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Impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the economic situation and food security of rural households in India

Veena Suresh (Department of Social Work, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham-Amritapuri Campus, Amritapuri, India)
Ram Fishman (Department of Public Policy, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel)
Johanna Sophie von Lieres (Center for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amrithapuri, India)
Bhavani R. Rao (Center for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amrithapuri, India)

Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2044-0839

Article publication date: 7 January 2022

Issue publication date: 6 May 2022

299

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the study is to understand what impact the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 had on the income and food security of rural households in India and whether it differed across socioeconomic factors. Moreover, the study assesses the needs of rural households and determines whether they had received adequate support services during the lockdown.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopted a repeated-measures quantitative survey design with 1,319 rural women from 16 states of India and conducted a telephonic survey.

Findings

The lockdown had directly impacted rural households' employment status and income but the impact differed depending on the type of employment. For example, working in a salaried job or on one's farm led to a lower likelihood of a complete decline in income in states other than Kerala as the lockdown continued. The study also revealed a change in the pattern of food consumption, with higher consumption of subsidized staple foods. It also became evident that the aid announced by the government reached the rural population with some delay.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the study was that many respondents refused to participate in phase 2, which reduced the sample size when comparing the two phases because the women did not own mobile phones. Instead, they were using their husbands' phones.

Originality/value

The study's findings can help better understand the needs of rural populations during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This can help to plan better and build preventive actions for such populations once their needs are understood. In addition, this can aid disadvantaged people for a minimal level of preparedness and security during such a crisis in the future.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful to Mata Amritaanandamayi, Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, for being a great source of inspiration for conducting a compassion-driven research study during this pandemic. The author expresses her gratitude to the Center for Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality, which hosts the UNESCO Chair for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, for providing all support. Our sincere thanks to Ranganji, the overall coordinator of AmritaSREE SHG, for collaborating with all AmritaSREE SHG members to participate in telephonic surveys. We extend our appreciation to the 2019 batch of MSW students, Karunyamrita Ji and field staff at AMMACHI labs, Srividya, Smitha, AmritaSREE, for their immense help in the data collection process. My sincere thanks to all those who extended their timely support and valuable assistance for the fulfilment of my research. And last but not least, let me take this opportunity to thank my family and thanks to God, the Almighty.

Citation

Suresh, V., Fishman, R., von Lieres, J.S. and Rao, B.R. (2022), "Impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the economic situation and food security of rural households in India", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 491-509. https://doi.org/10.1108/JADEE-07-2021-0177

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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