West African leaders attending the World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines discussed steps to prevent a food crisis in Ebola-affected countries, Wednesday.
President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development Kanayo Nwanze said 40 percent of farms in affected areas have been abandoned, thus dramatically harming food production.
"I think the regional trade is going to be very, very serious," Nwanze said. "Like any other situation...where you have a crisis you should begin to plan for the aftermath."
Food assistance and subsidizing farmers were two options mentioned to stabilize food security in the region.
Sierra Leone’s Mister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security Sam Sesay said the bulk of the people affected in his country are farmers.
"Some villages, some farm settlements have been whipped away," Sesay said. "So you can imagine how it is negatively impacting."
Sesay said Ebola has particularly harmed Sierra Leone’s coffee bean and cocoa production.
In addition to a dramatic drop in food production, foreign agricultural investors have pulled out, creating unemployment.
The World Health Organization predicts more than 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola before the virus is brought under control.