Public Health Project Topics

COVID-19 and Food Supply Chain in Gombe State, Nigeria

Covid-19 and Food Supply Chain in Gombe State, Nigeria

COVID-19 and Food Supply Chain in Gombe State, Nigeria

Chapter One

Preamble of the Study

As the COVID-19 disease spread rapidly to six continents by the novel coronavirus SARS-nCoV-2, many countries around the world have declared state of health emergency. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the rapidly spreading disease as a pandemic and called on countries to plan preparatory and response actions in line with the Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (WHO, 2020a; Vasavada, 2020). WHO explained that a pandemic caused by a coronavirus has not been seen before, and this disease is the first pandemic caused by the coronavirus. COVID-19 is the fifth pandemic, following 1918 influenza virus (H1N1), 1957 influenza virus (H2N2), 1968 influenza virus (H3N2), and 2009 Pandemic flu (H1N1), that resulted in the human deaths of around 50 million, 1.5 million, 1 million, and 300 000, respectively (Liu et al., 2020). WHO indicated that this outbreak is not just a public health crisis, but it is a crisis that will touch every sector.

Therefore, every sector and every individual should be involved in this struggle (WHO, 2020c). As of 5 August 2020, the number of cases per 1 million population is given for different regions as follows: 9 613.03 in Americas, 3 694.43 in Europe, 1 136.41 in SouthEast Asia, 2 167.25 in Eastern Mediterranean, 742.75 in Africa, and 176.36 in Western Pacific region. The global total of confirmed cases has reached to 17 528. 223 per 1 million population and 687.64 per 1 million population for corresponding deaths (WHO, 2020b).

Chapter Two

Conceptual Review


Food supply chain can be divided into five stages, including agricultural production, postharvest handling, processing, distribution/ retail/service, and consumption. Two systems are being used in the food supply chain regarding food quality and safety. The First one is based on regulations and laws that use mandatory standards which are inspected by state agencies. The Second one is relying on voluntary standards which are defined by market laws or international associations (Bendekovic et  al., 2015).

Safety measures to ensure the continuity of food flow in each stage can be grouped as food employee’s health issues, personal hygiene, using personal protective equipments such as helmets and glove, sanitization of surfaces and working environments, safe handling/preparation/delivery of food, and maintenance of social distance. Protective measures in the last stages of the food supply chain are critical since more people can be potentially affected as moved towards the last stages (Rizou et al., 2020). Unlike foot and mouth disease, bird flu, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or Listeria, the COVID-19 pandemic does not directly affect production, as it does not spread directly through livestock or agricultural products (FAO, 2020a).

However, due to the pandemic, governments around the world have made significant restrictions in the transportation (land, water, and air transport) of goods, as well as in the migration of labour. Reports showed that using the trucks for food distribution was declined to 60% since the restrictions in France which was 30% before the pandemic (FAO, 2020j; Bakalis et al., 2020). In developing and underdeveloped countries, temporary or seasonal employment is common, especially for planting, sorting, harvesting, processing, or transporting crops to markets. Therefore, the supply chain is significantly affected as a result of the absence of local or migrant workers due to sickness or travel restrictions imposed by lockdown. It also weakens not only production abilities for others, but also their own food safety, in cases where the disease directly affects their health or movement (FAO, 2020k). Especially, labour shortage due to COVID-19 crisis caused severe disruptions in some sectors such as livestock production, horticulture, planting, harvesting, and crop processing which are relatively labour intensive (Stephens et  al., 2020). However, shortage of farmworkers was a major issue well before the COVID-19 outbreak, too (Richards & Rickard, 2020). Due to the fact that many skilled workers in the harvest could not access various countries because of the border controls, a call has been made to the unemployed persons to work in the fields in France. In Britain, ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign was aimed to find 70 000 British to work in the field and during the harvest (Nature Plants, 2020).

Although many manufacturers rely on their core inputs, most are more susceptible to disruptions, as they must obtain their requirements from domestic markets. Logistics barriers that disrupt food supply chains further weaken high-value goods due to their short shelf life (FAO, 2020a). Most agricultural activities depend on the season and weather, and therefore, activities need to follow a fine-tuned schedule with flexibility so that immediate actions can be performed when needed. Since all processes and stages in a supply chain are strongly connected to each other, a slight delay or glitch can trigger a butterfly effect resulting in a big loss in the yield and output (FAO, 2020b). Actually, there are many reports that farmers were forced to destroy their products by burning or leaving them to spoil because of the restrictions. Dairy Farmers in America Co-operative consider 14 million litres of milk are being dumped every day due to interrupted supply chain.

