Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Global Academy of Agriculture COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact on our health and food systems.

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security is playing a part in the University-wide efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK.

If you would like further information about the Global Academy’s work on COVID-19, please contact Prof. Lisa Boden


COVID-19 Response in UK/Scotland

Global Academy is contributing to the COVID-19 epidemiological work by the EERA group through funding from a Data Driven Innovation (DDI) grant (Prof. Lisa Boden, Lina González Gordon and Rosemary McManus, Professor Mark BronsvoortDr. Thibaud Porphyre, Dr. Paul Bessell, Dr. Giles Innocent, Dr. Ian Handel, Dr Stella Mazeri). This DDI project will allow us to extend our activities to work on a COVID toolkit to improve science-policy communication and support modelling and data visualisation efforts to identify higher risk areas based on poverty and health information.


The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security members (Prof Lisa Boden, Dr. Peter Alexander, Dr. Raf de Oliveira Silva, Dr. Juan Afanador and Gabriel Marques) alongside other partners in EPIC, Scottish Government’s Centre of Expertise on Animal Disease Outbreaks, the Boyd Orr Centre, at the University of Glasgow and BioSS are part the Scottish COVID-19 Response Consortium (SCRC). The Scottish COVID-19 Response Consortium (SCRC) is a group of epidemiologists, mathematical modellers, data scientists, software developers and other scientists that are working together as part of the Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) effort supported by the Royal Society to develop mathematical models to assist with decision making during the pandemic. Members of the SCRC have extensive experience in responding to animal disease outbreaks and modelling the spread and control of animal diseases and are adapting these models to assess different potential medium- and long-term strategies for controlling the COVID-19 epidemic in UK and in Scotland. More information about the SCRC is available on the SCRC website

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Volunteers working at a foodbank during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo credit: Kirsteen Shields.

Dr. Kirsteen Shields is leading a group of 40 staff and students running a volunteer service to support local food charities. The aim is to enable their regular workers and volunteers to self-isolate with peace of mind if and when they need to do so. GAAFS students, researchers, senior staff, and colleagues across the Easter Bush campus have been providing daily support at the Cyrenians Fare Share depot to help unpack food donations from wholesalers and repack them to be distributed to community groups and localised food hubs across the region. Students are also supporting localised food groups on an ad hoc basis, and have recently set up the Food Security and Sustainability society to support this and other initiatives. 

Related articles of interest





COVID-19 Response in Lower and Middle Income Countries and Fragile and Conflict-Affected States


Management of COVID 19 risks in ways that recognise and adapt the practices and capabilities of vulnerable community groups living in the intersection of urban-rural areas


Medelin Food Market
Medelin Food Market. Photo credit: Kirsteen Shields.

Dr. Kirsteen Shields will work with Kathi Kaesehage and Sole Garcia Ferrari for an SFC-GCRF COVID-19 urgent research call project entitled ‘Management of COVID-19 risks in ways that recognise and adapt the practices and capabilities of vulnerable community groups living in the intersection of urban-rural areas’. The project will work with existing partners in in Puebla, Mexico, Medellin, Colombia and Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands to document how communities are adopting new practices in relation to access to water and agricultural products in an effort to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. This is an extension of existing research with these partners focusing on identifying bottom-up and collaborative practice in climate change adaptation led by Sole Garcia Ferrari. Contact: more information about this project. Photo credit: Kirsteen Shields.




From the FIELD: lmpacts of COVID-19 on lives and livelihoods of Syrians living in the Levant

Syrian Farmworker Tents in Adana
Syrian Farmworker Tents in Adana. Photo credit: Ann-Christin Wagner.

According to the Global Health Security Index, Syria is one of the least prepared countries in the world for a disease outbreak. More than a decade of civil war and a collapsing economy have forced 6 million or more Syrians into crowded living conditions along the Syrian border, into neighbouring countries and failed states with ongoing economic and political crises, and fragile and fragmented healthcare systems. 

 “From the Field Syria” is an SFC-GCRF COVID-19 urgent research call project which will explore the impact of COVID-19 on UN Sustainable Development Goals in humanitarian setting and in particular, the impact of COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies (border closures, movement restrictions) on access to food, agriculture inputs and other health supplies, and how has this translated into the experiences of Syrian refugees living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraqi Kurdistan and NW Syria. Understanding how information about disease and measures taken to reduce risk affects behavioural change and the daily lives/experiences of Syrians, is critical for future monitoring/evaluation of effectiveness of interventions, long-term outcomes and support needs for food and health security after outbreak end, and in anticipation of subsequent future events.  This work will feed into the GCRF-funded Syrian Food Futures project, as part of the work by the UoE-led Network of Expertise on Food and Health Security in Fragile and Conflict Affected States in collaboration with the Cara Syria Programme.

Read the blog on the likely impact of COVID-19 on lives and agricultural livelihoods of displaced Syrians here.

For more information about this project, contact: or tweet@Lisa_A_Boden and @SyriaFoodFuture.


Useful Links on COVID-19

A timeline of events within the pandemic is available here

The World Economic Forum provides this useful COVID-19 transformation map


Health Policy

  • Global Health Security Index
  • Oxford have created the first public-facing tool, the COVID-19 government response tracker to examine government policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic. It is free and uses data from 73 countries including China, South Korea, Italy, UK, Canada and the USA
  • UK government guidance and support on COVID-19  is described here. The UK testing strategy (Department of Health and Social Care Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scaling up our testing programmes April 4 2020) is described here.
  • Scotland has recently published its decision-making framework: Coronavirus


Food Policy


COVID-19 related Blogs