Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Policy briefs

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting not only food trade, food supply chains and markets but also people’s lives, livelihoods and nutrition.

This collection of policy briefs presents a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the pandemic’s impacts on these areas.

Briefs are released on a day-to-day basis. Please check back frequently for the latest available briefs.

For media queries on any of the below topics, please contact [email protected]

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Measures for supporting wholesale food markets during COVID-19

Recent COVID-19 outbreaks in wholesale and retail food markets, slaughterhouses and meat processing plants throughout the world underscore the continued importance of rigorous application of COVID-19 health protocols to minimize disruptions to the food system. This brief is focused on wholesale food markets (WFMs) – common facilities that group multiple food businesses involved in the sale of foodstuffs to food business operators. It offers a set of considerations for ways in which local, provincial and national government can collaborate with WFM authorities and food system actors to protect merchants, workers and customers and to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the absence of an internationally recommended set of protocols, these considerations are based on practices used by WFMs to continue operations in compliance with government health protocols and virus containment measures. Measures taken will naturally differ by local context, location, type of market and its specific operations.

Rural youth and the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all parts of society and livelihoods around the globe. It is though worth recognizing that disadvantaged segments of populations like rural young women and men will be impacted harder, nevertheless, when proactively engaged, they have demonstrated to be innovators in their own sectors to surmount the pandemic impact. As governments and development partners take steps to address the economic and social effects of COVID-19, they should not allow a reversal of the rural youth progress achieved in recent years in terms of inclusion in food systems, access to education, vocational education and training, and access to decent employment. While in the immediate future the majority of global resources will be redirected toward the fight against the virus, rural young women and men, should remain a top priority both during and after the pandemic in order to support them to reach their full potential, allow them to prosper and also ensure a sustainable rural recovery. Furthermore, transforming food systems to be inclusive, sustainable, efficient, healthy and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, should be connected in all COVID-19 recovery measures.

Contact persons: Francesca Dalla Valle, Youth Employment Specialist, and Reuben Sessa, Youth Focal Point and Natural Resources Officer.

The effect of COVID-19 on fisheries and aquaculture in Asia

On 10 April 2020, one month after the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, FAO published ‘How is COVID-19 affecting the fisheries and aquaculture food systems’ (FAO, 2020a). That policy brief, while global in scope, addressed the situation in some Asian countries. This paper provides an update, incorporating new data, developments and observations. During its writing, the pandemic was in full swing with no clear end in sight.

Contact person: Susana Siar

Enabling agricultural innovation systems to promote appropriate technologies and practices for farmers, rural youth and women during COVID-19

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will vary for different groups of rural population, with the highest impact expected to be on farmers and other vulnerable groups, especially women and youth. Targeted support is feasible only by activating a network of actors or organizations within agricultural innovation systems (AIS) and promoting customized technologies and practices suitable for location specific contexts. This brief illustrates the extensive repository of good practices and technologies provided by FAO as part of its online knowledge portals. These practices and technologies can be easily adopted to respond to the needs of the smallholders, rural youth and women affected by lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, improve their food security and create income-generating opportunities. They have been applied and tested on the ground and packaged for the benefit of various AIS actors.

Contact person: Selvaraju Ramasamy, Head, Research and Extension Unit, FAO.

The opportunity for digital transformation

The impacts of COVID-19 grow daily. The pandemic has unleashed a crisis not only in health but also in economics. In such a scenario - in which achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability is increasingly essential for the planet - the agri-food system needs urgent and innovative solutions. In this regard, digitization is a recommended way to go. Digitization has become a fundamental engine of rural transformation, creating new opportunities for farmers. The future of agri-food systems will depend, to a large extent, on how stakeholders in agriculture will be able to take advantage of digital transformation to improve inclusion, efficiency and environmental impacts.

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