Are We on the Edge of a Food Crisis?

Are We on the Edge of a Food Crisis?

The food markets have been volatile since the Ukraine-Russia conflict – including problems like short supply, food inflation and hoarding. Although India’s Reserve Bank of India thought we will be safe from inflationary pressures, especially food inflation, the opposite is turning out to be true.

With wheat, edible oil – sunflower and rapeseed – and chemical fertilisers supplies in a deadlock, the Indonesian decision to ban refined palm oil exports comes as a shocker.

News from South America is not good either as Argentina, a major producer of soy bean, corn and meat, had bad harvests due to a heatwave earlier this year. Food inflation is already hitting Indians and experts feel this is only the beginning of our food troubles.

But apart from the vagaries of weather, what was happening economically?

With food outputs already down and fuel prices going up, the market is very unsettled and the the threat of hunger is at its highest.

Also read: In Wake of Ukraine War, India Set to See Rising Food Grain Prices

The Wire spoke with three experts, food and agri policy analyst Devinder Sharma, agri-economist Professor Sukhpal Singh of IIM Ahmedabad, and human development economist, Santosh Mehrotra.

To get a stock of the inflation, we spoke with Professor Sukhpal Singh first. “Retail inflation is about 7% and wholesale, around 15%. In food, the retail inflation is likely to be higher than the overall figure due to some commodities in the food basket becoming costlier and also due to fuel inflation,” Singh said, confirming fears that Indians will be paying more for food this year.

People collect free food distributed by volunteers during curfew imposed by Tamil Nadu government to curb the spread of COVID-19, near Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital in Chennai, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Photo: PTI

The constantly increasing fuel prices upset all budgetary calculations, having a direct impact on food.

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