COVID19 Pandemic: Impact on African Farmers and Food Supply Chains
COVID19 has impacted nations across the globe, disrupting various chains of distribution across the African continent where it is believed the effects are to be felt hardest.
The pandemic will accelerate labor shortage, price changes, and stringent measures by the government to restrict movement and trade, and food security is without a doubt to face challenges across the continent.
The World Bank has predicted that the pandemic is likely to cause a recession for sub-Saharan Africa, which will be the first in 2 years, a 7% decline in agricultural production, and a 25% decline in food imports in the continent.
Globally, the coronavirus has sent the global economy into a tailspin, with tens of millions of people losing their jobs. Therefore, what might happen to food supply chains? What of the food we eat?
Families living in a rural setting should start a small family garden for food and vegetables. This will change the fact that most urban and rural consumers now depend on markets, in contrast to 30-40 years ago, when a large share of rural populations lived “off the grid” in subsistence agriculture.
To the city dwellers, what will happen when the people who pick our fruits and veggies get quarantined or get sick? What will happen when the packers who make sure the products are boxed and safely transported to the cities and urban centers can no longer report on duty? The time when millers will no longer run, bakeries will run out of wheat; hence no bread sold at markets and food stores? Are we set to face food shortages in a few months to come?
“A protracted pandemic crisis could quickly put a strain on the food supply chains, a complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping, retailers, and more,” Maximo Cullen, the chief economist for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, warned in a paper.
Though in some countries the spread of the pandemic has been slowing down and cases are decreasing, in others, COVID-19 is resurging or continuing to spread quickly. This is still a global problem calling for a worldwide response.
COVID19 will at some point retreat, but unfortunately, we have no idea how fast this will happen. As the risk of food crisis keeps on knocking, strategic measures need to be taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep the food supply alive and mitigate the impact of the pandemic across the food supply system.
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