Pandemic! That word strikes at the heart of global sensitivities right now. But while most people are thinking of the coronavirus disease 2019, a.k.a. COVID-19, this post is focused on something else. In a just-published paper, CGIAR scientists talk about the risks of globalization of pests and pathogens and their impact on food systems.
Imagine if a pandemic or epidemic affects a crop with disastrous consequences on food production, livelihoods, and environmental biodiversity. This scenario is not hypothetical. As was the case in the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, to the most recent examples of severe pandemics of the maize lethal necrosis in East Africa, cassava mosaic in East Asia, fall armyworm in Africa, to list a few examples. These epidemics, caused by introduced pests and pathogens, have devastated crop production, caused food shortages, constrained market access, and destroyed biodiversity, causing severe impact on farmers’ livelihoods and economies.
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Photo credit: IITA