Inside Story

Is coronavirus threatening food security?

The United Nations has issued a serious warning of a global shortage as the pandemic spreads.

Widespread famines of “biblical proportions” – that is the warning by the United Nations, which says COVID-19 could cause an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.

It says the number of people who cannot get enough to eat could double by the end of the year – that is more than quarter of a billion people.

Some 21,000 people already die of hunger every day, and that number could soar if people do not get help.

Food supplies are limited by lockdowns and people’s incomes are drying up. Poor countries affected by conflict, economic crisis and climate change are particularly at risk.

The UN says this could drive a wave of refugees and threatens an exponential rise in social unrest.

The UN World Food Programme has urged donor nations to pay $1.9bn of already-pledged commitments.

So, how can the availability of food be safeguarded? And can a famine crisis be averted?

Presenter: Bernard Smith


Jane Howard – Spokesperson of the World Food Programme UK

Kabir Adamu – Managing director at the Bank of Agriculture in Nigeria

Patrick Holden – CEO of Sustainable Food Trust