High food prices worsen citizens’ worries amidst a raging COVID19 pandemic

At a time when the second wave of the COVID19 pandemic has been a constant source of anxiety in India, to make things worse, the citizens have been struck by the high prices of food commodities as well.

Mithilesh Dhar Dubey
| Updated: May 11th, 2021

Apart from oils and pulses, the prices of fruits and vegetables have soared as well. Photo: Mohit Shukla

From cooking oil to pulses, vegetables and fruits, the prices of all commonly used edible goods have registered a surge between April 10 to May 10. The mustard oil which was available for Rs 115-Rs 120 per litre is now priced at around Rs 150 to Rs 170.

The pigeon pea (arhar daal), the staple source of protein for an exceeding number of Indian households, has also witnessed a price rise of Rs 15- Rs 25 per kilogram.

The price rise of food commodities coupled with an instability of the jobs of the working class Indians has been a cause of concern.

Also Read: Pulses, edible oil, eggs, meat, fish… retail inflation rises to four month high

In Noida, which is a part of the national capital region (NCR) of Delhi, Saurabh Kumar, who works in a private company, told Gaon Connection with a perceptible concern in his voice, “I had bought two litres of mustard oil in the first week of the previous month (April). It cost me Rs 115 for a litre of oil. I bought it again on May 8 and I was amazed to see that the shopkeeper charged me Rs 155 for a litre.”

Higher prices of fuel are also being touted as one of the reasons behind food inflation.

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“I am no expert on food prices and all, but this price rise seemed odd to me. I enquired the shopkeeper who told me that he himself bought  it at a higher price than last month. But the printed rate on the packet was still the old one. I had no option but to buy it,” he added.

The Consumer Affairs department of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution maintains a real-time report on its website which contains an information chart for the prices of food commodities.

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The report shows that there has been an official surge in the prices of commodities like mustard, soybean, vegetable oils, sunflower seeds oil, palm oil and arhar daal.

Prices of commodities on April 10.

As per the report, the price of arhar daal was Rs 107 per kilogram in the national capital on April 10. But a month later, the price was recorded as Rs 115 per kilogram on May 10. 

Talking of essential oils, in New Delhi, the mustard oil was being sold at Rs 149 per litre which soared to Rs 165 for the same quantity on May 10. 

At Noida’s Hoshiarpur market, Umesh Chand, a grocery shop owner, told Gaon Connection, “As compared to last month, the wholesale prices for oilseeds and pulses have registered a sharp spike. The prices have increased from Rs 10 to Rs 50 per kg/litre.”

Prices of commodities on May 10.

When asked about the probable reasons behind the price rise, Chand pointed towards big companies that have increased the prices. “Also, some wholesale sellers have hoarded the goods which is also leading to price rise,” he added.

Fruits, vegetables costlier as well

Apart from oils and pulses, the prices of fruits and vegetables have soared as well. Rajesh Kumar, a wholesale shopkeeper at Delhi’s Azadpur market told Gaon Connection: “The retail sellers who used to buy around 40 kilograms (kgs) of vegetables are buying half of it – around 20 kgs. The stocks that we are ordering are not being sold due to lockdown-related restrictions.”

“Wholesale price of ladyfinger has increased from Rs 10-15 per kg to Rs 20-30 per kg. Similarly, prices of gourd, chillies, leafy vegetables have gone up. Fruits have also become costlier by 20 per cent to 40 per cent,” he added.

Higher prices of fuel are also being touted as one of the reasons behind food inflation. 

In the national capital, on April 10, petrol was priced at Rs 90.56 per litre and diesel stood at Rs 80.87 per litre.

On May 10, the price for petrol rose to Rs 91.53 per litre and Rs 82.06 per litre.

Read this report in Hindi