Publication [ID: 119]

How Small Farmers Cope with Covid-19

The International Trade Centre has recently released a publication on ‘How Small Farmers Cope with COVID-19’. The report offers a glimpse into farming communities at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis and relays messages of smallholder farmers on how they are being impacted by COVID-19, their coping strategies, and what support they need from all value chain actors to keep the going and eventually recover while improving their livelihoods and competitiveness.

Governments across the globe have imposed lockdowns and regulatory measures and curbed travel to contain the spread of the virus. For small farmers in developing countries, this has meant threats to health and food security, rising transport and production costs, huge logistical bottlenecks, input ruptures, drops (and sometimes increases) in demand, and uncertain cash flow and access to Finance.

In preparing the report, the ITC gathered testimonials from its Alliances for Action (A4A) partners across the food value chains in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Central and Latin America and Europe – from producers, retailers and consumers-facing brands to traders, research and development institutions and policymakers. ITC interviewed 14 representatives across the 11 countries to get and accurate and comprehensive overview of the COVID-19 impact on the food value chain.

The report provides examples of how producers and agricultural cooperatives in the Dominica Republic, Latin America, Ghana and Liberia are prioritizing measures to keep farmers healthy. It shows how producers and institutions in Ethiopia, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are building solidarity around social support and food supply. It also demonstrates that information sharing and clear communication channels that flows both ways across the value chain are helping policymakers form strategies and farmers obtain health and safety guidelines. Public-private partnerships to trigger emergency response measures for transport, health protection and logistics are also proving to be effective.

Alliances for Action producers have adopted a dual coping strategy: Emergency responses to withstand and survive the crisis and urgent and strategic measures for long-term economic growth.

The insights collected in this report suggest that four broad strategies are the most effective to help small farmers go beyond surviving this crisis and thrive in the long term:

  • Establishing integrated, climate-smart production systems with food crops, cash crops and agroforestry.
  • Exploring new markets and value addition to generate better returns, more income streams and new commercial channels
  • Expanding alliances for investment, innovation and equitable value Distribution.
  • Engaging consumers and shift to digital tools and platforms.

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