The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has created uncertainty and shockwaves around the world. The outbreak has negatively impacted the African economies, particularly the agriculture sector which significantly contributes towards priorities like; eradicating poverty, food security, job creation, trade, and investments.
Agriculture is central to the community’s economy and contributes between 24 – 44 per cent of GDPs in Africa, and essential for the livelihood of about 80 per cent of the region’s population.
As almost all countries become affected by the spread of the virus and implement measures to combat the spread of it, the ripple effects are felt throughout the African continent. The Agricultural inputs supply chain environment and the way AFAP implements programs has been affected in a way that required inputs like Fertilizer and Seed is not reaching the rural households/smallholder farmers, negatively affecting food production. Despite official claims that agriculture must continue even with restrictions, the supply chain has been severely affected. The rural household/smallholder farmers have been facing difficulties with the restrictions on regional trade, border closures resulting in delays and restrictions, shortage of fertilizers and other inputs which will ultimately affect agricultural production.
AFAP currently operates in 14 African countries, each of which is experiencing COVID-19 in different ways. To continue to ensure farmers have access to inputs, advice, services, and markets with minimal disruption to their lives and livelihoods, AFAP’s response efforts are designed to be flexible and enabling our Country Managers to take the actions most appropriate to the local environment.
It is not business as usual. Given the social distancing guidelines, we have reduced our activities in the field and are now offering remote support and training to SMEs (Agrodealers, community-based agents) and smallholder farmers. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to adjust and innovate with distance-learning tools.
AFAP holds the view that this crisis presents Africa with an opportunity – the opportunity to redefine our agribusiness sector by incorporating distance-learning tools in the way we approach program implementation and through active public-private sectors collaboration.
COVID-19 has changed life as we know it and now is the time for all stakeholders to form the partnerships that will transform our continent for good and the good of all its communities.
However, there is no local lockdown in some countries, therefore AFAP is also compiling a matrix for Sub-Saharan Africa of each country’s reaction to the virus and the impact on the agricultural inputs and output markets value chain, in terms of their lockdown strategies, the duration and which modes of transport are affected.
Thank you for your continued support.