Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences | JIRCAS

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27. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― IFPRI Dashboard: Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Food Market

Amid the increasing impact of COVID-19 on the world economy, the international community is urged to monitor the ever-changing policy movements of food exporting countries and their impact on food importing countries through international cooperation. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has launched COVID-19 Food Policy Tracker to track food export restrictions around the world in the current COVID-19 crisis and their impact on the global food market. As of the end of April, 15 countries are implementing export restrictions, and it is estimated that the world trade in terms of calories will have an impact of about 5%.
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25. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Food Security Crisis in East Africa: Urbanization and Structural Transformation of Agriculture

According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the East African region is currently facing the triple threat of COVID-19, floods and locusts. Although East Africa is home to only about 3% of the world's population, the region also hosts 22 percent of the world’s total number of acutely food-insecure people. It is expected that the socio-economic fallout from the pandemic will be far more devastating than the disease itself due the unemployment of people in the urban areas.
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24. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― World Bank Report: Implications of COVID-19 for Commodities

In April 2020, the World Bank released the “Commodity Market Outlook - Implications of COVID-19 for Commodities”, a detailed analysis of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for major commodity groups including energy, agriculture, fertilizers and metals. As the pandemic continues to worsen, commodity prices saw sharp declines during the last three months, with the largest impact in the energy sector. This is a summary of the report and blog (World Bank, April 23, 2020).
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23. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― WMO Report: Economic Impact of Global Warming

The World Meteorological Organization released a report, “The Global Climate in 2015–2019”" on April 22, 2020. According to the report, the physical signs of climate change and the impact on our planet have gathered pace, reaching a crescendo in the past five years, and this trend is expected to continue. Whilst COVID-19 has caused a severe international health and economic crisis, failure to tackle climate change may threaten human well-being, ecosystems and economies for centuries.
International Organization

IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050

“Global Renewables Outlook: Energy Transformation 2050”, formerly known as “Global Energy Transformation: a roadmap to 2050”, was published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in April 2020. This comprehensive analysis outlines the investments and technologies needed to decarbonize the energy system in line with the Paris Agreement. It also explores deeper decarbonization options for the hardest sectors, aiming to eventually cut CO2 emissions to zero.
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22. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Hunger Pandemic

The United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) has expressed concern that the new coronavirus (COVID-19) could put 265 million people at the risk of acute hunger by the end of 2020. This number represents the scale of catastrophe we are facing. Of particular concern to the spread of health hazards from viruses are people living in conflict areas or forced to leave their homes and enter refugee camps. Viruses can spread in crowded camps. Similarly, people living in cramped and unsanitary urban slums will be at risk.
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21. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Earth Day and Biodiversity

As of April 22, 2020, which marks the 50th anniversary of International Earth Day, the COVID-19 continues to spread around the world. According to the United Nations, 75% of new infectious diseases that occur every four months are of animal origin, showing a very close relationship between humans, animals and environmental health. The destruction of biodiversity by human intervention in nature is believed to be responsible for the increase in zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. On this day dedicated to Mother Earth, the UN referred to COVID-19, climate crisis and loss of biodiversity, and called for the urgency to shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.
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20. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Global Economic Crisis and Climate Change Countermeasures

The COVID-19 outbreak that has been storming the world is ironically "kind to the planet". The suspension of economic activities has caused a record drop in carbon dioxide emission not seen since the end of the 2nd World War. However, it can’t be expected that this situation will last long and eventually, a drastic socio-economic transformation of the land use and energy sectors will be essential to avoid irreversible climate change risks. The recommendation of health experts to lower the infection peak and flatten the epidemic curve as a response the COVID-19 has prompted climate experts to regard extreme weather events caused by climate change in the same way as viral infection, and to improve the resilience of society by swiftly promoting the decarbonization of the economy to curb the rise in the average temperature of the world thus avoiding catastrophic damages to the society.
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18. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Channels of Transmission to Food and Agriculture

In response to the global spread of COVID-19, urban blockades and movement restrictions have been implemented in many countries. The prolongation of this crisis could delay food supply to the market and the procurement of materials and workers needed for agricultural production, which could lead to a food crisis. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all elements of the food system, from primary supply, to processing, to trade as well as national and international logistics systems, to intermediate and final demand In addressing food security in developing countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of not only the production and consumption of food, but also the well-functioning of the food value chain, distribution and logistics.
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17. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Outlook on Oil Demand and Renewable Energy

