Roadside market. Mozambique, Angonia province (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

As the impacts of COVID-19 spread across the globe, the virus threatens more than health systems worldwide. It also poses serious risks to food security, local businesses, national economies and hard-fought progress by stakeholders at all levels towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The global response to the pandemic must be swift and science-based, harnessing knowledge for emergency response, recovery and resilience.

Research leaders in health and agriculture have launched a new COVID-19 Hub to consolidate existing scientific evidence and help support response, recovery and resilience measures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres warned recently, immediate action on food systems is needed to prevent a global food emergency that could have long-term health effects.

The CGIAR COVID-19 Hub, coordinated by CGIAR, the world’s largest publicly funded agricultural research network, brings together the latest science on agriculture and health to inform a research-based response to the pandemic.

The International Livestock Research Institute joins the International Food Policy Research Institute, the CGIAR System Organization and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine as co-implementers of the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub.

Hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, the Hub provides a coordinated research response to the pandemic, convening researchers, funders and key stakeholders.

It focuses on supporting national response and recovery work across CGIAR research themes through the response, recovery and resilience phases of the pandemic, with work from across CGIAR’s global network of 14 research centres and 15 research programs and platforms, in close collaboration with other research organizations, policymakers, non-governmental organizations and many other stakeholders.

Photo credit: Fresh produce on sale at a roadside market in Angonia Province, Mozambique (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

Market near Khulungira Village, in central Malawi

Selling agricultural produce at Chimbiya Market, near Dedza in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

 

On 24 May 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine hosted policymakers, researchers and donors at a workshop in Belgium under the theme Better targeting food safety investments in low- and middle-income countries.

Among the presenters were three scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute who presented on why food safety matters in development from an agri-food system perspective, the experience of food safety management in Vietnam, and economic and health outcomes and impacts of food safety interventions.

Over the course of the workshop, several major themes emerged:

  1. Collaboration and knowledge sharing among the different sectors is critical and must be encouraged.
  2. Consumers have to weigh the risks when considering what choices to make, and they need more information in order to make better decisions.
  3. The problem of lack of access to safe foods is particularly acute for small children; not only are they disproportionately affected by foodborne illnesses and deaths, but they have the least control over their own exposure to this risk.

A detailed post about the workshop is available on the A4NH website.