Global coronavirus impact: Panic buying, transport disruption and looming famine

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Apr 10, 2020, 10:21 PM(IST)

coronavirus (representative image) Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Airfreight planes have been largely grounded shipping containers are hard to find ports are stuck with a huge backlog of uncleared shipments.

The coronavirus will be deadly even for those not infected by it. The virus from China is choking the jugular vein of human survival.

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A near-universal lockdown has meant that farmers across the world have no way to take their products out of the farms.

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Food is not reaching people for consumption. A lot of it is perishable and left with no choice, many farmers are dumping what they've grown. On the one hand, food is being thrown away. On the other, shelves in grocery stores lie empty.

 Panic buying is making matters worse

The coronavirus pandemic has snapped global food supply chains and this is serious because food supply chains provide 80 per cent of all food consumed in the world. 

Lockdowns have led to transport restrictions.

Air, sea and land transport have all been hit and that has hampered the movement of food.

Airfreight planes have been largely grounded and shipping containers are hard to find with ports stuck with huge backlog of uncleared shipments.

Food trucks and lorries are in short supply, making deliveries of fresh food increasingly difficult blocking shipments of vegetables from Africa to Europe and fruits from South America to the United States.

It was disrupted last week, the world food program assured that they have adequate stock of staple food supplies to deal with the current crisis. But things are going from bad to worse. Fear of food shortages has led to countries cutting back on food exports.

Russia, the world’s largest wheat producer, has suspended exports of processed grains like buckwheat and oat flakes. Vietnam, a major exporter of rice, has stopped exports altogether so has India, a major producer of rice. The problem doesn't end there, India fears crop losses on a wide scale.

The lockdown has sent masses of workers to home farms and markets don't have the labour force needed to keep the wheels turning and staple crops like wheat face the threat of rotting on the fields.

In the United States too migrant workers comprise the bulk of farm and agriculture labour. The lockdown has meant a chronic shortage of hands. It's the same story in Europe, border closures have cut off the inflow of labourers.

Farms doing spring planting in the UK are struggling to find workers to pick crops like strawberries and lettuce. It's not a situation that will be resolved in a hurry. Lockdowns are being extended the world over and the long-term impact on global food supply could be devastating.

The United Nations’ food and agriculture organisation has warned of a price hike. Countries that import food are rushing to stock up staple foods and pushing up prices. Experts say the number of people going hungry around the world could increase dramatically in the coming months with reports warning the world of a looming famine.

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