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Vegetable Value Chains During the COVID- 19 Pandemic in Ethiopia: Evidence from Cascading Value Chain Surveys Before and During the Pandemic

We combine in-person survey data collected in February 2020 (i.e., just before the pandemic was declared) with phone survey data collected in March 2021 (i.e., one year into the pandemic) and August 2021 (i.e., approximately 18 months into the pandemic) to study how vegetable value chains in Ethiopia have coped with the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on the major vegetable value chain connecting farmers in East Shewa zone to consumers in Addis Ababa, we applied a cascading survey approach in which we collected data at all levels of the value chain: vegetable farmers, urban wholesalers, and retailers. In March 2021 and August 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic is having only a limited impact on this major vegetable value chain. Farmers’ access to credit, labor or extension services have not markedly changed since the pre-pandemic period in February 2020. The main concern among farmers relates to the soaring prices of key inputs with prices of key fertilizers having increased by more than 40 percent between February 2020 and March 2021. Among the many pandemic related policy adjustments was the relocation of the wholesale veg- etable market from a crowded area in the city center to the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Most whole- sale traders viewed that while the pandemic itself has had a limited impact on their business activ- ity, the re-location of the wholesale market had a considerably larger negative impact. Most whole- saler traders reported that they are trading less vegetables and have fewer clients to sell in March 2021 compared to the situation in February 2020. Almost all of these wholesaler traders identified the re-location of the vegetable wholesale market to the outskirts of Addis Ababa as the primary reason for the declined sales and clientele, and thus, as a major concern for their trading activities.