FFTC Journal of Agricultural Policy

FFTC Journal of Agricultural Policy

Agri-Food Systems under and beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 – Impact on the Pork Sector in Germany

The adaptation of slaughtering and meat cutting processes to the COVID-19 risk situation resulted in an estimated capacity reduction of 15% compared to the pre-coronavirus period. As a consequence, a bottleneck effect occurred in the pig meat value chain. Reducing imports of live animals and increasing exports could decrease, but not eliminate the resulting surplus of live pigs. At the end of 2020, the number of pigs waiting to be slaughtered was estimated at approximately one million and due to this surplus German standard quality pig prices dropped by roughly 12%. Moreover, farmers faced price cuts as a result of pigs being overweight, additional feeding costs from pigs remaining on farms, and foregone profits because stables could not be used for further production. The COVID-19 effects were accompanied by the outbreak of African swine fever in Germany and subsequent export restrictions. This led to an additional price cut of 13% and aggravated the situation of German producers of fattened pigs and piglets. A short-term adjustment of production quantities to prices has not been possible, as present supply is determined by the sow insemination a year ago. As a result, it will take until mid-late 2021 before low prices lead to lower supply. In the first quarter of 2021, the situation on the German slaughter pig market relaxed. Average prices for fattened pigs, slaughter-weight as well as piglet prices approached the long-term average again. To reduce the impact of future crises on the meat sector, it is necessary to develop contingency plans that take into account the high interdependency among the individual stages of the value chain.

Keywords: COVID-19, Slaughterhouse Sector, Pork Value Chain.

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COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Japan’s Food Industry

Japan’s food industry relies on foreigners in two ways. First, foreign tourists’ demands for Japanese foods have been increasing. Second, Japan’s new policy for accepting foreign workers is mitigating the labor shortage in the food industry. However, COVID-19 caused a suspension of cross-border movements and made the international community more aware of the possible emergence of new viruses. Thus, restrictions on cross-border movements will continue even after the eradication of COVID-19. Therefore, Japan’s food industry must find a new strategy for stimulating food demands and mitigating labor shortage.

Keywords: inbound tourism, labor shortage, Tokyo Olympic Games, technical intern trainee, specified skilled worker, disguised student

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COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Socio-Economic Status, Agriculture, Livelihood, Food Security and Nutrition: Case of Myanmar

The COVID-19 novel coronavirus spread around the world since December 2019. The first official case in Myanmar was reported on March 23rd, 2020 where the first set of containment measures was introduced. In Myanmar, COVID-19 infection rate was low at the 1st wave but at the 2nd wave, confirmed cases increased in the months of August, September and October, 2020 while the 3rd wave came recently on June 2021 where infection rate is at first low, however, it became more serious on July 2021 compared to the previous one. Nowadays, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an unprecedented challenge to the Government of Myanmar and populations across the country. Myanmar’s agricultural GDP growth forecast for FY2020/21 will be downward to -1.8%. The spread of the COVID-19 is placing huge pressure on health systems but it is also having social and economic impacts on across all sectors including food and agriculture. The Government of Myanmar released the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) on April 28, 2020 to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic which includes monetary reform, increased government spending and strengthening of the health sector. It has 7 goals, 10 strategies, and 36 action plans and 78 actions. Among the action plans in CERP, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI) had to take responsibilities in implementing the support for farmers, seed producers, agri-processors and owners of agri-businesses. In the crop production sector, the likely disruption of input supplies for the planting season may lead to seasonal and long-term food shortages and income losses, compromising purchasing power and access to healthy diets. Wage decreases and livelihood loss could deepen poverty, push households to resort to negative coping strategies, and compromise their resilience to any further shocks such as floods and droughts. Given the importance of nutrition security, a sustainable food systems approach is also advocated especially with a focus on climate resilient sustainable agriculture practices that ensure food security of the small farmers. Measures like crop diversification and efficient nutrition management are some of the interventions in this respect. There is a need for building resilience of supply chains by increasing food production capacity, strengthening food reserves in the country, as well as improving national food logistics systems. There is also a need to emphasize sound policies and programs that focus on resilient food systems and nutrition-sensitive food diversification. Promoting sustainable and resilient food systems approaches will deliver food security and nutrition while building resilience to shocks and maintaining the economic, social and environmental basis to generate food security and nutrition which are important for rural and urban poor in the country.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, food security, nutrition, poverty, livelihood, agriculture

