The impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is changing the lives of our staff and the farmers we serve across all our geographies. Our families, community and colleagues have not escaped the most pernicious effects of the virus, and we hold those affected in our thoughts as they deal with loss, social distance from family, closure and healing. People are scared about health and livelihoods, for themselves and for other people: we hear you, and we will do everything we can to be there for you.
PAD’s approach to digital development has proven to be resilient, adaptable and capable of helping farmers in contexts where traditional in-person extension services are not possible because of the need to maintain social distancing. As well as expanding our suite of digital extension services we are providing tools to help our partners collect information from farmers to improve understanding of the evolving impacts of COVID-19 on smallholder populations and food security and inform evidence-based decision-making on the part of policymakers.
We have adapted rapidly to mitigate the impact of social distancing protocols on the ways we work. We have adapted our two-way farmer communication flows to make greater use of inbound information from farmers, in order to better understand the COVID-19-related needs and knowledge of smallholder populations, and to advance efforts to slow and analyze impacts associated with the virus. In addition, we are beginning to explore approaches to mitigate the particular challenges posed by the pandemic for smallholder farmers, such as disruptions to agricultural input supply chains and curtailed access to markets for selling farm produce.
From an operational perspective, we decided as an organisation to transition all staff to work-from-home arrangements before official lockdown decisions were implemented across all our geographies, and were able to repatriate a majority of staff who chose to return to their home countries and cities before travel restrictions prevented such movement. We are fortunate and thankful that our staff were largely able to avoid logistical quagmires.
This quarter we were able to continue to modestly expand our farmer reach, despite challenges posed by the pandemic, and seasonal downturns in production among some of our largest groups of farmers.
A detailed presentation of the digital capabilities PAD can deploy in response to COVID-19 is accessible here. Information relating to current COVID-related research and learning are presented in our Quarterly Report. Updated research, findings and pandemic-response activities will be posted to our COVID-19 page and to this blog.
Please take care,
Chief Executive Officer