Multi-level impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on agricultural systems in India: The case of Uttar Pradesh

Pavan Kumar, S. S. Singh, A. K. Pandey, Ram Kumar Singh, Prashant Kumar Srivastava, Manoj Kumar, Shantanu Kumar Dubey, Uma Sah, Rajiv Nandan, Susheel Kumar Singh, Priyanshi Agrawal, Akanksha Kushwaha, Meenu Rani, Jayanta Kumar Biswas, Martin Drews*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

When on March 24, 2020 the Government of India ordered a complete lockdown of the country as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had serious unwanted implications for farmers and the supply chains for agricultural produce. This was magnified by the fact that, as typically in developing countries, India's economy is strongly based on farming, industrialization of its agricultural systems being only modest. This paper reports on the various consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown for farming systems in India, including the economy, taking into account the associated emergency responses of state and national governments. Combining quantitative and qualitative sources of information with a focus on the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, including expert elicitation and a survey of farmers, the paper identifies and analyzes the different factors that contributed to the severe disruption of farming systems and the agricultural sector as a whole following the lockdown. Among other issues, our study finds that the lack of migrant labor in some regions and a surplus of workers in others greatly affected the April harvest, leading to a decline in agricultural wages in some communities and an increase in others, as well as to critical losses of produce. Moreover, the partial closure of rural markets and procurement options, combined with the insufficient supply of products, led to shortages of food supplies and dramatically increased prices, which particularly affected urban dwellers and the poor. We argue that the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis could fuel the development of new sustainable agro-policies and decision-making in response not only to future pandemics but also to the sustainable development of agricultural systems in India and in developing countries in general.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103027
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume187
Number of pages10
ISSN0308-521X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • India
  • Asia
  • Lockdown
  • Farmers
  • Economy

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