Response and resilience of Asian agrifood systems to COVID-19: An assessment across twenty-five countries and four regional farming and food systems

Dixon, J M and Weerahewa, J and Hellin, J and Rola-Rubzen, M F and Huang, J and Shalander, K and Das, A and Qureshi, M E and Krupnik, T J and Shideed, K and Jat, M L and Prasad, P V V and Yadav, S and Irshad, A and Asanaliev, A and Abugalieva, A and Karimov, A and Bhattarai, B and Balgos, C Q and Benu, F and Ehara, H and Pant, J and Sarmiento, J M P and Newby, J C and Pretty, J and Tokuda, H and Weyerhaeuser, H and Digal, L N and Li, L and Sarkar, M A R and Abedin, M Z and Schreinemachers, P and Grafton, Q and Sharma, R C and Saidzoda, S and Lopez-Ridaura, S and Coffey, S and Kam, S P and Win, S S and Praneetvatakul, S and Maraseni, T and Touch, V and Liang, W and Saharawat, Y S and Timsina, J (2021) Response and resilience of Asian agrifood systems to COVID-19: An assessment across twenty-five countries and four regional farming and food systems. Agricultural Systems (TSI), 193. pp. 1-19. ISSN 0308-521X

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Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting health and economies across the world, although the nature of direct and indirect effects on Asian agrifood systems and food security has not yet been well understood. Objectives: This paper assesses the initial responses of major farming and food systems to COVID-19 in 25 Asian countries, and considers the implications for resilience, food and nutrition security and recovery policies by the governments. Methods: A conceptual systems model was specified including key pathways linking the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 to the resilience and performance of the four principal Asian farming and food systems, viz, lowland rice based; irrigated wheat based; hill mixed; and dryland mixed systems. Based on this framework, a systematic survey of 2504 key informants (4% policy makers, 6% researchers or University staff, 6% extension workers, 65% farmers, and 19% others) in 20 Asian countries was conducted and the results assessed and analysed. Results and conclusion: The principal Asian farming and food systems were moderately resilient to COVID-19, reinforced by government policies in many countries that prioritized food availability and affordability. Rural livelihoods and food security were affected primarily because of disruptions to local labour markets (especially for off-farm work), farm produce markets (notably for perishable foods) and input supply chains (i.e., seeds and fertilisers). The overall effects on system performance were most severe in the irrigated wheat based system and least severe in the hill mixed system, associated in the latter case with greater resilience and diversification and less dependence on external inputs and long market chains. Farming and food systems' resilience and sustainability are critical considerations for recovery policies and programmes, especially in relation to economic performance that initially recovered more slowly than productivity, natural resources status and social capital. Overall, the resilience of Asian farming and food systems was strong because of inherent systems characteristics reinforced by public policies that prioritized staple food production and distribution as well as complementary welfare programmes. With the substantial risks to plant- and animal-sourced food supplies from future zoonoses and the institutional vulnerabilities revealed by COVID-19, efforts to improve resilience should be central to recovery programmes. Significance: This study was the first Asia-wide systems assessment of the effects of COVID-19 on agriculture and food systems, differentiating the effects of the pandemic across the four principal regional farming and food systems in the region.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Global Research Program - Enabling Systems Transformation
Uncontrolled Keywords: Resilience, Agrifood-systems, COVID-19, Gender, Markets Policy
Subjects: Others > Agriculture Policy
Others > Food Processing & Technology
Others > Agricultural Marketing
Others > Gender Research
Depositing User: Mr Arun S
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2021 10:06
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2021 10:06
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: Part of this study (including the open access of the manuscript) was supported by the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia project funded by USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This paper should not be taken as an endorsement by USAID, the USA Government, or the BMGF, and shall not be used for advertising purposes. The International Rice Research Institute supported GIS analysis and the preparation of the FFS map. The support of authors' organizations, as well as of many other local organizations involved in the key informant assessments, is gratefully acknowledged. In relation to authors' contributions, the first 14 listed authors are members of the regional core team who contributed to the concept, questionnaire design, analysis, drafting and editing, listed in order of approximate contributions, and other authors consolidated key informant assessments and edited a draft and the final paper, listed in alphabetical order of their first names. The final (last) author guided design and framing of the manuscript, supplied COVID-related literatures and took part in discussions with the senior author and few other co-authors, and intensively edited different versions of the manuscript to ensure alignment and compliance with journal's expectations and presentation requirements.
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