Evidence based and inclusive policies needed for uplift of local food system

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The world over food has become an issue with Covid 19 pandemic and the worst is the lakhs are in hunger. Adding to the situation is the local food system, which was disrupted along the whole of the food chain.

Local food system was highly impacted because of the disruptions in local transport (66 per cent) and restrictions of the sale of food in public places like streets, parks and squares 68.3 per cent), a survey of the Food and Agriculture Organisation said.

Apart from this short supply of food items, most of the countries experienced panic buying that also worsened the situation. Moreover, millions of people, especially the vulnerable and the children had no access to food because of the closure of schools, street food outlets, canteens and restaurants.

The FAO held a global survey to map local responses to the Covid 19 pandemic.

Apart from this, food production was also hit. The restrictions imposed on movement of people have led to a shortage of labours in food related activities. Apart from food production, the supply was also affected. The FAO says that lack of labourers had disrupted harvesting in India. At the peak of cultivation, the farmers could not get enough labourers and the crops were destroyed, which had hit the economy of the farmers. In Madagascar, limited access to supplies such as seeds and fertilizers was reported. This could lead to a shortage of food supply.

Though there was much disruption to food supply, 50.9 percent of the cities who responded to the FAO Survey talked of various measures to tackle food shortage. They took measures such as establishment of temporary food hubs, expansion of delivery services, direct food distribution to vulnerable populations and logistical support. For example, when schools were closed and noon meals cut, the Latin America and Caribbean cities continued school meal delivery and even set up alternative mechanisms to ensure food access to vulnerable families.

With respect to local food production, the FAO said that 38 percent of the responding cities took to direct purchase mechanism from local producers. This helped in mitigating the crisis to a certain level.

ACTIONS TO SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION

  • Developing evidence based and inclusive policies and plans on food systems’ preparedness and resilience to shocks, extreme events and protracted crises.
  • Promotion of sectoral cooperation among local departments, vertical cooperation between municipal and subnational/national governments, and horizontal coordination with other local governments.
  • Promotion of local food production.
  • Short supply chains and greater degree of self-sufficiency.
  • Facilitating access to food for the most vulnerable through social protection programmes complemented by efficient, safe and innovative food distribution.
  • Establishing/strengthening networks and knowledge exchange between cities

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