OACPS information session on impact of Covid-19
On 9 June, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), with the support of COLEACP, organised a session focusing on the impact of Covid-19 on the agri-food production and supply sector in ACP countries. Among the 50 participants were the OACPS team, representatives of numerous Embassies, experts from ACP countries, and representatives of African regional communities and the European Commission.
COLEACP shared an overview of the feedback received from ACP countries identifying the main challenges and opportunities for the agri-food sector in these regions in the context of Covid-19, as well as its specific action plan and its first results.
The main issues discussed were:
- the disruption of production, logistics and transport affecting supply chains and the need to redirect production to local markets
the economic and social stimulus measures needed, especially for SMEs and smallholders
- the problem of labour shortages and unemployment due to market foreclosure, curfews and illness affecting workers
- the declining demand for and expenditure on fresh food, which is leading to a deterioration of food and nutrition security in the regions and insufficient knowledge of food availability at the national and regional levels
- the support needed for greater use of digital tools in ACP countries through encouragement of investment in infrastructure, regulatory frameworks and fiscal incentives
- essential health and safety guidelines in the food chain and the need for intergovernmental and regional protocols.
To inform the debate and reflections, COLEACP provided OACPS with a series of strategic notes on the key issues of the moment:
- Impact of Covid-19 on agri-food production and supply in OACPS Member States
- New EU regulation for organic products (update)
- Brexit: Results of the consultation on the UK’s autonomous tariff policy
- Review process of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
The meeting provided an opportunity to share successes and actions by governments, donors and operators that have already been implemented at national and regional levels. Discussions among participants included the importance of supporting:
- SMEs and smallholders – to develop diversification strategies in terms of logistics, markets (including short-circuits) and products (with particular emphasis on the potential to be exploited in the processing of fresh products)
- operators – to access sources of finance, in particular by strengthening their resilience and risk management capacities
- regions – to better optimise intra- and inter-regional trade flows through the use of economic intelligence tools, where supply can meet demand by taking into account parameters such as seasonality, climatic hazards, logistical hazards, etc.
At the end of the session, it was agreed that COLEACP will continue to provide analytical tools, technical assistance and capacity building to operators in the horticultural value chains (private and public) in ACP countries, and to share best practices in ACP countries and the EU.