By Erick NUNDA MBALA, Communication Expert, YPARD DRC/South Kivu Province
In the face of the pandemic and the macabre consequences of coronavirus disease, all countries have been mobilized to mount the response against COVID-19. This multisectoral response aims, firstly, to stop the spread of the virus, equip medical facilities, organize screening, manage confirmed cases and accelerate research studies on the subject. Secondly, it aims to maintain stable agricultural value chains and food and nutritional security in this period of pandemic. Thus, the Senior Officials of African States have exercised their constitutional prerogatives as guarantors of national security to take appropriate measures to fight the outbreak of coronavirus disease and thus achieve the objectives of the multisectoral response.
Unfortunately, African economies, which are highly dependent on the global economy because they are exporters of raw materials and benefit from external financial flows in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) and official development assistance, are victims of the horrors of this exogenous shock with high virulence. As for the projections of the effects of COVID-19, the sustainability of agriculture in the medium and long term is called into question in Africa, following the paralysis of the agricultural production chain in several African regions.
Quarantine, bans, restrictions on the movement of people and goods have a significant socio-economic repercussions on people’s livelihoods. While these restrictions are necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they often lead to disruption of market chains and trade of agricultural and non-agricultural products, with significant potential impacts on the populations that depend on them for their livelihoods and their food and nutrition security. In terms of agriculture value chain, many researchers show the following submissions as the medium/long-term impact of the Covid-19:
- Farmers incapacity to maintain their activities due to loss of incomes: lower sales, lower incomes and increase in price, difficulty to access to essential inputs (such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides)
- Speculative hoarding by retailers on increased logistics cost may increase consumer prices and likely cause social unrest arising from food shortage in densely populated areas
- Increase completion for agricultural jobs with people returning from urban areas that may reduce wages and so purchasing power and exclude women as men are preferred workers
- Reduced resources for livelihoods and increase the expenditures on health care.
The on-going COVID – 19 pandemic represents one of such opportunities for leveraging on the shocks it has created, in order to learn to mitigate its negative impacts. This is how the stability of Africa’s agri-food-system will be maintained by capitalizing on the agripreneurship of young African professionals.
Towards sustainable agricultural systems
The objective of sustainability of agricultural systems leads us to consider biophysical processes in their socio-economic context and to take into account all scales (agro-ecological, socio-territorial and economic). All this is done in a dynamic perspective that takes into account the capacity of farms to maintain themselves over time and to adapt to stress or shocks linked to the ecological, social, economic and political contexts. Sustainable agriculture is therefore highly resilient because of its capacity to adapt and transform itself in the face of disturbances.
Figure1. The different levels of sustainability of an agricultural system
Source: Terrier & al (2013).
In this perspective, the young professionals for agricultural development (YPARD) in DRC have mobilized to implement agricultural production strategies that make it possible to maintain the sustainability of agricultural systems and ensure household food accessibility in this pandemic.
|Level of sustainability analysis||
Sustainable agriculture objectives
|1||Preserve natural resources (biodiversity, soil, water, air)|
|2||Preserve non-renewable resources|
|3||Preserve and/or develop landscapes|
|4||Deal with the challenge of climate change (through mitigation and adaptation)|
|5||Contribute to food safety and sovereignty|
|6||Contribute to employment and territorial development|
|7||Ensure the economic viability and long-term survival of the farm|
|8||Contribute to the quality of life|
|9||Maintain independence and freedom to act|
|10||Make ethically responsible commitments|
|11||Generate and share knowledge and know-how|
|12||Ensure the health and wellbeing of livestock|
Source: Zahm & al (2018)
Agri-Entrepreneurship capitalization of the YPARD DRC/South Kivu province
Thus, in the province of South Kivu in the East of the DRC, the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) has launched, in this period of pandemic, to supply the population of the Bukavu city and its cravings for green vegetables and edible mushrooms since May 11, 2020.
In the long term, the fish production in the fish ponds owned by YPARD in the territory of Walungu (5 ponds), Kabare (5 ponds) and a planned production in the floating cages on Lake Kivu in the African Great Lakes region. YPARD DRC is one of the beneficiaries of a floating cage (with a production capacity of about 7 tons of fish per production cycle) in the “Pilot project for the production of Tilapia caged fish in Lake Kivu” within the framework of the 100-day programme of the Congolese President Félix Antoine TSHISEKEDI TSHILOMBO, with the support of the Fund for the Promotion of Industry (FPI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture.
Thus, YPARD DRC believes that, during and after the pandemic, the urgency of maintaining the functioning of food production systems, based on the objectives of sustainable agriculture, technology and management of available resources, will be resolved.
Our thanks go to the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and its Partners, the Global Representation of YPARD and the National Representation of YPARD DRC.
Erick NUNDA MBALA
- Aimé KAZIKA KAMOSI
- Landry RUBONEKA KASHEMWA
- Rosette MIGABO NANKAFU
- Guy SIMBEKO SADI
- Fabrice BIRINDWA
- Esther HAMULI NEEMA
- Serval OLIVIER MUSHAGALUSA
African Union Commission (2020). The impact of COVID-19) on the African Economy
OECD (2020), OECD Economic Outlook, Interim Report March 2020, OECD, Paris,
Terrier, M., Gasselin, P. Le Blanc, J., 2013. Assessing the Sustainability of Activity Systems
to Support Households’ Farming Projects. In: Marta-Costa, A.A., Soares da Silva, E., (Eds). Methods and Procedures for Building Sustainable Farming Systems.
Application in the European Context. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 47-61.
Zahm, F., Alonso, A., Barbier, J., Boureau, H., & Del, B. (2018). Evaluating sustainability of farms : introducing a new conceptual framework based on three dimensions and five key properties relating to the sustainability of agriculture. The IDEA method version 4, 1–5.