فيروس كورونا المستجد (كوفيد-١٩)

Keeping food and agricultural systems alive - Analyses and solutions in a period of crises - COVID-19 Pandemic

The current global outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted agricultural and food systems around the world. Timely and credible information is imperative in avoiding panic-driven reaction that can aggravate these disruptions, deteriorating food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

In order to provide such information to its Members, FAO analyzed past experiences and provides a compilation of policy responses with their pros and cons for agricultural and food systems. This list will be continually updated and expanded.

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Area
Subarea
Potential Disruptions
Emergencies
Humanitarian Assistance contexts

Humanitarian Assistance contexts
Food crisis countries and countries highly dependent on imports, countries:
- with already elevated levels of acute food insecurity;
- which are experiencing multiple stressors, such as below average agricultural production, recent or ongoing natural hazards, chronic poverty, economic crises or outbreaks of pests;
- where extremely tight movement restrictions impede access to crops or other activities;
- which are affected by insecurity, or conflict and/or elevated levels of political instability;
- which heavily rely on imports to meet their basic food consumption needs;
- which heavily rely on donor support to ensure food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

Agricultural production

Challenges associated with logistics and supply chain disruptions could affect food production. The sector could be severely affected if tools, inputs and fertilizers become unavailable; if shortages of labour curb production and processing; if transport interruptions and quarantine measures limit access to input and output markets; and by an increase in food loss and waste due to supply chain disruptions.

Moreover, the pandemic could impede farmers’ access to markets, lowering production capacity. This would translate into significant income losses for households dependent on agriculture. The 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak disrupted agricultural market supply chains, and many farmers were unable to grow or sell crops because of measures to contain the virus such as quarantines and travel restrictions. These factors, in addition to acute agricultural labour shortage, led to more than 40 percent of agricultural land not being cultivated during the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak.

Emergencies
Humanitarian Assistance contexts

Humanitarian Assistance contexts
Food crisis countries and countries highly dependent on imports, countries:
- with already elevated levels of acute food insecurity;
- which are experiencing multiple stressors, such as below average agricultural production, recent or ongoing natural hazards, chronic poverty, economic crises or outbreaks of pests;
- where extremely tight movement restrictions impede access to crops or other activities;
- which are affected by insecurity, or conflict and/or elevated levels of political instability;
- which heavily rely on imports to meet their basic food consumption needs;
- which heavily rely on donor support to ensure food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

Livestock

Livestock supply chains could also be hit by the pandemic. In China, due to a ban on the movement of live poultry, farmers have discontinued selling chickens and eggs in markets, and estimates suggest market input of chicken and ducklings to have decreased by about 50 per cent. Such dynamics would translate into significant losses for households engaged in the livestock sectors, limiting their income, and therefore their purchasing power and their resilience in the face of the health emergency.

Emergencies
Humanitarian Assistance contexts

Humanitarian Assistance contexts
Food crisis countries and countries highly dependent on imports, countries:
- with already elevated levels of acute food insecurity;
- which are experiencing multiple stressors, such as below average agricultural production, recent or ongoing natural hazards, chronic poverty, economic crises or outbreaks of pests;
- where extremely tight movement restrictions impede access to crops or other activities;
- which are affected by insecurity, or conflict and/or elevated levels of political instability;
- which heavily rely on imports to meet their basic food consumption needs;
- which heavily rely on donor support to ensure food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

Food availability
Food availability could decline over time, as restrictions on transportation and movement of people limit market efficiency and production of food declines. Findings from an FAO study on the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa suggests that the outbreak had a major negative impact on collecting and transporting agricultural production to consumption areas. This can be particularly severe for those countries whose food availability relies to a high degree on imports.

A disruption of existing social security structures vital for food security and nutrition were observed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, such as the interruption of school feeding programmes. Households could therefore have to face decreased availability and short-term increases in prices of some items at the same time in which their purchasing power is likely affected as the economy suffers the impacts of the pandemic.

