The pandemic hit Asia's food supply hard, causing a sharp increase in the number of people unable to access enough food to stay healthy and feed their families.

Women, children and the poor have suffered most. COVID-19 has unsettled food supply chains in various ways. In the initial days of the pandemic, uncertainty surrounding imminent lockdowns across the region led to panic buying, temporary shortages, and price spikes.

Disruptions to domestic and international food supply chains-which emerged as rising health risks led to major travel restrictions-undermined food availability and accessibility, in particular of perishable goods.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises were battered by lost sales, higher production costs to ensure safe working environments, and difficulty accessing inputs, equipment, and food distribution systems in Asia's low- and middle-income economies. These disruptions led to a sharp increase in food insecurity defined as having physical, social, and economic access to food that meets dietary needs.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 20, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.