Southeast Asian Agriculture Post-COVID-19

Southeast Asian Agriculture Post-COVID 19
Zuhud Rozaki, PhD.
Agricultural Business Study Program, Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta

The COVID-19 pandemic affects human life in all sectors, including agriculture. In addition to Indonesia, other countries in Southeast Asia have also experienced the same thing. This pandemic emerged in Wuhan, China, where a virus thought to be from an animal mutated and was transmitted to humans. From there, this virus spread throughout the world. From the outset of a health crisis, the spread of this virus has become an economic obstacle, and could become a major security crisis.

Malaysia had implemented Lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus more widely. As of July 10, 2020, the total number of cases was 8,696, with 8,511 recoveries and 121 deaths. Meanwhile, Indonesia does not have the courage to implement lockdowns because of the impact of lockdowns on the economy. As of 9 July 2020 there has been 68,079 cases, 31,585 recoveries and 3,359 deaths. Although the pandemic greatly impacted our health given the very rapid spread of the virus, Indonesia still does not dare to impose a lockdown, instead imposing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in several areas. This step is considered to be able to help reduce the very fast spread of the virus (Zuhud, 2020).

Meanwhile, in Laos, as of 3 August 2020 there has been 20 cases and 19 recoveries. As it is a small country located in the middle of other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam (Khamsing, 2020). While in Thailand, as of August 3 2020 there has been 3,317 cases, 3,142 recoveries and 58 deaths. The country was devastated by the pandemic because the country depended on tourism for its source of income, and during this pandemic the number of tourists decreased considerably. In addition, product exports have been decreasing (Yaowarat, 2020)

Another impacted country in Southeast Asia is the Philippines. As of August 3rd 2020, there have been 85.486 cases, 26.996 recoveries and 1.962 deaths. Even though the country has previously implemented lockdown, the number of cases still climbed (Arrienda, 2020).

To overcome the economic impact of the pandemic, Malaysia and Indonesia launched an economic stimulation program. In Malaysia, economic stimulation such as tax relief, and the PENJANA (Pelan Jana Initially Negara Ekonomi Negara) program are key strategies in improving the post-pandemic economy. they are efforts to empower the people, increase business, and stimulate the economy (Juwaidah, 2020). Meanwhile, Indonesia issued two stimuli, the first of which focuses on the economic sector that can drive business, especially tourism and accommodation. The second stimulus focuses on fiscal and non-fiscal programs to support efforts to export and import products that can help tackle Covid-19 (Kemenko Perekonomian RI, 2020).

Many countries in Southeast Asia depend on agriculture for their economy, because with the tropical climate, agriculture has great potential. However, the emergence of this pandemic has disrupted agriculture in Southeast Asia. Therefore, this article aims to examine the impact of the pandemic on agriculture in Southeast Asia, from present and future perspectives.

Southeast Asian Agriculture Post-COVID 19
As a sector that is a large part of the economic development of Southeast Asia, agriculture has an important position. When something disrupts this sector, the impact will be felt by many people. Agriculture Post-COVID-19 pandemic shows that there are several obstacles. In Malaysia, the impact of the pandemic on agriculture is a decrease in the number of workers, damage to the supply chain, difficulty in selling agricultural products, banning exports, and closing restaurants (Juwaidah, 2020). Whereas in Indonesia, the pandemic has more of an impact on increasing input prices, disrupting supply chains, and decreasing demand for certain agricultural products, especially tertiary products (Rozaki, 2020).

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, agriculture impacted the supply chain and was felt by farmers and consumers, in addition to the lockdown (Arrienda, 2020). Conditions in Laos are not much different, where the impact of this pandemic takes the form of reduced demand for farmer products, limited distribution, and increased prices for rice and meat (Khansing, 2020). For Thailand, the impact that is most felt by the agricultural sector is the reduction in exports of agricultural products, even though exports are an important part of agricultural development in this country (Yaowarat, 2020).

There are several strategies or efforts that have been implemented to help the agricultural sector, with each country employing different strategies. The government’s system depends on the program or business. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Agriculture made several programs, namely the provision of basic foodstuffs mainly rice and corn for the entire population, accelerating exports of strategic commodities (swallow’s nest, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and others) to support economic sustainability, socialization of officers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the creation or development of farmer markets in each province, optimization of local food, coordination of logistics infrastructure, utilization of e-marketing, and labor-intensive programs so agricultural development targets are achieved and the community immediately receives cash funds (Kementan RI, 2020).

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, programs to save agriculture include the formation of a food security committee, providing assistance on economic stimulus packages, updating automation and digitizing systems, developing the future of agri-entrepreneurs for young people, increasing e-commerce in agricultural and food products, and increasing partnerships with private parties (Juwaidah, 2020).

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is felt in all sectors, including agriculture. The majority of countries in Southeast Asia still rely on the agricultural sector as a contributor to the country’s economy. The negative impact felt by the agricultural sector in several countries in Southeast Asia is relatively the same, namely the disruption of supply chains and rising input prices. These two impacts can be fatal if there are no policies to overcome them. Each country has its own situation, so the treatment of the agricultural sector is different. It is necessary to focus on emergency and long-term strategies so that the impact of this pandemic can be optimally overcome.

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Accessed7 August 2020.
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Sriwaranun, Y. 2020. Thailand Agriculture Post Covi-19 Pandemic: Current and Future Perspectives. Presented in Internasional Webinar “Southeast Asian Agriculture Post Covid-19 Pandmei: Current and Future Perspectives” 11 July 2020.

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