March: COVID-19 & food systems

In March, we gathered diverse voices exploring COVID-19 implications and opportunities for farmers livelihoods, food environments, agriculture supply chains, nutrition, food prices and much more. Find these below and your April SDG2 & COVID-19 reading list here


Fears for the global supermarket

By Simon Wright (31 March)

"Food is the most immediate and daily necessity that is threatened. Fear of not having enough to eat is affecting all of us. But it is in low income countries where it could quickly become a reality." Recognising COVID-19 impacts on every aspect of life, Save The Children calls for a global action plan to protect a generation from COVID-19. 


COVID-19: potential impact on the world's poorest people


"COVID-19 in rich and poor countries are two starkly different realities but connected by the thread of globalisation and humanity... We must make sure that tens of millions of people already on the verge of starvation do not succumb to this virus or to its economic consequences." This WFP analysis explores the economic and food security implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the most vulnerable.


Wheat and rice prices surge in coronavirus lockdown

By Kirk Maltais and Joe Wallace (30 March)

"Countries that rely on imported grains to feed their populations have ramped up purchases to ensure they have sufficient stockpiles to see out the pandemic," note authors. Prices of wheat and rice are sharply rising due to a short-term dislocations and countries are starting to restrict agricultural imports - what they refer to as a "perfect storm". 


Officials warn Africa is at "break the glass" moment

By David Pilling (29 March)

"Africa has reached a 'break the glass moment', an emergency in which international actors need to take drastic action if the world's poorest continent is to avoid a human and economic catastrophe." This FT article outlines the challenge of tackling coronavirus in African countries, its implications for the continent's economy and weak health systems, and identifies actions for national and international actors. 


Three things the G20 must do today to support Africa during #COVID19

By David Mcnair (26 March)

"African countries need support in preparing for the health crisis and for the economic fallout. The measures taken in Asia, Europe and North America will be a particular challenge for countries with limited internet connectivity, dense populations, unequal access to water and limited social safety nets." Ahead of G20's emergency meeting, African Finance Ministers and UN Economic Commission for Africa identify three ways G20 can support Africa. 


What will happen when the coronavirus hits part of Africa already struggling with hunger?

by Hajir Maalim (24 March)

"In this wonderfully diverse region, each area has its distinct challenges. The common thread is that people are vulnerable and there’s always an emergency ahead. First it was prolonged drought, followed by floods. Then locusts descended, threatening food supplies. Now, we’re facing a pandemic," says Hijar. As more cases of domestic transition arise, aid worker Hijar in eastern Africa contemplates what the coronavirus pandemic will do to an already fragile population. 


foodCOVID-19 and food supply: a four-pronged battle plan for countries 

By Maximo Torero (23 March)

"As countries wage war on COVID-19, they should have a battle plan to lessen shocks to food supply chains — to protect most vulnerable and the rest of the population. Supply chains must be kept alive," warns Maximo. Drawing on global examples, this article outlines how countries can achieve this.




The COVID-19 crisis and food systems: addressing threats, creating opportunities 

By Lawrence Haddad, Jess Fanzo, Steve Godfrey, Corinna Hawkes, Saul Morris and Lynnette Neufeld (23 March)

"How will the crisis shape the food system if we do nothing? And what can we do to get the food system in better shape to improve the consumption of nutritious foods for all?" Authors outline the effects of COVID-19 on our food system and access to nutritious food, ways to mitigate these impacts and opportunities presented by the pandemic to get food (systems) back on track. This information is nicely summarised in this table


WFP gears up to support children left without school meals due to COVID-19 school closures 

(23 March)

More than 320 million children around the world are now missing out on school meals due to school closures because of COVID-19. This news release outlines how WFP is working with governments and partners to ensure school children and their families receive continued food and nutrition support.


fImpact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition

By the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (19 March)

"The public health impacts of COVID-19 are broader than the disease itself because of its impacts on food security and nutrition" finds HLPE. This draft issue paper outlines the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic on nutrition and food security in terms of both supply and demand. It also outlines key messages and recommendations for governments. 



COVID-19 and the 5 major risks it poses to global food security

By Chase Sova 

"COVID-19 poses considerable risks to already vulnerable populations living in countries with severe development deficits, limited government capacity and poor healthcare infrastructure. While the coronavirus has been slow to reach Sub-Saharan Africa, most experts agree that its impact there is imminent," says Chase. Find here five concerns as the coronavirus spreads and how WFP is responding.


Coronavirus: the perils of our "just enough, just in time" food system

By Evan Fraser (16 March)

"Abundance — and convenience — comes a hidden cost that COVID-19 has exposed: a loss of resilience. Our global food system depends on the tendrils of international trade to wrap the world in an ever more complex system of buyers, sellers, processors and retailers, all of whom are motivated to keep costs low and operations lean," says Evan. In the face of COVID-19 and climate change, this article highlights the need to value resilience alongside efficiency in our food systems.


The potential impact of COVID-19 on SDG2 (food security) - China and globally

By Matteo Marchisio (13 March)

"Considering that the ag sector contributes to 7% of China's GDP, the impact of COVID-19 on China’s economy would equally affect the agricultural and food security sector. We can anticipate an immediate impact and a longer-term impact – which could potentially have global consequences," says Matteo. Based on personal observations, IFAD staff member based in China shares his reflections on the impact of COVID-19 on achieving SDG2. 


foodResponding to coronavirus: low-carbon investments can help economies recover

By Helen Mountford (12 March)

"With the pandemic potentially triggering a global economic slowdown, leaders are already looking for ways to shore up their countries’ economies. Approaches to stimulate growth will have long-lasting effects. What governments should avoid is trying to boost their economies in the wake of one global health crisis by exacerbating another — namely air pollution," says Helen. This article tracks the path from low-carbon, climate-resilient growth to lasting economic and social benefits. 

Preventing global food security crisis under COVID-19 emergency

By Shenggen Fan (6 March)

"COVID-19 is a health crisis. But is could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken," warns Shenggen. In light of existing global food security challenges, this IFPRI article highlights lessons learned from previous epidemics and identifies actions to prevent a food security crisis.  


What the coronavirus in China shows us about food system resilience

By Erin Briehl (27 Feb)

"How well China – and any country - will be able to provide safe, accessible, and available food both during and in the aftermath of COVID-19 will depend on its resilience," reflects Erin. This article explores how the pandemic has affected food access, affordability and availability in China and the government's response to tease out what can be learnt from this crisis.


Looking for a longer read? Here's a few timely books:

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Find here the April collection of SDG2 & COVID-19 thought pieces.