COVID-19 and Pacific food system resilience: opportunities to build a robust response
2020, International Society for Plant Pathology and Springer Nature B.V. The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the Pacific food system to externalities and has had far-reaching impacts, despite the small number of COVID-19 cases recorded thus far. Measures adopted to mitigate risk from the pandemic have had severe impacts on tourism, remittances, and international trade, among other aspects of the political economy of the region, and are thus impacting on food systems, food security and livelihoods. Of particular concern will be the interplay between loss of incomes and the availability and affordability of local and imported foods. In this paper, we examine some of the key pathways of impact on food systems, and identify opportunities to strengthen Pacific food systems during these challenging times. The great diversity among Pacific Island Countries and Territories in their economies, societies, and agricultural potential will be an important guide to planning interventions and developing scenarios of alternative futures. Bolstering regional production and intraregional trade in a currently import-dependent region could strengthen the regional economy, and provide the health benefits of consuming locally produced and harvested fresh foods - as well as decreasing reliance on global supply chains. However, significant production, processing, and storage challenges remain and would need to be consistently overcome to influence a move away from shelf-stable foods, particularly during periods when human movement is restricted and during post-disaster recovery.