The world may face extreme food shortage if the authorities fail to diligently manage the coronavirus outbreak, the head of three global leaders, including the World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, and the United Nations, cautioned, as per the Aljazeera report.

As the world is witnessing a lockdown in most parts of it, the food supply chain has suffered a severe disruption. This is also aggravated by panic buying and hoarding of essentials, which has demonstrated the fragility of supply chains in many countries.

"Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market," said the joint text signed on Wednesday by Qu Dongyu, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Roberto Azevedo, director of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, especially to avoid food shortages," they stated.

"When acting to protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain," the statement further added.

According to the leaders, over the longer-term confinement orders and travel restrictions risk causing disruptions in agricultural production due to the unavailability of farm labour and the inability to get food to markets.

"Such disruptions including hampering the movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste," said the three leaders.

They also mentioned the need to protect employees engaged in food production, processing and distribution, both for their health and that of others, as well as to maintain food supply chains.

"It is at times like these that more, not less, international cooperation is essential," they said.

"We must ensure that our response to COVID-19 does not unintentionally create unwarranted shortages of essential items and exacerbate hunger and malnutrition," Aljazeera reported.

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