By: Kiran Mainali (Moderator), MBA Agribusiness
“Nothing beats hunger. Even the contagious virus falls back when the matter is about developing resilience against hunger”: Ever wondered while you are resorting back to your place of security and adhering self-quarantine measure, how the food which is an essential elixir of your existence, is being managed by relevant stakeholders. Here, is the snapshot of findings that we summoned after undertaking a rigorous panel discussion session with some of the prominent personalities from government, private supply chain entities and last but not the least the ever-grinding agriculture farmers.
Amid the fear of a potential outbreak of the global pandemic, the government of Nepal have taken draconian measures to lock down its national territories leaving a small window for import of daily necessities, halted the mobility of the vehicles and inflicted stringent ban on the movement of people. All the essential precautionary steps taken by the government are satisfactory in view to prevent the possible infusion of the deadly virus, however one imperative sector which has been at least priority is the on the facets of the supply chain of the agriculture (to be a precise supply of how farmers will receive raw materials and how consumers will get food served at their table).
The local landscape of the country is probable to resist the scenario of food insecurity all kudos to the subsistence nature of farming adopted within the spectrum. Meanwhile, densely populated cities of the country with overwhelming urban dwellers settled and having limited bandwidth of topological connection with places where a majority of the agriculture practice are centralized are someway the other struggling to combat the supply deficit issue of basic vegetable and other agricultural commodities. With some online private entities buckling up to meet the proliferating demand of agriculture goods the one part of the discussion had entirely centered on the woes they have confronted on their expeditions and how their business will shape post-crisis tenure. Similarly, as speculations on the economic downturn are on the cards post corona backward supply chain are simulated to be disrupted and ensue persistent challenges on sustaining the agricultural setup in the country, the governmental agenda of re-enterprising the economy of the country assisted by agriculture is skeptical. In this regard, the scheduled discussion attempted to cover all the above-listed issues chronic in the sector of supply chain and farm production, expected impact on the farm economy and nation on a wholesome.
Alignment of the discussion:
As the issues, challenges and conjecture on food supply chain crisis were invading all across the social media space, MBA Agribusiness (Kings College) to enable students in understanding real-time dynamics of agricultural ecosystem of the country hosted an open online webinar with participants-agricultural enthusiasts tuning across the globe. The panellists for the discussion were precisely selected from different vocations functioning under agribusiness ecosystem to ensure the discussion is made more assorted and covering major facets of pressing concerns of the supply chain.
Findings deciphered from the constructive discussion
Upon piling up all major verdicts of the panellists regarding the forward supply chain practised currently, the farmers were feeling the major heat as their farm produces which potentially needs to be somewhere on the consumers’ kitchen, where stranded on the farm wilting and waiting for the regulatory body to come up with a stimulus plan to help them cope up with the unprecedented miserable circumstances. The similar woes were recited from the supply chain entrepreneurs who encountered troubles to acquire mobility passes, logistics challenges and maintaining their operational activities. The representative of the government, on the other hand, had a different perspective to offer, where the inputs awarded us about the relentless efforts the government have been embracing since the outset of the lockdown to facilitate convenience commutation of the agricultural commodities and ensure producer-consumer welfare to be fostered irrespective to contemporary scenarios.
In the process of discussion on the core agenda of the webinar, it was pleasing to know regarding how modern supply chain disrupting e-commerce platforms had been perfectly blending social responsibilities on crisis management-which intrigued me the most is a business scholar. According to the entrepreneur, they were tirelessly adhering all major safety protocols prescribed by the WHO and Health Ministry to conduct business operation and serve society during the unprecedented crisis.
The other core objective of the discussion was to retrieve verdicts of the actors of the agricultural ecosystem to discern where the country’s future agriculture was heading with terrors of economic recession hovering around. If commercial young farmers take was to be noted, the backward supply chain of the input materials which are integral factorial determinants of farm production had been acutely affected which would certainly reduce the productivity and its diversification on the days to arrive. Meanwhile, the government has already been alarmed with the situation and had been intensely working out to help agricultural domain- a major economic backbone to re-enterprise with the meddling of a number of policies cum strategies, collaboration with Indian Government (the ultimate suppliers) and funnelling relief monetary plans to the farmers. On the same context, entrepreneurs whose business are at jeopardy under simulated productivity slump emphasized to rethink of a new model “ Year of Local Produce-more resilient and sustainable model” to be endorsed by the government along with private partnerships to combat with the agricultural adversities.