COVID-19 and smallholder producers’ access to markets - FAO

In a pandemic such as COVID-19, measures to limit the spread of the virus require physical isolation and various levels of restrictions on people’s movement, and in some cases complete lockdowns. Inevitably, these measures cause transportation delays and bottlenecks in the flow of goods and services, including in the agricultural sector.

 


The effects were similar during the EVD crisis. The restriction measures adopted to limit the propagation of the EVD epidemic (closing weekly markets, closing borders, Ebola checkpoints on roads) caused disruption in agricultural market chains and trade (FAO, 2016). The biggest impact was related to disruptions in collecting and transporting agricultural products to areas of consumption. The most affected stakeholders in the EVD epidemic were those in long value chains, more labour and input-intensive value chains, value chains with weak market diversification and value chains involving perishable products (FAO, 2016).

 

During COVID-19, road blocks and checks in China prevented, in some cases, smallholder producers from selling products or buying inputs, which resulted in a loss of income, loss of produce and it has potentially affected future cultivation seasons (Zhang, 2020). Closing slaughterhouses also resulted in losses. In addition to being physically cut off, delays due to required sanitary checks and road blocks led to losses in quality or to complete damage of perishable products and to the accumulation of non-perishable products. Many street markets and farmers’ markets were temporarily closed to limit public gatherings in China, Italy, Kenya and other countries. This prevented smallholder producers and their associations from selling directly to consumers.

 

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