TODAY -

Meat prices soar beyond reach of consumers

Iboyaima Laithangbam *

A meat shop at Moreh, Manipur-Burma border town in December 2012
A meat shop at Moreh, Manipur-Burma border town in December 2012 :: Pix - Danial Chabungbam/Deepak Oinam



With chicken sold at Rs 290 a kg, pork Rs 260, prices of mutton and beef hiked unreasonably people in low income bracket can afford to have the delicacy even once in a week. Indigenous and imported iced fish have become very costly; one kg of local shrimp is sold at Rs 800. But then there is no dearth of people who have undisclosed source of income and it is no problem for them.

Those selling meat dole out half hearted explanations for the sudden increase in the prices. The common denominator is the recurring blockades, general strikes and other disruptions and unbridled extortion of illegal taxes by state and non-state actors. But then these factors have been there for decades and as such the sudden hike of the prices is uncalled for.

What has been observed is that once the prices of meat are increased the same are never brought down and this time it will be no exception since extortions and blockades have become permanent features.

During a recent survey of the prices it was found that chicken is sold around Rs 130 in overcrowded mega cities like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. And the price is much lower in small townships elsewhere in the country. Besides beef, pork and mutton are much cheaper than the prices prevailing in Manipur. Since Manipur had stopped having an administration that works in the interest of the people it was never ascertained whether the sudden hike is justified or not. Perhaps the officials do not want to open the pandora’s box since more questions will stumble out making it impossible to solve the probelms.

When the British princess gave birth to a daughter a few weeks back she came out with the baby a few hours later for the benefit of the waiting persons. People in Manipur were taken aback since usually a lactating mother does not venture out for some days. We hear of women in the hills who return home with the babies in the baskets they give birth to in the mountains during cultivation or collection of faggots of firewood.

What is common between the British princess and a young mother in the hills in Manipur is that they consume meat in huge quantities. In case of Manipur people were debarred from consuming the delicious meats from the 18th century although some families relished fish ( no meat or eggs) in private.

During the child birth most of the mothers are denied good, salubrious and nutritious foods. They are forced to eat plain rice, a pinch of salt and at the most one smoked small fish. It is a mystery that the mother eventually walks. Naturally it will have an adverse health imact on the mother and child and to the populance as a whole in the long run. In other words, the protein starved people of the valley districts are physically imperfect which will have a mental impairement, if not retardation.

It was somewhat welcome that with the spread of education and exposure to the world girls and women had started relishing many kinds of meat and it is no secret. Many young mothers, much to the chagrin of the aghast mothers and mothers-in-law had started having meat items right from day 1.

But what is worrying the health officials is that the ever increasing prices of meat in Manipur will force several young mothers to become economic vegetarians. To say all these is not to mean that the vegetarians all over the world will suffer physically and mentally in the long run. In fact it has become a life style in the western countries to avoid meat, especially the red ones.

However the vegetarians all over the world consume many meat substitutes including milk and milk products, fruits, nuts and other costly items. Besides there is a section of vegetarians who eat eggs saying that these are a part of vegetables. But in case of Manipur the common scratch meal has no protein and it is killing the people slowly.

The most common meat the people in Manipur depend on has been pork being the cheapest kind. Now that there is an increasing trend in the priceline many families may not be able to afford it even once in a week.

States like Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram are importing hunks of beef and pork everyday with the result that prices can be stabilized. But in case of Manipur it will be counter productive since the government cannot check extortions of all kinds.

There is no light at the end of tunnel as the government is not doing anything to stem the tide.


* Iboyaima Laithangbam wrote this article for Huiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on June 21, 2015.


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