UNFAO: Conflict And Climate Conditions Continue To Exacerbate Food Insecurity

13 Jul 2019 by Staff - Water Diplomat
ROME, Italy

Variable climate conditions and persistent conflicts contine to cause high levels of food insecurity in 41 countries, with 31 of these in Africa, UNFAO has reported.

The Crop Prospects and Food Situation report issued by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization July 4, relates that these countries continue to be in food deficit and in need of external assistance, a situation that has not changed in three months.

Both too much rain from cyclones and too little rain have ravaged Southern Africa in particular. Harvests have declined for the second consecutive year in Zimbabwe and Zambia while production cuts due to cyclones have hit Mozambique.

Economic downturn will continue to affect Zimbabwe where an estimated three million people are already considered to be food insecure, the agency says.

Somalia, Kenya and the Sudan have very depressed first harvests in 2019 due to the late arrival of the seasonal rains and harvests in the entire region are expected to be below average.

Reduced rainfall in Korea and low availability of irrigation water will continue affect more than 10 million people; about 40 percent of the population are currently in urgent need of food support.

Regions not generally affected by severe and unusual weather conditions have been affected by conflict. Specifically, ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen have continued to hinder agricultural production potential by limiting input availability and increasing cost of production.

Better news is that in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2019 grain harvests are forecasted to reach a record high of 274 million tons. The increase is due, in part, to increased plantings. Wheat production in 2019 is expected to rebound in the European Union, the Russian Federation and Ukraine mainly due to favourable weather conditions and larger plantings.

The report includes a special section on African Swine Fever. a contagious disease affecting domestic and wild pigs. The disease is spreading within East and Southeast Asia, threatening the livelihoods and food security of millions of people dependent on pig farming.

In China, as of mid-June, the disease has been reported in 32 out of the 34 provincial level administrative divisions and more than 1.1 million pigs have perished or have been culled. The disease is also affecting pig production in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Given the scale of pig production, the disease will affect already vulnerable small holding farmers. The reduction in feedstocks should affect availability and result in price hikes, further straining food security.