THE IMPACT OF INFECTIOUS EPIDEMIC ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY: A CASE STUDY OF CORONA VIRUS DISEASE
Objective of the study
The objectives of the study are;
- To ascertain the effect of COVID19 on agriculture
- To ascertain the relationship between COVID19 and food security
- To ascertain whether COVID19 restrict agricultural activities
HO: there is no relationship between COVID19 and food security
HI: there is relationship between COVID19 and food security
HO: there is no effect of COVID19 on agriculture.
HI: there is effect of COVID19 on agriculture
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available
Impact of COVID-19 on agriculture
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2020a) states that COVID-2019 is affecting agriculture in two significant aspects: the supply and demand for food. These two aspects are directly related to food security, so food security is also at risk. With you can understand the relationships between these elements, as well as the impact of COVID-19.
The food supply chain is a network that connects an agricultural system (the farm) with the consumer’s table, including processes such as manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and storage (Chen et al., 2020).
Initially, the announcements of social isolation made people go to the supply centers and generate a shortage of some products, despite this, the food supply has stabilized because it is one of the systems that must be maintained to ensure food security. One of FAO’s roles is to promote that food value chains are not interrupted and continue to operate (FAO, 2020b). Thus, despite the restrictions that governments have imposed on the mobility of labor in agricultural systems, although with some problems, the supply of basic necessities is normally assured. The situation is different when it comes to goods that are imported or exported; due to the closure of borders, international trade was interrupted, although after having defined security protocols to avoid the spread of the virus, trade stabilized. This may be temporary; it depends on what countries are doing to stop the spread of the virus.
Part of the food supply system, are the social programs that some countries, mainly Latin America, have to feed millions of families and children with limited economic resources. This supply system is being served in different ways:
- Delivery of food rations of basic necessities (for example, Indonesia and Taiwan).
- Economic allocation equivalent to the cost of food rations of basic necessity (for example, Peru, Japan, and Singapore).
Interruptions to food transfers are minimal, so the food supply remains stable; although observing China’s experience in this pandemic, there is a greater impact on the livestock sector due to difficulties in accessing animal feed and, on the other hand, the shortage of labor (Zhang, 2020).
Although it depends on the country and the measures that each one has adopted, globally the prices have remained stable, therefore, no spikes in the prices of basic necessities are expected, although it is more likely to occur for high-value products, especially meat and perishables. One of the indices that measure the variation of the price worldwide is the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI), a measure of the monthly variation of the international prices of a basket of food products. According to the FAO (2020c), the FFPI of February 2020 had an average of 180.5 points, that is, 1.9 points (1.0%) less than in January, constituting the first month-on-month decrease after four months consecutive increases
Capital intensity of agricultural production
Intermediate inputs include fertiliser, pesticides, seeds, feeds and power. Disruptions in the supply of these inputs are likely to result in reductions in outputs and, depending on the importance of these inputs for specific outputs, in potentially large supply interruptions. We assess the degree of the input dependency by examining the value share of intermediate inputs in the gross value of agricultural output. The data depicted in Figure 2 suggest a strong correlation between the share of inputs and the degree of overall development, captured by the level of GDP per person. High-income countries generally use a larger quantity of intermediate inputs for their agricultural production processes. This share can exceed 80 percent of the value of the output in high-income countries but can remain below 10 percent in low-income countries. This means that on average, low-income countries are less exposed to disruptions in intermediate input supplies, as production is less reliant on their utilization. Conversely, high-income countries depend more on intermediate inputs and are hence more susceptible to a disruption in the input supplies, as potentially would be caused by a pandemic, such as COVID-19. Grain and oilseeds production in the European Union, the United States of America or Canada, for example, depend heavily on these intermediate inputs, notably energy, seeds, fertiliser and pesticides. If COVID-19 were to disrupt the flow of these inputs either from local or international suppliers to the farm level, this could result in an immediate decline in outputs. Developing countries, by contrast, would be less exposed to these input supply shocks, in consideration of the low utilization of such inputs. For instance, in Kenya, Tanzania, or Bhutan, the share of intermediate inputs in the value of output is below 15 percent, and in The Gambia or Chad it is lower than 10 percent. COVID-19 has already had impacts on the availability of farm inputs, particularly in countries that were affected at an early stage. In China, for instance, the production of pesticides declined sharply and only resumes gradually after production plants were shut down following the outbreak. Low availability and/or high prices of inputs such as pesticides could weigh on yields and crop production in 2020. A lack of pesticides is also having direct and indirect effects on countries’ ability to contain pests. For instance, as transportation costs of pesticides to East Africa have increased by a factor of three and shipping is delayed due to fewer flights to the region, this has hampered the ability to contain the local locust outbreak and is heightening the threat to food security
Labour intensity of agricultural production
