Chicken More Affordable Than Daal in Pakistan?

Pakistan's finance minister Ishaq Dar has suggested to his countrymen to eat chicken instead of daal (pulses or legumes). Does the minister sound like Queen Marie-Antoinette (wife of France's King Louis XVI) who reportedly said to hungry rioters during the French Revolution:  “Qu'ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake”? Let's look into it.

It is indeed true that some varieties of daal are priced higher than chicken. For example, maash is selling at Rs. 260 per kilo, higher than chicken meat at Rs. 200 per kilo. But other daals such as mung, masur and chana are cheaper than chicken.

The reason for higher daal prices and relatively lower chicken prices can be found in the fact that Pakistan's livestock industry, particularly poultry farming, has seen significant growth that the nation's pulse crop harvests have not.

Poultry Farm in Pakistan

Pakistan's poultry industry achieved 127% growth in the total number of birds produced, 126% growth in the total meat production and 71%growth in terms of total eggs produced between 2000 and 2010, according to government data. As a result, the cheapest sources of animal protein in Pakistan are the eggs and meat from the poultry sector.  As of 2013, the per capita availability of poultry meat in Pakistan is 5 kg. In addition, Pakistanis consume 51 eggs per year per capita.

Major Pulse Producing Nations in 2011

Poultry share of meat consumption in Pakistan has steadily increased over the years.  In 1971, the market share of beef was 61%, mutton was 37%, and poultry meat a mere 2-2.5%. In 2010 the market share of poultry meat had increased to 25%, while beef and mutton declined to 55% and 20% respectively.  This increase in the overall size of the poultry sector has decreased the gap between the supply and demand of animal proteins and helped stabilize beef and mutton prices, making meat relatively more affordable to more people.

Production of daal, another important source of protein in Pakistan, has not kept pace with demand. Domestic production is not enough to provide 6-7 kilos of daal per person consumed in the country. Pakistan is forced to resort to imports to meet demand. Pakistan spent $139 million to import 628,000 tons of pulses in fiscal year 2010-2011. Pulse imports jumped to $224 million in July 2014 to January 2015 period, according to a report.

Overall, livestock contribution to agriculture in Pakistan has now risen to 58.55 percent, with the rest coming from crops, fisheries and forestry, according to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16. The agriculture sector accounts for 19.82 percent of GDP and 42.3 percent of employment with strong backward and forward linkages. Dairy farming has grown in Pakistan by leaps and bounds, making the country the third largest milk producer in the world.

Services sector now accounts for 59.16% of Pakistan's GDP,  the largest sector of the economy, followed by industrial sector that contributes 21.02%. Manufacturing is the most important sub-sector of the industrial sector containing 64.71 percent share in the overall industrial sector.

There has been significant progress in increasing animal protein supply via growth in Pakistan's livestock sector over the last few decades. Nations' policymakers now need to focus on increasing plant protein sources to close the gap between protein supply and demand in an affordable manner.

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Riaz Haq said…
From Pakistan Poultry Association:
In our country per capita consumption of (poultry) meat is only 7 kilo grams and 65-70 eggs annually. Whereas developed world is consuming about 40 kilo grams meat and over 300 eggs per capita per year.
Riaz Haq said…
35% of what #Indians eat today is of `foreign' origin. #India #food via @timesofindia

Most of us know exotic new veggies and grains like kale and quinoa are "imported" but even ordinary staples like potato, onion, tomato and chilli came from elsewhere, reports Subodh Varma.
A study of 177 countries by scientists from the International Center of Tropical Agriculture has found that in India, more than a third of all food items derived from plants -grains, vegetables, fruits, spices, oils, sugar etc. -originated and developed elsewhere, and came to this subcontinent by trade or migration over centuries.

In terms of calorific value, such `foreign' origin foods make up 45 per cent of the national food production. It's not just India. At the global level, 66 per cent of calories consumed are derived from foreign origin foods on an average as was 71 per cent of production.
Onions and wheat have their origins in West Asia, potatoes and tomatoes came from South America, while mustard seeds came from the Mediterranean. Likewise, chillies came to India from Central America, while garlic and apples found their way from Central Asia.
Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Riaz Haq said…
#India tomato shortage causes #curry crisis with food #inflation rising under #Modi #BJP

At Pimpalgaon Basant, a village in western India, there is not a single cloud in the sky. The last time it rained was days ago, and that was only for an hour. Without rain, the Pimpalgaon tomato market, said to be the biggest in Asia, is almost empty.

