Since its first detection of Corona virus in March, Ethiopia has been facing many challenges not only in the health of its population but also the livelihood of its people and its national economy as a whole. Agriculture being one of the main sectors affected by the pandemic, many of BENEFIT Partnership recent efforts focused on better understanding its impact, raise awareness and mitigate its effects.  

The recent report on soybean, a high potential crop for both improving farmers’ livelihood and as an export commodity, captured COVID-19 effect on the soybean value chain. In July- August 2020, BENEFIT Partnership programmes (BENEFIT-ISSD, BENEFIT-SBN, BENEFIT-CASCAPE, and BENEFIT-ENTAG) conducted rapid assessments that focus on soybean access to input, production, mobility and market. The data collection focused on northwestern, western and southwestern parts of Ethiopia for production and primary market while it focused on central Ethiopia, mainly Addis Ababa for trade and export data.

The report findings showed that the pandemic has distorted the day-to-day functions of communities, businesses and the government. Within the soybean value chain, access to input, production, mobility and market were affected in different degrees. While input provision to smallholders has been managed very well, technical support at ground level from experts and development agents was highly affected. Even though mobility of the chain actors has improved in the last couple of months, high cost of transport still remains. Overall, market has not been negatively affected to a great extent except for the higher cost of transport. The findings also showed, the sub-sector is benefiting from higher demand from Asia during this period. Therefore, it can be concluded that with minimal effect on most part of the soybean value chain along with enablers, no or minor decline can be expected from the production and productivity volume previously planned or estimated, given other things remain the same..

The recommendations in the report included facilitation of DAs and experts’ support on farm management; monitoring safety measures for DAs & experts to move from place to place; provision of outdoor trainings; subsidizing inland transport cost to maintain previous margins of value chain actors; further smoothening ECX, customs and related operation to facilitate the local trade and export process etc.

Read the full report here

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