Similar to all other sectors of daily life the agriculture sector under Covid-19 is badly affected. There are some main problems of agriculture originated due to COVID-19.
“ Empty shelves can be frightening, but empty fields and barns would be devastating”
The expected outcome of this menace is food security and disruption of the whole food supply chain that includes, markets, farmers, transporters, customers, sellers and processors.
The non-availability of the workforce to complete various field operations related to agriculture farming further worsen the situation.
According to FAO, the pandemic may also result in stoppage of labor-intensive crop production. Few crops like rice, wheat are more dependent on mechanism than workforce availability is less affected by non-availability of labor.
Many countries like Russian farmers are dependent upon Central Asian farmers because of their cheap rates and now they will be facing heavy economic losses with the shortage of workforce. Central Asian workforce also facing economic issues due to non-availability of work.
However, commercial crops are majorly depended on migrant labor. Due to coronavirus migrant labor shortage occurred. That increases the daily wages for the harvesting of crops. In some areas of Pakistan, wages increased up to 50 per cent.
Border closure problem for agriculture products
Due to coronavirus Pakistani borders with all countries sealed and exports of agriculture products stopped. And their ultimate results are faced by the farmer because of no proper purchasing of their goods. Transportation hurdles increased due to this situation and due to lockdown in country.
Perishable fruits and vegetable sustainability problem
The most severe problem is faced by fruits and vegetable growers as in this situation they are unable to exports their products and these products can not be stored for a longer period, and they faced economic losses. Due to pandemic created situation as Mango not get access to market and also banned by some countries for 5 years and this was wastage and economic loss to farmers and Pakistani Market.
According to the estimates, Pakistan produces 1.7 millions tonnes of Mango annually and that exported to more than 50 countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Due to border closure and suspension of air services this is ultimately causing big losses to market. There is an immediate need to take necessary steps to tackle these problems by Govt of Pakistan.
Agriculture Inputs import-export
In this Coronavirus situation, import and export of all kind of things banned, therefore, agriculture inputs like fertilizers, chemicals, machinery etc the need of farmers also disrupt and also they’re already facing a labor shortage and resulting in economic losses.
Unavailability of imported hybrid seeds
Pakistan import hybrid seed of many crops, fruits and vegetable every year including cucumber, tomato and maize etc and getting good yield per acre. Now due to suspension of services between countries will result in big economic loss.
Shifts in supply chain and consumer demand
Coronavirus shifted the food requirements of people and are choosing food according to the precautionary measure recommended by the Health Department. This also bring change in farmer crops growing patterns as the demand of that food material increased that Health Department recommends and now farmers will have to grow crops according to the market demand which is big in numbers all over the world.
Price volatility of agriculture products
Due to COVID-19, there is an unstable price of agricultural goods. Farmers are being forced to sale their products on Govt fixed rates either that is low or high which is unfair with farmer products. Now govt food department is forcing to sale wheat at a fixed price and farmers are getting low price while price at local market is much higher.
Many crops price reduced and farmers have economic losses. Same is happening with maize crop, price is almost 1/3rd down due to pandemic Covid-19.
Covid-19 has changed the whole world scenario and affecting everyone. Agriculture also affected by supply chain and drop in commodities prices due to this pandemic situation, while Pakistani agriculture has a great contribution to GDP.
Now Govt should make new policies for the agriculture sector to increase the export of agriculture products and supporting farmers economically.
This article is jointly written by Fayaz Hussain Syed Zeeshan Haider, Aftab Hussain Supervised by Dr Haroon Zaman Khan, Department Of Agronomy, University Of Agriculture Faisalabad.