It seems like Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, is coming true for all us. First the deadly, novel Coronavirus, then the never-ending lockdown, and now what could be the worst of all: acute food shortage in the country.
According to a report in Economic Times, unless our policymakers take crucial and prompt measures, India’s supply chain may be strained to a breaking point if the nationwide lockdown is extended. The report says that India needs to quickly tackle the two main pain points such as labour shortage and disruption in transportation.
The report suggests that multiple businesses are struggling to deploy even 20% of their required labour force, as millions of labours are either under lockdown or back home. The ones that are the most hit by this are consumer goods companies and e-commerce, including online grocers.
Angshu Mallick, COO of Adani Wilmar, warns the government that they could see a shortage of edible oil because of this.
Apart from the oil, dal is also under a very small supply as nearly 75% of the mills of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra are closed due to the lockdown, according to a report in Times of India.
The limited supply is going to indirectly related to the prices of these commodities. The more the supply decrease, the prices will rise, because the demand is the same, if not more.
According to Hindustan Times, prices of key staples, except cereals, have increased by nearly three times in a month due to the supply shock. But why is this happening? Well, there could be 3 factors as reported by the HT.
One is the decrease in the arrival of farm commodities in the market by almost 60% beginning from March. Second, due to the lockdown transportation cost has increased sharply and the third and the most poignant is the limited availability of labourers.
According to a report published in The Print, farmers in Punjab and Haryana are finding it extremely difficult to find labourers as the harvest season looms over their head. Similarly, in Asia’s biggest onion market, Nashik’s Lasalgoan, fresh arrivals of onions are down by over 80% according to the National Horticulture Research and Development Foundation.
All of these reports point towards the impending crash of India’s food market if the government doesn’t provide remedy solutions soon. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that lockdown would invariably be extended. Till the time, we are not able to stand back up on our feet, agricultural and food supply must be the government’s top priority.