ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India’s Food System in the Time of COVID-19

India’s complete lockdown has caused unnecessary disruptions in the food supply chain, with the scarcity of labour making it even worse. A sharp decline in demand is imminent with the financial sector being in a freeze and incomes having shrunk for everyone, except for the small salaried class. Consumer sentiment and business outlook on recovery are bleak. While ensuring the free movement of essential goods and availability and safety of labour can mitigate the immediate disruptions in the supply chain, unclogging the financial sector and restoring optimism in the market will take time and heroic efforts from the government.

On 23 March 2020, the Government of India declared a complete lockdown for three weeks in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. All enterprises, except essential ones, have been closed and 1.4 billion people are confined to their homes for 21 days. Even the trains are not running. This is an unprecedented shock to the economy.

How is this lockdown affecting different parts of India’s food system right now and what are the prospects over the next few months? We gathered a group of researchers and practitioners from diverse sectors such as development research, banking, fintech, microfinance, international trade, dairy, logistics, and warehousing to discuss these questions and to make sense of arguably the largest economic experiment in human history. The participants shared their understanding of what was happening on the ground in different parts of India’s and the world’s food system along with the information gleaned from bankers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and policymakers in their individual networks. This article summarises the discussion.

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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2020
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