Estimating the potential effects of COVID-19 pandemic on food commodity prices and nutrition security in Nepal.
Journal of nutritional science. 2020;:e51
The objective of the paper is to analyse changes in food commodity prices and estimate the potential effects of food price change on nutrition security in Nepal in the context of COVID-19 contagion control measures. It presents a comparative intra-country observational study design looking at events before and during the pandemic (after implementation of contagion control measures). The study design includes three districts, enabling comparison between diverse agro-ecological zones and geographical contexts. The methodology consists of primary data collection, modelling and quantitative analysis. The analysis is based on actual school meal food baskets which represent culturally and nutritionally optimised food baskets, developed by the local community and notional typical household food baskets. End May/early June 2020 is the 'Post-COVID-19' reference point, the same time period in 2019 i.e. June 2019 is the 'Pre-COVID-19' reference point. The study finds a substantial increase in food commodity prices across food groups and districts with marked inter-district variation. For school meal basket, all micronutrients show large average declines ranging from 9⋅5 % for zinc to 11 % for vitamin-A. For household food baskets on average, vitamin-A reduced 37 % followed by iron at 19 %, reduction in zinc is low due to the high zinc content in whole grain cereals. COVID-19 control measures are likely to have contributed to substantial price inflation over the reference period with potentially damaging effects on nutrition security in Nepal with serious implications for vulnerable populations.