Rapidly declining cost of solar and wind power generation has caused the acceleration of the transition to renewable energy globally, especially in the power sector. However, the global movement restrictions due to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) combined with slowdowns of economic activities due to disruptions in the supply chain and closure of related equipment factories, have casted a shadow on the growth outlook for 2020. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the impact of lower oil prices on renewable energy is limited, but the short-term effects on renewable energy use including biofuels are becoming apparent in the transportation sector. The need for accelerating energy transformation, a key component of the long-term goals for the climate safe future remain unchanged ever after the coronavirus crisis. Rather, it is now necessary to pave the way toward the decarbonization of socioeconomic systems and thereby achieving Sustainable Development Goals (IRENA March 14, 2020).
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16. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Significantly Slow Growth in Developing Countries in the Asia-Pacific Region

The World Bank has released an analysis showing that the economic growth rate of developing countries in the Asia-Pacific (EAP) region will slow down significantly from + 5.8% in 2019 to + 2.1 ~ 0.5% in 2020 due to the new coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19). While tourism related services are expected to be the most severely affected, agricultural output is also projected to fall by around 3%. In addition, due to the high percentage of farmers in many countries in the EAP region, there are serious concerns that the income and health of small-scale farmers who have difficulty accessing public social security will be significantly affected. The World Bank is calling for bold national action and the need for deeper international cooperation.
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15. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Impact on World Trade and Developing Countries Dependent on Commodity Crop Export

Cultivation of export commodity crops such as tea and coffee has become popular in developing countries located in the highlands of tropical and subtropical regions. Until recently, the flower and horticulture industry has also rapidly grown due to the establishment of air freight networks to major destinations, and is now integrated into the global value chain due to increased exports. The COVID-19 causes devasting economic crisis to developing countries that depend on commodity crop exports due to declining international demand and suspension of international flights. On April 8, 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) predicted a 13-32% drop in world trade volume in 2020, calling for unprecedented measures to protect people's lives and the need to pay close attention to the food security situation of food importing countries that rely on commodity crops for foreign currency acquisition, GDP, and job creation.
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14. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― World Bank Bulletin: The first recession in Sub-Saharan Africa in 25 years

2The World Bank announced on April 8, 2020 that due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the economic growth rate in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is projected to decline from 2.4 percent in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1 percent in 2020, the first recession in the region in 25 years. Countries that depend on oil and minerals exports such as Nigeria, South Africa and Angola, and countries with strong value chain participation such as Ethiopia and Kenya, will be particularly hit hard. In addition, exports and movement regulations will also affect the agricultural production and is expected to contract between 2.6 to 7%. The World Bank, with the support of the SSA governments, has called for the need to avoid the outbreak of an African food crisis associated with COVID-19. Through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), Japan has taken the position of strongly supporting development in Africa, the fastest-growing frontier of the 21st century, in cooperation with the public and private sectors.
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13. Tropical Fruits Research at TARF

Ishigaki Island, which has been attracting attention as a tourist destination in the world in recent years, is geographically closer to Taiwan than the main island of Okinawa, and belongs to a subtropical region in terms of climate. The Tropical Agriculture Research Front (TARF), a research base of JIRCAS on Ishigaki Island, is the only Japanese agricultural research institute capable of conducting empirical research in the cultivation environment of tropical crops, and has a major mission to contribute to domestic and overseas agriculture. TARF is conducting research on mangoes and passion fruits with the aim of contributing to the promotion of tropical fruit tree production in both developing countries and Japan. Since these fruits are rich in nutrients such as vitamins and have high commercial value, research that leads to the development of excellent varieties is expected to benefit both domestic and overseas consumers and producers.
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12.New Coronavirus Pandemic ―Challenges Facing African Agriculture: A case of Rwanda

