Covid-19 around the World – Farmer Views


It?s a hot topic everywhere, and the 2020 Global Farmer Network Roundtable class has been discussing the impacts local to them-with each other-on social media. Stories vary around the world.

India – Sudhanshu Kumar

In our country quarantine is being implemented without delay. All visas have been cancelled except diplomatic and absolute essential. All college, schools, gyms, cinema, religious places, tourist places, zoos, etc. have been closed. Every time you call on mobile the caller tune has been changed to information on Covid-19 with advice on what to do. All functions and meetings have been cancelled.

The country has gone out of its way to return Indians stranded in foreign countries using military planes and government owned airlines. The responsibility for quarantine for Indian citizens being brought in from Wuhan and Iran and Italy has been given to the military. Everyone is being advised to stay home. Every day quarantine rules are being tightened.

Labs and hospitals are being created in full steam. Today we saw people being stamped with non-washable ink at the airport as per their day of entry and the number of days they have to stay in self-quarantine.

Farming activities have not been affected yet. The virus hasn’t reached the villages.

Our Prime Minister spoke on national TV urging the nation to observe Sunday, March 22nd as a self-imposed citizen curfew from 7am-9pm. At 5pm, he suggested everyone stand on their balconies, roofs or doorways and clap, ring a bell or beat on a metal plate for five minutes in acknowledgement of all the people who have put their lives on the line to fight the virus; doctors, nurses, health workers, police. He is pleading to the people not to panic, assuring the nation there is no shortage of anything.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 508
  • Deaths: 10
  • Cases/Million population: .4

Philippines – Ryan Gamboa

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a National State of Calamity in the Philippines for a period of 6 months. Luzon, the island where our capitol, Metro Manila is located, will be on lockdown until April 12, 2020. Military personnel will move in to critical areas to impose order and discipline.

Most islands and provinces have closed their borders with the exception of basic goods and services, military and police personnel, essential medical and government personnel and medical emergency cases. 

The feeling right now is one of uncertainty and fear, bordering on panic and mass hysteria. People are jumping at every piece of negative news that they don’t understand. Persons being monitored because of travel history are being ostracized and chased out of their neighborhoods, families and close friends of persons being investigated who are asymptomatic become social pariahs. And the effect of a confirmed case is tantamount to a declaration of impending doom.

Our responsible leaders and citizens are trying to alleviate fears by massive and constant information campaigns through mass and social media. Each person is slowly realizing that self-imposed quarantine is the key to, not only surviving this ordeal, but recovering from this dreadful disease as a nation. 

The first death on our island was a fellow councilor who attended our national elections in February. I had to home quarantine for 14 days.

There’s discussion about the hot weather stopping the virus, but it’s one of the hottest months on record here and our confirmed cases continue to climb.

We need to bolster our backyard farming. I think we will have problems with food by April.

We have contingencies for typhoons, floods, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. We have dealt with dengue, H1N1 and other diseases. The coronavirus situation is something we’ve never encountered. We are constantly adapting and adjusting. Our local sugar mill manager converted his private rum distillery into an ethyl alcohol distillery for sanitation for his employees.

We distributed COVID19 pamphlets translated to our native tongue and multi vitamins for the health workers in the field.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 501
  • Deaths: 33
  • Cases/Million population: 5

United Kingdom – Paul Temple

On the evening of March 23rd the Prime Minister put the country on lockdown. Only essential workers, which includes farmers and the food chain, will continue. All shops other than food and chemists to close. No gatherings allowed, at all. No weddings, baptisms-just funerals and those are done with family members only.

Police have the power to enforce the lockdown. Basically, everyone has to stay home.

The food supply has been challenged by ridiculous panic buying. There’s additional strain as food service has completely dropped off, pushing more people into retail. Much of the packing lines cannot cope with retail only demand and the smaller packs. It’s a constantly changing situation going from bad to worse economically.

Farming is safer than some, but not immune. Our risks are if the transport sector loses staff to illness. They are vulnerable themselves at a busy time of year.

Our work goes on after a very wet winter that has brought a huge backlog.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 6,650
  • Deaths: 335
  • Cases/Million population: 98

Colombia – Jose Luis Gonzalez Chacon

In Colombia we are on total shutdown. The central government doesn’t provide much in terms of feeding to some regions. So the local authorities are taking actions to help them get all that they need in this situation.

