COVID-19 Lockdown, Food Systems and Urban–Rural Partnership: Case of Nagpur, India
2. Theoretical Background
2.1. Implications of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Food Systems
2.2. Emerging Food Security Challenges and Assessment Methods
2.3. Importance of Urban–Rural Partnerships for Enhancing Food Security in Context of India
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Case Study Area of Nagpur, India
3.2. Research Methods
3.2.1. Formal Interviews with Local Government Officials in Nagpur
3.2.2. Online Surveys to Assess the Perception of Nagpur City Residents
4.1. Emergence of COVID-19 Pandemic in Nagpur and Local Government Response
4.1.1. First Wave of Pandemic Outbreak and Panic Buying
4.1.2. Second Wave of Pandemic Outbreak and Closure of Wholesale Markets
- Designated open grounds to decentralize the food markets: In coordination with APMC, the city authorities designated 24 open grounds in different parts of the city as alternative locations to carry out the sale transactions between traders and associated farmers. Such decentralization of the wholesale market was done to control overcrowding and to avert the community spread of novel coronavirus (schematic explanation shown in Figure 3). However, reportedly, only seven of the 24 designated open grounds were occupied by the farmers and traders due to a variety of stated reasons such as lack of proper facilities, limited spaces, the long distances and transportation costs. Resultantly, several farmers were forced to sell their produce on streets at much-reduced prices, and many others preferred selling their produce outside the city.
- Shelter camps and community kitchens for the needy people: In reference to NMC COVID-19 Control Room data, Nagpur city started witnessing panic amongst the labor class migrants from 29th March onwards, as they started crossing the city by foot defying the lockdown regulations Under the directive of the National and State Governments, the City and District authorities set up 19 shelter homes and 177 relief camps to cater to the needs of about 5685 people (as on 8 April 2020). Furthermore, around 28 community kitchens  were established to meet the food demands of 29,050 people accommodated in temporary tents, hostels and other relief camps.
- Home delivery of food products: To create redundancies in food supply and provide door-to-door service, the local authorities partnered with around 50 Food Produce Organizations (FPOs) from the surrounding rural areas, comprised of small and medium farm holding agriculture producers and farmers registered under various governmental schemes. The local authorities in coordination with youth voluntary groups also launched a helpline number for vulnerable groups (e.g., the elderly and physically challenged people), through which they can receive home delivery of essential commodities from associated retail shops. To further promote the initiatives of home delivery and make it citizen friendly, a web-based application  was also launched by the authorities.
4.1.3. Third Wave of Pandemic Outbreak and Disruption of Food Supply Chain
4.2. Key Information Sources, Immediate Concerns and Perceived Food Security at Household Level
4.2.1. Key Information Sources Related to COVID-19 Pandemic
4.2.2. Immediate Concerns Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
4.2.3. Perceived Food Security at Household Level
- Food Availability: The city residents were found to be highly dependent on food markets, as very low percentages of respondents stated growing their own fruits and vegetables (19.3%) or own any livestock, farm animals or poultry (1.1%). Against the growing disruptions in food supply and relocation of food markets, around 50% of the survey respondents have witnessed a decrease in market availability of food products (mainly “Food and Vegetables” and “Meat and Poultry”). Although the survey respondents were found to have maintained adequate stock of food grains and grocery, most (around 70.5%) could satisfy their needs up to only two weeks in the case of a complete lockdown.
- Food Accessibility: Most survey respondents (98.9%) were found to have easy access to nearby markets or grocery stores. However, due to the strict containment measures, the markets and grocery stores were opening only for stipulated hours every day. While 39.8% of survey respondents were stated to have access to food delivery services, the majority of respondents were still required to compulsorily visit the markets for purchasing their food products. Notably, 35.2% of respondents were not aware if they even have any access to home delivery services for food. Against the frequent disruptions in food supply chains that resulted in a limited stock with the retailers and vendors, more than 70% respondents reported an increase in food prices (particularly for fruits and vegetables) in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. These results also substantiate the earlier finding of declining market availability of food products.
- Food Consumption: Overall, 87.5% of respondents were found to have adequate access to nutritious foods. However, 38.6% of the survey respondents reportedly experienced shortage of their preferred food products in the market. While most food products are sourced from the rural areas around the city, it is important to note that the “Fruits and Vegetables” are perishable food commodities, which need adequate storage and processing. It was also found that the food quality has recently not matched the expected levels of 30.7% respondents. This may be associated with the shortage created due to panic buying phenomenon observed in the initial phase of the outbreak and also the shopkeepers opening up their reserved stock of the goods.
- Food Stability: While Nagpur city residents usually depend on the informal food markets, the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sense of uncertainty about the stability of food supply. It was found that only 38.6% respondents think that the food supply will be stable, while only 46.6% of respondents think they can afford the food products in the coming weeks. Even more concerning is the fact that a significant proportion of people are not sure about the stability of food supply (42%) or their ability to afford the food products (35.2%) in the coming weeks. Further, 31.8% of the respondents believe that they do not have reliable access to information related to availability of food products in markets.
