COLEACP’s short-term priority – to improve the resilience of ACP MSMEs

Agri-food MSMEs in ACP countries are particularly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. On top of the health threat it poses to workers and stakeholders along their value chains, the pandemic is highlighting the vulnerability of agri-food supply chains to trade disruption on national, regional and international levels, especially for short shelf-life goods such as fresh produce. MSMEs are already vulnerable due to very limited cash flow reserves, and even a temporary disruption can lead to job losses and declining revenues for small-scale producers that will have severe knock-on effects in terms of poverty alleviation, food security and nutrition in ACP countries.

COLEACP’s priority in the short term is to increase the resilience of ACP MSMEs so they can protect the health and safety of employees, workers, producers and their communities; safeguard livelihoods; and contribute to food security and nutrition. At the national level this involves working through the private sector, for example via farmer organisations and industry associations, and by establishing business-led COVID-19 taskforces to identify priorities and combine the public and private resources needed to address them.

Building on current activities under its two Fit For Market programmes, COLEACP is focusing on:

  • Keeping the ACP and EU agri-food industry up to date on trade and market dynamics.
  • Sensitising and training the ACP agri-food industry on COVID-19 preventive measures to protect the health and safety of workers, employees, producers and their communities.
  • Supporting the ACP agri-food industry to develop contingency plans for cashflow management and access to working capital; staff retention and reorganisation; market access (matching supply to demand with regard to logistics, diversifying from export to local/regional markets and from fresh to processed); and operations relating to preventive measures at public and private sector levels, and interactions with customs and border controls.
  • Advocating on behalf of the ACP agri-food industry towards governments, international institutions and financial intermediaries to facilitate short-term contingency plans; ensure consistency of measures across EU and ACP countries to avoid trade and market distortions; and strengthen national and regional food production and distribution systems in the medium term throughout ACP countries.