COVID-19 pandemic impact negatively on farming activities in the North East Region
Posted on July 13, 2020
The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is severely affecting farming activities in the North East Region as most farmers are not able to access adequate farm inputs and labourers.
Due to the pandemic, labourers who have been working on farms have withdrawn their services for fear of contracting the virus, while prices of some farm inputs have also shot up in the wake of the pandemic, compelling the farmers to reduce their farm sizes.
The region is best described as the food basket of the country as it produces large quantity of food for the country. However, the impact of the pandemic could negatively influence crop yields leading to farmers producing below the already lower yields.
Though, the COVID-19 has impacted nations all across the globe, experts believe the effects may be felt harder in Africa. Labour shortages and price fluctuations, combined with stringent government measures restricting movement and trade, are likely to have significant impacts on food security across the continent.
According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause recession for sub-Saharan Africa in 25 years, 7 percent decline in agricultural production and 25 percent decline in food imports.
A visit to the region revealed that most farmers who, hitherto, relied on labourers to work on their farms have cut down the number of acres of their farms this crop season as they are unable to access labourers, whereas the high prices of farm inputs remained a major challenge to others.
A farmer at Langbinsi in the East Mamprusi Municipality, Mr Yakubu Apouri who has been farming large acres of variety of crops lamented that “because of the outbreak of the virus I don’t get people to work on my farm for me because everyone is afraid of going to work on farms”.
“I cultivate on a large scale so every season I always hire many labourers in my town and neighboring towns to work on my farms, but this time round I am not getting them so I have reduced my farm size because I can’t do the work myself” he added.
Another farmer at Duu in the West Mamprusi Municipality, Mr Osman Medjida said he has been cultivating 10 acres of maize every season but this season he has reduced the farm size to 4 acres due to his inability to access farm inputs.
The farmers, therefore, called on the government to support them with adequate farm inputs as well as ready market to alleviate their plight.
Though some African countries have closed borders remaining inter-dependent on trade, farming activities have been badly affected because smallholder farmers find it difficult to access markets.
An Agribusiness Specialist, Dr Awal Abdul-Rahaman observed that the economic slowdowns and disruptions in the food value chains caused by the pandemic could exacerbate hunger and food insecurity in the country if urgent measures are not taken by the government to address the situation.
“Most of the farmers are now trying to sell the produce they had last season to farm this season but there is no ready market, prices of farm inputs have also gone high so currently the farmers are struggling to cope with the situation” he said.
He stressed the need for the government to as a matter of urgency give a special focus to the agriculture sector in the post-COVID-19 recovery era and come out with initiatives that would alleviate the plight of the farmers.
By Mohammed Fugu