“We have around 75% fewer tomatoes than normal,” says Sheik Tanveer, who works at the market. “Normally, you can buy tomatoes wholesale for 10 rupees [10p] a kilo here – now you’ll get about 150g for that.”

Tomato prices across India have, on average, doubled since April, causing consternation across the country. A long drought, followed by an early monsoon has disturbed the harvest cycle, and scarcity has pushed up prices. Other vegetables and lentils are also more expensive this year.

Tomatoes are a staple in Indian cuisine, used as a base for cooking vegetables, curries and dal. The rising cost makes a huge difference to family budgets and to the farmers who rely on steady sales for their income.

Many restaurants have dropped tomato-based dishes from their menus, while the sale of processed tomato sauces and ketchup has seen a 40% increase, according to Assocham, a national trade association.

Popat Khaire, a farmer from Pimpalgaon, says he’s never seen such a bad harvest. “It’s so hot. None of the farmers have any [tomatoes] to sell.”

Khaire usually gets good rates for his tomatoes, but he’s suffered huge losses this year. “The fields are ready, the saplings are ready, I am just waiting for the rain to come,” he says.

Santosh Zute, also a farmer, says: “The tomatoes that were planted have all come out small and black. You can’t eat them. So now we’re all sitting at home with our tomato seed. I’m losing around 5,000 rupees a day because of this.”

In India, the rise and fall of governments has been linked to the price of vegetables. High onion prices were thought to have been the deciding factor in the 1998 state elections in Delhi and Rajasthan.

This month, Arun Jaitley, the finance minister, chaired a meeting with cabinet ministers to find ways to reduce tomato prices. Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s chief minister, set up an emergency taskforce to address the tomato crisis.

While drought has slowed production in west India, heavy rains and floods have ruined the crop in the south. In Haveri, a region in the southern state of Karnataka, Shrenik Raj, a tomato farmer, says he has lost 600,000 rupees since the beginning of the year. “It was terribly hot, so the plants couldn’t grow. I’ve lost all my crop. I could sell tomatoes for a good price at the market now, but I don’t have any to sell,” he says.

At the beginning of the year, a bumper crop caused tomato prices in Haveri to fall dramatically, leading to huge protests from tomato farmers. “Wholesalers were offering us 50 paise [0.5p] or 1 rupee a kilo. The normal rate is 40 rupees. When the farmers heard about those prices, they just started dumping tomatoes in protest. Many didn’t bother to pick them; they just left them in the fields. Now, there is nothing to sell.”

India's drought migrants head to cities in desperate search for water
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In India’s cities, tomato sellers are struggling to earn decent money. At Vegetable Alley in Mumbai, Sachin Bhad has to haggle with customers. “Tomatoes are selling for 50-60 rupees a kilo this week. Last week it had risen to 80 rupees – that’s the highest it has ever been,” he says. “This week, we’ve got tomatoes from Punjab, so the prices have come down a bit, but the stock we’re getting is not good and people aren’t buying.

“Two months ago, I used to earn 1,000 rupees a day – now I’m barely making 500. I spend all day explaining why tomato prices are so high.”

Smita Shah, one of Bhad’s customers, wants to buy half a kilo of tomatoes. “I used to buy a kilo two or three times a week. Now I buy 250g or 500g,” she says.
Riaz Haq said…
According to a spokesman of the market, the rates of vegetables at the Ramzan/Sasta Bazaars of Islamabad are as under:

Potato per kilogram is Rs 27, Potato Store Rs 23, Onion Rs 26, Tomato Rs 32, Ginger Rs 80, Garlic desi Rs 175, Garlic (China) Rs 175, Lemon desi Rs 98, Lady Finger Rs 50, Pumpkin Rs 46, Brinjal Rs 34, Peas Rs 118, Farsh Bean Rs 82, Tanda Walaiti Rs 55, Tanda desi Rs 64, Cucumber Rs 27, Capsicum Rs 45/32, Green Chilli Rs 38, Cauliflower Rs 68/38, Cabbage Rs 40, Bitter gourd Rs 37, Green Zucchini Rs 40, Spinach Rs 34, Turnip Rs 45, Maroo Rs 48, Yam Rs 55, Carrot Rs 55, Chicken Rs 139 per kg and Egg per dozen Rs 78.

