Technical report

Food systems security, resilience and emerging risks in the Indo-Pacific in the context of COVID-19: a rapid assessment

Date released
21 May 2020
Publication Code

Todd Sanderson, George Chapman, Daniel Walker and Peter Horne


The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health and economic crisis that will have impacts for years to come, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of diverse communities around the world. This includes almost 500 million smallholder farmers who produce food for half of the world’s population, many of whom are among the 2.7 billion people globally living on less than $2 per day.

As with many other sectors and organisations, the current pandemic is likely to change both what we seek to do and how we do it. ACIAR, like many of our partners, faces important decisions about how best to respond, not just in this immediate, reactive phase, but over coming years. As an evidence-based organisation, one of our responses has been to conduct a rapid assessment of impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the responses to it, on smallholders and food systems in our region. We are doing this so that we and our partners can better understand intervention opportunities and priorities.

This report presents Stage 1 of a three-stage assessment process. It is a rapid assessment that was undertaken during the period 20 April–8 May, 2020. During this time the team of authors consulted widely across the ACIAR network. Discussions were had with ACIAR staff in Australia and our 10 country offices across the Indo-Pacific, our project leaders and partner organisations in Australia and partner countries, eminent experts on the Policy Advisory Council and the Commission for International Agricultural Research, and reviews of reports and media for other agencies.

This rapid assessment provides the foundation for a more systematic, integrated assessment that will be conducted over the following months.

See also: COVID-19 and food systems in the Indo-Pacific: An assessment of vulnerabilities, impacts and opportunities for action