Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Responding to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on food value chains through efficient logistics

The COVID-19 pandemic has developed into the greatest global health, social and financial challenge of the 21st century. It is impacting not only people’s lives, livelihoods and nutrition but also food trade, food supply chains and markets.

The pandemic falls into a period that was already seeing an increase in the number of hungry people in the world, coupled with a global economic slowdown[1]. The recession, which is being forecast as one of the immediate results of the pandemic, will exacerbate these problems and calls for swift multi-disciplinary responses to avoid that the health crisis will trigger a subsequent food crisis.

With the pandemic reaching its peak at different points in time across the world and hitting some places with more severity than others, some countries are already slowly reducing their containment measures. These recovery phases come with their own challenges but could at the same time provide invaluable insights for countries that are still facing the full brunt of the disease.

To support countries in assessing their local situation and to help decision makers design coherent and effective policies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on food production, trade and consumption (access), FAO has prepared a collection of policy briefs, which present policy recommendations grounded on qualitative and quantitative assessment of the pandemic’s impacts on these areas.

All policy briefs can be accessed here:

Forming part of this series is the Policy Brief Responding to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on food value chains through efficient logistics prepared by the Agricultural Development Economic Division and the Nutrition and Food Systems Division of FAO.

This brief highlights that the measures implemented around the world to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have entailed a severe reduction not only in goods and services that rely on transport, but also in the migration of labour both domestically and internationally. To avoid that these measures have a negative impact on food systems and might result in food shortages, this brief summarizes some practices that could be useful for governments and the private sector to maintain critical logistical elements in food value chains, while prioritizing the health of consumers and workers.

With this online consultation we invite you to share examples, best practices and case studies of how the impact of the COVID-19 containment measures on food security and agriculture are being managed in your countries from a logistical point of view.

Please let us know if and how the measures to maintain a functioning food supply chain from “farm to fork” are being applied locally and nationally, and if any unexpected challenges have been encountered along the way.

Your input will be used to further refine FAO’s policy tools and to learn about examples of good practices that could be used to guide the response in other parts of the world.

To help us with the subsequent analysis of the consultation’s outcomes, we kindly ask you to address these guiding questions:

  1. Can you share examples on how the bottlenecks listed in the policy brief have been addressed and with which result?
  2. What has been the impact of measures to face the COVID-19 pandemic on the exports of food and cash crops?
  3. What has been the impact of measures to face the COVID-19 pandemic on the imports of food ingredients, inputs, packaging and other goods related to the food value chain?
  4. How have logistics from the national to the local level been impacted by the pandemic and response measures?
  5. What have been the implications on informal cross-border trade?
  6. What challenges related to the food value chain have emerged during the relaxing of COVID-19 containment measures?
  7. Are there any additional areas not yet included in the brief that warrant particular attention with regard to logistics affecting the food supply chain?  

We thank you very much for your valuable comments and look forward to learning from your experiences.

Marco V. Sánchez

Deputy-Director and Officer-in-Charge (day-to-day matters)|

Agricultural Development Economics of FAO

[1] The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019

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Dear all,

With the discussion now closed, I would like to share a word of appreciation for the time you have taken to provide all these interesting comments.

It is fascinating to read your first-hand accounts on how COVID-19 has impacted the logistics of the food systems in your countries and how governments, civil society, the private sector and individuals reacted to this challenge.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the world the pandemic is far from over and challenges to the food systems will continue. Hence, do not hesitate should you like to share any additional insight related to this important topic and which could provide valuable information and lessons learned.

Over the next weeks we will analyze your inputs and publish a summary. Needless to say, we will let you know once it is available.

Moreover, we will get insights from this fruitful discussion to feed into FAO's COVID-19 resources.

Thank you very much again!

Marco V. Sánchez

The construction and implementation of fishing policies requires dialogue and a close relationship with representative fishers associations, to induce intervention processes that should allow to meet the challenges of a bottom-up policies implementation that take notice of empirical and traditional knowledge. In this context, Academia plays important roles where small-scale fishers find support, although still few researchers developing studies and researches on social and economic issues related to small-scale fisheries.

Such commitment allowed knowing more the way which fishers struggled to have rights to resource management, once engagement was ultimately the extent to which management rights coincide with fishers’ power and involvement in decision-making, although only some directly engage. Many fishing arrangements aims at providing fishers with proper rights to resource management, the way in which the majority of fishers do engage in management, because specific mechanisms were develop to facilitating their participation, as formally created or long-established informal traditions tacitly recognized by the Government, although fishers themselves do not participate personally, and they do so through fisher representatives or formal fishing organizations.

