Impacts of COVID-19 on Agri-Food Value Chains in the Global South

Ngawang, Lakey & Orkhan Sariyev


This paper reviewed the impact of COVID-19 on the agri-food value chains in the Global South. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected the food value chain, one of the most critical of activities in an economy. The pandemic resulted in restrictive food trade policies, a curb on the movement of labourers, and increased financial pressure on food value chains, thereby, worsening the food security status in the Global South. Countries imposed trade restrictions to secure food for their domestic consumers. Small-scale firms and poor workers in the import-driven countries bore the major brunt. Food production and distribution networks were put to test, and labour markets shrunk with the OECD estimating a loss of over 500 million full-time jobs as well as an overall projected contraction in the economy by 4.9% in 2020. Bhutan, an import-driven country is no exception. However, most government and media reports hailed Bhutan’s success in containing the pandemic through its strategic planning and effective implementation. The Health Ministry’s statistics show a minimum number of COVID-19 confirmed cases (2,641) and a high recovery rate (99.39%) with a death rate of merely 0.11%. Due to the lack of robust empirical research, the impact on the agri-food value chain is ambiguous. Overall, considering the impact of COVID-19 in the Global South countries there is a need for a more resilient and responsive agri-food value chain to combat hunger and malnutrition.

Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic; Food Value Chain; Food Security; Global South; Lockdown

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