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Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on Smallholder Farmers and Vulnerable Rural People in Viet Nam

This paper aims to provide empirical evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agriculture and rural development in Viet Nam, with a focus on smallholder farmers and vulnerable rural people. Using contextual analysis, the paper, which based on a quick survey of 12 provinces in the country, provides a panorama of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on agriculture and rural development. Findings of the quick survey on the pandemic impacts on rural households’ livelihoods, including agricultural and non-agricultural production activities are followed by identifying priority areas for government policy intervention to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic. Findings of the survey show a wide range decrease in the income of rural households in Viet Nam since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, in which non-farming income dropped the most, households in border provinces and poor households were affected more severely. Declining incomes and reverse migrant workers have raised concerns on food and nutrition security for the dependents, and social security network in rural areas. Under the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak, surveyed small farmers and rural households mostly adheres to self-relient measures to cope with negative effects of the pandemic such as reducing spending and using savings rather than other measures like availing of agricultural insurance and social insurance. Nevertheless, the surveyed households were quite optimistic about the future. The households that were planning to increase their production scale outnumbered those who were planning to reduce their production scale, and many rural households planned to have more off-farm jobs in the post COVID-19 time. The research also reveals trends of switching agricultural input suppliers due to input prices increases and interrupted input supplies, diversifying agricultural product consumption channels, and digitalizing agricultural production to cope with pandemic quarantine and hygiene measures. For more pandemic resilient livelihoods, most of respondents are expected to receive government support in forms of financial provisions, preferential loans, tax breaks and exemptions, job creation, agricultural input materials, export market opening, vocational training, and favorable conditions for their production and business.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture, rural development, small farmers, vulnerable, livelihoods, Viet Nam.

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Agricultural and Food Sector in U.S. and E.U. under COVID-19: Market Prospects and Policy Implications

The COVID-19 pandemic shakes nearly all industries and sectors across the globe. The very reason that the agricultural and food sector is recognized as the essential business also make it comparatively vulnerable to the strike of the pandemic that requires limited movement regulation and stringent social distancing measure to contain the spread of virus. This paper attempts to provide a bird’s-eye view of the trends and evolution in the agriculture and food market as well as the impacted stakeholders along the supply chain under the pandemic in the United States and the European Union. Focus industries include dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables, and wine. We present various policy responses and implementations across these two continents on the same page in this article, parallel with the fluctuations in the marketplace, which aim to help correct or adjust both the short-run and structural issues facing producers, distributors, retailers, and consumers. Retrieved from publicly available datasets, trends of price and imports for fruit and vegetable markets in United States are summarized while wine price patterns are sorted for selected EU member countries. We find that most policies or programs are not crop-specific but rather focus on certain industry, use holistic approach to enhance whole-farm wellbeing, and add flexibility to existing programs to ease the economic pressure facing producers and food businesses. We expect to bring in further discussions and reflections on the market dynamics and shed light on both developed and under-developed effective strategies used to revive and sustain the agri-food sector.

Keyword: COVID-19, agricultural production, supply chain, meat, produce, wine, policy response  

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ASEAN Measures against the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic in Relation to the Agri-Food Sector and its Cooperation with Taiwan, India and CJK

