Southeast Asia to lose 1.4% of GDP as COVID-19 cuts regional farm output

The entire Southeast Asia is poised to lose as much as 1.4 percent or $3.76 billion of its gross domestic product (GDP) as COVID-19 pandemic cuts the region’s agriculture production.

This is according to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), who said COVID-19 is foreseen to substantially reduce by a significant 3.11 percent the volume of agriculture output in Southeast Asia just in the first three months of the year.

The decline translates to as much as 17.03 million metric tons (MT) of output as a result of a decrease in farm labor affecting 100.77 million farmers.

In a policy paper, “Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Agriculture Production in Southeast Asia: Reinforcing Transformative Change in Agricultural Food Systems”, SEARCA asserts that a unique balance must be achieved among Southeast Asian countries on two important goals—trade and food security.

It is understandable that countries would first think of its own food security before others, but a “collective” enhancement of capacities leading to higher agricultural productivity is crucial, the study said.

“While most of the efforts are targeted within a country, it would be critical that policies supporting trade in ASEAN must be strengthened to simultaneously support productive and inclusive agricultural systems that ensure food security in the region,” SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio said.