Likewise, he said that rates of fruits per kilogram of high and medium quality in Sasta Bazaars are as follows: Apple Kala Kulo Rs 145/125, Apple White Rs 95/65, Apple Ambri Rs 82/56, Apple China Rs 200/180, Apple New Zealand Rs 256/232, Banana Pak Rs 130/85, Banana Ind Rs 165/135, Pear China Rs 165, Apricot Swat Rs 105/85, Apricot Kabli Rs 140/125, Melon desi Rs 30/22, White Melon Rs 28/20, Water Melon Rs 20/15, Peach Rs 95/65, Mango Sundhari Rs 110/85, Mango Maldeh Rs 62/45, Mango Almas Rs 47/35, Mango langra Rs 65/45, Mango Chaunsa White Rs 105/85, Mango Dosari Rs 76/50, Mango Desi Rs 55/35, Plum Rs 120/90, Garma Rs 58/35 and Mango Ratool Rs 138/95.

The spokesman has asked all the people to follow this list and inform authorities at 051-4867762 in case of any complaint against shopkeepers.

Riaz Haq said…
Survey: #India is the cheapest place to live in the world, cheaper than neighbors #Nepal and #Pakistan

"In India, if you want quality, you will be paying high prices. It very much depends on who you are. You have to settle for many compromises to take advantage of the cheap prices."

Meanwhile, many Indians outside cities have felt the purchasing power of the rupee depreciate as inflation has been ongoing. The Indian government is now trying to keep inflation low.

And the rural state of Bihar in the north-east of India is one of the poorest regions in the whole of south Asia, according to a study by Oxford University.

Riaz Haq said…
India Gets Chana Dal Crisis Wrong - Subsidise People, Not Products

Indian agriculture is having one of those passing problems at present, the prices of certain foods are rising well outside usual ranges. India’s a country that has still great swathes of absolute poverty, such price rises cause real suffering. Thus something should be done. But it’s important that the right thing be done rather than the wrong. India’s welfare system in general is moving, slowly enough, to using the right methods. But what’s happening here over chana dal and other pulses is showing us the wrong way to do it. The correct answer is to be subsidising people, not specific products. This is different from but allied to Amartya Sen’s point that modern famines don’t happen because of a lack of food but because of a lack of purchasing power. In the face of these changing prices we want to boost the purchasing power of the poor, not produce subsidised portions of those now more expensive foods.

Firstly, we simply don’t want to be doing these things through something as cumbersome as a bureaucracy. Especially not something as cumbersome as the Indian bureaucracy. We would very much prefer whatever aid we provide to be available quickly. It’s very much easier to move money around than it is food so that’s what we should be doing. As when we deal with famine itself (please note, we are not talking about famine in India at present, not at all, just price rises). Send in money so that people can purchase the food which exists rather than sending in food itself. It’s really much, much, quicker.

The government decided to import 7,500 tonnes of chana and masoor dal in the coming days to boost domestic supply and curb prices. The pulses issue was discussed in detail in the meeting of Management Committee of Price Stabilisation Fund, chaired by Consumer Affairs Secretary Hem Pande here.

We also have another manner of managing these things. Those markets – if the domestic price of these pulses is rising above the world price then importers will import them. And again we come back to that Sen point – there must be effective demand at those higher prices. Which is why we just give money to poor people.

Drought has shrunk the total output of chana dal production by 40-45% this year, traders said. It has seen doubling of its wholesale rate this year over the same period in 2015 and this trend will have a telling effect on besan (made from chana dal) sweets this festive season.
Riaz Haq said…
Parched Land. Farmer #Suicides. Dead Animals. Forced Migration: #Drought Is Crippling Rural #India … via @TheWorldPost

TIKAMGARH DISTRICT, India — For years, Lakshman Pal, 28, planted wheat and tended to his small field here. Each season, he hoped for rain. He looked up at the sky and waited for the showers that normally came. But for the past two years, they’ve hardly come at all. His crops eventually withered and died, crumbling to dust.

