The COVID-19 epidemic has claimed thousands of lives throughout the world and poses an unprecedented threat to public health, food systems, and occupational safety.
The economic and social implications of this pandemic are devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, and the number of undernourished people, which is now projected to be approximately 690 million, might climb to 132 million by the end of the year 2022.
The outbreak has impacted the whole food supply chain, revealing its vulnerability.
Due to border closures, trade restrictions, and confinement measures, farmers and farm labourers were unable to access markets, including obtaining inputs and selling their wares, disrupting domestic and The pandemic has wiped away jobs and placed the lives of millions of people in threat.
When daily labours lose their jobs, become ill or die, millions of women and men’s food security and nutrition are jeopardized, in low-income nations.
The most vulnerable populations, such as small-scale farmers and indigenous peoples, face the brunt of the effects.
Issues and problems
Despite feeding the world, millions of agricultural labourers, both salaried and self-employed, face high levels of working poverty, starvation, and poor health, as well as a lack of safety and labour protection, as well as various types of abuse.
Because of their low and inconsistent pay, as well as a lack of social aid, many of them are forced to continue working, often in dangerous conditions, endangering themselves and their families.
Individuals may also turn to negative coping tactics such as asset distress sales, predatory lending, or child labour when faced with a shortage of money.
Migrant agricultural labourers are particularly susceptible due to risks in their transit, working, and housing arrangements, as well as a lack of government-sponsored help.
By ensuring the safety and health of all agri-food workers, from primary producers to those involved in food processing, transportation and retail, including street food vendors, as well as better wages and protection, it will be critical to save lives and protect public health, people’s livelihoods and food security.
During the COVID-19 crisis, food security, public health, employment and labour concerns, notably worker health and safety, all collide.
The human dimension of the problem will need the implementation of workplace safety and health measures, as well as the provision of decent employment and the protection of labour rights across all industries.
Expanding social protection to include universal health care and financial help for the most disadvantaged should be among the first and most targeted actions taken to save lives and livelihoods.
Now is the time for global solidarity and support, especially for the most vulnerable people of our society, particularly in developing and emerging economies.
Only by working together will we be able to combat the pandemic’s related health, social and economic repercussions and prevent it from growing into a long-term humanitarian and food security crisis, potentially wiping out already achieved development goals.
We must recognize this opportunity to rebuild better, as indicated by the UN Secretary. We’re committed to using our expertise and experience to help countries establish disaster response strategies and meet Sustainable Development Goals.
We need to develop long-term, sustainable plans to address the challenges facing the health and agri-food businesses.
Prioritize tackling underlying food security and malnutrition concerns, addressing rural poverty, notably through more and better jobs in the rural economy, extending social protection to all, promoting safe migration routes, and encouraging the formalisation of the informal sector.
To combat climate change and environmental degradation, we must reinvent the future of our environment and act rapidly.
The pandemic’s impact on Income & Employment
When questioned about their work position, the results backed up the previous findings. During the first round of the lockdown, 13% of families reported losing their employment.
In Round 2, this ratio dropped to 3%, with 10% of families reporting that they had resumed employment. Because of the lack of income, most families had to find new methods to make ends meet.
Many families said that government assistance helped them stay afloat. Households indicated that they were obliged to borrow money from friends and relatives or informal money lenders due to unpredictable situations.
To control expenditures, they repurposed existing loans from self-help groups, banks and microfinance institutions.
People also reported having pleasant encounters with landlords or money lenders who agreed to postpone or waive rent and interest payments during the lockdown.
Consequences for Migrations
The COVID-19 pandemic has a wide range of consequences for migrants who rely on daily salaries to make ends meet and maintain their families.
Typically, these migrants work as wage labourers in a variety of businesses. Because these industries were shut down as a result of the lockdown, migrants were left without money, making it impossible for them to pay for food or rent.
The Government of India (GOI) has not issued any rules requiring these firms to provide housing or food to their workers.