Alarmed by a potential rise in food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries and organizations are mounting special efforts to keep agriculture safely running as essential business, markets well supplied in affordable and nutritious food, and consumers still able to access and purchase food despite movement restrictions and income losses.
Even before the global COVID-19 pandemic broke out, food insecurity was a serious concern throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Recently, there was an unprecedented locust outbreak in parts of the Horn of Africa. This could see over $8.5 billion in livestock and crops lost, a significant reduction in harvests, and less food in the markets. Still, climate change has been a substantial threat to the region’s farming activities and is set to hurt production over time.
Now, COVID19 calls for the farmers to start thinking of ways to counter this challenge and make the continent healthier, making food available around the clock. Introduction of new farming trends will help the African countries which are known to rely on food imports- records indicating that over 40 million tons of cereals were imported in 2018- by increasing food production after the COVID19.
COVID19 has impacted most countries, subjecting them to low food purchase power due to currency depreciation, low foreign currency reserves, decreased prices for export, and cash crops lack revenue from industries such as tourism. Increase in food prices are projected leading to low purchasing among rural and urban consumers. Not to mention export and travel bans.
Therefore, COVID19 presents an opportunity for us to start prioritizing the food and agriculture system as an essential service. We have to recognize that all types of food systems, either modern, traditional (open markets, small stores), or informal (street vendors), do play critical roles in serving different markets.
For decades, Africa’s farm fields have been owned by women, producing over 70% of the food on smallholder farms. With Africa’s population expected to double by 2050, the continent must ditch the hoe in favor of modern technology, which will complete the same tasks far more efficiently.
COVID19 calls for a transformation from small-scale subsistence farms to mechanized, more commercially viable farms is essential, something which will see it off the reliance on importation hook. Many people face starvation due to the ban on transportation and importation. Successful mechanization will be vital to tackling significant challenges on the continent. There is a need to make use of public-private partnerships to develop local machinery industries to ensure affordable and appropriate technology is in use.
Finally, thanks to advances in renewable energy and digital technology, Africa can leapfrog the stages of technological development other regions have had to undertake, making its mechanization process both swift and extremely lucrative, according to the report.