In early May, Pal returned from a spell of work in the distant state of Haryana, where he earned 250 rupees, or about $3.70, a day toiling long hours as a laborer. Fifteen other members of his family also migrated to various cities, searching for work and leaving behind women, children, the elderly and a handful of younger men to tend to the land. Pal borrowed money from the bank and a local moneylender to pay for medical treatment for his mother, who has cancer, and he was now deep in debt.

Back in Khakron, his village, Pal found himself not only in debt, but also with no water for his fields, no crops to harvest, no food for his family, no money for his mother’s treatment. He awoke one morning in mid-May, before dawn, and killed himself in his field.

Life is precarious in Bundelkhand, a vast rural landscape in north-central India that I drove through on a weeklong trip for The WorldPost in late May. The region, which consists of over 27,000 square miles across the states Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, is one of India’s poorest areas, populated mostly by poverty-stricken farmers living in rudimentary villages. And now, it’s suffocating under an intense drought that’s affected a staggering 330 million people nationwide.

As the crisis deepens, the country that celebrated the 1960s agricultural revolution and a resulting boom in production of food grains is now seeing its farmers dying in debt and despair. In many cases, farmers accrue debt from loans for seeds, fertilizers and equipment. And the debt can carry down to their children and grandchildren.

Stories like Pal’s are repeated with frightening regularity all over the country. More than 2,200 farmers reportedly died by suicide in just one state — Madhya Pradesh — between April and October of last year, and more than 12,000 reportedly killed themselves across the country in 2014.

Severe dry spells have become much more common in Bundelkhand in recent years, a consequence of both climate change and the lack of a robust irrigation system, turning this historically dry area into a parched and barren land. Groundwater reservoirs have been dangerously depleted, and agriculture has stagnated. Temperatures are consistently over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and sometimes top 115. Since the early 2000s, droughts have become worse and the annual monsoon, which is critical for agriculture, has become erratic. The drought was especially bad from 2003 to 2010. In 2011, the region experienced much higher rainfall — in some districts, more than 500 percent above normal — and flooding was widespread. Disappointing monsoons in 2012 and 2013 gave way to drought again in 2014. It hasn’t abated, and the network of lakes, rivers and wells, which had always supported the people, have gone almost completely dry.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Inflation hit 13-year low in FY16 but price rises affect tomatoes (up 61%) potatoes (up 45.5%) in #Ramadan

Pakistan’s average inflation came in at 2.86 per cent in the just-ended fiscal year, its lowest level in over 13 years, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.

Falling oil and commodity prices, a stable rupee and monitoring of prices at both federal and provincial levels were major reasons behind low inflation.

Average inflation stood at 4.53pc in 2014-15, 8.62pc in 2013-14 and 7.36pc in 2012-13.

Inflation measured through the consumer price index (CPI) — the indicator that tracks prices of 481 commodities every month in the country’s urban centres — inched up to 3.19pc in June from 3.17pc in May.

A finance ministry report said prudent fiscal and monetary policies and a few other factors helped in moderating the headline inflation and other inflationary indicators, ie core inflation, food inflation, sensitive price indicator (SPI) and wholesale price index (WPI).

It said the government had also passed on the benefits of lower oil prices to domestic consumers, which helped stabilise prices of commodities included in the CPI basket.

Food inflation, which has 37pc weight in CPI basket, was 2.3pc in June as compared to 3.2pc in the same month of the last year.

This decline in food inflation was the outcome of a 1.82pc fall in prices of perishable food items.

On a month-on-month basis, food inflation rose 1.4pc in June, mainly because of a 7.87pc increase in prices of perishable products and 0.19pc in non-perishable products.

The food items whose prices increased included tomatoes (61pc), potatoes (45.5pc), eggs (8.5pc), fresh vegetables (5.9pc), gram whole (5.7pc), fresh fruits (2.5pc), besan (2.4pc), pulse gram (2.2pc), and rice (1.4pc).

Core inflation, measured by excluding volatile food and energy prices, was recorded at 4.6pc in June 2016, slightly up 0.1pc from the previous month. Falling inflation has also encouraged the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to lower its key interest rate at a 42-year low of 5.75pc.

