COVID-19 affects food supply chain in Rwanda

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Less customers are seen at the Kaveza modern market as only essential shops are open during the lockdown in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 1, 2020. - According to the merchants, prices of goods have significantly increased since the lockdown because of the lack of food transporters. Rwandan authorities announced on April 1, 2020 an extension of the lockdown until April 19, 2020. (Photo by Simon Wohlfahrt / AFP) (Photo by SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Customers are seen at the Kaveza modern market during the lockdown in Kigali, Rwanda. (Photo by SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP via Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all people in the food supply chain in Rwanda as well as the food security of the country, Rwandan officials said on Thursday.

The effects of the pandemic are rising and are expected to increase the number of people facing food insecurity, Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Gerardine Mukeshimana said during national celebrations held online to mark the World Food Day.

“In Rwanda since the outbreak of COVID-19, it affected different people in the food chain, disrupting supply chain, and hampering trade. Farmers, livestock farmers, food transporters and small and medium agriculture entrepreneurs were all affected by the virus as far as food security is concerned,” Mukeshimana said.

She urged the affected farmers to tap the recovery fund launched in June by the government to accelerate the recovery process.

Agriculture is a major economic sector for Rwanda, employing about 70 percent of its total population and contributing about 31 percent to its GDP, official figures show.

Rwanda on Thursday reported two new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases to 5,131, with 4,851 recoveries and 35 deaths.

Stressing the need to avoid food waste and increase production, Mukeshimana said the pandemic compounded issues of climate change, insecurity and desert locusts which were already affecting food security in the region.

The minister announced the launch of a new agriculture program to promote profitable small livestock farming in the country.

Gualbert Gbehounou, country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noted that the coronavirus pandemic aggravated food insecurity in all countries, which requires collective actions to address.

World Food Day falls on October 16. This year Rwanda marked it on Thursday.

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