Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. With the global pandemic, the channels that ensure food security have been significantly disrupted. It is therefore important to understand the dynamics at hand, as we seek sustainable solutions to the food security problem.
The food security status of any household or individual is typically determined by the interaction among a broad range of agro-environmental, socio-economic, and biological factors. As with the concepts of health or social welfare, there is no single, direct measure or standard of food security. However, the complexity of the food security problem can be simplified by focusing on three distinct, but interrelated, dimensions: aggregate food availability, household food access, and individual food utilization.
Throughout this pandemic, the largest population globally has been disposed of from work, this implies that there is difficultly in accessing food at the household level because many depend on the daily income to meet their household dietary needs. Masses have resorted to supporting from their respective governments and philanthropists for basic foodstuff and this directly affects food availability as people have to narrow down the different types of food they can consume per meal.
Different factors influence food prices differently. A common scenario is a scarcity of food coupled with traders holding onto the foodstuff to take full advantage of the current situation by artificially inducing scarcity. This has led to an exponential increase in price henceforth affecting household food access. However, a different school of thought argues out that following the expulsion of different food markets, production has surpassed consumption pushing farmers to lower the prices of foodstuffs most especially the perishable farm products.
With the increased uncertainty, people have had to adjust their consumption behaviors by eating less and limiting the number of different foods consumed per meal exposing many to the risk of malnutrition induced diseases and defects. Notably however, the closure of many fast food joints implies a global reduction in consumption of junk and this will be reflected in a gradual decrease in obesity cases and diseases orchestrated by incremental fat consumption. With many people locked down, it, therefore, infers that they are idle and not putting food into use hence affecting individual food utilization. The best advice is to encourage everyone to exercise and stay safe.
With current projections of the different dynamics of food security, a catastrophe looms if necessary help and adjustments are not made to cover the food security gaps as illustrated.