COVID-19 pandemic has impacted farming and agriculture globally and in diverse ways with the lockdown creating disruptions all around the world. The movement of people and farm produce has been severely hampered at both local and cross-boundary levels and that has resulted in some severe experiences within the agricultural sector.
As a result of the lockdown, farmers have not been able to access markets to dispense their products, and strained access to storage and cooling facilities has in turn led to the dumping of farm produce. There are however, a number of lessons that have been learned during the pandemic that can greatly impact how the farming and agricultural industry progresses moving forward.
Here are some of the ways in which covid-19 has impacted farming and agriculture;
Disruption of Global Processing and Distribution Activities
One of the key challenges that have been experienced during lockdown lies with global processing and distribution of farm produce and food products. There have been disruptions in the food supply chain especially with high-value food products such as vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, eggs, and fish. Dairy farmers have been forced to dump milk and dispose of perishable farm products that cannot be stored.
The closure of restaurants and disruption in delivery has made it difficult for consumers to access the much-needed food, resulting in a strain in the income of many households that depend on the food supply chain as a source of income. Livestock and poultry farmers have been hit hard by the pandemic due to the closure of the processing plants. Lack of processing capacity has led to the euthanizing of livestock before processing which is likely to ignite chain reactions in the future.
Direct Sales to Consumers
Despite the challenges that have been experienced with the food supply chain, farmers that are selling food products have come up with ways to sell directly to consumers. Instead of dumping gallons of milk, some farmers have opted to acquire milk processing machines. The acquisition of on-farm processors has helped with pasteurizing the milk and adding value to the milk for increased shelf-life.
Farmers have become quite innovative with the use of social media platforms such as Facebook groups. The platforms have helped with creating awareness within the local communities about the fresh food products that are available within the community and has acted as a way of connecting the buyers with the sellers. Through direct sales to consumers, farmers have realized that with innovative ways, they can maximize the value of their produce for increased profitability.
One thing that was witnessed in some of the countries when lockdown was announced was the aspect of panic buying. People rushed into the stores and purchased as much food, household products, and other accessories as they could. Panic buying was majorly caused by the fact that some of the supplies come from other countries and with the closure of borders, it meant that there would not be sufficient supply of the specific items. This is a key lesson that people have learned during this time of covid-19, countries should try to be as self-sufficient as possible if they are to avoid these occurrences.
Rebound of Nature
The rebound in nature has been proven to support regenerative agriculture and holistic farm management. With people in lockdown and shutdown of cities across the world, animals have been spotted in different places all across the world enjoying their freedom. It’s seemed like nature has been begging for a time out and has shown that if given opportunity, it can recover so quickly.
The rebound of nature has been evident with the increase in wildlife. For example, in South Africa, they are able to see dolphins that haven’t been seen in 50 to 60 years. Penguins have also been spotted strolling up and down the streets. It’s as if nature is responding and saying thanks for the break.
Going by the messages that people share online, the majority of people have been seen to express a different character during this COVID-19 lockdown. People have claimed to be missing hanging out with family and friends. People tend to miss family and friends more than they miss shopping and other things that seemed to have been given priority before the pandemic.