May 5, 2020 | By Bernhard Kowatsch

Featured Commentary - Innovating in a Crisis: How the World Food Programme is Adapting to COVID-19 and Why You Should Care

Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the US agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.

We face an unprecedented crisis as a global humanitarian community. The scale of COVID-19’s impact on world markets and subsequent mass restrictions on the movement of goods and people has not been seen since the second World War, well before the World Food Programme (WFP) was established in 1961, at the behest of then U.S. President Eisenhower. And even in the recent years before this latest crisis, conflict, climate change and natural disasters had already pushed more internally displaced people and refugee communities to the edge, having to rely on humanitarian aid from WFP and others. It is vital at this critical moment that WFP maintain its food assistance programmes, which offer a lifeline to 87 million vulnerable people in more than 80 countries around the world. WFP’s top priority is to ensure it has the resources in place to meet the food and nutrition needs of the people that so depend on it.

At that time of WFP’s establishment, the United States was producing a surplus of grain. The idea behind creating WFP was to responsibly share that abundance of food with vulnerable countries and communities around the world. Since then, we have innovated and evolved and moved towards food vouchers and direct cash-based assistance, supporting local markets where they already exist and providing hungry families with freedom of choice - in many contexts the most efficient and effective solution. But with global and local markets now disrupted, WFP has had to re-evaluate how we can best deliver assistance where it’s needed most.

As WFP’s Acting Supply Chain Director, John Crisci recently told Axios, "There is enough food, but food and other essential commodities must keep moving. We cannot let this health crisis turn into a food crisis."

This is the crux of the problem we face.

>>>Read the full article at Agri-Pulse


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA


| By Roger Thurow

Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet. 

| By Janet Fierro

Guest Commentary - Rural Niger Women find Opportunity and Hope through Innovative Business Model

When researchers set out to find natural ways to manage a crop-destroying pest in sub-Saharan Africa cowpea fields they knew the results could have significant positive impact on smallholder farmers. What they may not have expected was the significance of the cottage industry it inspired and the entrepreneurial spirit of the rural women of Niger who led it.