How to Transform Food and Agriculture Systems in a Post COVID-19 India
COVID-19 pandemic situation has messed up the food and agriculture systems all over the world. Also, global concerns on nutritional quality and health aspects (especially immunization in the body) have been increased.
When we look at India’s scenario, we couldn’t see any immediate disruption in food systems. It was mainly due to several reasons including the presence of buffer stock of grains, surplus harvest from the previous season.
But with the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, stored food quantities are diminishing. So for the future, we have to have a proper plan to ensure our food availability.
The most concerning problem during this time is that not having access to proper healthy and nutritious foods? People were trying to find more and more healthy and nutritious foods to boost their immunity in the body. Do we have enough healthy and nutritious foods available to cope up with this situation? Let’s find a way to tackle this problem.
Improvement of value chains
The agriculture/food production value chain includes input application, field production, processing, marketing, and consumption. In each stage, a value is added. Due to high transaction costs, smallholders and small-scale farmers have unable to access this value chain. So it is a need to reduce the transaction cost and make farmers allow accessing the value chain.
Also, the focus should be increased on high-value products such as dairy products, vegetables, and fruits, and processed products. These processing facilities should be provided to the primary production level. That means, to farm field levels. They are the ones that should start processing without just selling raw products. Small scale farmers can obtain much higher income from processed products than raw products. Processed products are also can store for a longer period than fresh products. Agriculture fresh products are highly perishable. Therefore, processed products are more sustainable in this COVID-19 condition.
Rebuild policies and investments
Existing agriculture policies should be re-ordained and make changes considering the requirement of the pandemic situation and the future.
Lack of credit support is one of the biggest constraints for smallholders for diversifying and value-adding their products. So institutes that give financial supports can take the responsibility and provide credit facilities for smallholders and small scale farmers especially. Higher-level investors can invest their money in the agriculture and food sectors. Especially for animal husbandry hence it has gained a higher interest these days. Backyard gardens and home animal husbandry are should be getting more attention because they are really sustainable in this COVID-19 pandemic.
Change the food consumption pattern
With the busy lifestyles, we didn’t have time to think about our health at all. We got used to eating fast foods that don’t improve our health and they didn’t contain enough nutrients. So due to that, we are suffering from so many health issues by now. At least from now onwards, we need to think about more nutritional and healthy foods that help to rescue us from diseases by improving our immune system. Organic foods, microgreens, sprouts, etc. are some new concept that gives healthy and nutritional foods. Delivery mechanisms are also should be promoted.
This is a highly talked about topic in not only the agriculture sector but in most sectors. There is a higher percentage of women who are living as household wives after their marriage. So there is a high possibility to encourage them to start small-scale cultivations, animal rearing, and food processing businesses in their home and backyards. This will be really sustainable in the post-COVID-19 era because most large-scale productions have disrupted by this pandemic. With this women empowerment, household income going to be increased and food security will be ensured.
Improve the research and development sector
Post COVID-19 era will be a great influence on the research and development sector in India. To cater to the large population, food production has to be increased furthermore. So researches have to be conducted to produce high-yielding varieties. After this pandemic, people will much consider the nutritional value of foods that they are consuming. Therefore, researchers should focus on producing fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products that are high in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidant properties. Also, people are more concerned about anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, etc. properties in their food. So it will be another research area in the post-COVID-19 era.
Digitalization of the agriculture and food sector will be a need in the future. With digitalization, we can go for clean and fast production. Sanitation and health aspects will get the highest priority in the post-COVID-19 era. So digitalization and technology-based food production will have great potential in future.
Although COVID-19 caused so many troubles to our health as well as the economy, it has shown us weaknesses of our food and agriculture systems. So we need to figure out them correctly at the correct stage and make the most appropriate changes with this new knowledge. A sustainable and nutritious food system should.