Effective COVID-19 policy response is called key to tackling rural economy challenges

As the ongoing travel restrictions coincides with the rice harvesting season, farmers across the country look up to the Government to ensure uninterrupted harvesting of the crops, smooth procurement operations and fetching the base price for 2020.
Meanwhile, the market prices in some areas are declining, lower than the set base price of K520,000 for 100 baskets for 2020. To help the farmers in those areas, the Ministry of Commerce said the Agricultural Products Managment Body would buy paddy at the base price there after seeking a K20 billion revolving fund from the State.
It’s worth noting that the ministry has taken measures to buy the paddy in accordance with the tender system as the State approved the revolving fund it sought.
A base price is a very basic price, and the market price must not fall below it.
A base price for rice is one of the five essential aims in the farmer’s law, which has made provisions for helping farmers find suitable loans, assistance during production, investment and technology to increase production, suitable prices for their agricultural products in the market, protecting the rights and interests of farmers who own small plots, and offers support for grievances and losses caused by natural disasters as far as possible.
Now, one challenge faced by the farmers in certain areas during the pandemic crisis has been solved by the government.
Some challenges are ahead of us. To ensure uninterrupted harvesting of the crops in the coming weeks, the government’s systems must prioritize movements of laborers, their safety from COVID-19 infection, welfare, as well as harvesting and related farm machines.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only farming and the supply chain sector in our country but also farming sectors in other countries in Southeast Asia in many ways including access to credit, capital inputs, remittance income, and safe food and water.
The small and medium enterprises, running with raw materials from the agriculture and allied sector or otherwise, also need special attention so that the rural economy doesn’t collapse.
To sustain the demand for agricultural commodities, investments in key logistics must be enhanced. Moreover, e-commerce and delivery companies and start-ups need to be encouraged with suitable policies and incentives.

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