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Efforts to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic have sent shockwaves across the globe. The immediate measures to preserve human life and bring the health crisis under control have been wholly necessary, but as restrictions on modern life remain in place for months to come, disruptions to food systems will inevitably become more acute. The number of hungry people, already at 800 million, could double as part of the wider fallout from the pandemic.

As a global organization working at the nexus of agriculture, the environment, and nutrition, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT is in a position to help countries avert further catastrophic hits on their food systems by stress-testing promising quick-response options, monitoring and mitigating current impacts, improving and accelerating responses, and facilitating recovery.


As an immediate response, the Alliance has quickly mobilized its resources and expertise to address immediate needs, including helping our host countries meet short-term food security requirements, providing real-time information on COVID-19-driven shifts in food consumer behavior, and maintaining our global collections of seeds and germplasm ready for deployment to farmers fields across the globe.

In the short- to medium-term, while we remain committed to our ongoing research agenda, our response to COVID-19 will focus on supporting food systems at the country level.

We have divided this response into three main areas:

  1. We will monitor impact. Our researchers have already mobilized data-gathering resources to learn how COVID-19 is influencing agricultural production and consumer behavior. This work will allow us to evaluate the extent to which country-level food systems have been disrupted by the pandemic.
  2. We will improve and accelerate responses. In the short- to medium-term, our impact monitoring will lead to the deployment of targeted policy recommendations and proposals to keep national food system supply chains open and thriving, even under conditions of global stress.
  3. We will facilitate recovery. Over the longer term, we will embed resilience in national food systems through evidence-based policy and action recommendations. We will do this by helping countries shift consumer and agricultural behavior toward increased domestic food production, improved diets, and improved resilience to future external shocks.

CGIAR's coordinated response

The CGIAR centres, including the Alliance, make available their latest research and analysis on COVID-19 to support authorities and the public in making informed decisions during the current crisis.

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During the next few weeks and months, we will tell you more about these new initiatives. We will also keep you up-to-date on the latest news from our global team of scientists and collaborators, who continue – with even greater urgency than before – their longstanding efforts to improve the health and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable.

Our initiatives

Partnerships for solutions: Assessing COVID’s Impacts on Poor Urban Consumers in Africa

Alliance researchers in Nairobi, Kenya, report on a joint study establishing the effects of COVID-19 on residents’ livelihoods and food access.

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Post-COVID-19: we need a food systems approach to achieve zero-deforestation diets

How and what we eat has caused undue damage to forests. Over the years, the clamor for a shift to sustainable diets has grown. Finding an effective...

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Working across institutions and disciplines for science-based responses to fight COVID-19 in Ethiopia

Agricultural researchers are applying data sharing and analytics to improve COVID testing and treatment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health...

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The response from the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT to the COVID-19 crisis in Asia

COVID-19 emphasized the need for more resilient and healthy food systems. In Asia, we are partnering with governments, NGOs, and private institutions...

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Giving voice to the voiceless: How COVID-19 is impacting Nairobi slum residents, in their own words

COVID-19 has only further complicated the challenge of feeding growing cities across Africa and the rest of the world. Researchers are listening to...

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COVID-19 and the bovine livestock sector in Colombia

The COVID-19 crisis is negatively affecting the bovine livestock sector in Colombia. This document serves as a guide to understand current developments, impacts and mitigation measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides an outlook on potential future impacts and suggestions for mitigation options that can help policy and decision-makers in preparing the sector better for future crises.

Download the paper