Inflation has been one of the toughest challenges faced by India over the decades. Over the past decade food inflation has averaged at a remarkable 8.1%. In the earlier part of 2014, food inflation rates had even reached about 10% - many food items are quickly growing out of bounds for the poor and lower middle class families of the country. Over the past year we have seen tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and many other staple dietary ingredients rise beyond the reach of the masses. By May 2014, food inflation across the country was pegged at 9.5 % going by the wholesale price index and 9.4 % measured by the consumer price index.
The point-to-point rate of inflation is calculated on the basis of the Consumer Price Index - Agricultural Labourers (CPI - AL) and the Consumer Price Index - Rural Labourers (CPI - RL). In May 2014, Haryana topped the inflation rate among all the states of India in both these methods. In the CPI AL index, Haryana scored 852 points whereas in the CPI - RL index, the state scored 845 points. Simply put, this means inflation (including food inflation) is the highest in Haryana.
The state government of Haryana is responsible for allowing food inflation in the state to grow and has taken no concrete measures to curb this concern. Hoarding is one of the core concerns of the state. In an agriculture-based state such as Haryana, speculative hoarding by middlemen is one of the major causes for food prices to rise. The state administration has been unsuccessful in identifying hoarders and seizing large quantity stocks that they refuse to release into the markets for months at a stretch. Another core area where the state government has failed to cater to the needs of the people is agricultural planning. In years when monsoons have failed, the support received by the farmers is completely inadequate. Also in areas where the groundwater levels are constantly dropping, farmers do not receive support with regard to alternative methods of irrigation, other crops that may require less water, or even better strains of seeds. Without this, increasing the agricultural produce of the state is impossible. The state has also failed in policy matters especially when it comes to industrialisation at the cost of agriculture and when it comes to maintaining the balance between exports and domestic consumption of agricultural produce. Both of these are major causes for food inflation in the state.
If the food inflation of Haryana is to be curbed at a state level, the state government must step up its aid and support to farmers and agricultural units. Increasing the domestic produce at tandem with the rising population is a necessity. This is only possible when farmers are provided awareness and support when it comes to smart tools and newer methods of cultivation. Facilitation of a direct sale option for producers such as internet-linked marketplaces will go a long way to eliminate hoarding and middlemen. A change in policy must be ushered in by the state government to prevent more and more agricultural land from being taken on by industries, hampering the supply of food in the state.
Haryana is one of the largest agricultural producers among the Indian states. It is a pity that lack of adequate support from the state has caused the people of Haryana to suffer the sting of food inflation and that for a prolonged time. It is now time that a Naya Haryana be built where equitable distribution of food at affordable prices be made available a state which has access to its own produce and where abundance and prosperity be the fabric of life.