Core inflation has remained subdued since November last year because of a tighter monetary policy and reduction in food and fuel prices.

The finance ministry report said a 6.26pc decline in government sector borrowing during July-March 2015-16 has resulted in low core inflation. The retirement of Rs534.6 billion by the government to the SBP during the period under review also helped in lowering core inflation.

The non-food inflation was 3.8pc during the period under review as compared to 3.9pc in the previous month.

Among the non-food group, education index increased by 0.18pc and health by 0.13pc in June as compared to the previous month. The highest increase of 4.24pc was witnessed in the index of alcoholic beverages and tobacco.

Average inflation measured through the SPI rose 1.31pc in July-June 2015-16, while WPI was negative 1.05pc.

Lower WPI reflects less demand for domestic commodities, mainly because of low purchasing power. The entrance of the manufacturing sector into a negative growth indicates deflation in the economy.
Riaz Haq said…
Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2017; 37(3): 329–341.
Published online 2017 Jun 30. doi: 10.5851/kosfa.2017.37.3.329
PMCID: PMC5516059
An Insight of Meat Industry in Pakistan with Special Reference to Halal Meat: A Comprehensive Review
Muhammad Sohaib* and Faraz Jamil1

In Pakistan, per capita use of meat is around 32 kg as compared to developed world, where per capita meat consumption reached to 93 kg as lead by Australia followed by USA. Accordingly, during the last few years, modern slaughter houses and processing facilities are established in Pakistan. These plants are mainly located across Lahore and Karachi, having capacity to produce processed meat products. Currently, Pakistan meat industry is producing variety of meat products including traditional and western style like kabab, kofta, fillings for samosas, mince products, nuggets, burger patties, sausages, and tender pops etc (Noor, 2015). Moreover, given the increased concern of food safety and a shift to modern meat processing methods, the meat product businesses are experiencing further integration (Kristensen et al., 2014). Furthermore, the size of slaughter houses and meat processing companies has also been raising leading intensification and more variety of meat products. The slaughtering and meat processing technologies for poultry and livestock has seen momentous changes. The conventional techniques of “one knife to kill”, one blade to remove hair/skin and one weighing balance to trade meat” has disappeared significantly in large-scale productions, shifting to mechanized slaughter houses, refined cuts according to consumer demand, chilled-chain distribution and regulated selling of meat and meat products (Troy et al., 2016).


Pakistan per capita meat consumption in 2000 was 11.7 kg that was increased to 13.8 and 14.7 kg in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Additionally, current per capita meat consumption has reached to 32 kg that is further expected to reach 47 kg by 2020 (Table 1). However, urbanization, economic growth, industrialization as well as eating pattern resulting increased per capita meat in the future years that will also generates higher demand for meat and allied products (Chartsbin, 2017). The dietary awareness to population has also played key role in shifting preferences to consume meat and its products. Pakistan having rich traditions and cultural festivities is also adding more demand for meat and meat products during whole year and this demand further rises significantly during festive season. To cope up this growing demand, government as well as meat industry are now concentrating to meet requirements by providing sufficient, healthy and quality produce, both fresh and processed products (GOP, 2016). Furthermore, consumer awareness is pushing meat industry and regulating agencies to keep an eye on quality of meat, safety assurance, animal health and welfare as well as precise traceability (Steinfeld et al., 2006).
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan second largest Australian pulses importer

A three-day visit to Pakistan of a delegation of Australian pulses producers ended on Tuesday during which it explored opportunities for increased trade and production of pulses with Pakistani importers and businesses.

The 13-member delegation from the Pulse Association South East (Pase), Fletcher International, Special One Grain and Full Business Spectrum, was led by the Australian government’s trade and investment commission.

Welcoming the visit, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Margaret Adamson highlighted that Pakistan was Australia’s second largest destination for pulses exports with trade valuing at A$465 million in 2016-17.

“Australia and Pakistan are actively exploring avenues to expand trade and investment, particularly in agribusiness where Australia has world-class expertise.”
Riaz Haq said…
#America had a ‘#chicken in every pot.’ #Pakistan aims for chickens on every plot. Anti-poverty premise is simple: Provide five hens and one rooster to several million poor families, especially rural women, so they can earn income at home by selling #eggs

The high-pitched cheeping of a thousand newborn chicks fills the humid room. Technicians pluck them from incubation trays, inject them with a vaccine against Newcastle disease, discard those with deformities and pop the rest into plastic containers, where they will travel in heated trucks to government farms and be raised to adulthood.

