Food price flare-up has no real winners -Sayantan Bera
* As consumers bear the brunt of high food costs, growers see no benefit. How long will this strange dynamic last?
* Many lower income consumers are also not enrolled under the federal food security scheme. An estimate suggests that over 100 million eligible Indians are excluded
Ramesh Pangal calls it a season of miseries: Farmers running around with vegetables to find a buyer; leaving tomatoes to rot in the field; dumping white pumpkins by the roadside. Between April and July, as the covid-19 pandemic worsened across India, farmers in Haryana’s Bhiwani district, where Pangal lives, incurred heavy losses as most vegetables sold for less than 5 per kg.
Wholesale markets were open only intermittently and the cost of transporting produce to cities shot up. “Prices were so low that it did not even cover the cost of plucking and transport," said Pangal.
Strangely, at the consumer end of the food supply pipeline, prices have been soaring. Take Tilak Mahato, who migrated from Bihar a few years ago to settle down in Ludhiana, Punjab. He and his wife Sangeeta have slashed food expenses to the bare minimum. The greens are expensive and shrink when cooked, so soybean nuggets thrown in with pieces of potatoes in a spicy curry is the staple diet along with rotis (wheat flatbread). The last grand meal was an egg curry prepared a month back. Pulses are rare; fruits are a luxury.
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Livemint.com, 20 August, 2020, https://www.livemint.com/news/india/food-price-flare-up-has-no-real-winners-11597847472244.html