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52. New Coronavirus Pandemic and Food Supply Chain in Africa

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Researchers at Michigan State University (Thomas Reardon & Saweda Liverpool-Tasie), who have made many achievements in research on African development research, especially in the fields of agriculture and food problems, have been confirmed by the novel coronavirus infectious disease (COVID-19) and the food supply chain in Africa. 

The authors enumerated the following 4 crucial facts and 1 implication from the facts, to orient policy discussion about COVID-19 and food supply chains (FSCs) in Africa.

Fact 1:  FSCs are extremely important to African consumers. An average of 80% of the food consumed in Africa is purchased through FSCs, leaving only 20% on subsistence. The breakdown is as follows: 60% from urban consumers; 40% from rural households with half grown and half purchased; and 60% + 20% therefore accounts for the proportion of food consumed at national level.

Fact 2:  FSCs are mainly composed of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) handling about 85% of the food supply. There are millions of SMEs in Africa's total SCS co-existing with supermarkets, processors and fast-food chains and account for 15-20% of the African food economy.

Fact 3:  Domestic FSCs supply accounts for 80-90% of the African food market and imports 10-20%. Therefore, imports are important, but the domestic FSC sector has the largest share and should be policy-focused.

Fact 4:  FSCs play an important role in urban and rural employment in Africa. Estimates based on data from several African countries show that when converted to full-time employment, 40% of rural households are self-employed, 5% are in farm-wage labor, 20% are post-farmgate FSC employment, and 35% are in non-farm employment. In the urban sector, 25% of non-farming FSC employment and 65% of other non-farming employment were estimated to be full-time employment equivalent.

Implication: These four facts suggest that 65% of Africa's food is circulated through SMEs and, in the process, creates many jobs and supports people's lives in Africa. In maintaining food access, it is important that the SMEs sector continue to function both as suppliers and employers and should be focused on a realistic context for Africa's FSCs support policies and strategies during the COVID-19 crisis. 

The researchers recommended a dual strategy for governments, namely, (1) continue to take public-health actions to stop COVID-19 spread and to communicate these actions to your citizens, and (2) help keep agrifood SMEs operating including wholesalers, logistics firms especially truckers, street food stalls, small food shops, and wet-market stalls.The second recommendation include specific actions to help keep the SMEs alive and delivering and processing food and employing people.



Michigan State University. Thomas Reardon & Saweda Liverpool-Tasie - May 18, 2020 CRUCIAL FACTS FOR FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN POLICIES IN COVID-19 CRISIS Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics Food Security Group  


Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Research Strategy Office)

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