Statement by Ambassador Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the Virtual Extraordinary High-Level Meeting of the Group of Friends of Food Security and Nutrition, on the measures taken to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on food availability and supply on Friday, 17 April 2020

Thank you Co-Chairs for convening this timely meeting. I wish to briefly reiterate a few points.

  • As we grapple with Covid-19, our worry over food availability is real; and it is critical to have global solidarity to prevent this health crisis to turn into a food crisis.
  • I wish to reiterate previous speakers to underline the need to maintain free and open trade, cutting tariffs and removing trade barriers for food items, especially for the developing and other vulnerable countries. Ensuring adequate supply is critical to avert any food crisis.
  • Local food production and supply system has to be kept running; so that the most vulnerable of our populations are not left out. In Bangladesh, we have undertaken extensive food distribution programmes to ensure food security during this emergency situation. But this need to be sustained as production is seriously impacted by the pandemic, [potentially threatening food security.]
  • There is a critical need to expand food safety net programmes so that the hard-hit marginalized groups get food during, and in the post-pandemic period, in the most vulnerable countries.
  • There must be targeted food aid programmes for these countries.
  • The UN’s response and recovery plans as well as its humanitarian response plans must prioritize food security while allocating funds.
  • Countries should also consider developing regional food supply networks.
  • Today’s food system is fragile. Getting the food system right is central to a resilient recovery plan for the pandemic.                                                                                                                                                                                              I thank you.