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World facing unprecedented threat of food shortages, UN agency warns

Natural disasters, climate change, and grain and livestock diseases are exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on agriculture and food security, says a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

The study highlighted that agriculture underpins the livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people – most of them in low-income developing countries – and remains a key driver of development. “At no other point in history has agriculture been faced with such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks, interacting in a hyperconnected world and a precipitously changing landscape,” the report said.

“Agriculture continues to absorb a disproportionate share of the damage and loss wrought by disasters. Their growing frequency and intensity, along with the systemic nature of risk, are upending people’s lives, devastating livelihoods, and jeopardizing our entire food system.” 




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According to the report, from 2008 to 2018, billions of dollars were lost as a result of declines in crop and livestock production in the aftermath of disasters. Loss over the period amounted to $30 billion for sub-Saharan and North Africa, and slightly lower for Latin America and the Caribbean, at $29 billion. During the same period, Asia experienced crop and livestock production loss valued at a notable $49 billion.

The United Nations warned earlier that more than a billion people could be driven into extreme poverty by 2030, due to the severe long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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