The biggest issues in the food supply chain are obtaining raw materials from suppliers and ensuring the continuity of food flow from manufacturers to end users (Alonso et al., 2007).The problems are jeopardizing the ability of agricultural businesses to continue their business as usual, and may have negative effects on food quality, freshness, and food safety, and hinder access to markets and affordability (FAO, 2020a).

Capital intensive techniques are usually used in high-income countries for agricultural production, whereas production is mostly labour dependent in low-income countries. Thus, the supply chain should be kept running with a particular focus on the basics of logistic challenges (FAO, 2020a). Food sector contains many diverse products such as meat, fruit, vegetable, dairy, ready-to-eat foods, and other edible products (Hueston & McLeod, 2012). However, the food and agriculture chain can be broadly classified into two categories regarding capital investment and labour. The First one can be defined as staple products such as wheat, corn, maize, soybeans, and oilseeds. The Second one contains high-value products such as fruit, vegetables, and fisheries. Staple products require large amounts of capital investments. Restriction between cities, provinces, regions, and countries has a negative impact on the distribution of staple products (FAO, 2020b).

The supply chain affects not only producers, distributors, and consumers, but also food-processing plants that are labour intensive. Production was reduced, suspended, or temporarily discontinued in many plants due to the workers who were found to be COVID-19 positive and who were reluctant to go to work, thinking that they would get sick at work, mostly in meat-processing food companies at the time of the outbreak. For these reasons, it was thought that the production capacity of pork facilities decreased by approximately 25% in late April (Devereux et al., 2020; Flynn, 2020).

Effects of Pandemic On Consumer Behaviour

When the issue of how the COVID-19 pandemic affects consumers’ food demand is examined, it is seen that the demand varies depending on the price of foodstuffs, income level of consumers, sociodemographic situation, consumption, and shopping preferences and time constraints. In addition, the number of visits to food store and spending money on food in per visit changed (Bakalis et al., 2020; Cranfield, 2020). COVID-19 outbreak interrupted the daily routine and resulted in boredom which can be defined as high energy intake by the consumption of high amount of fat, carbohydrate, and proteins. In addition, quarantine caused stress in people and pushed them toward sugary foods for feeling positive, because carbohydrate-rich foods can be used as self-medicating components due to their ability to encourage serotonin production. However, these unhealthy eating habits may contribute to the development of obesity linked to the chronic inflammation and serious complications of COVID-19 (Muscogiuri et al., 2020).

Indeed, it was interesting to note that the shortage of eggs was not only due to increased demand but also lack of packaging for retail. Household egg consumption increased 40% since March 20 in Argentina and sales of eggs rose by 44% compared to last year in the USA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provided flexibility related to the packaging and labelling of eggs due to the insufficient availability of appropriately labelled retail packages to fulfill the demand and facilitate the distribution of eggs during COVID-19 pandemic (FDA, 2020; Mazili, 2020; Reiley, 2020). Global events such as COVID-19 increase the demand for food worldwide. In a study, demand data in European countries due to COVID-19 were evaluated. Accordingly, although the demand for fresh bread increased by 76% and frozen vegetables by 52% in the week when the pandemic was announced, the demand for alcoholic beverages did not increase. However, the demand for alcoholic beverages increased about twice, one month after pandemic announcement (Crisp, 2020).


Chapter Three

Research Design and Methodology

he study area is Gombe State (distinct from the capital city Gombe), it is one of the 36 states in Nigeria. The state is located in Northeastern region of the country. It was created by the then General Sani Abachaʼs administration in 1996. The state shares boundaries with Bauchi, Taraba, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. It is mainly an agrarian state with a land area of about 20,265 km2. The state has two distinct seasons (rainy season which starts from April to October with an average rainfall of 850 mm and the dry season which starts around November to March). From the last population census conducted in Nigeria in 2006 it was recorded that the population of the state was around 2,365,000 people with a growth rate of an average of 2.60. Gombe is made up of three senatorial districts and Eleven Local Government Areas (LGA). Gombe South senatorial district comprised of the following LGAʼs: Kaltungo, Balanga, Shongom and Billiri; Gombe Central senatorial district comprised of Akko and Yamaltu Deba while Gombe North senatorial district comprised of Funakaye, Kwami, Gombe, Nafada and Dukku.

