By: Maima M. Wright
According to the World Food Program (WFP), the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to have intensely increased the number of people facing severe food insecurity in 2020-2021.
WFP estimated that 272 million people are already or are at risk of extremely becoming food-insecure in countries where it operates.
With the above statistics provided by WFP, Liberia as a developing country that has not a struggling economy and agricultural system is no exception.
Like many countries including Liberia still face growing levels of food insecurity, reversing years of development gains, and threatening the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
But even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various
factors, including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards,
climate change and pests.
COVID-19 impacts have led to severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, affecting vulnerable households in almost every country, with impacts expected to continue through 2022.
In Liberia many of the food consumed are imported and the COVID-19 pandemic led to many countries’ locking down and subsequently closing their borders as a means of preventing the virus which created huge food insecurity across the country.
Due to the food insecurities, the government of Liberia in 2020 introduced the distribution of foodstuff among its citizens because the average number of them were unable to feed daily during the lockdown.
The government through both houses of the legislature approved a US$25 million stimulus package to provide food for
vulnerable communities in collaboration with the WFP to offset loans to
vulnerable traders and pay utility bills for some households, in those various
countries affected by the virus.
The stimulus packages helped a few citizens while others were left out because the packages could not reach everybody contributing hugely to the increment in food insecurity across the country.
Most Liberians that could not store food in their various homes risk their lives daily just to sustain their families daily a saturation that gives raise to police brutality.
Local rice producers also found it difficult to operate their farms and provide food on the market due to the restriction on public gatherings.
Mr. Francis B. Cooper, Chief Executive Officer of “Fabra” a local rice production Company located in Kakata Margibi County, told The Stage Media (TSM) that the operation of rice production was negatively impacted by COVID-19 since 2020.
He said the hindrance led to huge losses that are yet to be recovered and improved investments in agricultural products used to grow rice.
“We had to stop the farming process because we could not gather more than twenty persons at a time and Fabra as a leading rice producer company needs at least thirty persons at a time to plant and grow the rice. We have not been able to produce our minimal target since the COVID-19,” Cooper continued.
Mr. Morris Konneh, a gardener who plants vegetables in the Brewerville, said that his garden was able to produce but he could not get buyers because of the economic crisis of the country.