Impact of COVID-19 on smallholder farmers – insights from India

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02 June, 2020


WBCSD insights



Deepa Maggo

  • Long food supply chains involving multiple stakeholders and entities are clearly vulnerable to shocks such as the pandemic. Mapping and optimizing supply chains will be key for future resilience.
  • Building a resilient food system is not about production, but also about ensuring access to nutritious food to people in times of crisis.   
  • Smallholder farmers are highly vulnerable to crisis as a result of their limited access to resources, credit and basic healthcare facilities. Measures will need to be taken by governments and businesses to protect the community.

Some of the issues highlighted above need urgent attention since they have medium to long term implications on India’s food system. Also, the effects could add up to impact the global food system although it seems for now that the global food system is coping well with the crisis through swapping sources and rerouting supplies.

The threat of the coronavirus for India is far from over, but the leaders realize the need for the economy to start functioning. Yet, it is now understood that business-as-usual is a thing of the past.

As we build the “new normal”, we will need to be innovative in our thinking, and ensure that our efforts to rebuild are sensitive to the needs and circumstances of smallholder farmers. In this way we can protect and support the resilience of the local food supply, while also taking steps to ensure future systemic shocks can be handled quickly and effectively.