'Open' markets but no food?: Establishing the links between supermarket growth in India and food security
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Bhagat, Abhishek Pawan
India is a land of great contrasts as evident through its different religions, cultures and languages. However, a bigger contrast lies in its phenomenal economic growth in the last few years on one hand and the glaring inequalities on the other. This study tries to explain a similar contrast in the country; between the fast growth of supermarkets within the retail sector and the growing food security problem. The dissertation approaches the issue by connecting the different aspects of food security with the various stakeholders of the food supply chain within the retail sector, namely- the farmers, the traders and the consumers. Supermarkets at their current market position were found having a negligible impact on the livelihoods of the farmers. They are also having minimal impacts on the consumers as they are not posing problems with the availability of food and its utilisation. Another finding of the study was the frailty of the cultural ties between the consumers and the traders that puts the current and the future livelihoods of the traders at risk. The uniqueness of the services given by traditional traders, some consumer behavioural traits and supermarkets’ drawbacks are things worth taking notice within the study. The work here presents the current situation and poses further questions about the future prospects of food security in India in the light of one of the fastest growth of supermarkets ever witnessed in the world.