can efficiently support smallholder farmers to prevent the breakdown of food supply chains.

The organisation shared its recommendations in a video published on its official Twitter handle Friday.

According to the FAO, during this COVID-19 pandemic, smallholder farmers are on the frontline keeping the food supply chain running. However, restrictions on movement are keeping them from selling their products or buying seeds.

The FAO said to keep the food supply chain alive, countries can support smallholder farmers when they “facilitate movement of agricultural products; buy surplus fresh produce to supply those in need; connect farmers to markets to avoid food losses.”

It also urged them to “match agricultural job opportunities to unemployed workers; provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises; and ensure access to agricultural inputs and services for next season.”

COVID-19 Impacts on Agriculture

The FAO said, currently, some 820 million people around the world are experiencing chronic hunger – not eating enough caloric energy to live normal lives. Of these, 113 million are coping with acute severe insecurity – hunger so severe that it poses an immediate threat to their lives or livelihoods and renders them reliant on external assistance to get by.

It said these people can ill-afford any potential further disruptions to their livelihoods or access to food that COVID-19 might bring. As a result of the above, as of April and May, we expect to see disruptions in the food supply chains.

Meanwhile, the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) released last month said, over 135 million people in 55 countries and territories are faced with acute food insecurity, and this requires urgent action.

The report showed that about 108 million people in 48 countries in 2016, 124 million people in 51 countries in 2017 and 113 million people in 53 countries in 2018, suffered acute food insecurity.

Of the 135 million in 2019, Africa accounts for 73 million, half of whom are in 36 of Africa’s 55 countries. Northern Nigeria alone accounts for 5 million, the report said.

Lockdown

Amidst the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe are employing movement restriction measures, as a strategic means to curb the disease.

However, many countries, especially in Africa, rely on subsistence agriculture.

According to Worldometer, as of Sunday afternoon, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases was 3,499,398. However, 1,127,223 persons have recovered from the disease, while 244,991 fatalities have been recorded.

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