Food Security Initiative: The current state of affairs in the world
The world is in lockdown, which puts pressure on sustaining food security. To emphasize on the importance of sustaining food security, Maastricht school of Management (MSM) started the Food Security Initiative. Project partners from all over the world joined forces to map food security in different regions, countries and agricultural fields. This, to learn from each other and sustain food security.
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Wine making under heavy pressure
South Africa is well known for its great wines, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the wine industry is in dire straits. Lockdown state 5 caused road closures and restriction of movement of people, which made it difficult for wine farmers to export wine or transport the grapes. However, this does not just count for wine farmers, also maize and vegetable- and other farmers are facing difficulties. Due to the restrictions, farmers were unable to send or sell any produce out of the province and could only sell their produce at local markets if open.
Since 1 May 2020, lockdown level 5 decreased to lockdown level 4, meaning some sectors including the agricultural sector, that farming activities are allowed again in order to sustain food security. Because of these allowed activities, local teams can start to harvest crops, nevertheless, farmers relying on migrant workers still face difficulties. The other problem that arises is that people are still in lockdown, meaning selling directly to customers is problematic and many people do currently not have any income to buy the farmers’ products.
How Covid-19 started disrupting food security in Jordan
In the week of 20 March, when Jordan as many other countries went in Lockdown farmers straight away felt the impact. Due to road closures, raw materials and agricultural supplies were not able to be delivered to the farmers and permanent and seasonal workers who did not live on the farms were not able to come. The lockdown also meant that just harvested vegetables could not be sold at the central markets due to closure (in several regions), which led to a financial loss. However, this did lead to an increase in direct selling to customers. Furthermore, to not waste the fresh harvest, some farmers were able to store their vegetables in freezers and sell upon request. But, as the vegetables did not come fresh from the land, this meant that the yield was lower.
Meanwhile in Jordan
Now in the beginning of May, lockdown rules are loosening in Jordan. Roads are partially or fully open, meaning free passage for raw materials and products needed on the farms. Besides staff living on the farm, permanent workers and 50% of seasonal workers can now work via exit permits and production capacity goes up. However, selling produce is still difficult in particular in the Jordan Valley area as not all roads are open, which leads to traffic jams and long queues for the central market. This sometimes means farmers have to wait for hours and have to return home without having sold their produce.
The case for rural families and agricultural produce
In rural Colombia, many families depend on selling fresh produce to provide their household with sufficient income. Despite the restrictions of movement and closure of roads, the government has placed special attention on guaranteeing the flow of food products. This means that rural families can continue working and no food shortages should occur. Still, some communities have placed their own restrictions, out of fear of contracting the virus, and some agricultural goods face difficulties in their commercialization. At the same time, intermediaries are taking advantage of the situation and are paying farmers less for their deliveries.
To ensure households can buy essential products, a system has been implemented whereby people can leave the house, on the days corresponding to the last digits on their identity card. Where they buy their food varies from region to region. Some marketplaces have had to close due to the discovery of the virus, meaning that most food is sold through supermarkets and corner shops. The farmers selling at these markets are affected economically, and great amounts of food have been wasted since they could not be sold. The opposite is happening in the Cauca region: an initiative from the departmental government (“Del Cauca a su mesa” – “From Cauca to your table”) has opened commercial channels for those farmers who were unable to sell their products through their traditional channels.
A special thank you to our project partners ESAP, ARN, Holland House, and PBA in Colombia, Al Shoubak University College, Jordan Valley College and Al Huson University College in Jordan and Elsenburg Agricultural College, Vhembe TVET College, Boland TVET College, NCRTVET College and Nkangala TVET College in South Africa for providing us with their view and experience on the current situation.