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Coronavirus could put the brakes on agri-R&D

Image: FraWanMaiE [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Disruptions and funding cuts likely amid the pandemic, says African body

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to “adversely impact” agricultural research and development in Africa, an influential continental body has said. The Ghana-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa made the stark warning in a message to constituents on 28 March. 

“We anticipate that the commitments by governments of vast resources towards mitigating the consequences of containment measures will adversely impact on our budgets,” says the message from FARA executive director Yemi Akinbamijo.

“Research activities are already being disrupted since most of them cannot be conducted from our homes, where the pandemic has forced us to retreat,” he writes. Accra, where FARA’s headquarters are located, has been locked down to prevent the virus spreading. 

FARA will try to mitigate the short- and medium-term impact of the pandemic by leading and participating in discussions about how agricultural research and innovation can reduce the impact of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, on African food security.

The body will also propose R&D to fast-track recovery strategies and to prevent and control the emergence of diseases that jump from animals to humans, as the new coronavirus is thought to have done.