A Blueprint for Food Security in Developing Countries: TechnoServe Publishes Guides to Strengthen Food Systems Crippled by COVID-19

New reports show how to help farmers, food processors, and small shopkeepers survive the crisis in order to safeguard food security during the pandemic

Arlington, VA — As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to create and exacerbate food crises in developing countries, international nonprofit organization TechnoServe has published three guides on how to prevent the worst effects of food insecurity through effective support to the farmers and businesses that provide nutritious food.

The spread of COVID-19 and the lockdowns, travel restrictions, curfews, and other measures designed to stop it have disrupted the production, distribution, and sale of food and have threatened both urban and rural livelihoods. The result, according to the World Food Program, is that the pandemic could subject 130 million people to acute hunger, adding to the 135 million people already facing these conditions due to conflict, climate change, and economic challenges.

TechnoServe has drawn upon the experience of its programs responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and past crises, as well as surveys and interviews with the entrepreneurs and farmers who sustain the food system, to develop three guides about how to deliver effective support that helps the food system weather the crisis and protect food security across the globe.

  • Smallholder Farmers and COVID-19: From Response to Recovery and Resilience examines some of the key challenges that the world’s smallholder farmers face as a result of the crisis, as well strategies for addressing them. 
    • Staff working in rural communities report that farmers face challenges in accessing training, tools, and markets as a result of the pandemic;
    • The guide presents solutions for securing the health, incomes, and food security and nutrition of smallholders during the crisis, preparing farmers to participate profitably in the economic recovery, and building the resilience of farming communities to future crises.
  • Food Processing in a Pandemic: Challenges and Responses for Africa’s Food Processors Facing COVID-19 focuses on a vital central link in agricultural value chains.
    • In a recent survey carried out by TechnoServe, nearly two-thirds of African food processing firms reported that they did not feel prepared to confront the crisis;
    • These businesses cited significant, immediate disruptions to their marketing and distribution efforts and longer-term concerns about their supply chains and operations;
    • The guide identifies solutions that firms are implementing on the ground to address these challenges.
  • COVID-19 and Entrepreneurs in the Developing World: Supporting Business Survival and Recovery provides a framework and practical advice to help organizations support entrepreneurs and their small and mid-sized businesses during the crisis.
    • Micro-retailers are essential for distributing food to base-of-the-pyramid communities, but a survey conducted by TechnoServe found that in four African countries, these shops faced an average decline in daily revenue of 41%
    • The guide shares on-the-ground insights about how small businesses can continue operating during the crisis and share in the economic recovery.

“In the face of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the best way to prevent a food crisis is to make timely and smart investments to build the capacity of the people and businesses that grow, process, and distribute food,” said Kindra Halvorson, TechnoServe’s chief transformation officer. “If we are going to prevent disaster for millions of people relying on these food systems to stay nourished and healthy, we must act collectively to develop a response that matches the urgency of the crisis. We hope that these guides will help organizations across the ecosystem better understand the serious challenges in our food systems–and then work together to solve them.”


About TechnoServe

TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization operating in 29 countries, we work with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. By linking people to information, capital and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities.

Founded over 50 years ago, TechnoServe has been named the #1 nonprofit for fighting poverty by the ImpactMatters charity ratings agency.