Maharashtra women missed meals during COVID-19 lockdown, finds survey

10% of the 946 women surveyed skipped one meal a day; 7% skipped two meals a day  

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Friday 26 June 2020

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown turned the tables for several sections of the Indian society in multiple ways; for a chunk of women in Maharashtra, it meant missing full meals, sometimes twice a day.

Non-profit Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch surveyed 946 single women cultivators and wage workers across 17 districts of Maharashtra, primarily Marathwada and Vidarbha region, and found that 10 per cent women skipped one meal a day during the lockdown. Around seven per cent skipped two meals a day.

The survey found that even 83 per cent women who did not skip meals were consuming less or not consuming certain items which they used to before the lockdown.

There was a significant drop in consumption of pulses, cereals like jowar and bajra, eggs, meats and vegetables in their diet. The decline in consumption of bajra, fruits, milk product, eggs and meat was the most significant, the report claimed.

Some women who were surveyed said the public distribution system provided them with only wheat and rice. With no cash in hand, they could not buy other essentials such as oil, vegetables and pulses, the report said.

At least 30 per cent women failed to harvest their produce, according to the report.

It said out of 711 women actively engaged in cultivation, 219 did not harvest their produce in the field during lockdown due to unavailability of labourers, lack of money to pay wages, and lack of machines and transport.

At least 173 of the 711 women could not market their produce during the lockdown. These crops included those cultivated during Kharif season, but which were held on to for better prices, said the report.

The report claimed that 353 women took loans from various sources; only 28 per cent of them could repay them.

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