Farmers and rural labourers paid almost 10% more for food and other products this February as compared to a year ago, according to fresh inflation data released by the government. According to the data, consumer price inflation was 9.8% for agricultural labourers in February. For rural labourers, it was 9.47%.
Consumer inflation calculations assign more weightage to food and daily use products including clothing and fuel. It’s an important measure, said Shashank Bhide, head, research, at National Council for Applied Economic Research, an economic think-tank and research organization, because “it measures the impact of costly food items on the poor.”
The number will not please a government that has been trying to damage control over a special economic zone policy that has rapidly degenerated into a fight between big business and poor farmers and agricultural labourers, with the government perceived to be on the side of the former.
The Congress party lost the elections in two states, Punjab and Uttarakhand recently. It faces elections in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where the consumer price inflation for agricultural labourers was more than 9% in February.
Inflation was highest, at 12%, for farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The overall rise can be attributed to the increase in the price of wheat and wheat flour, jowar, maize, pulses and groundnut oil.
Since April 2006, consumer price inflation has almost doubled. It was at 5.5% in April. Bhide said, while there was evidence to show that real wages have risen in rural India, “it (the rise) wouldn’t be enough to match the price rise.”