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New report shows the impact of COVID-19 on food systems in India

25 January 2021
IDinsight shares a landscape review of evidence on how COVID-19 influenced food and agriculture systems in India

Photo by Pratik Nivangune on Unsplash

Impact of COVID-19 on Food Systems: Where to Next - 5 MB

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January 25, New Delhi, India: IDinsight shares a new report synthesizing the evidence gathered from May 2020 through September 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on food systems across the country. It draws from primary data collection efforts from IDinsight and other organizations as well as relevant research reports. The report is available for download here..

COVID-19 and associated lockdowns have affected the entire Indian economy with historic drops in GDP. The impact of COVID-19 on India’s food systems are of particular concern given that over 42 percent of the workforce are employed by these systems.

The report is broken down by impacts on relevant stakeholders within Indian food systems to understand how COVID-19’s pernicious effects have been felt across the wide-range of interrelated actors.

At the aggregate level prices of foods being sold through mandis were heavily impacted (based on data available through the AgMarket database). Prices for food products sold at state-regulated agricultural markets (mandis) fell on average to levels lower than those observed in 2018 and 2019, after the initial spike in the month following the lockdown. Perishable food products observed larger price drops than other food products.

COVID-19 has had an outsized, negative impact on many smallholder farmers whose income significantly declined.  This was in part driven by lower prices for agricultural products being sold combined with higher input costs incurred by farmers at the time of sowing. Furthermore, COVID-19 has created challenges surrounding transportation and storage of products. These challenges have disproportionately affected smallholder farmers of perishable food products (such as livestock and dairy farmers) who do not have access to their own cold-storage and transport infrastructure.

Marginalized and vulnerable individuals including women, lower-caste groups, Adivasis and Muslims have been disproportionately, negatively impacted by the pandemic. The impact of job losses and food insecurity was higher for Muslims, Dalits, women and those with lower levels of education.

The report goes on to highlight opportunities for further investigation including deeper analysis into issues surrounding women and vulnerable populations, livestock and dairy farming and farmer producer organizations (FPOs).

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