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MITIGATING THE IMPACTS OF COVID 19 ON LIVESTOCK SECTOR


In the present context Dr. Amit from ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute gave a complete view on how COVID 19 pandemic affected livestock sector in India and even discussed the initiatives being implemented in other countries to combat the loss incurred due to lockdown to certain extent. Steps taken by Government of India are also mentioned which are for sure a helping hand in crisis like this to livestock farmers.


INTRODUCTION


COVID-19 brought an unprecedented emergency and grave societal threat. Protecting public health is a priority. However, it is a necessity to look into problems faced by key sectors that contribute food security and livelihoods. Attempts should be made to mitigate the negative impacts of this pandemic. The livestock sector plays a crucial role in these areas, especially for the world’s most vulnerable populations, like the one living below the poverty line.The effects of COVID-19 on the livestock sector are still largely unquantified and yet to be fully felt. (FAO, 2020)

We don’t have any concrete data or any formal assessments, still, from the trends & current observations, COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the livestock value chains, plunged the most vulnerable society into an unprecedented crisis. When we analyze past epidemics, it indicates these difficult situations are likely to grow & will bring grave socioeconomic consequences. Fortunately, actions can be taken to protect this sector and its activities, services, and products upon which the world relies.

INDIAN LIVESTOCK SECTOR


In recent decades, Indian peasants shifted from pure agriculture to livestock based mixed & diversified farming, it can be better understood by looking at the share of the livestock sector in total GVA of India, analyzed in table no.1. The share of livestock sector have increased from 4.00% in 2011-12 to 4.90% in 2017-18. It also shows that the share of livestock sector in total agricultural GVA increased from 22% in 2012-13 to 28.4% in 2017-18. (Basic Animal Husbandry Statistics 2018-19, DAHD, GoI)


Table No.1: GVA at current price

Table No.2, shows that at current prices, the value of livestock products produced in the year 2016-17 was Rs 9,17,910 crores (CSO). Milk & milk products share a major chunk of value created by livestock sector, it's around 67% of total Livestock value during year 2016-17. Followed by meat group comprise of beef, mutton, pork, hide & skin, which is around 21.18%. About 102 million agricultural households (70% of the total) derive supplementary income from livestock, and 22 million agricultural workers are engaged primarily in rearing some species of livestock. (Employment and unemployment survey of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), 68th round, MOSPI, New Delhi)


Table No.2: Value of Output from Livestock Sector (At current prices in Rs Crores)



IMPACTS

1. ANIMAL PRODUCTION :


1.1 Reduced access to animal feeds :

Due to pandemic whole livestock value chain was disrupted, specially restriction on transportations leads to reduced raw material & feed availability in the market. Shortage of feed means animals & poultry are likely to starve to death.

In Argentina – the world’s biggest soymeal exporter – restrictions have reduced soy supply to feed factories by half, which could affect global trade flows. (FAO, 2020)

The INR 350 billion worth feed industry is facing an unprecedented crisis due to restrictions on logistics imposed under the lockdown. The price of primary livestock feed raw materials like soyabean has gone up by nearly 10-15% during April. (Economic Times, 9 March, 2020)

Margins in poultry industries are expected to decline sharply during 2020-21 financial year due to increase prices of key ingredients- Maize & Soymeal- coupled with inability of players to fully recover these price rises from end customers. (ICAR, 2020)


1.2 Reduced access to inputs and services :

Movement restrictions and disruption of national and international trade routes is curbing farmer access to breeding materials and replacement stock, Along with this The disruption of public services (e.g. food safety inspection and animal health extension services), combined with interrupted delivery and use of vaccines and medicines is increasing the likelihood of new epidemics. (FAO, 2020)

Over 13,033 pigs died in nine district of Assam due to African swine fever. (Animal Husbandry, Veterinary & Agriculture Minister Assam, Business Insider, May 11, 2020)

1.3 Reduced access to markets :

Closure of live animal markets in many countries means small-scale producers cannot sell their goods. The disruption of the logistical channel and drop in demand are reducing sales and lowering prices. (FAO, 2020)

Disruptions of income from small ruminants or poultry are hitting women hardest, by reducing their purchases of household essentials and nutrition. (FAO, 2020)


2. PROCESSING :


2.1 Reduced processing capacity :

Staff reductions due to lockdown measures are constraining meat and dairy processing industries, given their labour-intensive nature. (FAO, 2020)

Most of the Agricultural labourers come from eastern part of UP, Bihar, MP & Jharkhand, who are now forced to move back due to COVID 19. This impacted handling of produce from farms. (APEDA, Ministry of Commerce and Industry)

2.2 Compromised storage and conservation :

Transport disruptions and changes in retailing and consumption habits are forcing some collectors and processors to stock up. Yearly end inventory in dairy sector could rise 14% after dropping sharply in March 2020. (CRISIL Report, 2020)


2.3 Constrained informal businesses :

Much of meat and dairy processing in developing countries is informal (i.e. up to 90 percent of volume). COVID-19 prevention and response disrupts these businesses. This disruption removes an outlet for small-scale producers, who often lack the capacity to sell to formal markets. (FAO, 2020)


3. TRANSPORT :


3.1 Constrained national transport :

Movement restrictions are compromising transport, which is reducing the supply of livestock and livestock products.

