Economic impact of covid-19 on cattle traders and their response in Agropastoral and pastoral regions in Uganda
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The Coronavirus disease 2019 still poses a serious threat to the economy of Uganda especially the livestock sector which is the most rapidly growing subsectors. The purpose of the study was to assess economic impact of COVID-19 and the response of cattle traders in agropastoral and pastoral regions of Uganda. This was guided by the following study objectives; to characterize the cattle traders, to assess the effects of COVID-19 on cattle traders, and to assess how the cattle traders are coping up. The target population comprised of cattle traders from the agropastoral and pastoral regions in Uganda, represented by Teso and Karamoja sub-regions, respectively. A sample of 120 cattle traders was identified using snowball sampling technique from which 60 cattle traders participated per sub-region. The study involved use of personally administered questionnaires for data collection. The data collected was entered in Microsoft Excel and analyzed using Stata software. The study reveals that cattle traders were negatively affected by COVID-19 in many ways including; reduction in cattle sales, erosion in operating capital, increase in operating costs, and suspension of cattle business. Fourteen percent of the cattle traders did not sell any animal during the lockdown. A majority of these were from Karamoja (89.7%) compared to those in Teso sub-region (10.3%). The decline in cattle sales was greater in Karamoja (74.1%) than in Teso sub-region (54.6%). However, their recovery was greater and faster in Karamoja than in Teso sub-region (68.5% and 34.3%, respectively) because traders in Teso greatly diversified to other economic activities compared to traders in Karamoja sub-region. The traders who lost capital were mainly in Teso sub-region (63.5%). As expected, there was a sharp decline in the number of cattle buyers from markets outside the study area, mainly from Juba, Kampala, Busia, and Kenya. Among the coping strategies by cattle traders included; operating in the ‘black market’ (75%); diversification of economic activities to cultivation of crops (69.5%), burning charcoal (13.5%), selling food items (6.8%), boda-boda riding (10.2%); and others simply stayed away from the business (25%). To mitigate against the pandemic, traders were observing some of the Standard Operating Procedures such as handwashing (19.3%), sanitizing (2.3%), social distancing (2.3%) and wearing face masks (76.1%). Traders from Karamoja performed poorly in both diversification and mitigation measures. The study recommends; offering loans to cattle traders through their VSLAs, reducing transaction costs, and enforcing SOPs to minimize further impacts of the pandemic.