Agriculture is not only a capital-intensive industry, but also labour intensive. Where access to capital is limited and/or labour is abundant, labour becomes a critical component in agricultural production. Typically, capital-intensive agriculture of high-income countries is a labour saving economic activity, while the labour-dependent agricultural systems of low-income countries are a capital-saving activity. This relationship is captured, displaying the number of agricultural employees per unit of output against GDP per person. illustrates a clear relationship between labour intensity and per capita income. This portends that countries with labour-intensive agricultural systems may find their supply chains disrupted and outputs compromised, if the pandemic in general and quarantine restrictions in particular cause labour shortages. In consideration that pandemics can lead to a decline in the availability of agricultural labour through multiple channels – illness that reduces physical capacity, aversion behaviour and quarantine restrictions – low-income countries that are highly dependent on labour inputs are particularly exposed to COVID-19-like shocks. For example, in Brazil’s leading grain-producing state, Mato Grosso, operations at industrial sites, including agricultural processing facilities, have been suspended in efforts to minimise the community transmission of the virus Examining possible impacts at the level of an entire country can mask differences in important effects across sectors within a country. For instance, while most agricultural commodities in high income countries are produced in capital-intensive systems, some high-valued crops require high inputs of labour. Harvesting of fruits and vegetables, or operating meat processing systems, are highly labour intensive activities also in high-income countries. There is growing evidence that such labour intensive production systems are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, largely owing to direct health effects or indirect effects of shutdowns. There is also growing evidence that these effects occur across both high and low-income countries and that they are sector-specific rather than country-specific. For instance, the closure of the United States Embassy and consulates in Mexico raises the risk of labour supply shortages for farms in the United States of America, notably for fruit and vegetable producers. With the closure of consulates in Mexico, the so-called H-2A visa programme, which brings some 200 000 foreign workers to United States of America farms each year, will not provide access to workers needed to harvest fruits and vegetables in the southern and western states of the United States. At the same time, there are reports7 that migrant labour residents in California who were previously working in the hospitality sector are now available and could be employed in local agriculture. In China, a lack of workers in the labour-intensive meat processing industry has taken a toll on meat supplies, over and above the impacts of the African swine fever . Abattoirs cannot work at full capacity as some employees are under quarantine. This has resulted in a shortage of meat supplies and markedly higher prices in local meat markets, including in the Xinfadi market, Beijing’s largest wholesale market. The Beijing market is also affected by labour shortages in north-eastern provinces where only eleven slaughterhouses were operating during February. Similar issues exist in other provinces. For example, only seven slaughterhouse facilities were operating in Liaoning, and just two each in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia. In addition to shortages in labour supplies for abattoirs, there is growing evidence that transportation bottlenecks are affecting the local meat supply chain. Up until early March 2020, only large-scale farms were able to deliver finished hogs. Family farms cannot market hogs as trucks cannot enter villages, many of which are still under lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Differential impacts due to differential changes in interest rates
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, interest rates have changed around the world. In general, rates have fallen in high-income countries, following the interventions of central banks, which are lowering refinancing rates for commercial banks and reducing market rates through open market interventions. By 23 March 2020, 39 central banks10 had lowered interest rates or increased liquidity. Despite these interventions, market rates for borrowing fresh capital have often risen11, particularly in low-income countries. A Jubilee Debt Campaign12 report states that interest rates have on average risen by 3.5 percentage points for low- and middle-income countries since midFebruary, and that costs for new borrowing stood at 10 percent. At the same time, prices of products coming from capital-intensive systems, such as maize or soybeans, have fallen, further squeezing profit margins for these products, particularly in low-income countries. The different exposures to borrowing costs by high and low-income countries could have differential effects on the supply of these capital-intensive products. In general, it would enhance competitiveness of supplies from high-income countries (United States of America, European Union) and weigh on competitiveness of producers in low-income countries (Latin American producers). How long these effects will last is difficult to predict and, indeed, not the objective of this analysis. There are, however, first signs of a possible global credit crisis, which could be large in magnitude and long in duration. To stave off the potential impact on farmers, the United States of America’s Farm Credit Administration, the regulatory body overseeing the credit system, is encouraging financial institutions to implement relief mechanisms, such as extending the terms of loan repayments.13 A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)14 shows how sustained debts could pose a larger problem for the global economy and financial system. According to UNCTAD, in 2018, total debt (private, public, domestic and external) across developing countries was equal to almost twice their combined GDP—the highest ever. The buildup of private debt by non-financial corporations, which now amounts to nearly three-quarters of total debt in developing countries (a much higher ratio than in advanced economies), is seen as particularly concerning. According to UNCTAD, inherently volatile “foreign shadow financial institutions” have played a major role in fuelling this accumulation, such that around one-third of private non-financial corporate debt is located in low-income countries. Similarly, a report by the International Monetary Fund15 (IMF) shows that rising debt levels have led to increased debt vulnerabilities in many low-income developing countries (LIDCs). While debt vulnerabilities remain contained in the majority of LIDCs, some 40 percent of LIDCs now face significant debtrelated challenges, up from 21 percent in 2013. Nine of twelve countries that moved from “low/moderate risk” to “high risk/in debt distress” are in sub-Saharan Africa. With rising costs for capital, the impacts would also be felt in agriculture, notably capital-intensive forms of production. Credit markets could become an important channel of transmission, adversely affecting capital-intensive agriculture. Capital intensive production in low-income countries (e.g. row crops in Latin America) could be particularly hard hit. This would further deteriorate the commodity terms of trade for many commodity dependent LIDCs that has been underway since the last price hike in 2012.
