Coronavirus in India: Food prices up 3 times as supply chain takes a hit
New Delhi : The prices of key staples, barring cereals have gone up by up to three times within a month as the supply chain took a hit amid three-week nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, according to official and market data reviewed by Hindustan Times.
The prices have gone up mainly because of three factors.
One, arrivals of farm commodities in APMC markets have plunged sharply, down almost 60% in some markets from a month ago, that is, in the first week of March. Two, land transportation costs have risen sharply, as truckers struggle to cross interstate boundaries, despite exemptions from the lockdown. Three, restrictions and quarantine measures have resulted in serious labour shortages, affecting the loading, unloading and sorting of commodities.
On April 8, the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation claimed that due to coronavirus lockdown, around 400 million poor Indians will have to deal with income loss.
However, some experts claim that with continuous lockdown, the supply shock can flip into demand shock as people will lose buying power.
“Loss of income will lead to a drop in demand for food in the coming months. A possible decline in food consumption could result in malnutrition too,” said Himanshu (one name), an economist with the Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University
The Centre has issued advisories to allow agriculture and linked activities that form the farm-to-fork supply chain, on March 25, March 26, April 2 and April 8.