This is an update of a column done previously, checking in with farmers around the world, to understand how they are being impacted by Covid-19, and what they’re doing about it.

India – Ravichandran Vanchinathan

We faced some problem in getting the seed materials for one or two days when 21 day close down was declared on March 25th. The seed producing companies asked the Government of India to relax the movement restrictions of seed materials. On behalf of the farmers, our Indian Farmer Network represented to the Ministry of Agriculture to declare agriculture as essential activity. Now agriculture is classified as essential activity. The central government has credited Rs2000 to 80 million small holder farmers as a token support to take care of their immediate needs during the shutdown period. These resource poor farmers are provided with essential groceries. Besides each state has been providing cash support for farmers. In Tamilnadu, the producers of nonperishable farm produce, like rice and pulses, can get loans on easy terms by pledging our stock to tide over our immediate needs. We can even store it in the government warehouses up to 4 months. Farmers producing perishable fruits, vegetables and flowers are the ones greatly affected by the close down. Our Tamilnadu state government has opened its cold storage godowns free of cost to the farmers. Even the pulping units of the government are open for the farmers to process their fruits. Farmers can contact the toll free government call centers which operates 24×7 which enables the farmers to connect with the potential buyer.

Farmers growing vegetables sell them at our doorstep. No need for us to visit the market and infect or get infected by the Covid-19 virus.

Coming to our day to day farm chores, we continue our activities with responsibility. We maintain the social distancing while working in our farms. Besides fighting the Corona, farmers help in fighting hunger and malnutrition.

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 12,759
  • Deaths: 423
  • Cases/Million population: 9

India – Sudhanshu Kumar

All employers asked not to lay off workers. To pay salaries as usual. Domestic help drivers are all to be paid even if not on duty. Kitchens are being arranged everywhere to feed stranded people. Compensation packages being worked out. There is special stress on taking extra care of elderly.

The government is mulling on ways to compensate businesses. I have given paid leave to all my staff who wanted to be home with their loved ones in this time of crisis. The Prime Minister has made an emotional appeal to everyone do their bit for the country. I know it?s utopian but India is an emotional country. Even landlords have been strictly told to not evict tenants if they can?t pay rent.

First life then economy. Relief packages being announced left and right from relief to daily wage earners to farmers and business. PM said lives take precedence over economy. If we are alive we will build our economy again.

We have 1.3 billion Indians under lock down. Not a single riot for food or essentials. The army is in full preparation to help civilians if and when called for. To date 100 K beds are ready for worst case scenario. More are being created in stadiums and other places.

At the worst spots, door to door checking is going on. In a slum area in Mumbai complete testing going on. All residents being tested house to house. Dharavi has a population of one million, the biggest slum in the world. Four positive came out of there. The settlement is like a sardine box, it?s so dense.

All the hotspots have curfew imposed and are getting home delivery of essentials (food and medication). All essential services are allowed with permit. Masks or face covers are being made mandatory for all. Many are making them at home. Lock down in India has been extended till the 30th of April. All agricultural activities are allowed albeit with maintenance of social distancing and masks or face cover.

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 12,759
  • Deaths: 423
  • Cases/Million population: 9

India – Vijay Kapoor

The harvesting season is in full swing in India. About two weeks ago, when some farmers in our village started thrashing of the mustard crop, some cops came and ordered to stop it, referring to Covid-19 lockdown working conditions. Even the tractors and thrashers were impounded.

I, along with some of the other farmers, approached the concerned police officer and convinced him that social distance was maintained and only three workers were at one machine. We approached media and newspapers published stories emphasizing to relax rules favoring the use of machines.

Our efforts and those in other communities have resulted in the smooth operation of combine harvesting machines. The Government of India now fully backs the farmers.  

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 12,759
  • Deaths: 423
  • Cases/Million population: 9

Denmark – Knud Bay Smidt

Denmark was among the first countries in Europe to record Corona outbreak. Fortunately, interventions were quickly made to limit the prevalence. Schools and other public institutions were closed. Many work at home. Larger congregations were banned. The consequence of the Corona has not been as catastrophic as feared. Although every death obviously matters to the relatives.

This week the schools will open again and later this month other public institutions too. However, larger gatherings, such as concerts, etc. are still prohibited until September the 1st.

For the everyday work on the farms, the daily life remains largely unchanged. Delivery and sales have been almost without problems, with a little delay from time to time. Prices have fallen slightly for milk and a lot for meat. For cereals, they have remained unchanged.

But much of the rest of the business community has been hit very hard financially. The service sector is at the very bottom. In a situation like this, you clearly notice that one lives in a society dominated by a huge public sector and that smaller private enterprises are left behind.

All working in the public sector receive their full salary, whether they are at work or not. Employees in larger companies with an agreement with a trade union can be compensated if they don?t lay people off. But if you are a small business, like most farmers are, you get No help. Except some credit on taxes and VAT. This will result in some consequence after the pandemic. More folks will look for jobs in the public sector ?? a safe haven. Small enterprises are the biggest victims in this country.

But since the money does not grow out of directives and regulations, everyone can?t work within the public sector. This has proven unsuccessful in the Soviet Union. Farmers are now referred to as heroes ?? in the same group as doctors and nurses. We keep the wheels running and assure that there is food on the shelves. But I fear it will be forgotten again as soon as more normal time hopefully soon returns.