Many low-income countries depend on agriculture for much of their export earnings. A high portion of export earnings from agriculture and possibly from very few commodities within agriculture means that these countries are particularly exposed to shocks that may emanate from global agricultural markets. Some Latin American countries are particularly exposed to such shocks. For instance, in countries like Paraguay, Argentina or Guatemala, 50 percent or more of total export earnings come from exports of agricultural products (excluding tourism). Even more exposed are the smaller countries where export earnings not only depend on agriculture overall but are concentrated on a few agricultural commodities. Examples include Guinea-Bissau, Kiribati and or Malawi, all of which receive more than 70 percent of their export earnings from agriculture and even larger shares from primary commodities. Specialising in agricultural production also means that these countries can be exposed to supply side risks. For instance, a high share of labour in the value of gross output infers that countries could be confronted with at least some temporary shortages in labour supply as a direct effect of the spread of the virus. Smaller countries, in particular the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), often specialise in the production of capital-saving but labour-intensive goods (fruits and vegetables, livestock), many of which are also highly perishable or vulnerable to disruptions in supply chains. The first impacts have already been reported from countries that were first exposed to the COVID-19 outbreak. For instance, shipments of tropical fruits from South-East Asia, which are in season at this time of year, were disrupted through congestions at ports of Shanghai and Tianjin. Reefer containers could not be offloaded on time. This has caused significant losses due to the perishability of the produce. Cargo disruptions have been amplified by severe container shortages stemming from increased imports of pork in response to African swine fever. The closure of some wholesale markets due to quarantine measures has further impeded sales. Wholesale prices of Thailand’s red-flesh dragon fruit, which has a short shelf-life and is dependent on the Chinese market, dropped by almost 85 percent after exports to China stopped. Similarly, the prices of longan fruit from Cambodia have plummeted in response to disruptions to shipments to China.
Global economic forecasts suggest a (sharp) decline in overall economic activity, which, in turn, is a factor weighing on international commodity prices. Net agricultural importers would stand to benefit from lower import prices, easing possible contractions in purchasing power that may arise from internal economic recessions. Indeed, lower import prices could function as an automatic stabiliser for food security in low-income food-importing developing countries, allowing them to import larger quantities at lower prices.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the impact of infectious epidemic on agriculture and food security: A case study of Corona virus disease. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of infectious epidemic on agriculture and food security
This study was on The impact of infectious epidemic on agriculture and food security: A case study of Corona virus diseases. Three objectives were raised which included: To ascertain the effect of COVID19 on agriculture, to ascertain the relationship between COVID19 and food security and to ascertain whether COVID19 restrict agricultural activities. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staffs of ministry of agriculture in Abuja. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made administrative staffs, directors, senior staffs and junior staffs were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies
The pandemic called COVID-19 disease has a great impact on the actions and activities of humanity, agriculture is not outside this impact. Food demand and thus food security are greatly affected due to mobility restrictions, reduced purchasing power, and with a greater impact on the most vulnerable population groups. As cases of contagion increase, governments take more drastic measures to stop the spread of the virus, also influencing the global food system. The premise of any measure adopted should be to protect the health and food security of the population, to the detriment of economic growth, although some governments go in the opposite direction
Fighting against COVID-19 spreading, including sharing the information of the disease transmission and epidemiological knowledge, sharing the experiences on case management and treatment approaches both for severe cases or light symptoms, and sharing new technologies or strategies to contain the transmission.
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