Such arrangements, in some way or another, worked as standing committees supporting small-scale fishing villages and communities to deal with recent disasters and outbreaks, with active participation of small-scale fisheries representatives, and last March they published an open letter calling for action, signed by more than 400 institutions, movements and researchers. The result was the establishment of an observatory which functions as a political platform for claims and training, an important active network to support SSF, known as Grupo Observatório dos Impactos do Coronavirus nas Comunidades Pesqueiras (Observatory Group of Coronavirus Impact on Fishing Communities) created during the COVID-19 Pandemic by the Federal University of Bahia and the Pastoral Council of Fishers, aiming at bringing leaders together to centralize data and disseminate information and serve as an emotional assistance to these communities, being composed by civil societies organizations representatives and research institutions. The Observatory collects and disseminates information about Covid-19 on SSF in a blog (, using Google Forms and Apps, and the reports are grouped together and released at the end of the day, in the Daily Bulletin. And they also serve as a basis for the wider epidemiological bulletin of fishing communities, released at a weekly-basis.

All over the world, Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has changed the way mankind lives. The impact brought about cancellation, readjustment, realignment, and reintegration of lofty goals and ideas. As a result of the outbreak, agricultural production has witnessed a downturn which was attributed to lockdown and stay at home order by the government to curb further spread of the disease. In response to this, governments of nations and individuals have evolved measures to cushion the effects in form of palliatives.

Addressing the losses and wastages in Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (FFVs) through efficient logistics in Nigeria, the Federal Government is making efforts to generalize the use of ventilated Re-Usable Plastic Creates (RPCs) in transportation of FFVs from the Northern part of the country, where agricultural production activities are higher, down South. In the same way, awareness creation, popularization, workshops and trainings on the use of RPCs by relevant stakeholders (Farmers, Transporters, Traders and Marketers) at various FFVs market places are progressing.

Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI); one of the Research Institutes under the supervision of Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources developed RPC technology to prevent or minimize in-transit losses in FFVs. Studies have established the importance of Re-Usable Plastic Creates (RPCs) in transportation, postharvest loss reduction, as well as a viable alternative for handling of FFVs in Nigeria (Benson et al., 2020; Okonkwo et. al., 2018; and Babarinsa, et al., 2018). The shallow RPCs were used for tomatoes due to the softness of the fruits, while the deep RPCs were used for sturdy fruits such as oranges, mangoes, plantain and pineapples (Okonkwo et. al., (2018).

The impact of these government efforts is yielding the desired results going by the feedbacks from the on-going workshops and training programmes aimed at popularizing the use of this technology (RPC) amongst all relevant stakeholders. To further deepen the use of RPCs across the nation; the concept of Receipt System could be introduced in government policy post-pandemic. This implies that stakeholders don’t need to own or invest in RPCs acquisitions but instead; they rent and pay token to government registered “Value-chain and Logistic Entrepreneur” who had invested on RPCs for haulage. This would create more jobs, allows efficient management of the receipt system concept, and more importantly, an effective awareness creation for relevant stakeholders because it’s now a business.

Olusola B. Benson

Senior Research Officer,

Department of Research Outreach,

Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria.

Dear Sir./Madam

The cases of Covid -19 crisis in  Somalia have been  died down after it rained three weeks slightly so many thanks to Allah who  created us, gives us heath, food,  water & happiness.

But the standing constraints are as follows:

1- Relapsing AWD cases  or  cholera

2- Seen  or existing  some cases of  Measles

3-Lack of agriculture investment policy for  the small scale farmers

4-lack of livestock restocking investment for Agro- pastoral &

pastoral communities in Somalia

5 lack of youth  & women skills - empowerment &  employment

6-lack of disability rights consideration

7-Continuing of  Minority clans' discrimination, marginalization &

stigmatization  of their color, kind , culture & customs


Best Regards


Yusuf Abdi Lare

The impacts of this pandemic on the food system has resulted in a diverse range of measures by national governments globally. The food system is interdependent as various food commodities come from different parts of the world. It is likely that some exotic fruits and vegetables that are taken for granted may soon become more expensive or almost non-existent in the Global North. Many countries will have to ensure that their countries rely less on exported foods. The COVID-19 measures taken by countries that produce food and food ingredients in the Global South will likely have impacts on food processing of such imported food crops in the Global North.

In the northern part of Finland, where I am currently based, there are concerns on recruiting seasonal migrant workers that often come to Finland to help with harvesting, picking of berries and mushrooms from the forest. Due to restrictions, many may not be able to come this summer which may eventally lead to many berries unharvested in the forest.

