Impact of Coronavirus Pandemic on Agriculture

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world completely. Wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and washing hands in regular intervals have become new normal. Apart from this, it has caused damages to both life and property both. The complete economy of the country has seen a sudden downfall due to the national level lockdown which was the only way to break the chain of virus spread.

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The migration of daily wage workers and destructive impact on the agriculture sector has spread depression across the country. Let us learn about the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector of India:

Impact of Covid-19 on the Indian Agriculture Sector

As a preventive and protective measure, the Indian government has announced a nationwide lockdown. On 25th March 2020, India underwent a strict lockdown of approximately three weeks, which impacted its economy adversely including the agriculture sector. Despite that agriculture sector was the only sector that showed positive growth after the pandemic, which was 3.4% in the Financial Year 2020-21 in the first quarter (April to June). However, it was less than its immediate last quarter's growth, which was 5.9% in Financial Year 2019-20 in quarter 4 (January to March). This indicates a decline in growth by 2.5% because of the impact of coronavirus.

The migration of laborers led to labor scarcity and it affected the winter harvesting crops such as pulses and wheat adversely in the north-western region of India. In addition to this, the restriction on movements disrupted the supply chain and hamper the flow of inputs as well as outputs for farming activities. The supply of perishable commodities was as well that challenged the supply of nutrition and food security of the vulnerable sections of India. The huge buffer stock of wheat and rice supplemented by record harvest in the crop season of 2019-20 enabled the food system of India to tackle the pandemic.

Similarly, tons of grains of food were wasted as per the reports of the government at the Food Corporation of India storage structure since 2020 May. The lockdown due to covid-19 worsens the food loss at marketing, production, wastage, and distribution at the household consumption level. For example, because of a lack of logistics and demand, food commodities like vegetables, milk, and fruit were wasted at the level of farm.

As the pandemic is creating panic across the world, locust infestation from Eastern Africa to India showed a bad effect on farming sector. Natural calamities such as floods and cyclones in western and eastern states caused devastation. The farmers have faced a real difficult time in sowing summer and south-west monsoon season crops, harvesting winter crops, and make a marketing decision.

Three-Point Strategy to Strengthen the Agricultural Sector After COVID-19:

  • Social Safety Nets: The sudden shutdown stopped production leading to income and job loss. The pandemic loss of food and wastage that affected the nutrition and food security of vulnerable sectors may have lifelong impacts on the capabilities. The private and government interventions must warrant managing food wastage and loss to revive the demand and food intake. For managing the food wastage at the household level implementation of useful food management practices such as preparation of a list of shopping items and planning the meal course must be advocated.
  • Shift Focus from Primary Agriculture to Secondary Agriculture: Lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has disturbed the agriculture market of laborers that showed huge reverse migration. As per a survey, approximately 45% of the laborers have returned to their homes during the lockdown. Weakness in the agricultural structure must be addressed for enabling the recognition of agriculture as an enterprise. All the processes that add value to primary agricultural production enterprises and systems that provide the raw material from the residues of crop, waste, and by-products from the primary farming must be promoted.
  • Promoting Family Farming: In the process to strengthen the agriculture sector, we all should pay attention to the sustainability concept. Under this, nothing is better than family farming for exemplifying sustainable production of food. The farmers whose family was into farming not only produce grains, instead, but they also save biodiversity, try to introduce new strategies, produce local and nutritious food, etc. So, they must be promoted.

Summing It Up!

Soon after the immediate national level lockdown, the Finance Minister of India has declared an Rs.1.7 trillion package for protecting the vulnerable section of the country, which includes the farmers as well. The announcement was made to release Rs.2000 in advance in the bank accounts of the farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme. The Indian government has as well raised the rate of wages for the workers who have been engaged under the NREGS, which is the largest wage guarantee scheme in the world. So, despite the adverse effect of the lockdown on farming, the steps by the government can raise this segment. Moreover, the following aforementioned points can strengthen the agriculture sector easily.

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