IFPRI Central Asia Weekly News Digest (May 13 – May 19, 2020)


by Jarilkasin Ilyasov | May 20, 2020


EU, FAO provide 60 tonnes of potato seeds to Tajik farmers
This week, the FAO, with funding from the EU, finished distributing 60 tonnes of high quality potato seeds to two farmer cooperatives in Tajikistan's northern Shahristan and central Nurobod districts. It is hoped that the seeds will increase the productivity of the potato value chain while bolstering the food security of rural populations in Tajikistan. The FAO plans to deliver a total of 80 tonnes of potato seeds to farmers in the near future. - EU

ADB Allocates $1.36 Million Grant for Uzbekistan's Fight Against COVID-19
The Asian Development Bank is providing a $1.36 million grant to enable Uzbekistan to procure medical equipment and supplies for its response to COVID-19. The grant draws from previously approved funds, but adds to an initial $200,000 for technical assistance. Additionally, $19.5 million in loan savings from existing ADB projects has been reallocated for the procurement of 800 ventilators. - ADB

IMF Executive Board Approves a US$375 Million Disbursement to the Republic of Uzbekistan to Address the Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis
The IMF has approved about $375 million under the Rapid Credit Facility and the Rapid Financing Instrument to assist Uzbekistan in its response to COVID-19. In light of projections of slowed economic growth, the funds will help to support the economy, help affected households and firms, and allow Uzbekistan to address COVID-19 while minimizing long-term fiscal challenges.

IMF Executive Board Concludes Second Review Under Armenia’s Stand-By Arrangement and Augments Access to Address the Impact of COVID-19
The IMF is allowing an immediate release of about $280 million for Armenia in its response to COVID-19. This release of funds reflects an access augmentation under Armenia's Stand-By-Arrangement. Like many countries around the region and the world, Armenia's economy has suffered as a result of COVID-19, and it is hoped that the now-accessible funds will allow the country to achieve some measure of financial stability.

Analysis & Related Information

COVID-19 Analyses: IFPRI Blogs
IFPRI is facilitating an ongoing blog series to discuss COVID-19 as it relates to food security and development at the global, regional, and country levels. Though some concern specific countries, the insights are applicable to others as the world collectively experiences the impacts of the pandemic. This week, IFPRI researchers investigate African countries' different border control measures and their potential effects. Additionally, other researchers attempt to determine the impact of food export restrictions on global food security.

Virtual Event - Food Loss and Waste – Can we end it by 2030 while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
IFPRI has been hosting virtual events to discuss various issues related to food and agriculture policy. Videos like this will periodically be posted publicly after being streamed live, and will include presentations from researchers, discussion between researchers, and Q&A. This week's seminar mainly addressed the likelihood of ending food loss and waste by 2030 in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially in light of COVID-19. It features speakers from IFPRI, the Government of Denmark, USDA,  and more. - IFPRI

More Harm Than Good? The Net Impact of COVID-19 Policies Is What Matters for Health
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues with confirmed cases still rising in many countries, individuals and policymakers are understandably concerned with deaths resulting from the virus itself. However, the crisis threatens lives in other ways. This blog post compiles much of the current research on non-COVID-19 excess deaths. For example, while lockdown measures slow the spread of contagion, they can limit access to important health services that promote child and maternal well-being. The authors also explore options other than total lockdown to minimize excess deaths. This is the first blog in a series that will further explore the issue. - Center for Global Development

Publications & Reports

Early estimates of the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study
Robertson, T. et al. 2020. The Lancet: Global Health. Early Online Version,

Heterogeneous labor and structural change in low- and middle-income, resource-dependent countries
Howie, P., Atakhanova, Z. 2020. Economic Change and Restructuring, Vol. 53, pp. 297-332.

Investigation of nutritional characteristics and free radical scavenging activity of wild apple, pear, rosehip, and barberry from the walnut-fruit forests of Kyrgyzstan
Smanalieva, J. et al. 2020. European Food Research and Technology, Vol. 246, pp. 1095-1104.

The Belt and Road Initiative: Reshaping economic geography in Central Asia?
Bird, J. et al. 2020. Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 144.

Useful Links & Commentaries on Research Methods, Data & Publications

IFPRI COVID-19 Policy Response (CPR) Portal
International Food Policy Research Institute. 2020. Washington, D.C.

High-frequency monitoring of COVID-19 impacts
Haishan Fu & Carolina Sánchez-Páramo. 2020. Data Blog, World Bank Blogs.

Events & Announcements

IFPRI Virtual Policy Seminars
Due to COVID-19, IFPRI is periodically hosting virtual policy seminars to allow direct engagement with researchers and to convey analysis about related issues. These seminars include presentations, discussions, and Q&A. On May 27, a seminar discussing the 2020 Global Food Policy Report as it relates to Eurasia will take place, co-organized by IFPRI, the World Bank, Westminster International University in Tashkent, and the Eurasian Center for Food Security at Lomonosov Moscow State University. The discussion will include speakers from each of the aforementioned organizations, including the IFPRI Central Asia Program's own Dr. Kamiljon Akramov. Start times are: 7:30am EST, 2:30pm Moscow, 4:30pm Dushanbe & Tashkent, 5:30pm Bishkek & Almaty. A link to the seminar will be posted shortly on IFPRI's website. Please follow IFPRI on Twitter to receive notice of future seminars.

Call for Proposals: Case Studies on Food Policy and Nutrition in the Eurasian Region
Researchers from Armenia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are invited to apply for participation in a case study competition organized by the World Bank and the Eurasian Center for Food Security. Specifically, proposals for case studies concerned with the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition in Eurasia are requested. Applications will be accepted until May 31, 2020. For detailed information on guidelines, requirements, etc., please follow the link. You may also register for a Q&A session, which will take place on May 25 at 15:00 Moscow time.

Virtual AFE Seminar Series
A virtual seminar series organized by John List of the University of Chicago Department of Economics and Robert Metcalfe of Boston University's School of Business is being hosted weekly on Zoom. Each seminar will include a research paper presentation and Q&A, starting at 12pm EST on Wednesdays. Follow the link to view the full schedule of presenters and to sign up for invitations to the live seminar. Presentations will also by uploaded to a YouTube playlist. This week's presentation will be delivered by the University College London's Dr. Imran Rasul, who will be presenting "The Impacts of a Multifaceted Pre-nata Intervention on Human Capital Accumulation in Early Life"

Online Agriculture and Resource Economics Seminar
Dr. Marc F. Bellemare and PhD candidate Jeff Bloem will be hosting a weekly (Wednesdays, 11am CST) online seminar to discuss various research topics related to agricultural economics, nutrition, and food security. For example, the next seminar on May 20 includes a presentation of the paper, "Cash Transfers and the Geographic Mobility of the Rural Poor in Mali" by Valerie Mueller et al. Follow the link for registration information and a schedule of upcoming seminars.

Development Policy and COVID-19: eSeminar Series
The World Bank's Development Research Group is hosting an online seminar series for discussions on development policy as it relates to COVID-19. The seminars are completely public, do not require an application or sign-up, and will continue for the foreseeable future.