COVID-19 through the Lens of Seasonal Agriculture in South Asia

75% of the world's poor reside in rural areas where the local economy is tied to agriculture. We interpret new panel data on COVID-19 from Nepal and Bangladesh in relation to agricultural seasonality. Conditions in April–June 2020 were comparable to a typical lean season even though the pandemic arrived at harvest time. Income losses stem from both depressed local employment as well as lower migration and remittances. We also document indirect adverse health impacts on nutrition and mental health. Findings are specific to the nature of economic activity at harvest, and effective pandemic policy must evolve with the agricultural season.


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