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 continued safeguarding of our global collections of seeds and germplasm, assuring that suitable and improved materials are ready for deployment to farmers fields across the globe.
Food security – by mid-April, the Alliance donated more than 4.5 tons of improved, biofortified varieties of beans, rice and maize to 25 municipalities across Colombia – enough to ensure that 4,500 low-income farming families have access to nutritious food and generate some revenue for the next 12 months. Some of this seed is foundation seed, meaning that harvested seeds may be used to plant more fields and assist in longer-term food security.
We are working with local authorities to donate more seed.
Consumer demand – In Vietnam, the Alliance’s free Wi-Fi service for food markets has helped us observe and understand consumer behavior in real-time, before, during and after the crisis. Paired with digital survey information of vendors in the markets, we can monitor and potentially predict consumer behavior in traditional food markets across Asia.
Safeguarding seeds – The Alliance’s genebanks in Colombia and Belgium have stayed operational during the lockdown. Home to the largest collections of varieties of beans, bananas, forages, and cassava in the world, these resources are essential for research and are available to farmers who are vulnerable to crop losses, food insecurity and lost income.
Partnerships for continuity – In Africa, the bulk of our implementation has been undertaken through various partnerships to ensure food security remains on track. In addition to ensuring timely distribution of seeds to farmers, we are working across the region with our national and community-based partners to reach the communities that would otherwise be out of reach in light of restricted movements. In Kenya for example, we are working with the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to facilitate farmer access to improved bean seed and information on good agricultural practices. We are taking advantage of existing digital platforms to ensure continued interaction between the Alliance partners, farmer and extension service workers. For example, during the COVID-19 lockdown, the team has been actively following up on sharing ICT messages with Partners in Ghana through a partnership with ESOKO – an agricultural and messaging service provider, to keeps farmers up to date on upcoming project activities such as meetings, training opportunities, and to support extension agents who offer advice to farmers.