Environment

From locusts to wildfires, the agricultural sector under massive threat; UN report

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization in its report said the annual occurrences of extreme natural events have such wildfires have tripled since the 1970s and “their economic impact is relentlessly increasing.” This has negatively impacted agriculture worse effects felt in the developing nations.

The increasing frequency and severity of natural disaster occurrence ranging from massive fires to desert locusts invasion are putting food production systems at the risk, the UN warned. The desert locust invasion coupled with the current corona pandemic is crippling investment efforts in the agricultural sector threatening food security around the world.

The FAO said, “at no other point in history have the agri-food systems confronted such an array of new and unprecedented threats, including mega-wildfires, extreme weather, unusually large desert locust swarms, and emerging biological threats like the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“These hazards not only take lives but also devastate agricultural livelihoods and inflict cascading negative economic consequences that can endure for generations,” it added.

The FAO described the situation as a ‘new normal’ that must be adapted to, to cope with the interruptions in the agricultural sector. The report added that since 2000, disasters have taken “a drastic leap frequency and have continued to occur at a consistently high rate.”

As a result of agricultural disruptions due to natural disasters, the poor and developing countries have lost $108.5 billion in the period 2008-18 in agricultural production. FAO emergency and rehabilitation director Dominique Burgeon said. He noted more than two billion people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and these economic losses can devastate the lives and livelihoods of the people.

The international community must therefore invest more in preventive measures, said Burgeon.
However, according to the report, the Covid-19 pandemic is crippling investments in agriculture and food systems, and governments are prioritizing containing coronavirus pandemic thereby disrupting demand and supply. “Farmers are experiencing reduced access to inputs, labour, and farmlands, resulting in production loss, lower household income, and nutrition declines,” Burgeon said.

The UN is preparing a special food systems summit in September as it pushes sustainable development goals through to 2030.

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