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COVID-19 may push Nigeria, 26 others to food crisis

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A NEW analysis by the United Nation’s (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have identified Nigeria and 26 other countries across the globe as front liners of an impending food crisis, driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The joint analysis warned that the “hotspot countries” are at high risk and in some cases are already seeing significant food security deteriorations, noting that in the coming months, there would be rising numbers of people pushed into acute hunger.

According to the report, no world region is immune, from Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Asia, to Haiti, Venezuela, and Central America, to Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Syria in the Middle East, to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Liberia Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe in Africa.

Speaking on the report, Director-General, FAO, Qu Dongyu, said this could be the worst food crisis in generations, as these countries were already grappling with high levels of food insecurity, and acute hunger even before COVID-19.

According to him, the impact of the pandemic aggravated pre-existing drivers of hunger such as economic crises, instability, insecurity, climate extremes, plant pests, and animal diseases.

He said the advent of COVID-19 brought the countries to the frontline, as they have begun to witness disruptive effects on food systems, which are fuelling a hunger crisis.

In a bid to counter these trends, FAO, during the weekend, released a revised appeal for $428.5 million under the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) for COVID-19, which addresses the mounting needs in the food and agriculture sector, focusing on urgent livelihoods assistance, maintaining food chains and ensuring the most vulnerable people could access and produce vital nutritious food.

According to FAO, to respond to the challenges, there is need to scale-up plans for critical agricultural seasons, food harvesting, processing and storage, and

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