Ministry Striving to Manage COVID-19 Induced Food Supply Chain Disruptions

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ENA May 23/2020  Ministry of Agriculture has been undertaking mitigation and adaptation measures to cope with food supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The ministry revealed that agricultural productivity in 2020/21 harvest season could fall by 8 percent.  

Agriculture State Minister, Sani Redi told ENA that the agricultural sector would be affected by COVID-19 induced movement restrictions and logistic services such as the supply of  agricultural inputs like fertilizer and improved seeds.

Recalling the 379 million quintals harvested in 2019/20 crop season in the country, he said  the annual yield could fall by eight percent unless corrective measures are taken quickly.

“Our agricultural activities need exhaustive labor force at all levels. Therefore, there could be reduction of availability and delay of timely distributions of agricultural inputs, shortage of labor, disruption of existing social collaboration among smallholding farmers because of the restrictions in place,” Sani elaborated.

Therefore, the nation has been undertaking measures to fill the gap by strengthening agricultural mechanization and creating awareness among extension workers and farmers, he added.

According to him, the ministry has prepared 1.7 million hectare additional land for cultivation  across the country as part of the mitigation measure.

The cultivation of the additional land will help curb he food insecurity and withstand the  global food supply chain disruption, the state minister said, adding that Ethiopia imports 20 million quintals  of agricultural crops annually.

Sani pointed out that “there would be a COVID-19 related worst scenario around the world, which mainly threatens agriculture and food security of least developed countries. Here in Ethiopia, we have a better agricultural ecology by far, and we are striving hard to fill the gap.”

The state minister noted that COVID-19 is a good opportunity for the country as it could  supply agricultural products to the Middle East, which is a leading agricultural products importing region.

“The region is dependent on external source for food, and countries are reducing exports due to the pandemic, meaning we can penetrate the market, particularly the livestock market, if we exploit our  agricultural potential fully,” Sani explained.  

Finally, he called on all stakeholder to support farmers this crop season to maximize productivity.