The Effects of COVID-19 induced pandemic on the production, trade, and income of smallholder vegetable growers in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest national health crisis in the Nepal's modern history, which has devastating impacts on the economy and the agricultural sector. To curtail the virus spread, the Government of Nepal announced a lockdown starting from 24 April 2020, encouraging producers, traders, processors, and consumers in the value chain to implement stay-at-home order and public health protocols, including social distancing, which impaired the overall food demand and supply systems of Kathmandu valley. This study assessed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the production and distribution of vegetables in the Kathmandu valley. We made a scenario-based situation analysis of pre-COVID (Jan to March 2020) and COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown (April to June 2020) situations. The study used a descriptive research design and employed multistage sampling techniques. One hundred forty-five vegetable growers were surveyed. Six focus group discussions were carried out between May to July 2020 in the three municipalities (Kathmandu- Chandragiri municipality; Lalitpur-Mahalaxmi municipality;Bhaktapur- Changunarayan municipality) of Kathmandu valley. The study showed that the lockdown to contain the spread of the virus had disrupted the entire vegetable value chains and food systems. Empirical data showed that the income of smallholders' vegetable growers was decreased by 66.1 percent due to an increase in input price (16.9 percent), a decrease in output price (62.67 percent), and low farm productivity (9.3 percent) in comparison with the average income during the pre-COVID situation. This paper has figured out the impact pathways that caused the income decline of vegetable growers. The primary constraints to smallholder producers were the absence of local aggregators followed by transportation barriers, limited market opening hours, and mobility obstruction and changed consumers' behavior due to lockdown. Majority of the farmers adjusted to the situations by selling their products in the regular wholesale and local markets at lower prices, free distribution to the local inhabitants, on-farm sale at a lesser price, and composting and dumping the surpluses.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Nirmal Gadal, Basanta Neupane, Rudra B. Shrestha, Susan Baniya
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