COVID-19 IMPACT – EFFECTS ON LIVELIHOODS IN BURKINA FASO
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has become the defining global health crisis in 2020. It has also greatly affected African lives, with particular effects felt in terms of agricultural inputs delivery, production systems, food security and agricultural livelihoods. For a country that has overcome many challenges, COVID-19 has just exacerbated weaknesses that were already threatening the economic stability of Burkina Faso. This, in turn, will make it more difficult for people to earn a living in the country.
In early March 2020, the first cases of the infection were reported in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa. This led to a hike in prices of the recommended alcohol-based hand wash, sanitizers and face masks. A fortnight from the first incidence and death, other incidences were recorded in various locations of Ouagadougou.
The government of Burkina Faso imposed restrictions:Â a 7 p.m.Â to 5 a.m. curfew; the closure of airport, borders, schools, restaurants, churches and mosques; and a quarantine of affected areas, to curb the spread of the virus. Through local radio and television stations, in local languages and in French, the government launched prevention and knowledge campaigns for its citizens. It is no longer business as usual; the restrictions imposed have greatly affected the various sectors in the country.
Movement of fresh produce: the restrictions imposed have caused delays in the delivery of fresh produce to various target markets. Opportunities exist to supply the Ivorian, Togolese, Beninese and Ghanaian markets with vegetables, especially tomatoes, but the costs of transport have increased; delivery trucks are stranded in the markets because of the timing of their travel. Unfortunately, fresh produce is perishable, thus high financial losses have been incurred and products lost. The governmentâ€™s actions of surveillance and control have regulated the prices for cereals and legumes (maize, sorghum rice, millet, peanuts and cowpeas), leading to no major change. However, the loss of crops has discouraged farmers and inhibited their willingness to invest in agricultural inputs.
Indefinite lockdown strategies and duration:Â the restricted movement is causing anxiety due to the fact that many economic and social activities cannot go on as usual. No congregating in houses of worship and open-air markets is allowed. Generally Africans are social beings, thus the one-meter-distance rule is rather baffling to them.
Impact on the agricultural inputs:Â with the bordersâ€™ closure, importation of goods from China has decreased greatly. The AgroSMEs in Burkina Faso who had placed orders for agricultural inputs could no longer receive them. Despite looking to countries like Turkey and Russia, the borders being closed still affected delivery. Costs of storage at the port also increased because of the restriction in movement, which necessitates that goods are stored for longer periods. This has also caused scarcity in the country at the local level. In the rural areas during the planting season, for example, vegetable seeds in production areas like Banfora located around 500 km from Ouagadougou, are scarce.
Impact of livestock trade:Â Burkina Faso is amongst the Sahelian countries dealing in large-scale livestock production. Livestock production is a major income generator for communities and the government. Closure of the livestock markets and borders has led to a reduction in income. The country is unable to export to its major market in CÃ´te d’Ivoire. Moreover, the income usually generated from the livestock trade would mainly have been used by the locals for other investments like agricultural inputs and outputs, health and education.
Public-private sector collaboration:Â to support rural activities, the government has provided an agricultural inputs subsidy worth 30 billion CFA. An agreement has also been made with the Burkina Faso central bank and national banking institutions, to allow for a deferral of payments on claims for a period of three months, renewable once.
Campaigns launched to create awareness of the effects of the virus, offer measures for prevention and share knowledge were vital in terms of attempting to control this pandemic.
Situation in Barry Agrochemâ€™s shop
Despite the availabity of agricultural input (herbicides, fertilizers) and sprayers, there are no clients even if itâ€™s the period for farmers to prepare the planting season.
The Bobo-Dioulasso region is the largest fruit producer in Burkina Faso. Mangoes are sold in Ouagadougou and other parts of the country and also in Niger. Restricting traffic and closing borders will limit the flow of fruit, which will cause loss of money for farmers and traders.
The vegetables that can still be exported to CÃ´te d’Ivoire are cabbage. But because of the high transportation costs, its purchase price from farmers has dropped.
With the closure of the Bobo-Dioulasso cattle market and also the closure of the borders and the railroad, the export of livestock to CÃ´te d’Ivoire is stopped. Traders are obliged to maintain their animals to avoid mortality.