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Food for thought from villages

A new NSSO survey shows people in rural areas spending 55% of their monthly earning on food, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 02:55 IST

So you thought people living in urban areas spend more on food as compared to their rural counterparts? The answer is Yes and No.

Yes, because the average monthly expenditure in urban and rural areas is Rs 447 and Rs 331, respectively. And no because rural India spends a higher percentage of money per month on its food basket as compared to those living in the cities.

Why are people in urban areas spending less on food? To pay for the high cost of living in the cities, according to a new survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).

In 2004-05, when the survey was done, the average expenditure of an urban household on food was just 42.5 per cent, five per cent less than that in 1999-2000. In 1972-73, this figure was as high as 64 per cent.

Between 1999 and 2005, spending on fuel and electricity went up from 7.8 per cent to about 10 per cent.

Also, expenditure on miscellaneous goods and city services jumped from 31 per cent to 37 per cent during the period. The cost of education, health facilities, rent and taxes in cities almost doubled during the period, the report said.

As compared to the cities, those in rural areas spend 55 per cent of their monthly income on food. Also, the cost of services in villages is less than in cities, the report stated.

Unlike rural India, where cereals are preferred, urban Indians spend more from their food budget on egg, fish and meat - Rs 124 per month on average - as compared to Rs 90 in rural areas.

When it comes to nutritious food, rural India is way ahead. Its per capita intake of rice, wheat, pulses, milk products and vegetables is higher than urban India.

For example, the per capita intake of rice per month in rural and urban areas is 6.55 kg and 4.85 kg, respectively.

Cities score over villages only in the case of fruit, nut and beverage consumption. As against 4.5 per cent share of these items in the food basket of villagers, that of cities is 7 per cent.

Both in rural and urban India, the per capita consumption of cereals came down over a decade. Quantity of cereals consumed per person in a month declined between 1993-94 and 2004-05 from 13.4 kg to 12.1 kg in rural India and from 10.6 kg to 9.9 kg in urban India.

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First Published: Dec 27, 2006 23:48 IST