Facilitating Successful Harvest Seasons during COVID-19
COVID-19 has severely stressed agricultural markets and threatens food security in countries like Egypt. Good agricultural practices play a crucial role in the country’s food security position — particularly in Upper Egypt and the Delta, both remote areas that receive support from the Feed the Future Egypt Rural Agribusiness Strengthening Project. When national stay-at-home orders were extended indefinitely, the project sought new ways to continue assistance and ensure harvest success by eschewing business as usual and adopting remote technical assistance (RTA) strategies that have reached thousands of beneficiaries with personalized support.
During the spring of 2020, thousands of farmers started to harvest onions, potatoes, tomatoes, fennel, mangoes and dates in Upper Egypt and the Delta. The Egypt Rural Agribusiness Strengthening project team responded quickly to the urgent situation, adjusting work plans, shifting business meetings online and thinking creatively about how to fit technical assistance to the new COVID-19 reality.
RTA has taken different forms for different beneficiaries and ranges from video guidance to on-demand Q&A support in specialized value chain WhatsApp groups. These groups now provide spaces for beneficiaries to receive guidance, pose questions to their peers and technical staff, and even share videos of their crops. The project is also taking milestone events online, successfully holding virtual events such as harvest days, festivals and demonstrations.
From April to June 2020, the project reached over 2,500 participants virtually, with training messages, voice notes and technical recommendations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the project will continue to use remote approaches and will integrate valuable lessons and strategies into its post-COVID-19 work.
To learn more about the project’s remote technical assistance and other innovative technical approaches, check out the Feed the Future Egypt Rural Agribusiness Strengthening Project’s Technical Brief.