The targeted population for the study comprised of 3000 households in purposively selected agrarian settlements cutting across the 3 senatorial districts in the state. The population was stratified into three zones base on the senatorial districts and two locations were selected purposively from this stratification. From Gombe south, Tula and Billiri were selected; from Gombe North Dukku and Kwami were selected and from Gombe central Akko and Yamaltu Deba were selected. The sample size for the study comprised of 50 households in each of the study locations. Hence, 50 questionnaires were administered on the household heads of the 6 study locations making a total of 300 questionnaires (representing 10% of the targeted population). The random sampling technique was adopted in the questionnaire administration. The questionnaire was structured into three sections. Section 1 was designed to obtain data on the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents such as sex, education, family size etc. Section 2 was designed to obtain data on the existing productivity level of selected common crops in the study area such as maize, beans, groundnut, rice and guinea corn. The third part asked questions on the impact of COVID-19 on Food Supply CHAIN

Chapter Four

Data Analysis and Presentation

Table 1 showed the gender of the respondents in which 50.7% were male while 49.3% were female. This shows that majority of the respondents are male but it will not have any effect on the outcome of the result since the data collected is not gender sensitive. Regarding the respondents’ designation 35.3% of respondents were graduate trainees, 41.3%were officer grade while 13.0% and 10.4% of the respondents were at middle management level and other level respectively.

Furthermore, the working experience of the respondents ranges from 0-5years to 10 years and above. There were 42.9% of respondents who had 5-9years of experience, 29.8% of respondents had less than 5years working experience while 27.4% of the respondents had above 10years experience in farming. It is evident that the numbers of years majority of the respondents have put in their farming are high enough to make them garner experience that are vital in the smooth running of an efficient and effective farming.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

Discussion of Result

Therefore, small- and medium-sized agricultural enterprises can maintain their activities using the capital injections from government or donors (Tetteh Anang et al., 2015). Food banks can play an important role considering the horizontal and vertical coordination mechanisms with farmer associations that make contractual agriculture arrangement. Primarily, It would be a way to help farmers to create new markets by selling their unsold produces to food banks and make connection between farmers and vulnerable people during COVID-19 outbreak (Jackson and Yurkevich, 2020). Second, whenever possible, countries can deploy warehouse receipt systems, allowing small-scale producers to improve access for financial loans and get the best price for their product. This receipt helps small farmers to store crops safely in a modern storage facility and allows them to sell their product later when the prices are higher. It also can be used as possessory collateral for a loan (Miranda et  al., 2019). Third, countries should participate in growth and rapid development of e-commerce for small shareholders. Communication through the internet ensures that commercializing produces to wider range of consumers and enables farmers to find cheaper inputs (Khanal & Mishra, 2016). Fourth, small-scale producers should have easy and unhindered access to credit for dealing with financial problems to continue production.


During a pandemic, continuing the flow of the supply in agriculture and food sector, which is one of the most important sectors together with health, is vital to prevent the food crisis and reducing the negative impact on the global economy. Although no major problems have been observed in the food supply chains so far it remains unclear in the face of an uncertain future. As a result, each country has to realize the severity of the situation and sometimes should tighten or loosen the measures according to the spread of the pandemic. The supply chain also should be flexible enough to respond to the challenges in the food supply chain. The emergence of COVID-19 has presently, in a general sense, changed individuals’ lives concerning general wellbeing as well as governmental issues, the economy, open administrations, and a lot more. One thing that cannot be put on hold is people’s need to feed themselves. We find that people in urban areas found it difficult to get food under COVID-19. COVID-19 outbreak has an attendant effect on access to adequate, diverse and nutritious foods.

Recommendations for small farmers Countries should take measures to ensure the safety of agricultural workers. Onsite healthcare professionals should track the illness status of employees. Countries should build agricultural production collection centres at locations easily reached by small-scale farmers relating to mobility reduction. Agricultural production collection centres should be designed to provide high capacity storage. Improved and advanced storage structures also can be used to minimize the loss of foods throughout the food value chain. However, modern facilities or improved technologies entail higher production costs as it requires additional capital injection.


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