Report: World faces worst food crisis for at least 50 years, UN warns

The Guardian discusses why the world faces its worst food crisis for at least 50 years, UN warns. Governments urged to act to avoid disaster from recession caused by coronavirus.

The world stands on the brink of a food crisis worse than any seen for at least 50 years, the UN has warned as it urged governments to act swiftly to avoid disaster.

Better social protections for poor people are urgently needed as the looming recession following the coronavirus pandemic may put basic nutrition beyond their reach, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday.

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” he said. “We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”

Although harvests of staple crops are holding up, and the export bans and protectionism that experts feared have so far been largely avoided, the worst of the impacts of the pandemic and ensuing recession are yet to be felt. Guterres warned: “Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruption in the food supply chain.”

Harvests are healthy and supplies of staple foods such as grains are “robust”, according to the UN report on the impact of Covid-19 on food security and nutrition, published on Tuesday. But most people get their food from local markets, which are vulnerable to disruption from lockdowns.

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