Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s focus has shifted to health and safety. Even the government put in place measures to cope with the impact of the pandemic.
However, as the country fights to abide by the measures, many activities in the society and economy, in general, are disrupted in ways we have not seen before.
The agriculture, food security, and income-generating activities, among others, have greatly been affected. The COVID-19 has also had an impact on the agro-inputs sector in Uganda.Findings
COVID-19 has led to interruptions in manufacturing and shipping of the agro-input products thus, distributing the products to the local wholesale orders as a result of the shortage in accessing the raw materials by the manufacturers are stated to have a consequence on businesses to meet the demand for agrochemicals in the second season.
After a survey conducted, there is anticipated reduction on investment in agrochemical business due to the inability to access financial support from the banks and other sources moreover as a result of failure to repay the previous loan facilities could obstruct the businesses to sustain their heights of operation.
According to local economists, the pandemic has also led to delays in receiving the products from abroad coupled with receiving less than what is ordered for which may lead to a rise in the prices of agrochemicals shortly.
“There has been a deteriorating demand for the agro-chemical products from the farmers – associated with the lack of capital and restricted movement to access the agrochemical shops which is predicted to continue hampering the agrochemical business,” a local agriculturalist says.
COVID-19 has also weakened the purchasing power of the customers at all levels, in conjunction with escalated demand for credit for agro-chemicals, stock-outs from the suppliers have depressed the operation of the agrochemical business.
There has also been an increase in counterfeit products on the market due to a shortage in the supply of legitimate products besides, the delay in registration, clearance, and approval of the new products by the concerned authorities are affecting the operation of the sector.
The restricting of public transport operations also prevented most of the farmers from accessing the agrochemical shops which have lowered the sales volume and door-to-door delivery has increased the costs of operating the business. Extreme reduction in turnover due to limited sales, time of operation, and travel for staff in addition to the postponement of agricultural activities like training.
Agriculturalists say awareness to the farmers through seed fairs, weekly village markets, and field days have been put on hold which has limited the pathways through which the local businesses market the products that are available in stores.
Accessing some essential services like field inspection and extension services is challenging – the external field inspection and extension services have been constrained making it very difficult for the farmers to receive training and advice on farms.