The impact of measures to face the COVID-19 pandemic on the exports of processed food crops will depend greatly on the ready availability of the raw food crops. So far, in Finland the policy of food distribution has been quite good, as there is no shortage of foods in grocery shops to date.

Somehow, we may likely see an increase in the price of foods due to less supply and food adulteration may likely increase, therefore, governments will need to ensure that the origin of food are well monitored to avoid frauds. 



The current challanges of keeping food supply chain operational at one hand to keep the food security promises with securing the lives from spread of covid-19 infection from one area to another is the real litmus test for entire agri value chain from pre production supply inputs to production, collection, grading, transportation, storage, processing and distribution as well as delivery networks. At being a social investor of Apple value chain business in partnerships of 15 primary apple growers cooperatives in different areas of Uttrakhand himalayas and agri value chain business managers of implemented the idea to practie approach of social business for fair econimies and just societies by applying trekking software to trace the fresh apples from farm to fork…; was a positive outcome of prepartions through coopetition.

The full cold chain solution with active participation of stakeholders bing values to all with new learnings despite the restrictions imposed sometimes but adopted most of time with feelings to overcome from the difficulties jointly with the help of others.… In our opinion the partnerships could help more in these types of difficulties than during normal time.

In India all spaces of agriculture nd agri businesses from input supply to production, processing, transportation and storage disrupted which causes in the quality food availability to citizen and even after three months of lock down the supply chains are not oprational fully.

Fortunatly apple in Himalayas team concluded the off season sales succefully with winning over zero infection of covid-19 despite supplying fresh apples throughout the nation and now preparing for the upcoming harvest from second week of July.

We hope for the best on the strong base of our partnership.

On this International CoopsDay we all partners pledged our committments for climateactions with ensuring food security to all and better livelihood to our member farmers.

Goodluck from himalayas.

Responding to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on food value chains through efficient logistics

Nepal is an agricultural country where 66 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture facing with several challenges like droughts, famines, torrential rain, landslide, and some manmade disasters too. In the meantime the country has to fight with the COVID 19 likely the other countries. However, the country has taken some measures towards minimising the effects of the disease through efficient logistics on food value chains. Transportation and movement of the people has not been normalised resulting to irregular and insufficient catering of food.  Therefore, realising existing situation and future predicament of the country government has taken policy of supplying the food regularly without possibilities of shortages across the country. Thus some of the measures that the government has taken for food value chain with the supports of efficient logistics have been mentioned briefly as follows:

  1. Buffer stock of foods: It has been highly prioritized in food security of the country with establishment of additional food procurement stores in some main parts of the country followed by introducing the concept of food bank targeting to the COVID 19. It has been targeted to make availability of the foods round the year with provision of buffer stock through the terminal market (Food Corporation) of the country. The food corporation purchases the food from the farmers immediately after harvesting and sells out to the whole sellers / retailers of the food. In the meantime the government has targeted to increase the production of all the crops of the country like rice, maize, and wheat followed by other cereals, pulses, vegetables and livestock products.
  2. Supply of inputs: To meet the target of production of the food arrangement of inputs like fertilizers, irrigation, credit facilities, labour, and insurance of the crops and livestock has been emphasized in the country.
  3. Marketing of the agricultural products: It has been arranged the distribution system of the agricultural products through a channel of marketing like from producer to wholesaler and retailer to consumer. Accordingly, pricing policy of the products exists in the country where minimum support price of the main products is fixed before plantation of the crops.
  4. Rationing of food: The government at different levels from federal to local level have been involved in rationing of the food to the ultra poor and to the others who are unable to purchase the food from the market.
  5. Involvement of private sector: Some of the corporate houses, business men and individuals too are donating raw food as well as cooked food in edible form in many places of the country.
  6. Home delivery of food: Accordingly, home delivery system of the food like rice, pulses, cooking oil, spices, livestock products, green or dry vegetables and fruits has been expanded from the trading partners.
  7. Maintaining quality of food: Normally, quality of the food is not considered at the time of crisis rather than quantity since everyone’s target is to meet hunger. However, it has been asked to the concerning departments / sectors to maintain the quality of the food even supplying through different channels.

Thank you.

Pandamic Covid 19  have caused  greatly impacts the value chain of agricultural commodities and food security esspecially for the urban area in many provinces In Indonesia . Many commodities must be wasted and not distributed. On the other hand, this situatin raises the human spirit conditions and business opportunities, such as in the FinTech value chain technology and online delivery services so that the distribution of commodities from farmers to consumers or from the consumer market to work better. The government also helps in the delivery of agricultural goods to consumers and make sure the food avalaibility is sufficient. The goverment also helps small enterprises by ease them to pay the bussiness loan. Although the regulations regarding transportation have begun to be easy, this method is still used. 

