Ghana: boost in lemon sales
Ghana’s Wa market has seen an increase in demand for lemons due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to perceived benefits to the immune system (Modern Ghana, 19 May). Lemons are grown in the south and transported to sellers in Wa, but previously demand was low. Sellers used to buy lemons at GHC35.00 per bucket, but since demand increased, the producers have increased the price to GHC70.00 per bucket. Despite the price increase, demand is still higher than supply. Some women have also begun selling the fruit from house-to-house and from office-to-office due to the high demand. People are hoping lemons will help them to keep a strong immune system, as well as observing the recommended protocols.
Burkina Faso: Is organic production the future post-coronavirus?
An organic farmer in Burkina Faso is looking forward to a sustainable future post-coronavirus (Fresh Plaza, 19 May). Razack Belemgnegre has a two-hectare farm and also runs “Béo-neere” (“Better Future”), an association for the promotion of agro-ecology and farmer training. His organic farm produces its own seeds, and fertilisers from manure and compost. During the confinement, offering home delivery of baskets of fruit and vegetables meant the farm was able to attract new customers, some of whom were not previously buying organic. The farm sells its certified organic products at almost at the same price as commercial products. “We haven’t stopped since the beginning of the epidemic, we even had to increase our production capacity,” says Belemgnegre. “The coronavirus must serve as a lesson to us, we can no longer depend on the outside world to feed us.”
Kenya: Onion prices rise as supply from Tanzania falls
Households in Nyeri in the Central Highlands of Kenya have seen onion prices rise sharply due to a shortage (Fresh Plaza, 21 May). The price of a kilo of onions has shot up by 86%, selling at KSH150 up from KSH80 last month. The new price has been caused by a shortage of supply from Tanzania, which normally floods the markets with its high-grade onions. Traders are now being forced to rely on local crops. This is due to the closure of borders and limited movement. Though Nyeri’s Kieni Constituency is a top onion producer, traders in the county have often preferred to import onions because they are cheaper. Also, the local farmers sell their onions before they are mature, making them perish more quickly.
Kenya: COVID-19 leads to increase in online food deliveries
Many Kenyans prefer shopping for fresh produce in physical markets. However, COVID-19 has led to increased online trade in agricultural commodities as social distancing rules limit physical trading. A blog post by Atula Owade highlights how this has impacted some organisations and how they are adapting to the situation. It describes the different business models of online traders such as Mkulima Young (Young Farmer), Twiga Foods and Jumia Foods. The digital shift in marketing of agricultural commodities is an emerging area – these trends are likely to go on in the near future, and may very likely be the new normal even once COVID-19 has been contained.
The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has been calling for innovative digital solutions to tackle the challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak in low- and middle-income countries through its #SmartDevelopmentHack. The nine winners of the hackathon include “Digital Agriculture Africa” (Kenya, Nigeria) – a digital food security and agriculture supply value chain platform. It promotes zero contact to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by using technology to improve access to food and its distribution. The uber-like digital platform allows delivery riders and drivers to receive requests from consumers who have ordered products to deliver their food items to their doorstep.