Impact of the COVID-19 on small-scale Farming, Food Security and Sovereignty in the EAC

April 2020

This document presents results from the 8 April 2020 on-line conference on the impact of COVID-19 on small-scale farming, food security and sovereignty in the East African Community. There were 53 participants from 16 countries. The conference strongly acknowledged the contribution of small-scale farmers towards feeding the population during the time of COVID-19. Governments have tightened borders and restricted gatherings, but small-scale farmers often operate in groups. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty and most are staying away from their gardens in the planting season. More than 65% of food produced in the region is by small-scale women farmers. There is insufficient information about COVID-19, and a high cost of agricultural inputs because of lockdown and new restrictions. Use of communal labour has had to be reduced. Farmers can’t access loans to hire labour. Extension services are paralyzed. There is exploitation by middlemen. Food prices in the markets have skyrocketed. Many of the most vulnerable may struggle with malnutrition. Some businessmen are hoarding agricultural produce and inputs. There is a fear that some might use the opportunity to grab land and other productive resources from small-scale farmers. Land registration offices are closed or restricted. The conference made recommendations to EAC member states, including to continue standing in solidarity with small-scale farmers.