Agriculture After the Pandemic..

Martin Ravallion in Proj Synd piece say we could have a famine:

This is not solely the familiar, cruel, trade-off between economic welfare and personal health that many poor people face. It is also a trade-off between two aspects of health: illness due to the virus, and hunger and poor nutrition resulting from economic isolation and disruption to markets and institutions, including private social protection.

While the case for a sensible degree of social distancing to combat COVID-19 in developing countries is strong, the case for a lockdown is not. Lockdowns pose new threats, and could even turn the pandemic response into a famine in some poor places. I do not say this lightly; I believe it is a looming threat. Both research and experience demonstrate how famines can result from the sort of institutional and market breakdowns implied by a strict lockdown. We saw this recently in the wake of the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, where starvation soon emerged as a new threat.

Famine among poor and vulnerable people can result from multiple causes, as Amartya Sen demonstrated in his book Poverty and Famines. Sen cited examples in which there was no decline in the total amount of food available. The problem was its distribution among people and over time. And here, markets and other institutions play a crucial role. Lockdowns can disrupt the production and distribution of food, alongside a collapse in poor people’s earnings and higher food prices. We are learning that today’s food supply chains have vulnerabilities, even in rich countries. And even if famine is averted, spells of poor nutrition can have lasting consequences, including higher vulnerability to other illnesses.

Another piece by Wandile Sihlobo says we could see more automation in agri:

After suffering severe labor shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems unlikely that advanced-economy farmers will return to business as usual. Instead, many will probably attempt to mitigate the risks stemming from dependence on foreign seasonal workers by automating more of their operations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: