Road to Recovery
The COVID 19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable value chain operations can be, with severe impacts on food production and trade worldwide. Restriction on movement is hindering farmers with farms in other state locations from accessing their farms or procuring inputs such as seeds and farm implements. Obstructing food distribution, which could result in post-harvest losses, reduced market supply and further increase food prices. It has revealed very clearly the weaknesses in modern agri-based value chains. The Nigerian agricultural value chains are no exception, and to better understand the extent of the impact of the restrictions related to the pandemic on all four supported value chains, a survey on different actors across all value chains was conducted.
The Green Innovation Centre – Nigeria via a survey identified impacts on market access for farm produce, access to inputs (e.g. fertilizers, seeds, raw materials) and transportation to and from the farm – in addition to the illegal road taxation of food delivery trucks by road officers and difficulty in maintaining and paying staff due to a disruption in cash flow as among the key challenges disrupting the value chain, especially in the cassava, rice, maize, and potato value chains. These challenges hit young SMEs the most as they lack the capacity to cope with the huge market disruption.
Despite these challenges, SMEs are diversifying their business offerings, adopting agile methods to enable them to sustain production. Small-scale rice processors are now diversifying into buying paddy, processing, and selling rather than only processing for customers. Marketing agricultural products via online platforms and exploring neighborhood markets, in addition to growing short-duration crops is offering a great opportunity for local producers in the value chains to cope with the pandemic.