COVID-19 AND AGRICULTURE IN UGANDA

Introduction 

  • The agriculture sector is the bedrock of the Ugandan economy

It is the main source of livelihood for 70% of the population (76% rural; poverty prevalence is far higher in rural areas [27%] than in urban [9%])

Agriculture provides > 50% exports earnings (excl. gold) and is a source of raw materials for industries: agro-processing accounts for 60% of manufacturing.

Covid-19 has hit most production sectors in Uganda, agriculture being one of them. Many activities have been shut down which has caused low income among people in a range of different communities, leaving the flow of trade to become stagnant.  

Agriculture is therefore of fundamental importance to any discussion concerning the impact of the pandemic on the Ugandan economy.

 Impact of covid-19 on agriculture in Uganda

  • Staple foods prices: slight spike March-April 2020, followed by stable/slight decline through to August 2020. Maize prices rose rapidly in the early weeks of COVID lock-down (mid-March/end-April: UShs 1,129 to UShs 1,458/kg (30%…but, within normal range): combination of panic buying speculation, this made it hard for the disadvantaged communities to access food which contributed significantly on poor feeding in many communities.
  • Large increases in rural poverty numbers projected: 1.7 million rural dwellers moving into poverty (22% to 28%; urban proportionately harder hit: 2% to 20% in Kampala). Disproportionate impact on children & women.
  • Significant loss of formal sector jobs/incomes/remittances will continue to impact negatively to the domestic demand for food, and prices.
  • International/regional demand prospects for agricultural commodities remain unclear.

Food and nutrition security implication 

  • Consumers are opting for less food and cheaper, less nutrient-rich food items as incomes decline; hence increasing disease vulnerability.
  • Schools’ closure has negatively impacted nutritional status of pupils from vulnerable households. Since these homes cannot avoid eating food while observing a balanced diet. 
  • Childhood malnutrition and nutrition related mortality caused by decline in consumption levels (income reduction) and rising disease burden.  
  • Informal cross-border traders (80% + are women): source of income dried-up completely which will be impacting nutrition of families.

Impact on agriculture (input stockists & processors)

  • Reduction in turnover and sales (>30%): seeds, fertilizers, vet drugs. Families were finding hard time to earn a living and, most of agricultural activities were put on a stand still since farmers lacked funds to support them.
  • Liquidity issues (both farmers and processors): cash flow interrupted
  • Loan recovery and savings rates negatively impacted. 
  • Significant reduction in demand for processed foods/beverages

Implication and policy recommendation 

Focus and spend resources on its core functions in a consistent, logical and prioritized manner

  • Certification/regulation
  • Pest & disease control; 
  • planning/monitoring/evaluation (data); 
  • Research: need to urgently understand and address reasons behind persistently-low crop & livestock productivity (Avoid distractions and avoid allocating resources in areas more-effectively served by the private sector: inputs’ distribution, mechanization services’ provision, etc.

Youth link networks on Agriculture in Uganda 

  • Through farm and crunch project, Youth Link Networks is supporting beneficiaries to access seeds for planting. In the same vein, beneficiaries are being offered with good forming knowledge to ensure good yields. 
  • The Youth Link members are also working with different service providers with much knowledge in proving agricultural support to beneficiaries. Youth Link members mobilise beneficiaries to gather at central places and they are being facilitated with agricultural knowledge.
  • Nutrition education service are also being offered to beneficiaries, the team of Youth Link Networks is supporting beneficiaries to establish back yard gardens where highly nutritious foods and vegetables are grown. Furthermore through coordinating with health facilities, nutritionist are tasked to deliver nutrition education to beneficiaries.
  • Most people in Uganda think that eating meat without the accompaniment of vegetables is the most prosperous and nutritious way to live. Fruit and vegetables are considered to be for less advantaged households with low-income status. Therefore, our team together with para social workers are sensitizing the community about the benefits of eating a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables. In this case, beneficiaries are supported with start up back yard gardens to grow vegetables and other crops with short gestation period.    
  • Beneficiaries have also been supported to form saving groups, these are termed as village saving and loans associations, they are managed by trained facilitators and has clear documentation to track every group member’s records. Members are encouraged to save and take loans to start small income generating activities for a living. 

Covid-19 has created a negative impact on the economy of the country through striking the agriculture sector. However through the Farm and Crunch project Delivered by Youth Link Networks is fighting hard to support beneficiaries resume their agricultural activities to earn a living and change their standards of living.

Youth Link Networks is intending to support 1000 households by 2024 with planting materials under Farm and Crunch with the aim of rejuvenating agriculture in the eastern part of Uganda where we are currently operating.       

Youth link networks

Changing lives

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