This paper reviews Taiwan’s New South Bound Policy. The main analysis outlines the areas, particularly in agriculture, in which Taiwan can strengthen its partnership with ASEAN countries and India. It is a review paper that carries out interpretive work on prevailing measures and initiatives and contextualizes them in a regional perspective with selected examples that does not pretend to be comprehensive. The paper concludes with a discussion on other potential areas of collaboration related to smart cities. It would be helpful for understanding the potential importance for Taiwan’s partnership with ASEAN and possibly other Asian countries, including China, India, Japan, and South Korea. Taiwan’s New Southbound policy intends to intensify the partnership between Taiwan and ASEAN/India in the field of agriculture to help New Southbound Policy countries to meet their (and global) growing demand for foodstuffs and food cooperation and to export precision Agriculture 4.0 technologies to ASEAN countries under the New Southbound Policy. The outcome of such agricultural outreaches is Taiwan’s augmented collaboration with New Southbound Policy countries in the fields of agriculture, fisheries aquaculture, green technology, climate change, and others. They include Vietnam and the Philippines in Southeast Asia that can benefit from Taiwanese knowhow and advanced technologies in this field. The objective is to integrate into the global economy with wealthier consumers and business community enthusiastic to consume the high-quality Taiwanese products/services.

Keywords: Taiwan, ASEAN, agriculture, COVID-19, coronavirus, food

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COVID-19 and the New Normal Food Consumption in Thailand

The food industry significantly contributed to the industrial GDP of Thailand with a strong backward linkage to the agricultural sector, the foundation of Thai economy. In general, Thai households have spent 33.9% of total expenditures on foods and beverages. Previously, Thai consumers focused on emotional value over than functional value since preferences and tastes became the major factors affecting their decisions to consume food products, rather than cleanliness and nutrition. The COVID-19 pandemic had not only brought a serious effect on the lives and livelihoods of people, but also the food consumption of the Thai people. During the spread of COVID-19 pandemic since January 2020, it was found that consumer behaviors were starting to shape the so-called “New Normal” lifestyles. The crisis, however, affected many consumers to change their behavior and their new experiences as shift to fundamental health and caring economy. It is essential to consider key behavior going through the prolonged recovery period; health conscious, digitalization, sanitization, balancing of home and duty and personalized food supply that would become the “New Normal” for Thais affecting food consumptions. As Thai consumers put their cautiousness about health and self-immunity, higher digital engagement, online purchasing and hygienic practices, the food industry needs to observe closely in order to be well-prepared for any changes to meet the needs of consumers. This research aims to review the data of the food industry in Thailand, food consumption amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the “New normal” lifestyle of food consumption and key challenges for the food businesses is presented.

Keywords: Coronavirus, Thai food industry, food consumption, new normal, key challenges

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Measures Proposed by the Agriculture and Food Agency of Taiwan to Revitalize the Flower Industry during the Pandemic

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a severe, highly infectious form of pneumonia that has spread worldwide, changing lifestyles and dietary habits. This, in turn, has affected the agricultural sales and transport, including those involving Taiwanese agricultural products. This study summarized how Taiwan’s agricultural and horticultural products have been influenced by the pandemic. It also examined the revitalization policies adopted by Taiwan’s Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) for the flower industry in response to such changes. In addition, this study explored the agricultural arrangements that can be feasibly adopted in the face of the extreme economic distress caused by the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19, Flower Industry, Taiwan’s Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA)

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Production and Consumption in Germany - A Preliminary Assessment

The COVID-19 virus met Germany, like the rest of Europe relatively unprepared. With the rising number of infections, the government implemented a first round of lockdown starting from mid-March up to mid-May 2020. A second round of lockdown lasting from early November 2020 up to the end of May 2021 followed. Just shops selling food stuff could stay open, while all shops providing “non-essential” goods and services had to be closed. Schools and kindergartens had to be closed as well and most people were advised to work from home. The government adopted a large number of financial support measures to keep companies going. Overall, the economy witnessed a steep decline, particularly during the second quarter, but it is gradually recovering since then. There had been a few incidences of COVID-19 outbreaks on farms, but these were restricted to fruit and vegetables farms which are highly dependent on seasonal labor. Actually, farmers registered an improvement of their image among the general public. Consumers had to change their way of life. Most of them faced empty shelves in supermarkets for the first time in their lives. Home cooking and home baking became more popular. Over time, it became evident that the demand for organic products, regional products, vegetarian and vegan products, and premium segments of the various products increased. While the restaurants and canteens were the main losers of COVID-19, the food retail industry can be identified as the big winner. Online shopping got a big boost, but it is still a niche market channel. For the time being, a slightly optimistic mood prevails.

