The Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) on Friday said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the region’s food insecurity and warned against a possible hunger pandemic.
In a message to mark, World Food Day 2020, CARDI, which was established in 1974 to serve the agricultural research and development needs of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “has revealed very clearly that although the world is producing enough food to feed all seven billion plus of us, widening inequality gaps are threatening the most vulnerable with hunger and malnutrition.”
It said that in May, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean will increase from 3.4 million to 13.7 million over the course of 2020.
“COVID-19 has placed the region’s food insecurity in the spotlight. As countries slowly embark on post COVID-19 recovery plans, we must be mindful and fiercely guard against a hunger pandemic,” CARDI said. “As rebuilding efforts continue it is important that plans are grounded in improving productivity, access and availability to safe, nutritious food, climate proofing the sector and preventing food wastage”.
CARDI said it was working on several initiatives to improve regional food and nutrition security and is continuing to leverage its extensive network of regional and national partners to ensure the agriculture sector is productive, resilient and sustainable.
“We remain supportive of governments initiatives which target vulnerable households to expand and improve emergency food assistance and social protection programmes,” CARDI said, adding that ongoing evaluation trials for key commodities such as roots and tubers, herbs and spices, coconuts and small ruminants are geared towards improving the quality and availability of planting materials and introducing new technologies and practices for boosting productivity.