The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), has noted that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak is gradually leading to food insecurity on the African continent.
AGRA noted that the measures introduced by governments, which include restrictions on movement of persons, to deal with the COVID-19 are affecting the ability of farmers to harvest and sell their produce.
In Ethiopia for example, the government has projected that food production in the upcoming season could be lower by 8% due to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Government-mandated restrictions around the movement of people and the need for social distancing continues to pose challenges for farmers, especially in Southern Africa, where countries are in the harvest season and workers must gather for harvesting, cleaning and packing crops for transport.
“To address these challenges, some farmers and traders are using social media and farm-based sales to bridge production and market gaps during the pandemic.
“Kenya is leading the way in these efforts. Post-harvest trainings, which help farmers meeting international quality standards, are being conducted via digital platforms through village-based organizations.
“In Rwanda, AGRA has partnered with others to expand mechanization so as to reduce manual labour requirements and thus enable social distancing,” a statement said.
The statement added: “In East Africa, farmers are still feeling the impact from locust invasions, while eradication efforts continue. Ongoing flood conditions in Kenya and Uganda are shortening the planting season.
“However, the high rainfalls have also created an opportunity for “dry season” crops using the abundant residual moisture. In Southern Africa, recurring climate shocks are significantly contributing to reduced food production and driving staple food prices up.”
The UN has increased its original appeal for COVID-19 response funds from $2 billion in mid-March to $6.7 billion in mid-May, as humanitarian experts have noted acceleration of the food insecurity crisis.
David Beasely, Executive Director of the World Food Programme warned in April “I was already saying that 2020 would be the worst year since the second world war” Already, the COVID-19 pandemic, has “taken us to uncharted territory”, he said. “Now, We are looking at widespread famines of biblical proportions.”