COVID19: On-site measures to support workers and neighboring communities

With a growing concern about the impact of COVID19 on health, food security and livelihoods, IDH and Mirova organized a webinar on additional measures that agricultural/forestry companies and sustainable landscape operators can take to halt the spread of COVID19, and support workers and neighboring communities.

In four sessions, over 420 participants heard from experts on the role of private companies in combatting COVID-19, the impact on food supply chains, their experience on plantation management during the Ebola crisis, and practical steps they are taking right now.


David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the World Health Organization (WHO) – Director General on COVID19 and earlier Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Ebola, emphasized that early intervention is essential. Companies should constantly be explaining what is happening through daily briefings and external communication and to prioritize taking care of the people in their workforce. SMEs are particularly at risk and should be supported, and he emphasized that people on daily wages have enough money to eat and survive. He advised companies to approach their banks to ensure access to credit.

Maximo Torero Cullen, Chief Economist at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was able to reassure the audience that the staple food supply of commodities such as rice, grains and soybeans is sufficient, and markets should be informed that this is the case. Some ways of continuing trade in the context of restricted movement include e-commerce and the use of collection centres. Without compromising safety regulations, companies can also consider changes to harvest or planting times in order to work around lockdown periods.

Informing and training workers and others

Matti Karinen, David Rothschild and Viganeswaran Ponnudurai shared their experiences from Liberia during the Ebola crisis as former team of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL). They checked all people entering their sites for symptoms. They informed and trained workers, chiefs, residents and even gang leaders on the measures needed to contain the disease. They stockpiled proper personal protective equipment for medical staff in the on-site clinic. They collaborated with other companies and multinationals in the area and provided logistical support to the Red Cross and medical NGOs and used an escalation matrix for forward planning.

Redistributing work, reorganize leave and rotate staff

Tatiana Pachon explained how Forest First Colombia has redistributed work and organised a combination of leave and changes to rotations to protect staff while keeping operations going. Monitored handwashing has been introduced. Kate Mathias explained how Miro Forestry & Timber Products has used its regular radio slots in Sierra Leone to share practical information on COVID-19 and published an informational document for staff. Non-essential travel has been blocked, remote working introduced where possible and staff re-allocated to operational areas close to their homes to reduce travel.

Interested in all speakers, watch the recording of the webinar on our YouTube channel.

Read the webinar summary report: English

Read the webinar summary report: French

Read the webinar report: Spanish

The session was hosted by Nienke Stam (IDH) and Gautier Quéru (Mirova). Speakers include:

  1. David Nabarro, World Health Organization Special Envoy, providing reflections on the role of land-based companies in combatting COVID19;
  2. Maximo Torero Cullen, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Chief Economist, on the coronavirus, the food supply chain under strain, and ‘what to do?’;
  3. Matt Karinen, David Rothschild and Viganeswaran Ponnudurai, on the realities of plantation management during a virus outbreak sharing experiences from Liberia during the Ebola crisis;
  4. Tatiana Pachon, Chief Country Officer, Forest First Colombia;
  5. Kate Mathias, Compliance Director, Miro Forestry & Timber Products

Keep in the know on critical COVID-19 impacts upon supply chains