In a pre-dawn raid in food-starved Zimbabwe, police enforcing a coronavirus lockdown confiscated and destroyed 3 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables by setting fire to it. Wielding batons, they scattered a group of rural farmers who had traveled overnight, breaking restrictions on movement to bring the precious produce to one of the country’s busiest markets. The food burned as the farmers went home empty-handed, a stupefying moment for a country and a continent where food is in critically short supply. It was an extreme example of how lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus may be choking Africa’s already-vulnerable food supply. Lockdowns in at least 33 of Africa’s 54 countries have blocked farmers from getting food to markets and threatened deliveries of food assistance to rural populations. Many informal markets where millions buy their food are shut. About one in every five people in Africa, nearly 250 million, already didn’t have enough food before the virus outbreak, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. A quarter of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished.
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