COVID-19 and the Agricultural Sector in Northern Ontario
In Northern Ontario, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in heightened consumer demand for locally grown and produced foods. Meeting this demand is proving difficult as agri-businesses face numerous pandemic-induced challenges including labour shortages and limited retail marketplaces. Despite these challenges, many agri-businesses are finding innovative ways to facilitate consumer access to their products, including leveraging social media, enhancing local food initiatives, and launching online stores and e-platforms.
The objective of this applied research collaboration is to rapidly identify the emerging needs of Northern Ontario agri-businesses and provide enhanced support for production, distribution, marketing activities during the pandemic and evidence-informed recommendations and business strategies for agri-businesses and policy-makers to ensure economic stability and food security in the post-pandemic period.
As part of the project, the research team developed an interactive online map of Northern Ontario that lists which agri-businesses are still open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes information such as location, websites and services and products. The map created using ArcGIS Online will continue to be updated as the agri-food network evolves and changes in Northern Ontario.
The research team also developed a survey that will help us quickly identify the emerging needs of agri-food businesses in Northern Ontario. The results will allow partner organizations to quickly position their respective services to 1) enhance supports for production, distribution, and marketing activities during the pandemic; and 2) provide evidence-informed recommendations and business strategies for agri-businesses and policymakers in the post-pandemic period. Results from the survey will be available over the coming months.