According to a new report by the Global Network Against Food Crises released this week, some 135 million people in 55 countries suffered from extreme food insecurity in 2019, a figure that could increase this year due to the coronavirus.
Given these figures, the ministers of agriculture of the G20 member countries have asked in a joint statement issued on Tuesday that governments avoid implementing unjustified restrictive measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic that may affect food supplies in world markets. "We will avoid any unjustified restrictive measure that may lead to excessive volatility in food prices in international markets, and that threatens the food security of the world population," they stated.
They also said that the measures taken by the countries have to be proportionate and transparent so that they "do not create unnecessary barriers to trade or interrupt the global food supply chains."
In this sense, they highlighted the need to protect food security around the world, especially in the most vulnerable countries, and reaffirmed their commitment not to impose restrictions on exports of food and agricultural products for humanitarian purposes that are acquired by the World Food Programme (PMA) and other agencies.
The G20 ministers emphasized the importance of “avoiding food loss and waste caused by interruptions in supply chains, which could increase food insecurity and nutritional risks, as well as economic losses."
In addition, they called for strengthening the sustainability of food systems to cope with future disease outbreaks.
The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, stressed that the COVID-19 crisis has revealed that the virus does not respect borders and that there is a need to strengthen international cooperation.
In this context, Planas made a call to join efforts, in a transparent and proportional way, to guarantee the flow of basic products, such as food, internationally. According to the minister, transparency in the information on the production and trade of raw materials, at the global level, is now more relevant to guarantee food security.
Planas insisted that "we must redouble our commitment to achieve the goal of ending hunger by 2030 (SDG 2 of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development)." The Ministry also thanked the Saudi Arabian Presidency for the effort made to maintain the spirit of cooperation of the G-20 and to respond in a joint and coordinated manner to the planetary crisis unleashed by COVID-19.