The effect of COVID 19 on sesame belt agricultural labourers from Amhara and Tigray

BENEFIT-REALISE brief “The effect of COVID19 on agricultural casual labourers: a case of sesame belt migrants from Amhara and Tigray” highlights the findings of a rapid assessment designed to evaluate the early effects of COVID19 on PSNP households wage income in sesame growing areas of Tigray and Amhara regions.

This rapid assessment covered 20 PSNP BENEFIT-REALISE targeted woredas in Tigray and Amhara regions and was conducted by BENEFIT-REALISE Tigray and Amhara university clusters.  The study used face to face and telephone interview to assess the effect of COVID 19 on PSNP household’s migration who work as casual labourer in sesame growing areas in the western part of Tigray (Humara, Welkayit and the Tahtay Adiabo) and northwest of Amhara (Metema, Mirab Armacho, Tach Armacheho, Shinfa and Quara).  A total of 125 respondents participated in the interviews. The interviews were conducted with PSNP households, kebele office head, woreda level subject matter specialist and regional experts, and by REALISE programme cluster staff using checklist.

The brief looked at the consequences of mobility restrictions and the status of PSNP households who depend on casual labour in Amhara and Tigray.

 KEY MESSAGES 

  1. The sesame sector attracts more than 500,000 casual labourers at different growing cycle: planting, weeding and harvesting. By so doing it plays key role in income generation and livelihood security.
  2. A significant number of PSNP households especially the youth entirely depend on casual labour wages earned in the sesame growing areas.
  3. The disruption caused by COVID19 and inability to earn income that contributes to consumption smoothening and investment in agricultural inputs such as fertilizer and improved seeds purchase – aggravating their vulnerability in both short and long terms.
  4. The PSNP programme support through public work and permanent direct support payments transfer is insufficient due to the increased family sizes related to migrant returnees and increasing inflation.
  5. Reassessment of eligible PSNP beneficiaries is required since COVID 19 is negatively impacting many more households who were not considered eligible prior to the pandemic.
  6. The agricultural operation of smallholder farmers particularly PSNP households need financial support and postponing repayment and cancelling of agricultural loan and credit support arrangement for agricultural inputs.
  7. Reduced labour productivity and precarious health condition of casual labourers may worsen with the continued COVID 19 pandemic, unless appropriate measure is taken.
  8. The Tigray and Amhara regional and national governments need to work with sesame investors to facilitate casual labourers movement to sesame areas as well as provide protective facilities and infrastructure in destination areas.

Rapid assessment findings of BENFIT-SBN (Sesame Business Network) on COVID-19 related challenges in the Ethiopian sesame sector also highlighted availability of labour and welfare of labourers as are of major Concern. Read the COVID-19 Sesame Alert here.

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