COVID-19 is an eye-opening occurrence that we should learn from. When it comes to food security, pandemics and other phenomena that disrupt economies as well as our daily living is a critical blow.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the rate of global hunger had been in decline for decades since 2005 but from 2015 onwards, this trend has actually reversed.
Globally, it has been estimated that over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, healthy, and sufficient food. This widespread hunger results in a number of ill-effects such as poor physical and mental health, sluggish development of economies, and social unrest.
These effects are even more amplified by fast-spreading diseases such as the COVID-19. Unemployment caused by lockdowns is currently affecting informal workers, daily wage earners, as well as owners and employees of small to medium businesses. This puts a strain on purchasing powers and could force millions of people to go hungry.
Another challenge that COVID-19 presents is the closure of ports. This issue mostly affects food import-dependent countries. Acquiring food can be even more difficult when there are shortages in local markets.
As stated by the FAO, addressing food insecurity means addressing its underlying root causes: poverty, inequality, and marginalization. These are huge obstacles aimed to be solved through the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Additionally, government bodies and international organizations also need to address other challenges in order to achieve food security. One of the main issues is climate change, which greatly affects agriculture and food production as a whole. Droughts, flash floods, and stronger typhoons and hurricanes are all increasing annually and are slowly becoming a norm. Climate experts believe that intensified weather phenomena will disrupt food production and accessibility that may lead to food crises.
Growing populations also put further pressure on food security, especially in developing countries. Limited resources become even more scarce when the number of people increases. This is why experts believe that giving interventions like accessible family planning is a must.
Most importantly, food producers such as smallholder farmers need to be supported. Governments and non-government bodies need to provide extensive support to guarantee sufficient and safe food for every household. Climate-resistant crops and better infrastructure must be promoted. Agricultural inputs and supplementary training would also be beneficial to farmers who are struggling to sustain their livelihood.
In light of COVID-19, governments must also consider the storage facilities and capabilities of the food producers within their countries. Proper post-harvest storage greatly reduces the risk of food loss while keeping contaminants at bay. This is important in countries with high levels of aflatoxin brought by mold growth in produce, such as in Mozambique and Nigeria.
Proper storage can help strengthen food security, especially for the "new normal" needed because of the continuous spread of COVID-19. Such storage can be in the form of warehouses, but building large facilities can be costly and time-consuming.
An alternative that can be used is large-scale hermetic storage, such as GrainPro's line of Cocoons. These gas-tight and moisture-tight storage units can be easily set-up without the need for added construction of infrastructure.
Hermetic storage has been proven to be effective in keeping crops safe from insects and molds, all the while preserving quality. The use of these solutions can greatly aid in procuring large quantities of staple foods such as rice, beans, wheat, and others so that governments and traders would not need to worry about building additional warehouses.
We are facing life-changing circumstances because of COVID-19. Adapting to the new normal means using creative and unconventional tools while maximizing resources at hand. This goes not only for food security but to everything else that we aim to achieve.
For more information on hermetic post-harvest solutions, click the button below.