The UK Government is working to assess and respond to the economic impact of COVID-19 on commodity producers. It is estimated that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy – nearly half of the global workforce – stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed. When assessing the employment landscape of the areas my Department works in, most people are employed along food and agriculture supply chains, including production. Whilst the impact varies greatly across sectors, in the flower and tea sectors we are seeing an immediate lost to salaries as a result of unemployment.
That is why we are repurposing key bilateral and multilateral programmes to pivot to help commodity producers impacted. Our Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme has already repurposed its latest awards and is looking for do more with expected new funding. For example, 55 Farmers' Organizations supported by the programme in Bangladesh have already developed 57 virtual call centres to market perishable products through using social medias and mobile apps. This helps protect incomes while avoiding a spike in food insecurity. Our Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness programme is supporting smallholder producers in Malawi, Uganda and Nepal, to keep supply chains going through the crisis through support to transport and market access and increased use of digital technologies.
We are urgently examining what funding is needed and how we can have the biggest impact, working in partnership with business and addressing these issues in the most vulnerable countries. I look forward to being able to provide more information on this in due course.