The COVID-19 pandemic presents new challenges and new opportunities for publicly funded food and agricultural research in the global South. Growing government deficits related to the pandemic threaten funding for research needed for sustainable and healthy food systems. Yet, the pandemic and current health research could also spur greater investment in agricultural research.
Spillovers from government and industry research and investment to fight COVID-19 may benefit agricultural research. This work has raised government and public awareness of the importance of biological research and of the links between agricultural and human health. In addition, new tools such as genomics, CRISPR, and information technology have created new opportunities for agricultural research and innovation, including for control of crop diseases and pests.
In view of these opportunities and growing demand, national agricultural research systems—and their funders—may need to rethink research priorities. The future will require a more systemic view of food systems, one that links agriculture, nutrition, and health to prevent future pandemics.
- Moderator Carl Pray, Distinguished Professor, Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics Department, School for Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
- Introduction John McDermott, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)
- Ben Durham, Director Chief, Bio-innovation, National Department of Science and Innovation, South Africa
- Ruben Echeverria, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
- Vish Nene, Co-leader, Animal and Human Health Program, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
- B.M. Prasanna, Director, Global Maize Program and the CGIAR Research Program on Maize, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
- Delia Grace Randolph, Professor of Food Safety Systems, University of Greenwich