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 6,879
  • Deaths: 321
  • Cases/Million population: 55

Ireland – Cheryl Hazenberg

It isn?t affecting us nearly as much as other industries. Farmers and all farming support is considered essential here so it is close to business as usual. Food products (like milk) have not had to be dumped yet like other countries either as we are not yet in peak production. Our large production of skim milk powder will help us get through.

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 12,547
  • Deaths: 444
  • Cases/Million population: 2,541

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Uruguay – Gabriel Carballal

Soybean harvest starting in Uruguay.

Spending our quarantine in the fields.

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 493
  • Deaths: 9
  • Cases/Million population: 142

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Nicaragua – Javier Callejas

Of course we are following every possible guideline. Poultry farms already, normally have strict biosecurity protocols. So we are adding on top of it. This is a part of our Covid 19 communication on our farm:

The Pan American Health Organization recently made public comments about the inaction of the Nicaraguan government when it comes to Covid 19. Here?s a transcript of the comments:

?I want to assure everyone that with regards to Covid 19 that PAHO has given the same guidelines to every member state including Nicaragua. We?ve also given support to all member states including Nicaragua in terms of PPEs, laboratory diagnostic kits and also technical support and guidelines. We continue to offer technical support and advice to the government and the national authorities of Nicaragua. PAHO has been concerned about the response to Covid 19 in Nicaragua. We have concerns for the lack of social distancing, the convening of mass gatherings. We have concerns about the testing, contact tracing, about the reporting of cases. We also are concerned about what we see as inadequate infection prevention and control. At various times and at various levels of PAHO, both informally and formally, we have raised those concerns with the national authorities of Nicaragua. But let me say that Nicaragua is a sovereign country. The government makes decisions for its people and decides what and how its response will be structured. I just want to say that PAHO remains ready to work with the authorities in Nicaragua to insure that they are indeed responding to Covid 19 in a manner that will save lives and avoid too much illness.??
–Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization     

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 9
  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases/Million population: 1

Colombia – Jose Luis Gonzalez Chacon

The cases have increased because a lot of people still have to go out to work. However, according to the president, they will send monetary aid to small and medium companies since the economy here is stuck. Some politicians are doing everything wrong. They are stealing the money sent as aid to the people in need. For that reason, a lot of people are doing what they can to help their communities. The lockdown has been extended until midnight of 27 of April.

We are doing everything in our hands to help all the people that surround us. We delivered food and sanitary implements to people in the area. With the help of the police we delivered 500 chicken for the families in the area and nearly 100 supply crates with all the basic necessities for 15 days of food.

Distributing food and necessities.

We have to strengthen the biosecurity policy at the farm. We installed a sanitation station at the entrance beside the shower area needed for the operation. Also, with the help of Cargill, we are going to continue with our operation providing birds to the chain of production, so we don?t run out of chicken in the country.

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 3,105
  • Deaths: 131
  • Cases/Million population: 61

Turkey – Umut Ayberk Akbay

I went to visit a small farmer to buy cows that he had for sale. When I got there, I was sorry to see the situation he was in. I learned that he could not sell the seedlings he had grown because of COVID-19. The markets were closed. He told me he had to sell his cows because he was in a difficult situation.

I told him that he should not hurry to sell his cows and I will help him with it. I did not buy the cows. I put the seedlings on sale in an online sales site that I established with a friend. I started a campaign on Social Media. The campaign went viral, reaching 12 million people. I sold the products that Mr. Hasan sold to the merchants at a very cheap price under normal circumstances, to the consumers at the sales price. Everyone, including famous actors and artists in my country, has placed many orders to support Mr. Hasan. Now, he is a famous farmer who sells his seedlings on the internet

Uncle Hasan is 57 years old. (In Turkey, ?Uncle?? is a term of endearment for older people). He grows seedlings with his wife and only child. The market where he sold the seedlings he had grown was shut down due to Coronavirus. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, strawberry seedlings, which would be enough for almost 1000 acres, remained unsold in their hands.

He could not collect his money from the milkman to whom he gave milk from the 10 cows he raised.

He has been making efforts to pay his debts for days because he is so pure in heart. But all his efforts came out unrequited. He has to sell his animals because of his debts. He can’t get his bills paid.

I included a link to his online storefront.

All of the initial seedlings sold out. I bought a computer for Farmer Hasan?s son and am teaching him how to use it. Now they?re growing more seedlings and have moved the business online.

As the story went viral, it was also picked up by news outlets: Haberturk.com  and  Yerelguc.com

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 69,392
  • Deaths: 1,518
  • Cases/Million population: 823

 Zimbabwe ?? Ruramiso Mashumba

The first weeks were terrible as farmers lost a lot of produce because people were locked down and couldn?t go to markets. Farmers were unable to move produce. It was very bad. Imagine 70% of the country is informal. We are 60% agro based. Our database shows we have 3 million farmers in a country of total population 14 million. Agriculture, however, has now been listed as essential service and if you have a letter form the government you can travel for only farm activities. If you are caught outside area of quarantine, you will be thrown in jail. The persecution is severe here.

  •  Cases on 4/16/20: 23
  • Deaths: 3
  • Cases/Million population: 2


Ghana – Moses Nganwani Tia

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 641
  • Deaths: 8
  • Cases/Million population: 21

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Kenya – Dave Okech

  • Cases on 4/16/20: 234
  • Deaths: 11
  • Cases/Million population: 4