High prices of pulses may affect nutrition security: Tata Cornell Study

According to a new study by the Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition, New York, food habits during the COVID 19 may have shifted from diverse and nutritive diets to staple foods such as wheat and rice as the prices of vegetables, pulses and eggs rose sharply after the lockdown whereas those of cereals remained relatively stable.


The study, named ‘Pandemic Prices: COVID 19 Price Shocks and their Implications for Nutrition Security in India’ and authored by Payal Seth, Prabhu Pingali and Bhaskar Mitra, analyses the prices of cereals and non-cereals in 11 tier-I and tier-II cities from March 1 to May 31 this year compared to the same period last year. It used weekly-level retail data from the Department of Commerce Affairs of the Union government and wholesale price levels from the National Egg Coordination Committee. It has revealed that following the lockdown on March 25, all food groups witnesses a rise in prices compared to 2019 but the rise in prices was higher for non-cereals compared to cereals. Once the lockdown was lifted, prices of cereals, eggs, potatoes, onions and tomatoes stabilized quickly whereas those of protein-rich pulses continued to remain high.

Impact of Prices

The relative stability in cereal prices and at the same time, enhanced prices of pulses will most likely distort the spending and consumption decisions of the households in the country. It will perpetuate dependence on a staple-based, protein-deficient diet. The poor and the marginal population will not able to afford protein-rich pulses in the country and the proportion of such foods in the diets will go down and will be replaced by less nutritious and calorie-dense foods. The whole issue is going to worsen the nutritional status of women and children across the country and mainly in the impoverished regions of the country.




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