Lockdowns, shutdowns and other protection measures induced by the COVID-19-pandemic have disrupted the upstream (input supply and production), midstream (processing, marketing, and logistics), and downstream (retail and consumption) segments of the rice value chain. This has affected the lives and livelihoods of over four billion people including millions of rice value chain actors in Asia. This policy brief 'Impact of COVID-19 on the Rice Value Chain in Asia', uses a conceptual framework, anecdotal evidences, and a multitude of pertinent information sources, to describe how COVID-19 is affecting the rice value chain and ultimately, food and nutrition security in Asia.
The major drivers disrupting the rice value chain are, restrictions on mobility, transport and trade, labor shortage, reduced access to agricultural services, limited access to input and output markets, constrained financial flow, declining income and food demand, and new government policies in place to tackle the emerging challenges. A resultant after affect, the rural-urban disconnect, thus finds farmers unable to sell produce, leading to increased price differences between producers and consumers, decreased income and cash flows, and hampered businesses in the rice value chain.
Such disruptions in the rice value chain are likely to lead to negative impacts on multiple SDGs, and in particular on SDG 1 (poverty), SDG 2 (hunger), and SDG 3 (health and well-being) while interestingly, the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and air quality may emerge as largely positive. This suggests existing important trade-offs in terms of development outcomes.
As COVID-19 impacts all segments of the rice value chain, a ‘system approach’ is needed to mitigate the impacts of the crisis. The key recommendations, thus include minimizing supply chain disruptions, ensuring access to input and output markets, providing access to agricultural services, keeping trade open, providing financial support to affected actors, promoting digital services, expanding social safety nets, and investing in rice research.