COVID-19 and smallholder producers’ access to markets
The aim of this brief (PDF) by FAO is to inform policy makers on options to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on food and agriculture with attention to smallholders’ access to markets. The COVID-19 pandemic is substantially affecting smallholder producers’ access to markets. Immediate impacts tend to be more severe for high-value commodities (perishable products), which are often produced by smallholder farmers. This brief builds on lessons learned in 2014 Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic and during the 2007–2008 global food prices volatility crisis. 1. The first challenge is the temporary movement restrictions hindering smallholder producers’ access to markets. A lesson learned from the EVD epidemic is the importance of establishing safe trade corridors based on public health mitigation measures along market chains. 2. The second challange is the changing deman and consumer behaviou, affecting smallholder producers. It is therefore imporant to stabilize the supply, absorb the surplus and reduce losses. It is therefore important to develop and communicate health prevention measures to enable traders to collect agricultural products and promote local public procurement of food. 3. The closure of schools and other public places, restrictions for the operations of supermarkets and/or closure of farmers’ markets leads to significant food outlets being blocked and to a loss of sales. Some policy options include supplementing cash transfer programmes, take-home rations, food vouchers, using schools or community facilities as feeding centres providing take-home rations and public procurement of food from smallholder producers. 4. Movement restrictions created challenges to smallholder producers in some countries where migrant seasonal work is crucial for agriculture. A lesson learned from the EVD epidemic was the need to develop and communicate health prevention measures to encourage farmer group activity. It is crucial to maintain agriculture within the list of essential businesses and services. 5. Value chain disruptions creating financial and access to services challenges for smallholder producers. As a response to the food prices volatility crisis of 2007–2008, there has been an increase in national public investments in agriculture.