Impact Of Lockdown/COVID-19 On Food And Agricultural Industry In India- Ritu Gupta, Birsa Agricultural University

As we all know that lockdown was started in India due the increasing spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Its impact on the economy is no doubt devastating. No sector has escaped its impact. Its impact on the agriculture sector is complex and varied across diverse segments that form the agricultural value change.

Due to the lockdown farm economy is facing a severe hit in transportation thereby stagnating the harvest. Further during the time of peak harvest, the produce could not reach mandis, thus disrupting the supply chain. Also, the unavailability of migrant labourers, intercepted the harvest and post harvest operations. The pandemic has also given rise to various challenges in procurement operations as well.

Apart from this the livestock industry is also facing several problems. The sale of dairy products such as milk, egg etc is also facing several problems because of various operational restrictions. The cost which was 6 rupees has now became only 2 rupees. The cost of poultry has become 6 rupees. These all things have happened due to the decreasing demand of poultry and eggs due to myths such as corona virus can spread from poultry to humans.

India has also experienced a rise for long shelf items, with demand for rice, wheat and pulses increasing by 100%. This has caused significant price fluctuations as the need for perishable items including vegetables and fruits have fallen by 20%.

The pandemic has also affected the cultivators and related professionals. They lost their income and some face the wrath of unemployment. Accordingly, small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, SMEs dependent on raw materials from agriculture and so on experience extreme challenges. Therefore the government is striving to provide alternative revenue until the economy falls back into its place.

Following measures have been proposed by the home ministry to assist the agriculture sector. They are as follows:

  1. The supply chain will resume as usual while employing social distancing. This is exclusively for milk, milk products, poultry, tea, rubber plantations etc.
  2. The centre allows normal functioning of agriculture, health services and industries in rural areas.
  3. Some of the main functional activities are cultivation, horticulture, agro-procurement, mandis, repair shops, farm machinery, and custom hiring centres.
  4. MSP operations will be functional including the food grain procurement.
  5. MNREGA projects will resume while also abiding the rules of lockdown and social distancing.
  6. PM Kisan Scheme action, PM-Cares, RBI relief measures, borrowers moratorium, and so on are a few measures to safeguard the farmers and other vulnerable sections.
  7. The Indian Finance Minister also declared an INR1.7 trillion package, mostly to protect the vulnerable sections (including farmers) from any adverse impacts of the pandemic. The announcement among a slew benefits, contained advance release of INR 2000 to bank accounts of farmers as income support under PM-KISAN Scheme.
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Some other recommended exemptions to ensure a smooth flow of economy during lockdown will act as an exit plan to lockdown. However, this will act as an exit strategy only if states across India reports fewer or no COVID -19 cases in the coming days. Subsequently, the states performing well will slowly return to normalcy. Meanwhile, the rest will have to follow stern rules that will block the relaxations as well.

  1. Pharmaceuticals, medical devices and infrastructural units and their production unit will be operational.
  2. Marine and inland fishery activities will resume working as it employs millions of people.
  3. The urban company, however SMEs in a rural area will be exceptional with stringent guidelines.
  4. Export and trade are on verge of falling back to the usual momentum while keeping in mind to avoid the contaminant spread.

Using an online solution for lessening the impacts of COVID-19 can overcome the limit of regional barriers and be an alternative connection service for suppliers and buyers to interact and conduct trade. Yet, there is still uncertainty and mistrust when it comes to online market places but the methodologies to check the validity of a company have evolved. For instance, people can check the track records with BL data, apply search statistics with Google Maps and obtain validation from a local expert.

While their various market places that could be used, it’s important to ensure  that the platform is specific to the food and agricultural sector, offers global information and connections, and validates the companies of both buyers and sellers.

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With the pandemic, the needs of buyers and suppliers to diversify their products or sourcing countries have emerged significantly, especially in the food and agricultural industry. With online platforms such as Tridge available to help create these opportunities, except to see an increase of users utilising these online market places for the long term, instead of relying on brokers and tradeshows to build their connections and facilitate trade.

The livestock, agriculture and food sector have been affected by COVID-19 pandemic. The farmers suffered a lot due to this pandemic. The farmers were not able to transport their produce to mandis. The cost of livestock and vegetarian foods also decreased affecting the Indian economy. as 85% of India’s economy depend on agriculture the government took many steps to protect the Indian economy. The government allowed functioning of repair shops, mandis, farm machinery and offered relief packages and providing facilities to become normal as before.

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