Sunday, July 7, 2013


It may be a global phenomenon that the market prices of fresh protective foods are always higher than durable foods with predominant starch content like cereals. For example in many western countries fruits and vegetables costs an average consumer almost two to three times more for getting the recommended minimum quantity in the daily diet compared to cereal based foods. Glaringly food industry manufactures more high calorie foods at low costs attracting more and more poor income group consumers than those based on fruits and vegetables. Naturally high calories foods with high sugar, starch, fat and salt flood the market with palate tingling quality and the result is there for all to see with people bloated bodies swelling the ranks of the population day by day, the obesity epidemic showing no sign of being contained. If this is the case of rich nations what could be the situation in a poor country like India? According recent studies, the syndrome of excluding fruits and vegetables from every day diet is spreading fast in India with very serious future implications on the health of the already nutrition compromised population. Here is a take on this new disturbing trend.  

"The fear of bad monsoon has suddenly hiked the vegetables and fruits prices by 300% from the farm to your dining table," Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a survey on "Rising prices of fruits and vegetables" in which over 5,000 people took part. Over 88% of middle income group (MIG) and lower income group (LIG) find difficult to manage the household budget and squeezing families' finances to the lowest level due to uncertainty of rains, according to a country-wide survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) under the aegis of ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF). The survey was conducted in major places like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Bangalore and so on.  During the last three years, the salary of average common man has gone up by 10-15% but on the other side the prices of vegetables have also gone up by 250-300%,adds the ASSOCHAM paper. The maximum impact was felt in major cities like Delhi (1st), Mumbai (2nd), Ahmedabad (3rd), Kolkata (4th), Chennai (5th), Hyderabad (6th) and Pune (7th). Around 82% of lower middle class families have been forced to skip or squeezed their budgets for vegetables because of skyrocketing prices.
The prices of most of the widely consumed vegetables have shot up during the last two weeks in most parts of the country with the early onset of monsoon rains. The sudden increases of vegetables prices have seriously hit the common men mainly in the metro cities, adds D S Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM"

Is it not tragic that the so called democratically elected government is indulging in petty politics by bringing an ordinance on food security (old wine in new bottle!) that is supposed to legally 'guarantee" two thirds of the population with some hypothetical quantity of rotten cereals? Assuming that the guaranteed quantity is delivered without any operational hiccups and imagining the grain is edible, does the government feel that its duty is just to keep the "body and soul" of its citizens together without providing any means of nourishment through protective foods? The spooky statistics from the government may say that there is less than 5% inflation in the country but the prices of essentials like fruits and vegetables have gone through the roof recently! The traders are now quoting the rate of these foods "per quarter kilo" to make it appear reasonable, a gimmick that may not go well with the consumers. Probably if the government further shirks its responsibility for ensuring "nutrition security" to its citizens, traders may start selling such foods "per 100 grams" basis by next year!   


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