Keywords: COVID-19, agricultural production, food processing, food retail systems, consumer attitudes, role of farmers

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Policy Response to COVID-19 Pandemic in Indonesia

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has been declared as a global pandemic with high number of cases and deaths in numerous countries. Indonesia has recorded as high case fatality rate of 8.03% which needs to be prevented through appropriate policy response, particularly the Presidential Regulation Number 21/2020 on Large-scale Social Restrictions. This policy is implemented since the COVID-19 has an impact on human life socially and economically including the agricultural sector. The government of Indonesia has issued some control measure policy responses including economic stimulus packages towards preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, the effectiveness of policy depends upon the length of its implementation which should remain in place and the sustainability and consistency commitments of all stakeholders in the country. In the long-term, a strategy to develop a much more resilient economic and agricultural sector is called for.

Keywords: COVID-19, policy response, social restrictions, economic prevention, agriculture

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Thriving Accelerators for Smart Agriculture in Taiwan during COVID-19 Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic era, the behaviors and patterns of agricultural production have changed enormously. Labor shortages and supply chain disruption caused trouble to agricultural operations. Furthermore, how the tasks of smart agriculture affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is of concern. For example, the fragility of food supply chain has increased, thus leading each country to re-emphasize food security and strive to increase domestic food production. In order to solve labor shortages, more automation technologies will be introduced into the production system. The business model of "remote behavior" and "home economy" has emerged. Also, the traditional offline businesses will gradually be replaced by novel online ones. Consumers began to pay attention to local and healthy foods, and were expecting more on food safety and traceability. Each country continues to promote policies on increasing the adoption of smart technology in the agricultural industry. According to the trends and issues of post-pandemic era, smart technologies might be appropriate solutions for transforming agricultural industry. Agriculture in Taiwan is small-scale farming, especially traditional labor-based farming. If production management and trade of produce can be supplemented by low-cost and labor-saving machinery, auxiliary equipment and sensing components, together with the introduction of advanced technologies such as ICT, IoT, Big Data, and Block Chain, the goals of reducing the burden of farming and labor demand, providing farmers with a more efficient farming management model, and alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could be realized. Hence, the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) committed to create advanced technologies and solutions to assist agricultural transformation. Now experts in smart agriculture have already had some preliminary results. Smart technologies for remote monitoring and introduction of automation and robots can solve labor shortage, such as disinfection drones and automatic grass pushing and delivering robot. The adoption of innovative digital technology for remote consultation and diagnosis can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Using artificial intelligence to develop agricultural digital twins is helpful for developing smarter post-pandemic agriculture. The protected agriculture technology for urban agriculture and greenhouse vertical farming can increase food supply. New food traceability systems using smart technology, such as "Agricultural Food Calendar" system and "i-PLANT" agricultural farm management system can strengthen food safety control and improve consumer confidence. In summary, the pandemic is undoubtedly an unexpected catalyst for accelerating the intellectualization and digitalization of agriculture. In the years to come, there will be a vision for experts of all fields to work together to turn the crisis into a turning point for upgrading agriculture.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, post-pandemic era, smart agriculture, smart technology, labor shortage, food security

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Impact of COVID-19 on Food Consumption and Dietary Behavior in South Korea

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 in South Korea has significantly raised the perceived risk of people about the new epidemic. Consumers’ perceived risks made them reluctant to make face-to-face contact, changing their food consumption behavior. Knowing the changes in the food industry caused by COVID-19 can help plan mid- to long-term measures in the future. In this regard, we examined how consumers’ tendency to avoid face-to-face contact changed their food consumption behaviors, and impacted on food-related industries. Our study shows that offline food consumption is expected to decrease overall while online food consumption is expected to increase. However, some offline channels such as convenience stores and marts nearby residences, the number of visitors would increase. The study also shows that eating out consumption would decrease while delivery and takeout consumption would increase. Consumers' reluctance to face-to-face contact seems to have influenced food consumption behaviors in most domains, but delivery and takeout consumption does not. Contrary to common beliefs, delivery and takeout consumption behavior rather seems to be affected by other factors.

Keywords : COVID-19, food consumption behavior, restaurant, delivery, take-out, online, retail, supermarkets

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