Examining COVID-19 Impacts on Food Systems to Inform Policymaking
In a five-part series, the Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security (EEFS) project first considers the risks to food and nutritional security presented by COVID-19, then shares insights from its remote survey of private sector partners operating in East and Southern Africa to understand how the crisis has affected the enabling environment. This roundup post provides access to the full suite of articles and highlights key learning from the series.
The first installment of the series considers how the COVID-19 crisis could reshape the enabling environment for agricultural markets systems and presents the New Risks for Global Food Security and Nutrition. The article examines both supply and demand-side risks, including reduced access to nutritious foods, curtailed trade flows, labor shortages, changes in consumer behavior, and end-market impacts such as closures of hospitality industry companies and retail markets.
For donors and policymakers to effectively respond to these risks before they manifest as a food security crisis, there is an urgent need for evidence that depicts the practical challenges the COVID-19 crisis poses to food systems. To support such efforts, EEFS conducted a remote survey of agricultural enterprises operating across East and Southern Africa, including in the grain and oilseed systems of Uganda, the poultry system of Ethiopia, the meat and dairy systems of Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, and agri-input systems of East and Southern Africa. The four installments include anecdotal evidence from firms to provide an understanding of how changes in the enabling environment have affected these food subsystems:
- COVID-19 Challenges to Grain and Oilseed Systems in Uganda — Two of Uganda’s largest grain and oilseed companies describe how the economic slowdown and subsequent liquidity constraints are impacting the grain and oilseed market systems. The firms also note how limited access to inputs, such as seed and agrochemicals, could disrupt smallholder yields this season.
- The Poultry Market System in Ethiopia: Challenges from COVID-19 — In this post, 16 poultry enterprises operating in Ethiopia describe how reduced end-market demand, domestic logistical barriers, and limited access to foreign exchange have impacted all stages of the market system. Given the outsized role the poultry market system has on economic growth and nutrition outcomes, this is a major area of concern for policymakers in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
- COVID-19 Impacts on Meat and Dairy Systems in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia — Private sector meat and dairy firms in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia note three main shifts in the business enabling environment: liquidity challenges, supply chain disruptions, and reduced access to foreign exchange. As animal source foods are key sources of protein and micronutrients, these enabling environment challenges are central to food and nutrition security.
- COVID-19 Impacts on Agri-Input Systems in East and Southern Africa — Farm equipment suppliers, seed providers, and diversified input suppliers describe how import constraints, reduced demand from producers, and limited outreach to customers and outgrowers have disrupted the timely and reliable delivery of inputs for agricultural production. The case of agri-input systems illustrates how the COVID-19 crisis may present delayed impacts to food security, as smallholder production systems are experiencing knock-on effects from these enabling environment challenges that could negatively affect their productivity, household income, and availability/access to nutritional foods.
Many impacts cited throughout the series bring immediate and obvious challenges to food security, such as reduced liquidity and labor shortages, while others have yet to manifest, such as the productivity losses from limited access to inputs. The series presents USAID, implementing partners, and policymakers with early stage observations to inform interventions that address both the immediate and upcoming challenges to the enabling environment for food security. As this crisis evolves, it will continue to be necessary to conduct comprehensive analyses that provide decision-makers with the empirical evidence to craft appropriately targeted and timed interventions.
The Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security (EEFS) project is a pre-competed Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) for USAID Missions and Operating Units to access evidence-based analysis of how legal/regulatory and institutional factors influence agricultural market system performance, food security, and nutritional outcomes. For further information on how USAID can access EEFS expertise, please contact the Chief of Party, [email protected].