COVID-19: Impact on Agriculture and its Future

COVID-19: Impact on Agriculture and its Future

We live in an age where the age-old occupation of agriculture faces turmoil and turbulence in all its sectors and divisions due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest hit of all will be felt by daily wage earners, who work on the field or behind counters day and night to put together meals for the coming days.

Due to the input of the farmers being affected, the entire output received has been disturbed. Crops which are ready for harvest, await their fate in the fields, where they are left to rot, in turn hampering the future crops who will take their place, or they are disposed of by the farmers. This calls for not only losses but extra costs incurred to carry out the process of disposal for the crops which are no longer fit for consumption.

Various other factors contribute to the increasing losses faced by the agricultural sector, including the restriction of movement and transportation, which means that even the crops that have been harvested are unable to reach their destination. The agricultural supply chain, due to its diversity consists of so many sectors and verticals, that because of the COVID-19 panic reaching each sector, the disruption in the supply chain is being felt enormously.

Sectors of the agricultural industries relying on the export of goods for sustenance are also hit tremendously due to the restrictions of movement. Goods that are perishable and do not have a long-drawn shelf life, which have already been shipped, await at the ports of various countries. Once they surpass their shelf life, they will not be fit for consumption, and this causes losses to all parties who have been part of the export process since one entity will not be able to bear all the losses. This, however, would be the ideal time to target specific export markets where the analysis can be seen of increasing demand for certain types of produce, e.g., the demand for grapes in China is increasing.

In times like these, technology has a tremendous role to play in smoothening out processes and assuring the best sort of deliverance to consumers. AgTech companies are working from home, keeping their clients’ systems up and running 24/7. However, individuals who work on the field even from the AgTech industry are trying their best to sustain the hits felt due to not being able to conduct site visits or other daily agronomic operations.

At the end of this lockdown, when the situation begins to work towards the reestablishment of day to day processes and procedures, there may be a shortage of produce we are faced with. The demand will rise while the supply falls, creating a gap in the cycle. Crops like wheat will be able to survive the summer heat due to it being a summer crop, but fruits and vegetables will most definitely require adequate amounts of water to be fit for consumption. The farmers will also require seeds, fertilizers, etc., whose supply has also been halted. This will affect the new crops as well as the new harvest. Produce like onions will be available in abundance due to the ample amount of supply foreseen.

To counteract this unprecedented drop inactivity, several factors will assist the growth of agriculture post the lockdown. Technology will be a pulling factor in this, as manual labour which is unavailable as of date will be substituted by technology. Technology in the field of agriculture will assist individuals in gaining a transparent knowledge about the products they will consume. Due to the reservations that consumers have of the produce, they are consuming in a time where everyone is focusing majorly on their health, traceability and transparency will be appreciated.

There are different opportunities for companies to supply products through online portals, the fact of individuals not leaving their homes and who require groceries to be delivered directly to their houses will surely increase demands for these businesses in the coming months. Technology can also help enhance transparency in this age where everyone is extremely wary of the goods coming into their homes. Tech software can enable trust-worthy resources, showing consumers the fundamentals of all products, they are purchasing to provide them with authentic sources.

Alongside AgTech and AgMech companies having various business opportunities emerging for help during these unfortunate times, even post-production companies will have certain opportunities. Companies that harvest, clean, grade, pack and then proceed to offer goods to consumers can do so in a way that individuals can confidently consume that produce.

To sum up, post this pandemic, the farmers in the country and the agriculture supply chain will need the assistance of technology more than ever, and that is exactly what the AgTech industry is working towards at the moment, results of which will be seen in the near future.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelloPost.)

Contributed by Mr. Santosh Shinde, COO, and Mr. Sanjay Borkar, CEO at FarmERP- specialised in the AgTech sector with an experience of over 20 years. FarmERP offers a future-ready, agriculture ERP platform for smart agriculture to achieve higher efficiency, higher yields, higher profitability and complete traceability.