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Journal Articles Agricultural Systems Year : 2021

Immediate impacts of COVID-19 crisis on agricultural and food systems in the Caribbean

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1
François Causeret
Sébastien Guyader

Abstract

Context In a region already plagued by food insecurity and challenges to the sustainability of the agricultural sector, the COVID-19 pandemic was a brutal shock in the Caribbean with immediate and significant socio-economic consequences. Objective In this paper, we assessed what are the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the agricultural and food systems of the Caribbean. Methods To this end, we conducted online surveys among farmers, households and experts of the region. We assessed the nature, strength and reversibility of the impacts but also the factors of resilience in the face of the crisis. Results and conclusions Our study shows that the COVID-19 crisis has had strong impacts on Caribbean farmers and has weakened agricultural systems. The main impacts identified were a drop in income, production losses due to difficulties in marketing through conventional channels, but also difficulties in managing the farming systems due to reduced access to inputs and labor. In order to cope, farmers have adapted to be more self-sufficient: reduction in the size of cultivated areas, search for short marketing channels, diversification of production and reorientation towards the needs of the local market, recourse to mutual aid between farmers. If these effects appear to be non-irreversible in an island like Guadeloupe, the situation is different in other islands of the region where farmers have had to sell livestock, seek new off-farm income and sometimes sell land to cope. In terms of impacts on food systems, the crisis has led to strong constraints such as a reduction in food intake and diversity and increased reliance on family and social mutual aid. Our study also shows that the crisis has had an impact on consumer behavior and their perception of the importance of the agricultural sector: reduction of food waste, return to fresh and local products, adaptation of the diet, consumption of new products, and cultivation of food gardens. Finally, our study shows that the crisis has had an effect of strengthening the links between farmers and the rest of the population. Significance Thus if the crisis has had seriously damaging consequences, it can also be the trigger and catalyst for an agro-ecological transition and the development of a circular and territorialized bio-economy to strengthen the resilience of Caribbean agricultural and food systems and facilitate the achievement of sustainability and food security objectives.
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hal-03210310 , version 1 (23-11-2022)

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Jean-Marc Blazy, François Causeret, Sébastien Guyader. Immediate impacts of COVID-19 crisis on agricultural and food systems in the Caribbean. Agricultural Systems, 2021, 190, pp.103106. ⟨10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103106⟩. ⟨hal-03210310⟩

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