This shutdown, effective March 22nd, will affect everyone in the country.

We are trying to isolate the farm from the city-the source of the contagion-but I live in the city and am trying to manage from here. We send supplies to the farm once a week.

Universities, public schools, some offices are closed. The use of a mask is a must if you have respiratory illness. Quarantine for people arriving to the country. Ports and airport are restricted.

In agriculture, we depend on the stability of the dollar, so this impacts us a lot. People are starting to take their savings out of the banks.

We have enough to feed our poultry and get through this, but we still need some products that are produced in the USA such as soy and yellow corn.

“Our activity does not stop.”

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 306
  • Deaths: 3
  • Cases/Million population: 6

Nicaragua – Javier Callejas

As of March 16, 2020 here in Nicaragua the country is in national alert. The first case of Covid-19 in the country was reported on March 18th. Just about all countries in the immediate region have reported cases in their respective countries and are in lockdown mode.

Here in Nicaragua, authorities are monitoring at each port of entry but haven’t taken any actions to quarantine national or international travelers coming into the country. In addition, the school system remains open, there is no restriction for any size gatherings and, overall, the country continues as “Normal”.

The concern for many is the country is, is it really ready to deal with this epidemic?

The weekend of March 14/15, the government organized a carnival with the theme “Love in times of COVID-19”-all in a country where it won’t take long before the few hospitals are overwhelmed.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 2
  • Deaths: 0
  • Cases/Million population: .3

Argentina – Julio Speroni

Here in Argentina we are under a RED ALERT which started March 16th.

All flights from Europe had been suspended to the very minimum, the only fights allowed in are those that bring back Argentine Nationals. Those foreigners who still fly in are forced to do a 14 day quarantine on a specific location and are subject to the criminal law if they break the quarantine.

All ground borders have been closed as well. Schools (primary / Middle / High school) have been totally suspended and most universities as well. 

Private companies are doing their best effort to encourage their employees to office from home.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 301
  • Deaths: 4
  • Cases/Million population: 7

United States – Mark Heckman

I heard a person say this is like a 9/11 situation in the US. I think we have to accept as individuals that the virus will most likely affect everyone. And we have to eventually create our own plan to put ourselves in a position to realize that our healthcare services cannot adequately treat the patients if everyone were to get it in the next month.

Today the change we have to create in our communities is one that separates ourselves from others as much as we want to hug and interact as people do-we have to consider our activities. I am personally taking the approach that I will get or can have it and am asking myself what can I do to separate myself from family and others when that happens. It is a good thing farming is a lonely job. So-keep healthy. We have our jobs to do to make the food and get it to where people can use it!

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 46,145
  • Deaths: 582
  • Cases/Million population: 139

Nigeria – Onyaole Patience Koku

There is a travel ban from countries that have over 1,000 cases. One Nigerian state has banned church and public gatherings.

People keep saying the virus can’t survive in the hot weather here. The caution and restrictions should be emphasized no matter what, to safeguard lives. 

The economic impact of the virus is what we are starting to feel, being an import dependent country. Many factories are running out of supplies which they import from China and other countries.

We are starting to get some restrictions limiting gatherings to not more than 50 people. People are starting to realize we are not immune after all.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 40
  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases/Million population: .2

Zimbabwe – Ruramiso Mashumba

Our main concern is if we lock down how will we sustain our workforce / community? Farmers are close to harvest and at a place where we have no extra income. I am planning my wheat crop and need certain services to make this happen. 

I asked a few people in my community what they know about Covid-19 and they all mentioned not greeting each other and washing of hands . Another lady mentioned that she heard we need to drink plenty of lemon water. A lot of information is flooding our inboxes but the radio has been a good source for disseminating the important information.

I’m promoting good agriculture practices amongst farmers which have been neglected for years as people thought we are not yet there as a country. After this we seriously need to think about many factors. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of access to clean water is needed as top priority globally. We managed to get access to borehole water for our staff which is a luxury in Zimbabwe. We need to also build better capacity in our rural clinics. Someone joked that our heads of state have always flown out of the country for treatment but now we face reality that flying is worse than being at home. I hope they prioritize our hospitals after this.

My concern is not about having tissues, but how will people in my community survive if we have no access to clean water and sanitation is an issue. If we don’t work, we might die of hunger before COVID-19 visits us.

  • Cases on 3/23/20: 3
  • Deaths: 1
  • Cases/Million population: .2

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