The challenge of feeding the world amid a global pandemic

By Georgina Sarabia, Agronomic Production Engineer, manager of Verde Compacto agronomic productions.

Mexico and countries around the world face a new challenge: continue to supply food demand amid the global pandemic caused by the new virus known as Covid-19.

In recent weeks, people of all ages, human activities and geographical coordinates have been affected in our lifestyle in one way or another, due to the humanitarian crisis, triggered by the novel pandemic.

Although the number of people infected in the world today amounts to more than 2.4 million, and the number of deaths to more than 170,000, the most debated topics in the media correspond to the great challenges of continuing to mitigate the contagion of the disease, keep economies stable and keep health systems stable when the large percentage of societies are in forced quarantine. However, there is an issue that has not gained much popularity and that I want to talk to you about: food production in the midst of the crisis.

The coronavirus has reminded us of the importance of food production and how crucial the efficient and optimal functioning of the supply chain represents. In just a few weeks we have seen the early ravages that have hit food systems around the world. In our northern neighbor, the United States, millions of tons of food are being lost due to a shortage of farm workers who can harvest it and economic losses due to the coronavirus could amount to US $ 1.32 billion according to estimates by the National Coalition of La Sustainable Agriculture of the United States.

In Latin American countries such as Honduras and El Salvador, the situation is also critical because before entering this crisis, they already suffered from food losses related to climate change and, in the case of Chile, drought problems. In Mexico, the challenge of sustaining its population is also latent and it is made difficult thanks to the effects of climate change, water scarcity and non-self-sufficient agricultural production, concentrated only in 18% of farmers in Mexico. In addition to all the above, it should be noted that in the middle of the following month the hurricane season officially begins in North America, Central America and Latin America, which represents an imminent danger for the production of our food.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), border closures, quarantines and disruptions to markets, supply chain and trade could limit people’s access to sufficient food sources , diverse and nutritious, especially in countries hard hit by the virus or already experiencing high levels of food insecurity. As the virus spreads and cases increase, and measures to curb it are strengthened, there are many ways that food systems will be put to the test and strained at all levels in the weeks and months to come.

This pandemic will eventually recede, but we don’t know how quickly it will happen. But what we do know is that the objective is clear, we must work to supply food and as a society support them in the local consumption of products to contribute to the economy of our producers. Not only is it enough to produce and deliver food to the tables of all households, it must also be ensured that these foods are of quality, nutritious and that they do not compromise the health of consumers. But you may wonder like me, How is it possible to achieve the goal, if we go through the challenges mentioned above?

These times of crisis hide great opportunities to revolutionize the way we produce our food, we have once again identified the need to innovate our food systems, and not only that, we have also observed that the techniques of urban agriculture -urban farming-, and of agriculture of interiors -indoor farming- represent efficient alternatives in agricultural production amid the current panorama. Which is why, at Verde Compacto México, we reaffirm our commitment to our country, and to the world.

Today more than ever I believe that the food sector must renew and develop, to be at the level of this crisis and the coming crises that will be more and more worrying. Being more efficient in water consumption, producing more per m2 with a reduction of up to 90% in the use of pesticides, and producing in the middle of large cities or strategic points of urban developments not only correspond to the benefits granted by our Smart Crop Systems. They also correspond to the urgent needs of our agri-food systems.

Finally, I would like to widely recognize the work of women and men who, through agriculture, sustain the world. Let us remember that our country, like the countries of Latin America, has a history linked to agriculture and that one of the great lessons that this crisis must leave the world is to recognize its strategic value.

Let’s build the future around agriculture.

Let’s build the future of agriculture together.

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