If outbreak continues over long periods of time, disruptions could reduce food availability over the medium and longer terms. These disruptions may occur as a result of producers being unable to bring goods to the market, or because of disruptions to markets due to policies enacted to contain the virus. Declining demand is also likely to affect investment in food production, resulting in potential long-term declines of production.

Emergencies
Humanitarian Assistance contexts

Humanitarian Assistance contexts
Food crisis countries and countries highly dependent on imports, countries:
- with already elevated levels of acute food insecurity;
- which are experiencing multiple stressors, such as below average agricultural production, recent or ongoing natural hazards, chronic poverty, economic crises or outbreaks of pests;
- where extremely tight movement restrictions impede access to crops or other activities;
- which are affected by insecurity, or conflict and/or elevated levels of political instability;
- which heavily rely on imports to meet their basic food consumption needs;
- which heavily rely on donor support to ensure food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

Food availability
Food availability could decline over time, as restrictions on transportation and movement of people limit market efficiency and production of food declines. Findings from an FAO study on the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa suggests that the outbreak had a major negative impact on collecting and transporting agricultural production to consumption areas. This can be particularly severe for those countries whose food availability relies to a high degree on imports.

A disruption of existing social security structures vital for food security and nutrition were observed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, such as the interruption of school feeding programmes. Households could therefore have to face decreased availability and short-term increases in prices of some items at the same time in which their purchasing power is likely affected as the economy suffers the impacts of the pandemic.

If outbreak continues over long periods of time, disruptions could reduce food availability over the medium and longer terms. These disruptions may occur as a result of producers being unable to bring goods to the market, or because of disruptions to markets due to policies enacted to contain the virus. Declining demand is also likely to affect investment in food production, resulting in potential long-term declines of production.

Emergencies
Humanitarian Assistance contexts

Humanitarian Assistance contexts
Food crisis countries and countries highly dependent on imports, countries:
- with already elevated levels of acute food insecurity;
- which are experiencing multiple stressors, such as below average agricultural production, recent or ongoing natural hazards, chronic poverty, economic crises or outbreaks of pests;
- where extremely tight movement restrictions impede access to crops or other activities;
- which are affected by insecurity, or conflict and/or elevated levels of political instability;
- which heavily rely on imports to meet their basic food consumption needs;
- which heavily rely on donor support to ensure food and nutrition security of the most vulnerable.

Continuity of humanitarian operations
The outbreak is likely to have significant repercussions on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, in particular on:

i) budgets - as resources may be diverted to support COVID-19 efforts;
ii) logistics - movement restrictions are likely to impact the mobility of goods and staff;
iii) humanitarian delivery costs may increase (costs of food aid may also increase in case of spikes in global cereals price).

All of the above is likely to result in an increase in numbers of people requiring humanitarian assistance while at the same time posing an enormous challenge in terms of the ability of governments and organisations to address those needs.

Social protection systems
Social Assistance

Access to adequate social protection (SP) (assistance and insurance) is instrumental for COVID-19 response for the following reasons: (1) to offset the economic impact of the confinement measures, including additional out-of-pocket medical and health expenses, diminished income and disruption of livelihoods (including among small-scale farmers, fishers, forest-dependent communities) ; and (2) to provide sufficient income buffer to ensure people can comply with confinement measures.
Putting in place SP measures as early as possible is essential, and including social protection in the recovery plan is also important to support livelihoods.
Potential disruptions occurred in the delivery of social assistance programmes and services, due to confinement measures. Social protection systems which are not risk-informed and do not have contingency operating procedures have faced serious difficulties (including delays and gaps in coverage, operational and financial capacities). In terms of specific instruments challenges include:
-Cash and in-kind transfers: The actual delivery of cash and/or in-kind transfers, when not done through electronic vouchers or cards, requires human gatherings and physical contact, which are not advisable during the epidemic.
-The efficiency of cash transfers/e-vouchers highly depends on the functioning of markets, while COVID-19 may disrupt some markets.
-For cash transfers tied to conditionalities, the impossibility to access health and education services can represent a barrier for receiving this support.
-Some cash for work schemes may not be able to implement work components and remove access to essential income.
Elements linked to school feeding, which is also one core social assistance strategy are being discussed under a separate tab (Nutrition priorities).
Gender norms and inequalities disproportionately expose rural women and girls to the economic and social fallout from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ample evidence is already emerging that COVID-19 and related containment measures are having strongly gendered impacts across many domains and that rural women and girls face specific greater challenges due to traditional gender norms, limited resources, infrastructure and services, jobs in informal sector, informality, and disruptions to rural livelihoods and schooling. This is especially pronounced for vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, indigenous people, the elderly, migrants and seasonal workers. Compounding this, rural women are less likely to have access to adequate social protection than their urban and male counterparts.