3.2 Constrained international transport :

Trade restrictions impact countries exporting livestock products as well as farmers whose incomes depend on exports. India is the second largest bovine meat exporter worldwide, with an annual exports of buffalo meat worth US$ 3,610 million. The exporters have been severely affected, with no fresh orders from key markets for import of buffalo meat. During April 2020, there has been about 56% reduction in export of livestock products. (Anjani Kumar, Chandra Sekhara Rao, and Raka Saxena; International Food Policy Research Institute, South Asia)


4. SALES & CONSUMPTION :


Livestock products are an important component of diet and its share in food expenditure has been continuously increasing. As per the latest consumption survey, these products, on an average, account for about 34% of the food expenditure in India. (Consumption Expenditure Survey of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), 68th round, MOSPI, New Delhi)


4.1 Change in the consumer behaviour :

Due to some fake news circulated in social media there is change in the consumption behaviour of consumers & they distance themselves from meat eating.

Rumours originated from china: Outbreak of corona virus pandemic, 18,000 chickens were culled in the Hunan province of China further to a H5N1 Asian avian influenza outbreak in the province. (ICAR, 2020)

Due to rumors poultry meat industry affected drastically, according to an Economic Times report chicken prices have dropped 60% below cost of production. The Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries has estimated 1,500-2,000 crore daily loss during lockdown period in India.

Even dairy industry is not spared from the consequences. According to Businesses Today report 15 % of dairy industry revenues comes from out of home sales. Ice-cream industry is completely at halt. As 50-60% of this industry business happens during summer (March-April), which is affected due to fear of infection.

4.2 Modified retailing and product demand :

This pandemic change the way consumers are procuring their requirements, as retailing is reorienting towards supermarkets and online platforms. In China, leading e-commerce food delivery platforms increased their volumes by 400 percent in February 2020. (FAO, 2020)


4.3 Reduced consumer purchasing power :

Quarantine and lockdown are constraining purchasing power, particularly that of informal workers, and in countries with little or no social safety nets. The economic slowdown and increasing unemployment have already left people, including millions of migrant workers in India, with little or no income with which to buy food. (FAO, 2020)


4.4 Reduced demand and public procurement :

Closure of restaurants and reduced tourism is leading to a sharp fall in demand for food by these sectors. School feeding programs are also suspended, which is depriving millions of children of access to food. (FAO, 2020)


RECOMMENDED ACTIONS

Actions can take form of policies and responses contextualized to fit into national frameworks, while assuring compatibility with public health measures to suppress COVID-19 transmission. The below-mentioned options are provided for consideration by national policy makers to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the livestock sector.


1. Maneuvers to protect animal production and markets :

Establishing production safety nets, which includes new or resupplied feed reserves, special permits for transporting animal feed distribution to remote areas and waivers for agri-food system operations to keep inputs flowing. Authorities may also: i) empower producer organizations to improve bargaining via collective marketing and purchasing; ii) coordinate the supply of livestock production inputs; and iii) promote the local sourcing and production of animal feed and supplements.

Establishing emergency management procedures and services, including communication to mitigate rumors, advise stakeholders and seek feedback. Reallocate staff and resources to crisis relief activities, including the provision of movement permits, disease control and food inspection.

Allowing food markets to remain open while facilitating physical distancing via: i) public health-conscious rules, procedures and equipment; and ii) the application of behavioral insights to market processes and environments (biodiversity, land, water, and ecosystems) where diseases flourish.

Maintaining borderless permits for imports and exports relevant to all nodes on the value chain and thus supporting transboundary livestock movement and ensuring access to essential natural resources for transhumant pastoralists.

2. Maintaining processing and retail operations :

Providing guidelines for COVID-19 control and prevention along the supply chains. These should include provisions for heightened biosecurity, personal protective equipment and hygiene.

Providing grants to shoot up packaging and freezing capacities. Small- and medium-sized enterprises and factories should be encouraged to produce safe products with long shelf lives.

Organize grouped slaughtering points and support the installation of the cold chain to reduce unregulated slaughtering and improve meat inspection.

Find alternative ways to reach children of the school feeding programs and distribute animal-protein-rich foods to improve nutrition and smallholder incomes.

Promoting cooperative role in collection and delivery of milk to processing companies.

3. Measures to combat financial constraints :

Providing cash transfers to milk collection centres and factories to increase purchasing power for milk supply and processing long-shelf products (e.g. UHT, powdered milk).

