Growing and Eating Food during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Farmers’ Perspectives on Local Food System Resilience to Shocks in Southern Africa and Indonesia

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The COVID-19 outbreak forced governments to make decisions that had adverse effects on local food systems and supply chains. As a result, many small-scale food producers faced difficulties growing, harvesting, and selling their goods. This participatory research examines local small-scale farmers’ challenges as farmers but also as consumers and their coping strategies during the month of April and one week in June 2020. The study was initiated and conceptualized in collaboration with small-scale farmer members of an existing research network in selected urban and rural areas in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Indonesia. Participants co-designed the research, collected and uploaded data through digital survey tools, and contributed to data analysis and interpretation. A common observation across regions is that the measures imposed in response to COVID-19 highlighted and partly exacerbated existing socio-economic inequalities among food system actors. Strict lockdowns in Cape Town, South Africa, and Masvingo, Zimbabwe, significantly restricted the production capacity of small-scale farmers in the informal economy and created more foodinsecurityforthem. InMaputo,Mozambique,andTorajaandJava,Indonesia,localfoodsystems continued to operate and were even strengthened by higher social capital and adaptive capacities.

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