Coping Strategies as Food Prices Soar

By | December 17, 2009

Surging food prices, partly due to the lowest monsoon rainfall since 1972, are being widely reported in India this month. I’ve been asking  female informants and neighbours at Dharavi how they are managing the pressure on household expenses.

Many tell me that they are adding more water to some dishes – making thinner dhal for example. Some pitch in together between a few households to make weekly trips to larger wholesale vegetable markets by train. Most of them already buy onions in bulk locally and have noticed a sharp increase in current prices so are now using less per meal. Larger families reported that they are cooking without coriander and with less chilli as these items used to be thrown in by vendors for free with a decent purchase but with recent price increases this practice is being curbed. One woman told me she had been experimenting with cooking the leaves of cauliflower which she used to discard.

During earlier price hikes many mention that they would add potatoes to other vegetables to make them go further – but most women I spoke to seemed well aware that potatoes in particular have gone up a lot in the last month. News about the price increases have been widely reported across news channels and most people I speak with have access to television. And for those who don’t – this kind of locally relevant news travels quickly through the community.

3 thoughts on “Coping Strategies as Food Prices Soar

  1. Niti Bhan

    Here’s what I learnt on Tuesday, dhal is now Rs 100 a kilo, atta over 20/kg, potatoes in fact shot up from 16 to close to 40 a kilo and those who made do with just chapati and an onion are going without the onion. A fixed salaryman needs to take a midmonth loan just to ensure there is food in the house etc
    A village migrant said that where they used to grow one crop of onions a year they are growing 4 crops and still not enough for the household as the demand in the market is so high. Onions in Singapore are imported from India… the question here is, are the farmers benefitting at all from the trickle down of this meteoric price rise?


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