COVID-19 and food systems: SNV, IFPRI, Government of Netherlands discuss the impacts


“We need to sow the seeds of future resilience. The gut reaction of a crisis is to focus on the here and now. We need to look at the long-term.” – Meike van Ginneken, SNV CEO

High-level event unpacks COVID-19 impact on food systems

The COVID-19 crisis is a public health, economic, energy, and food and nutrition security crisis, all wrapped into one. Meike van Ginneken, SNV’s CEO, shared SNV’s field-level actions and analysis in response to the COVID-19 crisis on 28 April, when she joined representatives of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Government of the Netherlands for a high-level virtual event.

The panel unpacked the results of the IFPRI 2020 Global Food Policy Report and the impact of COVID-19 on our food systems. It highlighted the critical role that inclusive food systems can play, looking specifically at the obstacles and opportunities as well as the tools and technologies for making it possible.

A key take-away from the discussion was the need to keep a long-term perspective in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Local know-how for lasting solutions

We need to learn from what happens locally and pay attention to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the ground, who are flexible and resilient. “Let’s harvest what they do,” said Ms van Ginneken.

At the same time, she highlighted the need to move ideas into action, and to continue implementing policies and programmes, while staying adaptable and creative.


While responding to the crisis, Ms van Ginneken underscored that inclusion and food security needs to remain on the agenda: “Inclusion does not happen by accident. It needs to be an explicit policy, and we need to keep it central.”

Major food systems disruptions

IFPRI experts shared key resources to analyse the food system, such as the food systems resource centre which collates multiple tools and approaches.

The COVID-19 crisis will cause major food systems disruptions. It will impact food producers and food consumers in different ways, and the food and nutrition security of people living in poverty is and will be disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

With this backdrop, the panel underscored the need for more resilient food systems. We needed this before COVID-19, and we need it even more now.

For more information and analysis, watch the full recording of the event on IFPRI's website, and keep an eye on SNV’s COVID-19 response page.