Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences | JIRCAS

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38. New Coronavirus Pandemic ー FAO May 2020 Food Price Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a global economic downturn. While the grain market has sufficient inventories worldwideenough to avoid a critical price hike at this stage, stilltill the international community needs to closely monitor policy changes by food exporters. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published the Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA Bulletin Monthly Report) on the latest price trends at the global, regional, and national levels, providing a detailed information on the circumstances in countries where price increases are observed. According to the May 2020 preliminary report, wheat and rice prices have risen and maize prices have fallen in April 2020 compared to the previous month.
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37.Contributing to food security in Madagascar by developing rice cultivation technology that improves fertilizer use efficiency

Madagascar is known for its rich ecosystem and rare flora and fauna, but it is less known that agriculture in this country is based on rice cultivation and rice consumption is more than twice as much rice as Japan. Meanwhile, rice productivity remains stagnant and has hindered poverty reduction in rural areas, making Madagascar one of the poorest countries in the world. Factors that impede rice productivity include the lack of money for fertilizer purchases due to poor farmers, and the poor nutrient environment resulting from weathered soil peculiar to Africa. Therefore, JIRCAS is conducting projects with local research institutes with the aim of developing technology that can improve rice productivity in a stable manner even under conditions where the nutrient supply from fertilizer and soil is small. As a recent research highlight, we developed a localized fertilizer management technique, phosphorus dipping that can efficiently increase rice yields under the typical rice-growing environment of the country.
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36. New Coronavirus Pandemic ー EAC Border Supply Chain Monitoring and Support for Promotion of Regional Agriculture

The East African Community (EAC) is an intergovernmental organization composed of the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Among these EAC countries, only Kenya and Tanzania have coastlines, whereas Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan are landlocked countries, and cross-border logistics of lifeline including food, fuel, and medical products are part of the national economy. On 12 May 2020, four leaders of six EAC countries, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan, issued a joint statement to ensure that there is no interruption in cross-border logistics during the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the current pandemic and post-COVID-19, the leaders also announced that they would support agricultural processing and value-adding by ensuring that farmers' agricultural activities continue uninterrupted.
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35. Nature Food Paper: “Distance” between Food Supply and Demand Local Food System vs. International Trade

Although farms are, by their nature, local, much of the rest of the food industry is global. Today people around the world rely more or less on imported food. COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity to discuss the localization of food systems in an effort to bring food supply and demand closer together. A paper published in Nature Food in April 2020 estimated potential minimum distances between food production and consumption for six crop groups and also examined scenarios of yield improvement and food loss reduction. According to the analysis, less than one-third of the world's population can meet the demand within a radius of 100 km, and for many people the supply-demand distance exceeds 1,000 km, and the food supply must depend on trade. Increasing yields and reducing food loss will favor more local food systems in Africa and Asia, but a global supply chain is still necessary for a stable food supply. The authors hope that this study will not provide policy recommendations, but rather provide an overall picture on which to base discussions about local food systems versus international trade.
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34. HarvestPlus: Biofortification – Expectations for eradication of "hidden hunger"

The world is facing three nutritional challenges, namely, hunger and undernourishment, obesity and overnutrition, and micronutrient deficiency. More than 2 billion people or 26% of the world's population are suffering from micronutrient deficiency, also called "hidden hunger" as it significantly affects the efficiency of intake and metabolism of important nutrients and immunity response. As of May 2020, while the international community is focused on containment of COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of nutrition is highlighted from the perspective of strengthening the resilience to infectious diseases. HarvestPlus focuses on improving the nutritional value of staple foods through the breeding, development and dissemination of biofortified crops rich in micronutrients such as zinc, iron and vitamin A for the vulnerable people in developing countries.
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33. Impact of COVID-19 Fiscal Recovery Packages on Climate Change

As the need for large-scale economic measures against the global economic crisis associated with COVID-19 is being discussed, the calls for "green recoveries" are also gathering momentum. Top U.S. and British economists, including a Nobel laureate and a prominent climate expert, examined economic stimulus policies and surveyed 231 experts from 53 countries. As a result, five policies with high potential on both economic multiplier and climate impact metrics were identified, namely, clean physical infrastructure, building efficiency retrofits, investment in education and training, natural capital investment, and clean R&D. In low- and middle-income countries, it was suggested that rural support spending associated with sustainable agriculture, ecosystem regeneration, or accelerating clean energy installations was more important than the policy on clean R&D.
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32. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - Global Forest Resource Assessment 2020

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published an interactive report that contains the main findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA). The FRA provides a comprehensive report on the status and trends in world’s forests, land tenure and access rights, sustainable forest management, legal and institutional frameworks for forest conservation, and sustainable use of forest resources. Currently, the total forest area is 4.06 billion hectares, which accounts for about one-third of the world's land, and although the forest area has been declining globally since 1990, the rate of decline is currently slowing down.
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31.New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Great Lockdown vs. Great Recession

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published a report, "Comparing Crises: Great Lockdown vs. Great Recession”. The Great Recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s has been described as the worst recession since the Second World War. The economic crisis of the Great Lockdown associated with COVID-19 is expected to exceed the shock of the Great Recession, as it is certain to affect not only high-income countries but also low-income countries. According to the report, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will suffer the most from the crisis due to their dependence on food imports, tourism revenues and remittances.
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30. Transboundary Pests and the International Year of Plant Health ― Fall armyworm

Movement across borders has become difficult due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.Transboundary pests have no borders and can move long distances as shown by the desert locust outbreak that started in eastern Africa last year. The Lepidopterian pest fall armyworm is a a global transboundary pest that has greatly expanded in distribution areas in recent years. Although it is native to South America, it swept through the African continent in 2016 and arrived in Japan through the Asian continent in July last year. Recently, fall armyworm has also been reported in Australia which was heavily devastated by wildfires last year. This year 2020, as the world observes the "International Year of Plant Health" to raise awareness on mitigation of plant pests, it is essential to deal with transboundary pests in the same way as COVID-19, as both problems cannot be tackled by any one country and need to be resolved by international cooperation.
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29. PNAS Paper: The Future of Human Climate Niche

A paper entitled "Future of the human climate niche" was published in the multidisciplinary scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), on May 4, 2020. The paper demonstrates that, depending on scenarios of population growth and global warming, a niche suitable for human habitation will shift to higher latitudes on an unprecedented scale in the next 50 years, while population growth will occur in lower latitude regions. As a result, it is expected that a wide range of population distribution and climate mismatches will be amplified, and in the worst case scenario, one-third of the world's population or about 3.5 billion people will be exposed to mean annual temperature of 29 degrees or more. The regions most affected are the poorest regions in the world with low capacity to adapt to climate change, and climate change mitigation measures as well as improving human development should be a top priority.
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28. New Coronavirus Pandemic ― Perspectives on Food Systems

As of early May 2020, the importance of the food system is highlighted as concerns about the food security crisis are increasing under the lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The scientific report entitled “Food Systems at Risk: New Trends and Challenges” published in 2019 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Center for International Development Studies of France (CIRAD), and the European Commission introduced some useful concepts in constructing a robust food system at the time of COVID-19.
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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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26. New Coronavirus Pandemic― FAO Policy Recommendations: Recession and Hunger

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a policy brief on April 24 to address long-term hunger and food insecurity due to the global economic recession caused by COVID-19, and expressed the need to mitigate the impact. It is noted that a COVID-19 triggered global recession and reduction in the growth rate of GDP by 2-10% in all countries in 2020 will result in an increase of 14.4 to 80.3 million undernourished people in net food-importing countries.
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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.