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Food Insecurity, Flooding, and Locusts Post Triple Challenge
In a pilot COVID-19 situation report, AGRA projected that food insecurity in 11 African nations will grow by 2 million people by September. Many nations have deemed agriculture “essential” business, but movement restrictions and social distancing have posed challenges for farmers getting their food to buyers. While Western Africa is expected to have a favorable growing season, Eastern Africa is now experiencing flooding, on top of the locust infestation and COVID-19 challenges. Flooding in the region has already displaced half a million people, and could disrupt locust control efforts. The World Bank has pledged $500 million to fight the locust infestation across Eastern Africa and the Middle East, which has affected 23 countries total. Yet it is crucial to focus on successes on the continent as well as challenges. Senegal is developing a $1 testing kit for the novel coronavirus, and Ghana has created testing approaches that are now being studied by the World Health Organization.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Workers pick tea leaves at a plantation near the town of Limuru in Kiambu County, near Nairobi, Kenya. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
The Life Sentence of Malnutrition: The World Food Programme has warned that the number of people experiencing severe hunger will double due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior Fellow Roger Thurow provides a look at what that could mean for children who experience hunger in his newest digital interactive. Thurow followed Hagirso, a young man from Ethiopia, for nearly two decades to document his life story and experience with stunting. Stunting has economic effects that extend beyond the life of one child. As Thurow writes in his latest essay, "a lost chance of greatness for one child is a lost chance for us all." You can watch his interview with FoodTank founder Dani Nierenberg, in which he discusses the importance of nutrition. It will also be available as a podcast episode in their show, Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg.
UPCOMING COUNCIL EVENTS
Food in Focus: Global Hunger and the COVID Pandemic with Catherine Bertini & Ertharin Cousin
Date: May 22
Time: 12 p.m. CDT
LIVE STREAM: Former Norwegian Prime Minister Brundtland on Pandemic Leadership
Date: May 26
Time: 10 a.m. CDT
#HeiferTogether Live Chat with Dan Glickman
Date: May 29
Time: 11 am CDT
Did you miss one of our previous livestreams? Don't worry! They are all available on our website to watch at any time.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL ISSUES
Running Dry: The Mekong River, responsible for feeding over 66 million people, is slowly drying up. The river, which flows 4500 km from China to Southeast Asia, is at historically low levels and fish catches have decreased 80-90 percent in some areas. Droughts in the Southern portion of the river as well as dams in China have exacerbated the water shortage.
Celebrating and Sipping: The first International Tea Day took place on May 21st as a celebration of the crop and the role it has played in rural development and poverty reduction. Tea is one of the oldest estate cash crops and a main source of income for many emerging economies. There is an opportunity to “build back better” after the pandemic, increasing opportunity for smallholder tea farmers.
The Doctor is In: For Indian farmers, the national lockdown has resulted in labor shortages which make it harder to fight pests. A Chennai-based foundation is helping farmers fight pests virtually via e-clinics and virtual diagnoses. Farmers can use their phones to send in photos of their plants, and receive a diagnosis and treatment suggestions. The program has potential to reach thousands of farmers, if barriers to technology access can be resolved.
Tea, the World's Most Popular Beverage: After water, tea is the most consumed beverage on the planet. China, India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka account for three quarters of the world’s tea production. Much of the tea produced in the world is consumed domestically—in 2015, China, India, and Turkey together consumed more tea than all other tea drinking nations combined. The tea sector is projected to grow at a rate of 4-5.5 percent annually, reaching a value of $73 billion by 2024.
Informed Lending: In Indonesia, there are 34 million farmers, whose goods regularly go through 9 layers of middlemen after their sale. In order to increase profits and sustainability for the farmers, an Indonesian startup, HARA, has developed a mobile app that can be utilized by trained data collectors to aid the farmers. The collectors go to farmers around the country and collect their demographic information, which they then use to inform them on the best loans they can receive. So far, 33000 farmers are involved as well as 1800 data collectors.
Wine Adapts: Chile’s wine industry, which was shut down mid-harvest due to the country wide lockdown, has developed inventive adaptations to the constantly changing conditions in Chile. The industry, which employs 200 thousand during the harvest season, was eventually deemed an essential industry, and wine laboratories have been converted into COVID-19 testing labs. Additionally, the supply chain shifted to direct-to-consumer in order to minimize the losses from in-person sales.
International Day for Biodiversity: May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity. This year’s theme is “our solutions in nature.” It highlights ecosystem solutions the world’s opportunity to “build back better” from the global disruptions we are experiencing. Biodiversity is crucial to human nutrition and planetary health. As humans encroach further on wildlife habitats, scientists have warned that the number of infectious zoonotic diseases could rise.
New Details for Farm Assistance: This week, President Trump and Secretary Perdue announced further details regarding direct assistance to US farmers in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. These details included new limits on the size of stimulus checks, potential installment payments, as well as crops and livestock that are not eligible for aid. Sign-up for the program will begin next Tuesday, May 26.
Funds for FAO: The FAO is requesting $350 million for fighting the negative impacts of COVID-19 on hunger and livelihood in food crisis contexts. Examples of projects that will be completed with the additional funds include distributing seeds to South Sudanese farmers, providing cash assistance in Somalia, and creating vegetable nurseries in Syria.
Rural Support: The Indian Government has announced a $13.19 billion fund to advance agricultural infrastructure. The government will also ease restrictions on the trade of farm products. Both moves are a part of the government’s plan for economic recovery following the end of the lockdown.
TRADE & COMMODITIES
Fish Sales Flounder: Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, fish sales in Brazil have fallen by 50 percent. Total exports for the country are usually around $300 million, though it is likely to be far less for this year. Fish processors are requesting tax breaks, emergency loans, and subsidized credit from the government in order to stay afloat.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
Food Tank Live with Lawrence Haddad
Date: May 25
Time: 4 pm CDT
Generating Resilience+ to Reduce Poverty and Spur Agricultural Growth
Date: June 3
Time: 9 am CDT
SEE ALSO: Resilience+ Explained
2020 World Food Prize Laureate Announcement
Date: June 11
Time: 9 am CDT
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