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Expert Panel 2

COVID-19: Lessons for resilience building along agricultural value chains

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF)

Time: Monday, 18. January 2021, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (CET), subsequent deep dive 4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Languages: English, German


While COVID-19 has had a great impact globally, the pandemic has hit the livelihood capitals of smallholder farmers in the developing world particularly hard. This includes effects on smallholders’ financial, market, social, human, and information and technology capitals. The multi-dimensional impacts of the pandemic have also interacted with climate stress, which is affecting natural capital, and magnified the economic, food and nutritional security impacts. Another major impact comes not from the pandemic per se, but from policy responses – containment measures such as shutdowns in relevant markets have an impact right along international value chains to supplying countries. Border closures have led to friction in trade and supply.

The aim of this panel is to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on food security in agriculture. What lessons can be drawn from different policy approaches and the different approaches of countries in order to foster resilience? How can value chains be made more resilient in respect of both international trade and local production? What conclusions can be drawn from experiences of other epidemics such as Ebola? This panel introduces and discusses experiences from different countries and continents, including Latin America, Australia, Western Africa and the EU, in order to identify potential pathways for future pandemic management and the improvement of food security situations in crisis situations.


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Katharina Löhr is Deputy Head of the working group “Sustainable Land Use in Developing Countries” (SusLand) at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and also works as lecturer at Humboldt -Universität zu Berlin. She holds a PhD in Agricultural Sciences (HU Berlin) and an MSc in Peace and Development Studies (SOAS, UK). One of her current projects studies the impacts of COVID-19 on food security and agricultural practices of smallholders in Iran, Brazil and Tanzania. Her research focuses on land-use management, social cohesion, and peacebuilding as well as questions of adoption and co-design of innovations.

Stefan Sieber is an Associate Professor (PD, Privatdozent) at Humboldt University zu Berlin and concurrently he coordinates the department SusLAND “Sustainable Land Use in Developing Countries” at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF). His domains are food security and nutrition, climate change and bioenergy. He focuses on inter- and transdisciplinary research methods such as co-design of innovation, policy and governance analysis. Beyond, he applied sector modelling approaches and further developed impact assessment methods in Europe, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. He (co-)coordinated 37 international research projects, authored/co-authored 146 peer-reviewed publications as well as more than 100 conference contributions.

Panel guests

Boubaker Ben-Belhassen is Director of the Markets and Trade Division of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He holds a Ph.D. and a M.Sc in agricultural economics and an M.A. in economics, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His areas of specialization include commodity markets, price and policy analysis, projections and food security issues. He is also the Secretary of FAO’s Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP). The Division he leads is responsible for the preparation of a number of FAO high profile publications, including Food Outlook, Crop Prospects and Food Situation, the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook and The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO).

Claudia Ringler is Deputy Division Director at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). A thought leader on water for food, she manages IFPRI’s Natural Resource Theme, co-leads the Institute’s water research program and is a flagship co-lead of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). Her research focuses on global water and food security, gender-water and gender-climate change linkages and the synergies of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Claudia has a PhD in agricultural economics from University of Bonn and an MA in International Development Economics from Yale University.

Dr Bettina Rudloff works as agricultural engineer and trade economist at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin – a think tank conducting research and advising the German Bundestag, Federal Government and European actors. Previously she trained national and international officials at the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht, The Netherlands.  Her focus issues are the European agricultural policy, trade and investments and their interlinkages with food security and development. She is member of the advisory board of the special initiative “One World, no Hunger” at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

David Pannell is Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Western Australia; Director, Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy; ARC Federation Fellow (2007-12); Distinguished Fellow and past president of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society; Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia; and a Director of Natural Decisions Pty Ltd. His research includes the economics of land and water conservation; environmental policy; farmer adoption of conservation practices; risk; and economics of farming systems. He is author of 200 journal articles and book chapters, with awards for research in the USA, Australia, Canada and the UK, including the 2009 Eureka Prize for Interdisciplinary Research.


Agri-food markets and trade policy in the time of COVID-19 – FAO

Challenges for a coherent approach to food system resilience within the EU – Bettina Rudloff

Sustainable Supply Chains in the Agri-cultural Sector: Adding Value Instead of Just Exporting Raw Materials – Bettina Rudloff and Christine Wieck

Snow, V., Rodriguez, D., Dynes, R., Kaye-Blake, W., Mallawaarachchi, T., Zydenbos, S., Cong, L., ObadovicI, I., Agnew, R., Amery, N., Bell, L., Benson, C., Clinton, P., Dreccer, F., Dunningham, A., Gleeson, M., Harrison, M., Hayward, A., Holzworth, D., Johnstone, P., Meinke, H., Mitter, N., Mugera, A., Pannell, D., Prada e Silva, L., Roura, E., Siddharth, P., Kadambot, S., and Stevens, D. (2021). Resilience achieved via multiple compensating subsystems: the immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand, Agricultural Systems 187, 103025.

Pannell, D.J. and Adamowicz, W.L. (2020). What Can Environmental Economists Learn from the COVID-19 Experience? Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy

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