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April 14th, 2020

Diets in a time of coronavirus: Don’t let vegetables fall off the plate

Published by IFPRI,

This blog at IFPRI explains that vegetables production, trade and consumption are particularly affected by COVID-19 because of their highly seasonal nature, high labor needs, perishability and the need for good storage and distribution logistics, with significant implications for nutrition security. Vegetables are a key source of essential nutrients as driver for immunity and health. COVID-19 is posing serious challenges related to limits in movement of food, access to agricultural inputs, and migration for labor. Trader’s  access to markets is being limited and local actions are restricting traders’ legitimate activities in troubling ways. Vegetables are also among the faster-growing commodities in global trade, much from poor to rich countries. Thereby, government interventions such as export bans might be imposed. In short and medium term, accessibility of vegetables is a more pressing concern than availability, due to high prices because of supply changes. Moreover, households facing uncertain incomes and uncertain access to shops are expected to shift their demand, likely altering to a decline in vegetables. To protect healthy diets, policy debates should focus on trade-offs between international trade and local or common production systems, consolidation in the food system that leaves government with few policy levers in times of crisis, and how the most vulnerable can be supported in access to healthy diets. There are three actions that should be taken: 1) Countries should meet the immediate food needs of their vulnerable populations; 2) Countries should boost their social protection programs; 3) Countries should gain efficiencies and try to reduce trade-related costs. The seismic impact of COVID-19 has just begun to reveal important weak points in our highly interconnected global and local food systems, with hugely different diet impacts for rich and poor countries and households. Addressing those problems in the short- and medium-term is essential to prevent a rise in malnutrition and related health problems. Post-crisis, these efforts offer an opportunity to continue building more equitable food systems that promote healthy diets for all

Curated from ifpri.org