Solomon Islands, and other developing countries, need to be better prepared, the disruptions caused by the rapid spread of COVID-19 are threatening to cut off supply chains and increase food insecurity.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned that “a protracted pandemic crisis could quickly put a strain on the food supply chains, a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers and more.”

The FAO says that for the moment the issue is not food scarcity — at least, not yet. Rather, it’s the world’s drastic measures in response to the virus.

Such measures include border closures, movement restrictions, and disruptions in the shipping and aviation industries. FAO says that this will make it “harder to continue food production and transport goods internationally — placing countries with few alternative food sources at high risk.”

“The most at risk are those without solid economic bases, like Kiribati or Micronesia or Tuvalu,” said David Dawe, FAO senior economist.

He says countries in the Pacific Islands may not be able to absorb an import drain — “these Pacific Islands are so small that they don’t grow much of their own food,” said Dawe.

They are “remote anyway to start with and rely heavily on imports.”

The loss of tourism revenue, the lack of domestic food production, and the lack of a financial or food safety net mean these countries are “really getting hit from both sides,” said Dawe.