Post-pandemic food security
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked lives and wreaked havoc on economies around the world. Part of the problem has been our solution to disease. The measures, such as social, business, and educational lockdown and border controls that are aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19—have disrupted the supply of agricultural food products to markets and consumers.
Ultimately, the ongoing pandemic is threatening food security in many parts of the world. New research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics, has looked at the problem of food security facing Southeast Asia. Fundamentally, the team of Siti Fatimahwati Pehin Dato Musa of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam and Khairul Hidayatullah Basir of the Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali both in Brunei Darussalam, have considered how food safety and hygiene might be ensured in the pandemic and beyond. They also consider how we might evolve a sustainable approach t food security now and for the future.
The team's basic conclusion from their review and analysis of the current literature on food security and their own work is that in order for ASEAN member states to better respond to the disruption in food supply chain "there should be encouragement towards boosting self-sufficiency in food production, adopting smart and sustainable farming methods, and closer regional cooperation." ASEAN is the Association of South East Asian Nations and members are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
The researchers add that "Governments must think a step ahead to avoid future shocks to the system and start planning for local farmers to adopt (green) technologies to help them plant and harvest even when short-handed." This and other approaches to improving sustainability and food security will stand the region in good stead to cope when the next pandemic arises and even in the face of the potentially devastating effects of climate change and natural catastrophe.
Many of the researchers' conclusions are focused on how South East Asian nations might respond to the current crisis, but will be equally applicable to other countries way beyond this part of the world.