The outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is raising a lot of concerns and questions in the minds of people all over the world. The pandemic, which is now a global challenge, poses a threat not just to human health but also to a wide range of businesses as well as likely causing a significant downturn in the general economy.
Amongst other things, the coronavirus pandemic is also an unprecedented shock to our food systems and some agri-food start-ups, as this could either threaten their existence or unlock new opportunities for innovation and growth.
The agriculture and agri-food sector plays a critical role in distributing safe, high-quality food to the populace, and maintaining the integrity of the agri-food supply chain during an emergency is essential.
As a farmer, it is important to be well informed on the COVID-19 disease in order to protect ourselves and others from being infected and also keep our business by following the right measures in our farming operations.
Just like the flu or cold, the human coronaviruses spread from human to human through; The air by coughing or sneezing; Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands; Touching an object or surface with the virus on it.
Human survival is dependant on agriculture and a good harvest depends on good seeds and other farm inputs reaching farmers in time, as well as the delivery of farm items to the respective processing and retail outlets.
To further prepare your business, here are some things to consider:
Markets and farm prices
As a result of the recommended practices of social distancing, reduced travel, avoiding crowds, closures, and other protective practices to slow the spread of COVID-19, most consumers will be making tough choices about food and overall spending. This may affect food service consumption and sales which may in turn affect certain kinds of foods more disproportionately than the rest. This will likely have an impact on markets and prices.
Supply chains breakdown/slowdown
As part of efforts proceed to slow the spread of the virus, multiple connected industries are already being impacted by logistics disruption.
Some issues may result with farm product delivery and pickup as workers stay home due to illness or dependencies. Slowdowns could also impact processors, fertilizer, fuel and other input movement and availability.
Due to the changing nature of the business environment, and in the event that some workers take ill, there may be reduced input and increased levels of absenteeism which will lead to lesser output.
Disruptions to Rural Communities
This may be difficult for some rural residents as high-speed internet service is not available in some areas and connections to cities may be more difficult due to disruptions in transport and logistics.
Steps to Take
Take reasonable precautions to limit the spread of the disease and its influence on your businesses and lives. Reasonable purchases of necessary inputs might minimize disruptions to your business.
Please keep informed, listen to the experts, and follow the recommendations of federal, state, and local agencies and authorities.
Follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.