Since few recent months, India like many other countries has been feeling the brunt of the contagious Corona virus or also known as Covid-19 which is certainly having far reaching effects on the Economy as a whole and specifically threatening the Agriculture Sector. Having the 2nd largest produce in terms of volumes in the world, India is grappling with dwindling time and subsequent actions to adequately counteract the threat.

As delicate as the Agri sector is currently in, the effects of the pandemic is putting more strain on the fledgling state. With more and more shutdowns being erected, the demand of the goods has drastically reduced coupled with loss in revenues for the sellers and the producers alike. Farmers in the wake of unsold produces will have to eventually render them as wastes or rather sell in market at very low prices, affecting the rural income in a big way. Moreover, news of increased attacks by pests and parasites will inevitably be more stressful to garner whatever little hopes the farmers harbored for even a meagre income from the same.

Yet, the news hasn’t been solely occupying the negative ends. With India being a major importer of Chinese agricultural products such as Cotton, Meat, edible oils etc., a definitive boost towards the exports are in favorable sights in the near future. Government is also mulling over the same for reaching its target of 2.2% of exports in the Global Agricultural Exports Markets. Measures like incentives and subsidies (with more in the pipeline) are already been or being announced. While the domestic demands dwindle, the International market is now up for grabs and hopes to offset some of the losses that have been incurred so far.

Talking in the view of Supply Chains Systems (constituted by Farmers, Food Processing Industries, Wholesalers etc.), the effect has been multi-fold in comparison to others. Curbs on Transportation of goods and commodities from one place to another have played spoilsport to the profitability and sustenance of many smaller firms operating under this highly competitive sector. Raw materials for Food Processing Industries which are filled up by the produces from farmlands are facing woes, with retailers and shopkeepers having a hard time of stocking up adequately to face the current oppressive situation.

Produce auction at Mandis with numerous people coming in close contact

Nevertheless, the systems are managed and operated through Physical Human Interaction. Use of Cash payments, Verbal upfront negotiations of deals and services etc. put the individuals in a much greater danger. COVID-19 being very contagious and easily transmitted via physical contact renders the above scenario of the System to be unfit for easy deployment. This clearly highlights some of the critical pain points of the lack of distinct hygiene and sanitation present that forces us to deliberately observe social distancing and avoid interaction. Moreover, with many parts in the Supply Chain being stuck due to no proper preventive measure for ensuring flow and efficiency, lack of awareness and bitter planning, the ultimate bearers, the people, are deeply marred with the problems. Examples being soar in prices of procurement and transportation, irregular forecasting of supply and demand etc.

So, technically, decreased domestic demand and disruption to supply chain are estimated to continue for the coming days and even months depending upon the severity of the impacts of COVID-19. Even though Government is in the process of announcing Relief budget and Schemes, the problems have already trickled down to the core which exposes the fragility and the negligence on the part of systems and firms to specifically prepare for a sustainable strategy of functioning during such crisis.

Whatever respites with increased window for exports seem hopeful will not be in any way a safe haven for the worse. Time is therefore a big enemy and the best way to tackle is through maintaining flow of operations by observing stringent standards of safety/control and financial/demand assistance through measures that aim to curb the gaping critical pain points swiftly and accurately.