Viewpoint: COVID-19 and seed security response now and beyond

Louise Sperling*, Niels Louwaars, Orlando de Ponti, Melinda Smale, Dieudonne Baributsa, Jacob van Etten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


COVID-19 brings new challenges worldwide, including to smallholder farmers and their seed systems. In response, an escalating number of seed projects are being planned to deliver immediate aid or to alter current seed production programs. A Statement, prepared by diverse seed system experts, aims to steer both the immediate aid (next 1–2 seasons) and more developmental planning (next 1–3 years). The Statement includes 10 short-term and 4 medium-term recommendations, placing emphasis on all seed systems smallholders use: formal, informal, and integrated. It also looks beyond seed per se to the direct information and digital systems that shape remote assessments, data sharing and inclusive feedback. The Statement is prefaced by an introduction that helps contextualize the recommendations, reviews the history of humanitarian seed aid and summarizes the varied response forms that have unfolded over the last three decades.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102000
JournalFood Policy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Emergency/development response
  • Recommendations
  • Seed security
  • Seed systems
  • Smallholder farmers

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