In Nigeria specifically during the lockdown, the authority provides the chance for the transportation and supply of agricultural products and inputs such as fertilizer, seed, and other agro-allied products such as organic manure, ash, and other materials. The major impact of Covid-19 lockdown on food supply and value chain are more on the processing of local and small agricultural product, for instance, the processing and supply of some wild agricultural product (leafy materials) such as yadiya, Moringa, and Tafasa from nearby villages into the city become very difficult for them to supply due to inadequate transport facility, inadequate customers due to lockdown and the supplier effort to adhere to government policy on lockdown. This consequently affects their economic well being. The villagers normally sell the products and buy some farm facilities back to their home and also buy some feeds to some of their domesticated animals which they rely upon as a source of organic manure. Conclusively Covid-19 lockdown significantly affect the transportation and supply of some farm product which directly affect their economy.


Dr. Mansur Abdul Mohammed

Geography Dept, BUK

[email protected]

The following contribution will explore two points: 1) the particular resilience of localized food systems -based on family farming- highlighted by the global crisis and; 2) the urgent need to support family farming as a strategic response to the crisis We highlight the importance of localized food value chains -and its main actor family farmers- in alleviating the adverse effects that have been encountered thus far and building sustainable food systems, able to face future crisis.

1. Localized food value chains have demonstrated heightened resilience

The Covid-19 outbreak has attested to the fact that local food value chains provide particularly efficient logistics in comparison to long and globalized food chains. Indeed, global food production has not been significantly affected and -where local markets have remained in operation- no major issues have been reported. Conversely, international trade has been strongly affected due to its inherent globalized and complex logistics.

If we look at the main elements that affect food value chains in times of such crisis, such as: a) the closing of markets, b) the restriction of access for seasonal workers, c) bans on exports (and thus imports),  and d) the restriction of trade in agricultural inputs/equipment; it is evident that long food chains are highly vulnerable, affected by all the aforementioned elements, whereas local food chains are only affected by the closing of markets. Based on international trade, globalized food chains have clearly shown their fragility and susceptibility to market volatility (e.g. the meat sector crisis in the US). However, local food chains (such as Community Supported Agriculture) have, in many countries, provided an efficient substitute to long food chains  (Urgenci, 2020). We can also herein re-emphasize that globalized value chains are based on heavily industrialized food systems that are also polluters, and that represent the bulk of greenhouse gases emissions in the food and agriculture sector.

This extraordinary crisis has shown with clear and paramount empiric evidence that family farming - constituting the vast majority of local markets- is providing the bulk of the food consumed by humanity (UNDFF, 2019). Specifically, when taken within an agroecology framework, family farming has demonstrated an incredible resilience and capacity to absorb the unforeseen shock (see Indian case study below). If this were not the case, the current pandemic would have already precipitated an unprecedented food crisis that would have affected a large part of humanity. Today, thanks to the localized structure of food systems provided by family farming, food is available for the population. Furthermore, if the UN warns of a coming food crisis[1], it will be directly expedited by the lack of income and the increased poverty prompted by the global lockdowns. The World Food Programme also states that “COVID-19 will double the number of people facing food crisis unless swift action is taken”.

It is imperative that we acknowledge that family farming is feeding the vast majority of the world and that, on the contrary, the conventional agro-industrial sector, with its globalized structure, is in crisis. In this emergency, family farming and its localized food systems are the crucial components that are preventing us from food shortages.


Indian agroecology school Amrita Bhoomi welcomes ex-workers of conventional farms

Conventional farms in India have been heavily affected by the COVID crisis, which has rendered many people redundant, in particular women. These women have been welcomed at the Amrita Bhoomi Agroecology School in Chamarajanagar District where they have the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food without using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The Agroecology School provides free training and equips participants with all the necessary tools needed to become an autonomous farmer: land, seeds, training and support, equipment, etc.

The impairment of conventional farming systems by the COVID crisis has directly resulted in the loss of livelihoods of many families. Amongst them, 14 women found a new opportunity to make a living in agroecology within localized food chains. Instead of being irreparably sabotaged by the global health and economic crisis, Amrita Bhoomi Agroecology School has safeguarded households from hunger and destitution.

