IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON FOOD PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION IN RWANDA
J. Kazungu ; JMV.Mutimura ; J. Munanura ; A. Munezero ; R. Gasore
The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on food production and consumption as well as the mitigation measures in Rwanda. The study was conducted from March 2020 to December 2021. The study has indicated that due to COVID-19, farmers had an overall limited access to inputs including the high cost of chemical fertilizers and seeds. The study indicates that changes in price due to the limited market access, logistical problems related to transportation and border restrictions which led to lower supplies, access, and consumption. The findings also indicate that increased food insecurity in rural areas raises questions about the resilience of farmers in the face of COVID-19, especially as government support has only targeted urban areas. To overcome these challenges, the Government of Rwanda established some measures in response to COVID-19, including distributing food such as rice, maize, and beans to 211,000 vulnerable households in areas under lockdown. The paper recommends introducing new agriculture technologies for farmers with high potential to increase productivity ; stimulate collective action for actors in agriculture including collective purchase of inputs and overcome to crisis during any pandemic. The paper indicates that there are a couple of challenges in the post-harvest and storage of agriculture products specifically for the horticulture supply chain. These include among others high costs of inputs for Smallholder farmers, high post-harvest losses as well as low quality for local produce leading to low incentives in terms of local market prices and risk of rejection of a big portion of the volume supplied. The study indicates that there are still low private investments in building and maintenance of post-harvest infrastructure and services and inefficient supply chains of food production. There is a need to invest in improving aggregation systems by attracting professional aggregators in the high production sites, invest in proper conditioning facilities at the proximity of the farms to minimise transport costs but also keep the quality standards of produce after harvest, and invest in new farming technologies for smallholder farmers with high potential of market demand (if they have a guaranteed market with attractive prices). The findings of this study indicate that National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) and MINAGRI would further perform if the local aggregation for horticulture products is in place at the proximity of the farms with proper conditioning facilities to reduce postharvest losses. There is need to support actors in the importing of foods by facilitating them to access regional export trade opportunities and by establishing the cross-border markets. Partners in food production and consumption should also invest in capacity-building of farmers by providing technical expertise, knowledge, and capacity innovation on food production and consumption in Rwanda.
Key words : Covid-19, food production, consumption, Rwanda