Impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on vegetable value chains in Ethiopia

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Measures to contain COVID-19 are expected to have significant effects on food value chains—but with important differences between commodities. Horticultural products are expected to be especially vulnerable because of their seasonal labor requirements and high perishability. In a recent survey, Seneshaw Tamru, Kalle Hirvonen, and Bart Minten tried to assess immediate effects on the vegetable value chain in Ethiopia. Their findings suggest that urban consumption of fruits and vegetables is declining, that trade is affected by travel bans and reduced competition, and that farmers face lower prices and reduced access to inputs.—Johan Swinnen, series co-editor and IFPRI Director General.

On March 13, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ethiopia. Three days later, the government closed schools, banned all public gatherings and sporting activities, and recommended social distancing. Other measures to contain the spread of the virus soon followed. Travelers from abroad were put into a 14-day mandatory quarantine, bars were closed until further notice, and travel through land borders was prohibited. Several regional governments banned all public transportation and imposed restrictions on other vehicle movement between cities and rural areas.

While these actions are expected to slow the spread of the disease, they are likely to have substantial effects on food value chains, and thus on the livelihoods of farmers and other workers, and on consumption.

This blog post is part of a special series of analyses on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on national and global food and nutrition security, poverty, and development. The blog series is edited by IFPRI director general Johan Swinnen and A4NH director John McDermott. See the full series here.

Photo credit: Andy Johnstone

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