The Impact of COVID-19 to the rural agricultural sector : A case of Northern Uganda.

The outbreak of the novel corona virus has led to massive loss of lives and slowed down economic growth in many countries. The International Monetary Fund projects global growth to slow down by 0.5% for 2020 (IMF, 2020). Even though African countries have acted fast to contain the spread of the pandemic, delaying the course of the virus, uncertainty about how the pandemic progresses still looms (Kartik, J et al, 2020). For example, In Uganda, the president declared a two week national lock down on the 30th of March in an attempt to contain the virus, this lock down was further extended on the 14th of April 2020 by three more weeks due to increasing cases in the country and neighboring countries.

Although the impact of the pandemic is being talked about globally on so many international communication platforms mostly from national and urban centric perspectives, not much has been spoken about its impact on the rural agricultural sectors which constitute large parts of many national economies and overall consumption across product categories regionally and internationally, for example, reduction in income of the rural farmers leading to vulnerable segments of the rural communities to fall below the poverty line due to disruption in food distribution and the general agricultural supply-chain and a decline on the demand curve as restaurants have been ordered to shut down. This has caused sizeable revenue loss to many farmers of Northern Uganda especially in the districts of Apac, Kole Oyam and Lira.

Increase in poverty levels is one of the main causes of domestic and gender based violence in most rural communities of Northern Uganda according to gender analysis carried out in selected Northern districts by Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) and under the ERIGNU project with support from @WOTRO. There is more likely to be an increment in domestic and gender based violence in many rural communities which will negatively impact on the food production among the rural dwellers. This will lead to loss of food in the communities leading to so many domestic and community sufferings.

Empty shelves can be frightening but empty fields and barns would be devastating “ Zippy Duval – AFBF president.

With the negative impact caused by COVID-19 expected to sky rocket among the rural communities and increment in poverty levels expected in many rural households, the agricultural sectors of many countries is definitely going to be affected which will also negatively impact on the economies of many nations regionally and internationally. Using a multi-stakeholder approach in engaging rural communities and the use of digital technologies is one of the ways that will yield significant positive outcomes in the rural agricultural sector if embraced by many Governments.


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