UN / NATURAL DISASTERS FOOD SECURITY

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18-Mar-2021 00:01:40
New and unprecedented forms of natural disasters are most heavily felt in the agricultural industry, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today. UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / NATURAL DISASTERS FOOD SECURITY
TRT: 1:40
SOURCE: UNIFEED
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 18 MARCH 2021, NEW YORK CITY / FILE

SHOTLIST:

RECENT – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, exterior, United Nations Headquarters

18 MARCH 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
"The major issues that came out from the report, first is the importance of the effects on agriculture of disasters. In the overall, we are talking about 26 per cent of damage is mourn by the agriculture sector as a share of develop damage and loss of those sectors between 2008 and 2018. And if we just focus on the loss of agriculture relative to the combined damage in agricultural industry, in tourism and commerce, it is 63 per cent in agricultural.”
4. Wide shot, press briefing room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
"Now when we try to understand which are the major type of shocks that created the major losses, we have found that drought turns out to be the most destructive force for agriculture. Drought causes an estimated of 37 billion losses in crops and livestock production. And between 2008 and 2018 period, in the least developed countries and in the low-middle-income countries, 34 per cent of a total estimated loss of agriculture.”
6. Wide shot, press briefing room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
“Floods and storms are the next most relevant causes of loss of agriculture. And in Africa, crops and livestock loss peaked in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, mostly were driven by the recording of drought episodes in the Sahel and the horn regions, and by both drought and floods in southern Africa in 2015.”
8. Wide shot, press briefing room

STORYLINE:

New and unprecedented forms of natural disasters are most heavily felt in the agricultural industry, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today (18 Mar).

At no other point in history have agri-food systems faced more hazards such as megafires, extreme weather, unusually large desert locust swarms, and emerging biological threats, as during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor have they been seen at such frequency, intensity, and complexity, the agency said in a new report.

These disasters devastate agricultural livelihoods, inflicting cascading negative economic consequences from household to national levels, that could potentially endure for generations.

According to FAO, disasters happen three times more often today, than in the 1970s and 1980s.

SOUNDBITE (English) Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
"The major issues that came out from the report, first is the importance of the effects on agriculture of disasters. In the overall, we are talking about 26 per cent of damage is mourn by the agriculture sector as a share of develop damage and loss of those sectors between 2008 and 2018. And if we just focus on the loss of agriculture relative to the combined damage in agricultural industry, in tourism and commerce, it is 63 per cent in agricultural.”

Agriculture absorbs a disproportionate 63 per cent share of their impact, compared to other sectors, such as tourism, commerce and industry.

Poorest countries most at risk

The least developed and low to middle income countries have fared worst of all. From 2008 to 2018, natural disasters have cost the agricultural sectors of developing economies more than $108 billion in damaged crop and livestock production.

Over the same period, Asia was the most hard-hit region, with overall economic losses of $49 billion, followed by Africa at $30 billion, and Latin America and the Caribbean at $29 billion.

Drought is identified as the single greatest culprit of agricultural production loss, followed by floods, storms, pests and diseases, and wildfires.

Failed rains caused a 34 per cent loss of crop and livestock production, compared to a nine per cent output decline from biological disasters in the period.

SOUNDBITE (English) Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
"Now when we try to understand which are the major type of shocks that created the major losses, we have found that drought turns out to be the most destructive force for agriculture. Drought causes an estimated of 37 billion losses in crops and livestock production. And between 2008 and 2018 period, in the least developed countries and in the low-middle-income countries, 34 per cent of a total estimated loss of agriculture.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Maximo Torero, Chief Economist, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO):
“Floods and storms are the next most relevant causes of loss of agriculture. And in Africa, crops and livestock loss peaked in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, mostly were driven by the recording of drought episodes in the Sahel and the horn regions, and by both drought and floods in southern Africa in 2015.”

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing problems.

Profound food security impacts

Beyond the damage to countries’ economies, the consequences for food security and nutrition are profound. For the first time, this edition of the FAO report converts economic losses into caloric and nutrition equivalents.

It estimates that crop and livestock production loss in the least developed countries and low to middle-income countries between 2008 and 2018 was equivalent to a loss of 6.9 trillion kilocalories per year. This equals the annual calorie intake of seven million adults.

The report argues that investing in resilience and disaster risk reduction, especially data gathering and analysis for evidence-informed action, is of paramount importance to ensure agriculture's crucial role in achieving a sustainable future.
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