5.1. Short-Term Policy Recommendations
5.1.1. Efficient Information Sharing Mechanisms to Avoid Panic among the Citizens
5.1.2. Enhancing the Household Food Security through Robust Food Supply Chains
5.2. Long-Term Policy Recommendations
5.2.1. Boosting Urban Agriculture and Local Food Production
5.2.2. Integrated Governance of Food Systems at Regional Level
5.2.3. Bridging the Urban–Rural Gaps through Improved Producer-Consumer Relationship
Conflicts of Interest
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|Key Determinant||Research Question||Response Options|
|Key Information Sources||What are your key sources of information for ongoing COVID-19 situation in Nagpur? (Multiple choice)||Television and Radio/Newspapers/Social Media/Governments websites and Apps/Phone calls and Messages/Community Networks/Official Communications/Others|
|What is the most accurate and reliable source of information regarding COVID-19?|
|Immediate Concerns||What are your immediate concerns in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic scenario? (Multiple choice)||Health Services/Job Stability/Travel and Transportation/Food and Grocery/Water and Energy/Access to banking facility/Education/Social Interaction/Others|
|What is your topmost concern at the moment under COVID-19 pandemic situation?|
|Food Security Determinant and Key Indicators||Research Question||Response Options|
|1. In-house Availability||Do you grow your own fruits and vegetables in a homestead garden or plot? Do you own any livestock, farm animals or poultry?||Yes/No|
|2. Market Availability||In the past few weeks, how has the market availability of food products (including Fruits and Vegetables, Grains, Dairy Products, Meat and Poultry, Seafood) changed?||Highly Increased/Increased/No Change/Decreased/Highly Decreased|
|3. Current Stock||In the case of complete lockdown, for how many days will your current food stock be adequate?||Less than two days/Up to 1 week/Up to 2 weeks/More than 2 weeks|
|4. Physical Access||Presently, do you have easy access (within 2 km) to nearby markets or grocery stores?||Yes/No|
|5. Market Prices||Has there been any change in food prices recently?||Highly Increased/Increased/No Change/Decreased/Highly Decreased|
|6. Institutional Support||Presently, do you have the facility to get food delivered at you houses?||Yes/No/Maybe|
|7. Nutritional Adequacy||Presently, do you have adequate access to nutritious food?||Yes/No/Maybe|
|8. Local Preferences||Has there been any shortage of your preferred food products?||Yes/No|
|9. Food Quality||In the past few weeks, has the quality of food products matched your expected levels?||Yes/No|
|10. Food Supply||Do you think the supply of food products will be stable in coming weeks?||Yes/No/Maybe|
|11. Food Prices||Do you think food products will be affordable to you in coming weeks?||Yes/No/Maybe|
|12. Information Access||Do you have reliable access to information related to availability of food products in markets?||Yes/No|
|Respondent Characteristics||Initial Phase|
(22nd March to 26th March 2020)
(5th April to 9th April 2020)
|Number of Surveys||346||88|
|Age Group of Respondents|
|Under 20 Years||3.8%||2.3%|
|60 Years and Above||8.7%||2.3%|
|Gender Group of Respondents|
|Prefer Not to Answer||0.0%||0.0%|
|Area of Residence (categorized in 10 Zones of city)|
|Occupation Group of Respondents|
|Food Security Determinant and Key Indicators||Research Question||Response Options—Response Percentage|
|In-House Availability||Do you grow your own fruits and vegetables in a homestead garden or plot?||Yes—19.3%|
|Do you own any livestock, farm animals or poultry?||Yes—1.1%|
|Market Availability||In the past few weeks, how has the market availability of food products (including Fruits and Vegetables, Grains, Dairy Products, Meat and Poultry, Seafood) changed?||Highly Increased—4.5%|
|Current Stock||In the case of complete lockdown, for how many days will your current food stock be adequate?||Less than two days—5.7%|
Up to One week—31.8%
Up to Two weeks—33%
More than 2 weeks—29.5%
|Physical Access||Presently, do you have easy access (within 2 km) to nearby markets or grocery stores?||Yes—98.9%|
|Market Prices||Has there been any change in food prices recently?||Highly Increased—9.1%|
|Institutional Support||Presently, do you have the facility to get food delivered at you houses?||Yes—39.8%|
|Nutritional Adequacy||Presently, do you have adequate access to nutritious food?||Yes—87.5%|
|Local Preferences||Has there been any shortage of your preferred food products?||Yes—38.6%|
|Food Quality||In the past few weeks, has the quality of food products matched your expected levels?||Yes—69.3%|
|Food Supply||Do you think the supply of food products will be stable in coming weeks?||Yes—38.6%|
|Food Prices||Do you think food products will be affordable to you in coming weeks?||Yes—46.6%|
|Information Access||Do you have reliable access to information related to availability of food products in markets?||Yes—68.2%|
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Sukhwani, V.; Deshkar, S.; Shaw, R. COVID-19 Lockdown, Food Systems and Urban–Rural Partnership: Case of Nagpur, India. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 5710. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165710
Sukhwani V, Deshkar S, Shaw R. COVID-19 Lockdown, Food Systems and Urban–Rural Partnership: Case of Nagpur, India. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(16):5710. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165710Chicago/Turabian Style
Sukhwani, Vibhas, Sameer Deshkar, and Rajib Shaw. 2020. "COVID-19 Lockdown, Food Systems and Urban–Rural Partnership: Case of Nagpur, India" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 16: 5710. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165710