Social protection systems
Access to health insurance and services

COVID-19 is a serious health crisis demanding a quick and efficient response from national and sub-national health systems. In addition to income losses, populations at risk may face increased costs linked to preventive health or out-of-pocket treatment costs. Despite important progress, access to health insurance is not always universal. There are significant gaps in rural areas (including affecting older farmers and their livelihoods). Moreover, health services are not always available or physically accessible for those living in remote and mountainous areas (See for example 2016 ILO report on https://www.social-protection.org/gimi/gess/ShowRessource.action?ressource.ressourceId=51297).

Rural women and girls have fewer opportunities to access support services and essential healthcare than their urban counterparts because of reduced availability of legal, social and policing structures in rural areas. As a result they are exposed to increased risk of different types of gender-based violence (GBV). Past experience shows common underreporting and inadequate attention to GBV, with the risk of overlooking protection issues during the response, leaving women and girls highly vulnerable. Intersecting factors such as age, socio-economic status, disability and ethnicity are likely to increase the risk of GBV during the COVID-19 emergency.

Social protection systems
Promotion of decent employment and labor market

Restriction of movement, health shocks, decreased demand and food systems disruptions are having important impacts on rural employment and labour supply. ILO estimates a significant rise in unemployment and underemployment as a result of the current crisis. The particular impacts on informal workers, seasonal farm workers, small scale producers, fishers, women, youth, migrants, and people with disabilities, further exacerbate their current vulnerable situation. Access to decent work entitlements is challenging for those depending on agriculture or natural resource management for their livelihoods.
Women and in particular rural women might be the most affected by the loss of their jobs both in the formal and informal sectors.

Social protection systems
Prevention of child labour

As schools are closed, some children may be asked to support their families in farm-related work thus exposing them to hazardous labour or tasks not age-appropriate (overly long hours, overly harsh, etc.). School withdrawal, initially a transitory measure, may turn out to be a permanent situation. Children who leave school or do not return to school during and after a crisis are denied the possibility to improve their future, are likely to put their health and physical development at risk, and are more likely to remain poor.

Boys and girls may be exposed to different risks of child labour in the context of COVID-19 and have specific coping mechanisms. For example, girls may be at heightened risk of increases in care and domestic work that limit their ability to participate in school as the amount of this type of work increases overall.

Social protection systems
Social insurance

Access to contributory social security (social insurance) is a major challenge for those depending on agriculture or natural resource management for their livelihoods. In many contexts where social insurance is available at scale and included in key legal frameworks, the agriculture and natural resource sectors are not always part of the formal labour legislation and people depending on these sectors may face significant barriers to access entitlements. These challenges are further exacerbated in times of crisis, when benefits are paid or expanded, but seldom reach rural, non-formal, seasonal or migrant workers. An additional consideration is necessary in the design of targeting and reaching method of the expanded benefits.

Due to interrupted work history, rural women may have limited access to a pension, while their increased likelihood to be in informal and precarious employment limits unemployment insurance, health insurance or maternity leave.

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