Helping out small- and medium-sized businesses to mitigate short-term COVID-19 impacts via dedicated financial facilities (e.g. temporary tax relief, dedicated emergency loan programs, direct stimulus payments, tax exemptions, extensions for overdue loan repayments, grace periods, low interest rates and direct public investments and subsidies.

Providing training or mentoring programs to help small- and medium-sized enterprises assess and manage the financial impact of the crisis, go digital and find new markets.

Providing subsidies to agri-food sectors that maintain activities during lockdown; implement price controls to reduce inflation on livestock commodities.


4. Connecting through digitalization :

A general framework of incentives that could be used by governments could include

Smart demand and supply subsidies.

Support for incubators, accelerators, innovation clusters etc.

Better access to appropriate financial products (angel investors, venture capital, debt, equity, quasi-equity, crowd funding) for new enterprises, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and service providers.

Promote On-farm digital technologies like Digital extension and agricultural advisory services.

Promote Off-farm digital technologies to develop Hyperlocal supply chain.

Using Blockchain or decentralised accounting systems technology to solve agricultural logistic problems.


STEPS INDUCTED BY GoI

Atma-Nirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) :

Govt. of India announced a special economic package of INR 20 lakh crore package (Equivalent to 10% of Indian GDP) with aim making country independent against the tough competition in global supply chain & to help in empowering the poor, labourers, migrants who have been adversely affected by COVID-19.


For Livestock sector :

Rs 2 lakh crore credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers under Kisan Credit Card Scheme, first time Fisherman and Animal Husbandry Farmers will also be included in this drive.

Initiating the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth Rs 15,000 crore. AHIDF would facilitate incentivisation of investments in establishment of such infrastructure for dairy and meat processing and value addition infrastructure and establishment of animal feed plant in the private sector.


3% interest subvention to eligible beneficiaries will be provided by GoI. 2 years moratorium period for principal loan amount and 6 years repayment period will be provided thereafter.

Government of India would also set up Credit Guarantee Fund of Rs 750 crore to be managed by NABARD. Credit guarantee would be provided to those sanctioned projects which are covered under MSME defined ceilings. Guarantee Coverage upto 25% of Credit facility of borrower would be there.

During lockdown, demand of milk reduced by 20-25%. 560 Lakh litre per day (LLPD) against daily sale of 360 LLPD was being procured by cooperatives. Total 111 Crore Litres extra procured ensuring payment of Rs 4100 Cr.


INITIATIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES WHICH ARE FEASIBLE EVEN IN INDIA

For example, in Italy, public and private sector collaboration led to the: i) promotion of seasonal and local products (e.g. #MangiaItaliano, the “Eat food made in Italy” campaign by Italy’s main farmer organization). (FAO, 2020)

Morocco has established a logistics and e-marketing platform for local products affected by the cancellation of this year’s International Agriculture Fair. (FAO, 2020)

The EU-27 announced a range of measures to support agricultural commodities, including the re-opening of Private Storage Aid (PSA) for several commodities including beef (25,000 tonnes) and lamb (36,000 tonnes). Pig meat will not be supported by this scheme.

For dairy this will see the opening of PSA for SMP, butter and all cheeses that are suitable for storage. The volume allocations for each country have not been set yet.

PSA will allow the temporary withdrawal of products from the market for a minimum of 2 to 3 months, and a maximum period of 5 to 6 months. It has been initiated to reduce supply and rebalance the market. (Different newspapers & articles)


CONCLUSION

According to some estimates, global poverty will increase by 548 million as a result of the COVID-19. There will also be an increase in the number of food insecure people, estimated at 183 million. (FAO, 2020)

In such a scenario - in which achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability is increasingly indispensable for the planet – the agrifood system along with livestock sector needs urgent and innovative solutions. In this respect, digitalization is a recommendable path to follow.

Even awareness on healthy diet can spur demand for livestock products and can thus prove to be a good opportunity to expand business of livestock farmers.

Several studies conducted by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) indicate that there is a lack of adequate food safety measures across the value chain and only 29 - 44% of the recommended practices are being adopted by the dairy farmers at the farm-level. (Kumar A, Mishra AK, Saroj S, Sonkar VK, Thapa G, Joshi PK. Food safety measures and food security of smallholder dairy farmers: Empirical evidence from Bihar, India. Agribusiness. 2020)

Compliance with food safety measures will need more attention in the post-COVID-19 period. Similarly, we need to move-up the value chain. More emphasis needs to be given for creating facilities for processing at a more disaggregated level, which would have helped to mitigate the disruption of sales of liquid milk in the rural areas.

Any compromise on feeding and health of animals would negatively impact the reproduction efficiency and productivity. We need to strengthen the delivery mechanisms, both at the input and output level.


By: Dr. Amit Kumar Tripathy

Master of Livestock Economics

ICAR- Indian Veterinary Research Institute

Editing: Dr. Hemalatha Talluri


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