5 Lessons Farmers Can Learn From the Pandemic: COVID-19
Just over a month since the first case of coronavirus was announced in Kenya, the country’s economy has taken hits from a majority of sectors. Agriculture has not been spared as farmers and agricultural traders across regions continue to record losses.
With the uncertainity of how long the pandemic will last, farmers continue to sort ways they can use to survive the pandemic. With the pandemic exposing the shortcomings of Kenya’s food system, here are five take aways farmers can learn thus far.
- The Internet is a Business Tool
Coronavirus will eventually go. However, the position a farmer secures right now, will give them a cutting edge in the near future. Farmers who make themselves visible and build discoverability through Email marketing, blogs, Facebook and WhatsApp groups in communities, stand a chance to experience a surge in sales as well as attain potential loyalty in customers as thousands stay at home and work remotely.
Additionally, farmers who have averted the use of online platforms are now embracing it; as is now required for business survival.
- Use of Telephone Farming as an Alternate Method of Operations
Inspite of the surge in online purchasing, farmers, suppliers and consumers who do not have internet ready phones and lack tech savvy skills can still conduct businesses through telephone farming. This approach will see farmers connect with their existing customers and even get referrals during this period, and even result to an increase of their network.
- Better Post-harvest Management
The food sector has disproportionately been impacted following the pandemic with farmers and traders having to discard large portions of their harvest. As a result, farmers who had invested in storage facilities are now partnering with restaurants by converting sections to grocery stores for walk in customers to stay afloat.
However, farmers can learn from this unique situation and consider working with factories that convert perishable foods and fruits into dried products as a means of long shelf-life preservation method, and still earn profits.
- Adoption of Agricultural Value Chains
Inspite of the challenges that cloud value chain strategies in agriculture, farmers can take advantage of this period by creating enabling environments for themselves, especially small and medium sized farmers. This can be achieved by forming farming communities that will reduce the blow back of losses and properly integrate and upgrade their position in the value chain.
It will also cushion farmers from challenges of finance, poor infrastructure, access to technology, markets, trainings and subsidized inputs.
- Better Preparation for Disasters
Farmers can not pause farm activities. Therefore, creating an emergency farm plan is important to better manage a situation and minimize the threat. Unlike disasters like pests, diseases, fire or natural calamities, coronavirus has disrupted the economy at large.
For this reason, a farmer should consider taking a farm inventory, train employees on quick and efficient ways to respond and conduct operations, invest in equipment and allocate designated pick up points at the farm to reduce exposure of the disease.