Half of over 5,000 households surveyed in rural areas of 12 states have been eating fewer meals during the coronavirus lockdown, according to a survey.
The study, ‘COVID-19 induced Lockdown-How is Hinterland Coping’, was conducted in 47 districts.
While 50 per cent of over 5,000 households in rural India have reduced the number of meals ever since the lockdown was imposed as part of immediate adjustment for food security, about 68 per cent of them reduced the number of items in their meals.
According to the study, 84 per cent of the households received food items through the public distribution system and 37 per cent received take home ration. About 24 per cent of the households borrowed foodgrain in villages and 12 per cent people received free food.
The findings of the study were released in a webinar on Wednesday.
The study found that households have depended on kharif stock more than rabi, but that stock is now depleting fast.
“Households are coping with the shock by eating less food and fewer times and with large dependence on PDS Need for increased food support through PDS and promotion for food crop cultivation in kharif,” the study said.
It pointed out that the preparedness for kharif 2020 is low and there is a need for public support in terms of seed provision and credit.
It further said that a large chunk of migrants are yet to return to rural India.
“Lockdown and rumours have indeed adversely affected income – dairy and poultry. The coping mechanisms mostly clustered around change in food habits and reduction in expenditures,” the study said.
The states where the survey was conducted were Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The survey was carried out by civil society organisations PRADAN, Action for Social Advancement, BAIF, Transform Rural India Foundation, Grameen Sahara, SAATHI-UP and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme with research support of Vikas Anvesh Foundation and Sambodhi.
Speaking at the webinar, Madhu Khetan, the programme director at PRADAN, said the survey was conducted in villages which were comparatively more accessible and the situation in remote villages might be worse.
According to Girish Sohani, the president of BAIF, the survey also raises certain health aspects and there will be more such surveys to better assess the ground situation.
The nationwide lockdown imposed from March 25 aims at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus that has claimed 2,415 lives and infected 74,281 people in the country.