(Interview with Amrita Bhoomi volunteer / June 2020)


Bio-distretto della Via Amerina e delle Forre,  an Agroecological territory in central  Italy,  boost the sales of local organic farmers to respond to the increase in demand of quality and safe food coming from families in lockdown in Urban and peri-urban areas

During the lockdown period in Italy, the food consumption patterns have dramatically changed. The Hotel Restaurant and Catering (HORECA) sector, that usually accounts for more the 50 % of the overall consumption, has been drastically reduced. On the other hand, family consumption has been bolstered, as the three traditional meals per day have to be consumed by all the components of the family at home.  At the same time, greater attention to health care and food quality have been necessitated by the family demand. In this context, all the short chain sales models, and especially those demonstrating a clear agroecological approach (Nyeleni 2015), like the bio-districts, have garnered special attention by families, especially in urban areas. Italy’s bio-districts have clearly defined territories and encompass organic agriculture and food production, a promotion of local community initiatives, cultural heritage, and traditional crafts. Bio-districts foster collaboration between farmers, local residents, tourism operators, local authorities, and other cultural and historical institutes and organisations. Italy has 30 bio-districts.

Biodistretto della Via Amerina e delle Forre is a nonprofit organization that includes the territories of 13 municipalities in the province of Viterbo (50 km north of Roma), with a population of approximately 70,000 inhabitants , and represent an area where more than 300 organic farms  are active .

Biodistretto della Via Amerina e delle Forre is an   association based on membership. The main aim of the association is to promote sustainable development at the territorial level with an agroecological approach: Other thematic areas included in this mandate are sustainable tourism, renewable energy, environmental protection, and circular economy principles. The Bio-distretto aims to support the local community to transition to a zero-emission model of production. The Bio-distretto promotes the use of renewable energy and is the key actor at local level in creating better conditions to facilitate the realization  of the project’s goals, as it involves collaboration between the local public authorities, food producers and  civil society organizations.

In the Bio-distretto della Via Amerina e delle Forre the farmers and producers grow and sell diverse products: wine, olive oil, cheeses such as mozzarella and sheep’s cheese, pork products and saffron, and furthermore operate an agri-tourism business and an international agroecology school . 

Many of the products from this area are sold in the main markets of Rome or in smaller local markets, and are also distributed to local families through the use of direct selling schemes . This kind of model is a strength of the biodistrict’s small-scale farmers – they are not constrained to one particular market and so they can easily adapt to different situations. In the COVID crises period an increase in sales of approximately 25% has been reported.

The small farmers and producers who live in Biodistrict della Via Amerina e delle Forre are innovators. This is most encapsulated by the fact that they have adapted their traditional farming methods to the demands of the modern world, and yet remain focused on sustainability. The farmers have strong social and cultural principles, and work together with the local community. Part of the ethos behind the biodistrict movement is to go beyond the ‘single farm’, and to create a holistic and integrated sustainable community.

2. Response to the crisis: supporting family farming

Based on the above analysis, it is evident that the immediate response to the crisis should be to support family farming and its associated organizations, which have the unique capacity to guarantee a food supply to all and to reduce poverty. Grants and credit programs should be immediately directed towards family farming and related organizations to increase their autonomy on seed production, post-harvest management, and access to markets. In the context of the UN Decade for Family Farming (UNDFF), all initiatives at national and international level that support family farming should receive funding immediately. We call especially upon IFAD to drastically revise its priorities.

We need to further delineate the situation of the crisis pre-COVID 19 and the one post-COVID 19. The locust crisis in Eastern Africa, and the prolonged drought in Zimbabwe, are emergency situations that have to be handled with context-specific tools and responses that are different to those already outlined above and, more importantly, definitive social protection measures should be implemented. It is imperative not to conflate the two crises, as they need to be addressed separately and with different tools.

We advocate for a new communication by UNDFF after the COVID crisis; to call upon all Governments to put the health of local and regional populations at the centre of their actions and responses, and to put people before economic profit and international trade that benefits a handful of powerful corporations. The UNDFF Global Action Plan must be revised due to the COVID crisis, which is having an impact on food systems worldwide. A precedence for this has already been set by the food crisis of 2007/2008. Not to acknowledge this impact on food systems will undermine the outcome of the UNDFF.

At the same time, we highlight that all Governments have (not always very effectively) tried to guarantee food access to the entire population (food provided by, in the vast majority, family farming, through localized food systems). This means that they are acknowledging the heightened importance of the right to health and the right to food over any trade rules or transnational agreements.

The observations on the effectiveness and efficiency of local food systems also necessitate a larger and improved support for family farming, including a more rigorous implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), and a structural reform of the global governance of food and agriculture. A governance system out of the purview of the WTO and any bilateral trade agreements. In this sense, a more decisive role should be given to the Committee of World Food Security (CFS), where family farmers have a voice.

The UN institutions and governments should address the above-mentioned points and take the required action needed to ensure that they are successfully and effectively resolved.