COVID-19 pandemic is shocking global food systems, disrupting regional agricultural value chains, and proffering risks to household food security which has greatly crashed the world’s economy.
Let’s put it in prospective. Agriculture is the world’s largest employer across all sectors of employment and occupies more than 40 percent of the Earth’s land which are Farming, fishing, transporting, processing, and distributing food supports 28 percent of human livelihood, including 470 million (85 percent) smallholder farmers who often depend on less than two hectares for both income and sustenance.
In addition, 43 percent of agriculture labor force in developing countries is women. Therefore, the global pandemic has quickly strained such networks. To prevent food shortages, every effort must be made to keep sustainable farming/agriculture intact and moving efficiently despite this unprecedented time.
Global food trade has to be kept going! Did you know 20 percent of calories people eat have crossed at least one international border? Low and middle-income countries account for around a 30 percent of the world’s food trade, which provides very significant contributions both to incomes and welfare.
Countries that depend on imported food are exceptionally vulnerable to slowing trade levels. Simply put, while we all know that fruit that goes unharvest or unsold will go bad, similar interactive time constraints are common along the chain.
Ultimately, farmers won’t grow what nobody can buy, so the issue is about affordability but also availability and accessibility. Already we have seen signs or experienced pressures due to lockdowns and direct impact to worldwide supply chains. Guess what? More disruptions, particularly in the area of logistics, could materialize in upcoming months.
Let’s be clear, the bulk of food-supply actions take place domestically. Nevertheless, in the case of farmers, there are supply chains which are multifaceted network of interactions involving agriculture. Farmers, harvesters, key inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and veterinary medicines, processing plants, freight distributors, retailers and more are being impacted due to Coronavirus.
During these trying times consider the “unsung heroes in agribusiness” – as juxtaposition to frontline healthcare workers hailed as heroes. The farming workforces in the vital infrastructure of our food system deserve acknowledgement and appreciation, not stigma and neglect.
There are seven strategies to support our unsung heroes.
- Create national movement in agriculture/farming products – mobilize farming resources
- Purchase excess fresh produce & supply to vulnerable persons – Everyone has to eat
- Connect local farmers to local markets & avoid food loss – Do not waste the commodity of produce
- Match unemployed with farming statewide & national agriculture projects – Stimulate economy
- Provide financial programs to small holder farmers – Sustainable development and new capacity building helps everyone
- Safeguard access to agriculture inputs & seeds for next season – Continuity will prevail after this pandemic
- Provide education & training programs – Empowerment & Training is the investment in human capital
The crisis of COVID-19 pandemic has put the world on a notice with unparalleled actions, restrictive movements and plans for revolutionary deployment of tactics to handle a novel coronavirus that knows no boundaries.
A revolutionary planning should be introduced to support local farming and worldwide food system.
Lady Tee Thomspon is successful leader, facilitator, and business development consultant. She is the founder and CEO of AgroBiz, a registered agricultural business development company in United States with over 1,000 members in 15 Countries – USA, Canada, Cameroon, DRC, Nigeria, South Africa, Lesotho, Senegal, Benin, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, & Mali with overwhelming success stories.