Consumers, producers in a tight corner | Sunday Observer
Covid-19 hits markets and supply chains 

Consumers, producers in a tight corner

1 November, 2020

Consumers and producers are facing untold suffering due to the disruption to the food supply chain triggered by the current crisis, market sources told Sunday Observer Business on Friday.

Economic analysts said that this would lead to a further increase in food prices and inflation.

Quarantine curfew imposed in October is the latest blow to the main consumer markets at the supply and demand end. Even prior to curfew, main markets such as the Petah Manning Market and the Peliyagoda fish market were closed due to the diagnosis of Covid-19 positive cases. The closure of main distribution markets where agricultural and fisheries produce is exchanged had an adverse impact on producers. Sources in Welimada Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela and Dambulla said that farmers face enormous difficulties in selling their produce. However, vegetable prices at retail markets in most parts of the country remains relatively high and there is an increasing trend.

Fruits and vegetable prices in cultivation areas have dropped due to the low demand. Perishable fruits such as banana and papaya prices have fallen sharply and farmers said that traders do not come to collect the produce. D.A. Gunatarhna, a trader who purchases bananas from the Bibile fair to supply to the Colombo Manning market, said that he has stopped trading. The highest demand for agricultural products comes from the Western province.

Traders said that prices of other consumer goods too are increasing due to the high demand as consumers are stockpiling as more  Covid positive cases are reported.

Main fisher communities are the most affected by the new wave of the pandemic. The closure of the Peliyagoda fish market, a large number of fish traders being diagnosed as Covid-19 positive and resulting panic created among the public has  disrupted fish distribution.

Sources in southern fisheries harbours said that fishers coming to shore with their harvest by one-day and multiday vessels faced serious issues as there are no buyers or storage facilities. They urge the Government, the Ministry of Fisheries and Fisheries Corporation to intervene to distribute the harvest countrywide.

Sanath Liyanage at the Mirissa fisheries harbour said that there are a large number of multi-day vessels that are due to return in the coming days and authorities should take immediate action to restore the fish supply chain.

Government should launch a campaign to clear doubt and help people to stop panicking. People believe that the virus could spread by consuming fish. Now that the Peliyagoda fish market is closed distribution could commence from fisheries harbours. The Fisheries Ministry or Fisheries Corporation can take the lead in the distribution.  A large number of producers connected to farming and fisheries sectors are affected due to market disruptions. 

Covid-19 has disrupted markets and supply chains globally and are affecting producers and consumers. Food prices surging by around 10 percent in South Asia is the highest in recent years.