April 7, 2020 marks the 26th year since the genocide which is claimed to have killed more than 500,000 people in about 100 days in Rwanda, a landlocked country in Africa. During this time, investment in the tourism industry, ICT and urban infrastructure has been remarkable, the medical field is often praised as a model to follow in Africa, making Rwanda the success story for post-conflict reconstruction. Regarding the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the Rwandan government took advantage of the experience of controlling Ebola infection in the previous year, and once again quickly strengthened the check system and started a lockdown. In Rwanda, small-scale agriculture is still at the core of the economy. Under the excessive population pressure that far exceeds Japan's population density, agricultural land is being fragmented and narrowed, and sustainable cultivation techniques and systems are required. At the same time, the rural areas in Rwanda also face nutritional challenges and it is necessary to introduce a variety of foods to improve the diet of the people.
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11. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― International Trade and Food Security

The global food chain is being tested for its robustness and resilience when it comes to movement restrictions and urban blockades (lockdowns) due to the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19). In order for the international community to overcome the global food crisis, it is necessary to closely monitor the trends in international trade. The trade value of all agricultural products has tripled in face value from 2000 to 2018, and has almost doubled on a weight basis over the same period. Japan is the world’s third-largest cereal importer, and one of the reasons for a calorie-based food self-sufficiency rate of 37% is the heavy reliance on imported maize for livestock feed. The international rice trade from Asia to the Middle East and Africa is surprisingly large and the net per capita rice consumption of importing countries is even higher than Japan. In recent years, rice consumption in Africa has been increasing year by year due to urbanization and population growth, and agricultural technologies that contribute to continuous increase in yield and planted areas are the key to improving the self-sufficiency rate.
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10. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Humanitarian and Food Crisis in the Central Sahel: The Case of Burkina Faso

On April 2, 2020, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) expressed strong concern that food insecurity levels in the central Sahel region, encompassing Burkina Faso, Mari and Niger, are “spiralling out of control”. Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries, the 182nd out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index, but due to recent droughts and militant activities, the number of internally displaced persons has increased sharply, health centers nationwide have been closed, and the medical system is weakening. As for food-related issues, there is concern that school closure due to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will affect children whose only source of nutrition is the school lunch, and movement restrictions would disrupt logistics and prevent external assistance. WFP predicted that by June this year, the number of people facing food security crises could triple, compared to the same period last year, and called on the international community for help.
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9. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Avoiding Export Control and Protectionism: Lessons from the 2008 World Food Crisis

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, panic buying and stockpiling of food in response to lockdowns and restrictions on movement have been reported in many countries around the world. As of April 2020, it is said that there is a sufficient stockpile of major cereals globally, but if the nationalism of food security rises in the future and the malfunction of the global food supply system occurs, there is concern that a food price crisis would occur at the same time as the return of the Lehman shock. The Sub-Saharan African countries and net food importers such as Japan are most likely to be affected by the chain of export restrictions by food exporters and food price spikes. A joint statement of the Director-Generals of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretary-General emphasized that, as people around the world today rely on international trade for food security and livelihoods, the international community must cooperate in avoiding export restrictions.
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8. New Coronavirus Pandemic – Response of the International Community to the Global Food Crisis

The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which was confirmed in December 2019, is now sweeping the whole world. The expansion in low-income countries with vulnerable heath care systems including the Sub-Saharan Africa may further worsen the global food and nutrition security crisis in addition to the social and humanitarian crisis in the future. On the night of March 26, 2020, the leaders of 20 countries and regions (G20), including Japan, USA, EU, and emerging countries, held the G20 Summit Video Teleconference Meeting, the first in history of the summit, to respond to the new coronavirus and to deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. In particular, the G20 leaders expressed serious concerns about the crisis facing the developing with vulnerable health systems and economies especially in Africa and the small island states, and a commitment to use all available policy tools in order to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic.
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7. International Collaboration on Rice Genetic Resources Research

In Japan, rice improvement programs focus on developing varieties with good taste while well adapted to specific local climatic and weather conditions. Rice is also used as one of the staple crops Most of the poor regions of the world are concentrated in the tropics. On the other hand, the growing influence of global warming and increasing frequencies of extreme weather events in recent years have raised serious concerns of the deterioration of both rice quality and yield in the future. Aiming for stable rice production will greatly contribute to poverty alleviation and social stability in these regions, where Japan can play a strategic role to contribute to global food and nutrition security. JIRCAS is pursuing the conservation rice germplasms and breeding materials and development of a database, in order to contribute to the establishment of an international cooperation system for the conservation and use of rice genetic resources.