Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain word/phrases have been printed in bold to help you to locate them while answering some of the questions.
Jagir Singh has sold red onions at a market in south Delhi everyday for the past half-century. Perched on an upturned crate, wrapped tight against the chill air, he offers pyaz, a staple for much Indian cooking, for 60 rupees a kilo, the most he can remember. Business is brisk but most customers pick up only a small handful of onions. That is just as well-wholesale supplies are tight, he says, and the quality is poor.
As India’s economy grows by some 9% a year, food prices are soaring. In late December the commerce ministry judged that food inflation had reached 18.3%, with pricey vegetables mostly to blame. Officials have made some attempts to temper the rise in the past month-scrapping import taxes for onions, banning their export and ordering low-prices sales at government-run shops. But there is no quick fix.
Heavy rain in the west of India brought a rotten harvest. Vegetables from farther afield-- including a politically sensitive delivery from a neighbouring country--- are costly to move on India’s crowded, potholed roads. Few refrigerated lorries and poor logistics mean that much of each harvest is wasted. Newspapers allege hoarders are ‘’cashing in’’.
The biggest problem are structural. Food Producers, hampered by land restrictions, archaic retail networks and bad infrastructure, fail to meet extra demand from consumers. It was estimated in October that a 39% rise in income per person in the previous five years might have created an extra 220 million regular consumers of milk, eggs, meat and fish. Supplies have not kept up with this potential demand.
The broader inflation rate may be a less eye-watering problem than the onion suggest. The central bank has lifted interest rates steadily in the past year and is expected to do so again later this month. Headline inflation fell to 7.5% in November, down by just over a percentage point from October, though it is still above the central bank’s forecast of 5.5% for March.