The coronavirus pandemic has sparked not only a health crisis but also an economic crisis,
which together pose a serious threat to food security, particularly in poorer countries
Global food markets are not immune to the current economic developments. The complexity of
the food supply chains and the importance of trade and transportation, make them extremely
vulnerable.
The COVID-19 pandemic is directly affecting food systems by impacting both food supply -as
the capacity to produce and distribute food is affected – and demand – due to decreasing
consumers’ purchasing power. Smallholder farmers producing for export have lost access to
global markets. As movement restrictions are imposed: agricultural input – such as seeds,
fertilizers and insecticides – supply chains are impacted and access to farmlands limited. All at
critical times in the season, reducing production, harvesting capacity, informal labourers’ access
to wages. On top of that, transport of goods to processing facilities and/or markets is impaired.
Livestock supply chains are also exposed to risks: transhumance routes are already affected by
movement restrictions and border closings.Supply chain disruption coupled with loss of income
are restricting people’s access to sufficient/diverse and nutritious sources of food, especially in
countries hit hard by the virus or already affected by high levels of food insecurity.Even if there’s
still a lot of work to do to understand the linkages between COVID-19 and the drivers of acute
food insecurity, there’s anyway general agreement that both the magnitude and the severity of
acute food insecurity is likely to rise over the course of this year across the globe.
The spread of the virus may accecutate food security and poverty
With COVID-19 and its economic fallout now spreading in the poorest parts of the world, many
more people will become poor and food-insecure. In a new scenario analysis, we estimate that
globally, absent interventions, over 140 million people could fall into extreme poverty (measured
against the $1.90 poverty line) in 2020 — an increase of 20% from present levels. This in turn
would drive up food insecurity. A global health crisis could thus cause a major food crisis —
unless steps are taken to provide unprecedented economic emergency relief.
COVID-19 is exacerbating inequalities in food security
COVID-19 is disrupting economies and food systems everywhere, but the poor will suffer the
greatest risk of food crisis. Based on model predictions, early empirical evidence, and lessons
from previous crises, it is clear that the risk of increased food insecurity depends on the level of
economic development. As employment and income opportunities fall for the poor, the gap
between rich and poor is growing. Among the poor, urban poor and women are especially
vulnerable.
Situation in India
India has taken early action to limit the spread of COVID-19, ordering a 21-day nationwide
lockdown for its population of 1.3 billion people starting March 25. Subsequently the lockdown

was renewed three more times before May 31. The unlocking of India began June 1, except in
containment zones. The novel coronavirus has spread widely in India and the number of
reported infections is 217,000, with relatively few deaths, at 6,075, as of June 4. However, as
COVID-19 cases are increasing fast, there is great concern about the disease’s potential spread
and impact. India has to be ready for a possible surge. The government views the pattern of the
spread of COVID-19 as similar to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, meaning the spread is
unlikely to be uniform. It is concentrated in a few big cities and states and its spread is less in
rural areas and smaller towns and cities.