Impact of CoVID-19 on Environment and Agriculture: An outline

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Agriculture in the time of Covid-19 - The Hindu BusinessLine

by Rohit Kumar and Shalini Gupta 18 June 2020

As CoVID-19 is a highly contagious disease due to it many countries experience CoVID-19 outbreak. Most of the countries implemented critical approaches to prevent the spread of disease. Global lockdown is one of the major actions taken by several nations like India, China and Europe. This preventive measure taken by the government led to severe issues related to agricultural sector and economy of the country. Beside, these consequences environment is showed positive impact of CoVID-19. Hence, this piece of work focused on the agricultural and environmental aspects of this pandemic.       

China was the first country reported pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan city. This outbreak was declared a pandemic and global concern on 30 Jan 2020. On 11 Feb 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new coronavirus disease CoVID-19 name referred to corona virus disease of 2019. It was later renamed as severe acute respiratory syndrome, corona virus 2 or SARS- CoV-2 by international committee on taxonomy of virus because the virus is genetic cousin of the coronavirus which cause SARS outbreak in 2002 (SARS- CoV) (WHO, 2020). Symptoms of this disease appear in 2 -14 days after exposure. Fever, cough, difficulty in breathing are the common signs of this disease. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, people who are older or exist with any chronicle medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes or having weak immunity may be at higher risk of serious illness. This disease is highly contagious in nature and no vaccine till has been available. It can cause death in some people. Till now, overall world death rate reached to 114,280 and numbers of infected people are up to 1,853,155.

Prevention can be achieved by using Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes to take precautions while in contact with fomites (clothes, utensils, furniture which may carry infection). Washing hands often with soap, use of hand sanitizer, use of surgical or homemade face mask and hand gloves. Hence self-precautions and control play important role. So, avoiding large gathering and events is one of the necessary actions could be taken at individual level. This pandemic restricted worldwide to take required actions in various developed and developing nations such as strict lockdown in Wuhan, China; 21 day complete lockdown in India; extensive travel restriction, Italy; Pubs, bars, theater have been Closed in London, worldwide effect on transportation, decline in growth of aviation industry and railways, strategy like work from home has been adopted. All of these steps showed positive impact on environment globally.

Developmental activities caused threat to present environmental condition but recently due to CoVID-19 outbreak industrial and transportation activities has been banned which made the surrounding environment more cleaner than previous condition. This is one of the positive side of this pandemic as New York reduce approx. 50 % pollution, coal use is decline by 40 % in China, air quality index has been improved in Europe as satellite image showed fading of NO2 emission, similar case monitored in Spain and UK. In India, due to restriction of industrial activity and zero effluent discharge results in better river water quality. In India cities like Delhi as per system of air quality and weather forecasting and research (SAFAR) showed average air quality index followed by Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Lucknow. Real time water monitoring data of CPCB, the average water quality of Ganga and Yamuna has been improved and become suitable for bathing, propagation of wildlife and fisheries. Impact on carbon neutrality reveals that impose of lockdown to restrict the spread of CoVID-19 showed fall in GHG and CO2 emission across the continents. Scientist and researchers estimates 5 % fall in carbon output in 2020. However, this fall in emission could be short term and have minor impact on the concentration of CO2 in atmosphere. The world needs to adopt renewable energy sources to maintain balance in the ecosystem and to improve energy efficiency. Once the world get out of this pandemic then huge pressure will be employed on environment. Thus, it is better to implement strict regulations and rules for environment protection and industries to avoid detrimental effect of anthropogenic activity.

As we all know, Indian population and economy mostly depends on agriculture. CoVID-19 triggered severe impact on agricultural activities, food supply and security. This primarily effect on harvesting activity of wheat and pulses. By keeping functional supply chain it may cause threat to food security. Additionally, lack of trade in food products may cause poor nutrition. Secondly inconvenience of the wholesaler to provide the goods which led to hike in the food prices at many grocery stores mainly because of huge demand and less supply. So, distribution and allocation network of goods should be expanded by government. Moreover government should also focus on cash transfer so that it can balance the functionality, accessibility and continuity of goods in rural as well as in urban areas. This infectious disease also causes dislocation of many tribal and poor migrant workers across the cities or villages. Consequently they are facing mental and financial stress. In this regard government declared some relief packages for these workers.

Hence, farmers and migrant workers must be protected from this pandemic by providing them appropriate health facility and personal protective equipments. Moreover government should promote trade by available export and import to avoid limitations on food and nutrition security. Essential services should be continued at the receiving end in rural or urban areas. Doorstep distribution of essential house hold and lifesaving food assistance, medical facility should be provided nationwide. In this respect, government of India played important role in social protection. However agricultural aspect should be considered sincerely otherwise it may lead to malnutrition, food shortage, hike in food prices and extreme poverty or hunger (Dev, 2020).

Apart from positive and negative aspect of CoVID-19 outbreak on environment and agriculture respectively we cannot ignore economic crisis, rural anxiety, low income, loss of employment and widespread inequality. Current scenario drags attention towards national security and emergency. Governmental decisions played crucial role worldwide to prevent this contagious outbreak. This pandemic also signifies that there is a need to boost medical as well as biotechnological field of sciences. Most importantly, farmers should not be ignored as they are important organ of the country.

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