Устойчивая механизация сельского хозяйства

Restoring agricultural production during and post COVID-19: A look into Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (SAM) and hire services in China

19/06/2020

 

Restoring agricultural production during and post COVID-19:  A look into Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (SAM) and hire services in China

 

by Shangchuan Jiang and Josef Kienzle, FAO Plant Production and Protection Division

 

Impacts related to crop production, agricultural product sales, capital, employment and income

In China, smallholder farmers have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Like many other countries, normal crop production and field management has been disrupted. Not only has this led to unemployment and impoverishment, particularly in smallholder farmers and rural-urban migrant workers, but large-scale farm owners have lost their labor force and capital.

To mitigate the pandemic’s impacts on food and agriculture, it is important to support smallholder farmers’ ability to restore and increase food production. The pandemic has affected the availability of inputs for agricultural production due to disruptions in the supply, transportation and sales of agricultural products, including protective personal protection equipment (PPE). Operations of the agricultural machinery hire service providers have also been disrupted due to the challenges in effectively dispatching resources and services under the lockdown. This has led to a capital problem and has delayed rural land transfer (for large-scale farming).

 

Actions to reduce the impact on agricultural production during and post COVID-19

Public Sector

·       Produce an enabling environment for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (SAM) under normal conditions through policies and institutions, subsidies and investment, the promotion of sustainable and intelligent technology, capacity building of HR, and advocacy, etc.

Promote technology and machinery inputs to restore agricultural production by:

o   Strengthening the availability and access to inputs, equipment and agricultural machineries in agriculture production, and especially the accessibility of agricultural machinery hire services

o   Increasing accessto agricultural experts and technicians readily available to provide technical support in crop production, carry out specific guidance in the field for different agricultural regions, and provide online support.

o   Utilizing ICTs (online platform, mobile APPs, etc.) to implement mechanization supporting policies, support capacity building and knowledge sharing, strengthen the accessibility of service provision, and reduce farm workers’ close gathering in fields and/or processing plants.

o   Promoting intelligent and more autonomous equipment that is perceived to simplify production, increase the productivity, reduce close gathering of laborers, and is a very important tool in the prevention and control of pandemic.

o   Supporting sustainable agricultural practices, such as Conservation Agriculture (no till also simplifies production), etc.

Implement timely actions related to SAM to minimize the effect of COVID-19 by:

o   Supporting the mobilization of agricultural inputs, machinery and farmers to ensure continuity in crop production for food security.

 o   Prioritizing transportation of the agricultural inputs, product sales and food supply; ensuring efficient dispatching.

 o   Prioritizing the resumption of agricultural production, especially for private sector related agricultural production and mechanization service provision.

 o   Prioritizing the resumption of manufacturing industries related to agricultural production, including agricultural inputs (equipment and machinery).

 o   Strengthening employment, by full use of the human resource of the rural-urban migrant workers, encourage them to get involved in the agricultural production, rural industries and infrastructure construction, and service industry (hire service), etc.

 o   Motivating social supports (mechanization service providers) for rural and peri-urban areas  

 o   Reviewing possibilities for utilizing existing application technologies and spraying equipment for supporting hygiene and disinfection services and actions

 o   Supporting agricultural investment to solve the capital problem in production and promote sustainable agriculture; promoting PPP; improving its access and approval procedure of applying for subsidies/funds/loans, etc.

 

Private sector (mechanization hire service providers, also called new agricultural business entities in China, agricultural machinery equipment industries)

 ·       Strengthening service provision via ICT and high-tech equipment; increasing the efficiency of dispatching the machinery and service according to the demand, and thus leading to increased resilience, productivity and reduction of the risk of labor and intensive production activity.

 ·       Promoting mechanization hire services as the solution for labor shortages due to the restriction of travel.

 ·       Providing employment opportunities in agricultural production, especially for impoverished farmers, and rural-urban migrant workers.

 ·       Promoting “Whole-process Mechanization + Integrated Agricultural Service”business models for agricultural mechanization service. Supporting specialized mechanization hire services and capacity building along the agri-food value chain.

 ·       Relying, if possible on shorter (national) supply chains for agricultural machinery parts and components to avoid disruptions in agricultural equipment supply chains.

 ·       Capacitating potential machinery operators with safety and handling standards for enhancing environmental and operator safety including use of automated processes.

Farmers

 ·       Implementing agricultural production with the support of mechanization hire service providers via ICT support to achieve a win-win situation with private sectors. (Famers use the mobile app to order service for production without leaving home)

 ·       Using ICT online platforms to access subsidies, information, knowledge networks.

 

Lessons learnt (what has worked well to enhance the role of mechanization)

Prioritize smallholder farmers, they need to be at the core of the response strategies when restoring agricultural production during and post COVID-19. Service providers, farmer’s cooperatives and larger farms as well private sector enterprises need to be sensitized for it. Machinery input, technical support and accessibility to mechanization service are essential in restoring agricultural production. The private sectors/hire service providers are indispensable in implementing agricultural production and ensuring the food supply during and post COVID-19. They provide farmers with feasible and flexible services in crop production. The technology innovation in mechanization and hire service help streamline production and increase the productivity, improve efficiency of dispatching machinery inputs and services, reduce the risk of farmers’ close gatherings during production, and thus contribute to the control and prevention of pandemic. Promoting SAM is still feasible during and post-pandemic. SAM can save labor and increase productivity (while respecting social distancing), and enable the long-term sustainability of the entire agriculture system.

 

 

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the valuable comments from Fenton Beed, Joseph Mpagalile, Mahnoor Malik (FAO Plant Production and Protection Division), and Zhongjun Zhang (FAO Representation in China).

 

References and related Press review:

1. Vincent Martin, FAO Representative in China and DPRK. Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in the agriculture sector in China.  People's Daily Online.  March 11, 2020.  http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0311/c90000-9667113.html

2.China’s agricultural sector gets boost thanks to advanced tech. People's Daily Online. April 20, 2020. http://en.people.cn/n3/2020/0420/c90000-9681729.html

3. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.http://www.moa.gov.cn/