COVID-19 has affected global value chains (GVCs) by interrupting transport and logistics, supply and production dynamics, and demand and consumption patterns. These effects have also been felt in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) across agricultural value chains, impacting regional food security, intraregional trade and economic growth. Although agriculture has been less severely affected by COVID-19 than other sectors, the pandemic has nevertheless exposed challenges in SADC agro-value chains and highlighted areas for improvement. This policy briefing explores these challenges and the impact of COVID-19, and how SADC can optimise agro-value chains in driving stronger regional integration and growth. Key challenges include a lack of heterogeneity in member countries’ agricultural activities, which hampers intraregional trade, a strong dependence on subsistence farming, which lacks commercial and export potential, and widespread food insecurity. Priorities going forward include enhancing food security in the SADC region, making more productive use of the small-scale farming sector and using the African Continental Free Trade Area as a lever for agricultural and regional development.