Dr. Ali Asghar Zargar, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, stated that the issue of food security in countries has been much discussed due to the global outbreak of corona, noting that this is especially worrying in countries that are fully dependent in supply of their needed foodstuff.
He added: “For example, how can a country like the United Kingdom, which supplies only 50 percent of its food inside, want to feed itself after the effects of the corona outbreak, and will countries like Australia and India sell their wheat and rice?” Of course, if countries do not want to work together, Europe may be more vulnerable to food security than any other continent.”
At the same time, the political economy analyst stressed that it is still income and social and economic systems that have the final say and generally the rich countries can meet their food security more easily. Pointing to the situation in African and Latin American countries, he said: “Currently, more than 821 million people in the world suffer from hunger, of which more than 100 million suffer from severe hunger. This population, which is the victims of the pre-Corona ruling system, is most vulnerable during the current and post-corona eras.”
Pointing to the possibility of an increase in the hungry population following rising unemployment and declining incomes of households, Zargar added: “Certainly, success in overcoming these challenges requires coherent and strong government programs to create a safe food system, and international organizations need food exchange arrangements to prevent food famine in the world; Because it is possible that some producing countries will ride on these waves and want to raise prices in a way that is not affordable by third world countries.”
“More than 820 million people in the world are at risk of losing their livelihoods or not having access to healthy food at the same time as the coronavirus threatens to spread,” he said, referring to a Reuters report. The income of many members of the community has dropped or shrunk to zero. So households may not be able to provide their own food resources, even if they exist.
“Precise studies have not yet been conducted on the issue that corona may have been the cause of producing,” he said. “When there is a shortage of supplies, prices go up and many third world countries may not be able to afford it.” However, it is not yet clear whether corona has been able to influence rice cultivation in countries such as Vietnam, India and Pakistan, and whether countries such as Australia or the United States have been able to influence wheat cultivation.
Zargar added: “It is true that this epidemic will affect, for example, the goods produced by Germany, or international trade will be reduced by 15% in 2020, but it is not clear about food because they are no longer produced in urban gatherings and are obtained on farms and fields where there are no human gatherings.
He also referred to some reports about the impossibility of movement and the presence of workers on the farms, especially during the harvest due to restrictions caused by corona, said: “Reports on such problems have been published in industrial complexes, but it is unlikely to be the case concerning the production and supply of some products, including corn, rice, and wheat, which are produced on an industrial scale and have extensive support and transportation systems. As for the gardens, it is not clear what will happen in the fall.”
Regarding reports that some exporters of agricultural and food products may stop supply of products to other countries, the university professor said: “Countries should have a proper plan for food stocks as well as savings. A country like Iran has relative food security and is one of the food exporters. In Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, where there are no strong governments, things may happen, but in a country like Iran, which has four seasons, there is no room for concern.”
At the same time, Zargar emphasized: Of course, warnings must be issued because regarding advance purchase of wheat from farmers, the government must take serious steps to fill the wheat silos to preserve the security of bread and prevent the purchase of wheat by foreigners, as this has happened regarding some items.
He said: “In any case, it is possible that corona, which has shut down the world for four months now, will endanger food security in some parts of the world and leave its impacts on Iran as well.”