Researcher says COVID-19 to affect Africa’s food situation

Maize farmer

An International maize researcher said on Wednesday the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect Africa’s food security situation.

Boddupalli Prasanna, director of the global maize program at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), a global research body, called on scientists to help countries in finding faster solutions to the effects of COVID-19 on food security.

“I am particularly worried about farmers, especially smallholder farmers, who are quite vulnerable to the ongoing challenge,” Prasanna said in a statement.

Prasanna said many countries in Africa that do not have enough food reserves or those where the food systems are vulnerable to shocks like COVID-19 are already suffering.

Prasanna noted that the people’s capacity to procure inputs for agriculture is going to be affected since their livelihoods are fragile, and vulnerable to climate change and volatile market prices.

The scientist noted that the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) must work closely with national partners in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture.

He said that even without COVID-19, agriculture in many developing countries worldwide has been already under distress.

He noted that small and marginal farmers were often unable to find a market for their produce and earn sufficient income to support their families.

He noted that agricultural research needs to put systems in place to prevent the proliferation of such diseases, whether it is plant, animal or human diseases.

“The solution is how the national systems are supported to be able to proactively prevent, detect, and intervene very fast,” he added.

According to Prasanna, no country can be considered completely safe, since such diseases do not discriminate between a developed and a developing country, or the rich and the poor.

He called on researchers to learn from COVID-19 and put measures in handling diseases once they are reported in other continents as the possibility of spreading is imminent.

Prasanna observed that due to the changing climates, international trade and movements of human beings more serious viral or fungal diseases could emerge in the future.

“Whenever such devastating trans-boundary viral diseases show up, respond quickly by containing the infected area to stop it from spreading and then mitigating the damage systematically,” he noted. Enditem

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