The Coronavirus pandemic contributes to existing problems, smallholder coffee farmer families are already facing, and poses a serious threat to household development plans, food security, business and income. This is a key finding from a survey, conducted by Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) to find out how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the livelihoods of smallholder families. Available for download.

The survey was conducted in the current HRNS project regions Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Indonesia, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras. “Results show that long-term impacts due to COVID-19 for coming crop-cycles and families’ cash flow must be expected” and emphasizes the “necessity of investing into improving the livelihood situation of smallholder farmers”, says Tobias Voigt, HRNS M&E Coordinator.

COVID-19 is exacerbating existing economic and climate related problems, exaggerating their effects. While prices of coffee remain the biggest challenge for smallholder families, COVID-19 is coming on top of challenges like living costs and weather patterns. As a conclusion, 64% fear that prices in the markets will get worse as a result of COVID-19 followed by concerns about health and availability of labor.

The Coronavirus pandemic is hitting smallholder families already now. 71% of the interviewed families indicate that they already see a negative impact on household income. In Uganda 98% of households report such a negative development followed by Indonesia and Ethiopia.

HRNS is mostly worried about the long-term effects on smallholder farming. 47% of farming families already needed to change farm management plans because of COVID-19. Biggest impact in management activities is reported on access to farm workers (64%), access to inputs (62%) and access to savings (46%). On the side of agricultural activities, impact is biggest on fertilization (51%), pruning of trees (37%), use of agrochemicals (33%) and planting or rejuvenation (26%).

Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) expects that the number of families that need to change farm management plans due to COVID-19 is most likely to continue to rise as the survey was taken in an early stage of the pandemic.

“Farmers mainly reduce agricultural activities that work to stabilize and increase productivity in the medium and long term and that strengthens plants to withstand pests and diseases,” analysis Voigt. “These further decreases revenue and increases risks in an already difficult market environment.”

HRNS calls for more investments to secure the livelihood situation of smallholder coffee farmer families. Increased income diversification and building resilience against external shocks should be strengthened as core topics in project work.

The situation triggered by the Coronavirus pandemic for smallholder families in coffee regions needs an urgent response. Upcoming crop cycles will be affected as much as families’ cashflow and food security. The effects of climate change might be felt stronger as mitigation measures cannot be implemented due to higher input prices under COVID-19. Farmers face higher production costs at a prospect of lower revenues.

Download the full info flyer about the COVID-19 impact survey.

Methodology: 380 interviews in seven countries via phone from June 2 to June 12, 2020

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