This process, repeated twice a week at the poultry research center in Punjab province, is the first step in a national anti-poverty program announced Nov. 29 by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The premise is simple: Provide five hens and one rooster to several million poor families, especially rural women, so they can earn income at home by selling eggs.

But Pakistan is also facing dire macroeconomic and fiscal crises, with the rupee plummeting against the dollar and its foreign debt burden soaring out of control. Khan, who swore as a candidate that he would never go begging abroad, has already been forced to borrow billions from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere and to negotiate for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund.

With such weighty issues to tackle, the backyard poultry project, an idea Khan borrowed from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has been met with widespread derision. Headlines and pun-filled tweets have mocked the premier as throwing “chicken feed” at serious problems. One editorial cartoon showed a heavy wooden cart, labeled “the economy,” being pulled uphill by a struggling hen.

But at the Poultry Research Institute, which has spent years trying to develop the perfect backyard chicken, director Abdul Rehman firmly believes that the project can make a critical difference in the health and livelihood of millions of poor Pakistanis.

“In Pakistan, 44 percent of children under age 5 have stunted growth due to nutritional deficiency,” Rehman said. “Our high infant mortality rate is associated with malnutrition in mothers. These eggs can add a healthy ingredient to their diets.”
Riaz Haq said…
#America had a ‘#chicken in every pot.’ #Pakistan aims for chickens on every plot. Anti-poverty premise is simple: Provide five hens and one rooster to several million poor families, especially rural women, so they can earn income at home by selling

By crossing hardy, hand-raised domestic chickens — known as “desi,” or native, poultry — with breeds from Egypt and Australia and with Rhode Island reds, the center has developed birds with the necessary qualities for backyard life: tough, omnivorous, ­disease-resistant and agile.

“They can live in trees, in boxes or under people’s stairs,” Rehman said. “They can eat kitchen scraps instead of expensive feed, and they can outrun predators like cats and foxes.”

In contrast with the skeptics, many poor and working-class Pakistanis said they were excited to hear about the project and eager to sign up. Even more-affluent families said they appreciated Khan’s continued focus on the plight of the poor, which he vowed to prioritize during his campaign.

“People may laugh at the prime minister over this, but I laugh at them. It is a wonderful idea,” said Zahida Shad, a middle-class homemaker in Islamabad. She keeps a half-dozen chickens near the family’s garage, mostly to provide extra nutrition for her grandchildren. “Here in the city, people have money to spend, but they can’t find a single pure thing to eat,” she said.

Chicks that have just hatched at the center are sold to villagers. (Sarah Caron for The Washington Post)

Ahsan Jadoon, 10, feeds chickens on the rooftop of his uncle’s home in Rawalpindi. (Sarah Caron for The Washington Post)
Raising chickens is a common practice in this largely rural, agricultural country of 208 million. Even in crowded cities such as Rawalpindi, where narrow lanes are crammed with trucks, donkey carts and motorcycle rickshaws, many families build chicken coops on rooftops or under stairs.

And almost any Pakistani will tell you that desi eggs, produced by desi chickens, are better tasting and more fortifying than the factory-farm eggs that are now mass-produced in high-tech poultry facilities. Many have been built by wealthy industrialists who once invested in cement or textile production and have now cornered the egg market.

Sardar Ali Abbas, 55, who owns a crockery shop in Rawalpindi and keeps a few chickens on his roof, applied for the new program right away and is impatiently waiting for it to begin. He observed that factory-bred chickens are raised to lay more eggs and that while their eggs are larger and whiter than desi eggs, they lack their flavor and oomph.

“We want the same good food for our children that our parents and grandparents had for us,” Abbas said. “The problem is, desi eggs cost more and they are hard to find. The others are everywhere.”

Therein lie the greatest obstacles to the success of the chicken-in-every-plot scheme — economies of scale, which keep factory eggs cheap, and, reportedly widespread business practices, such as warehouse hoarding and price ma­nipu­la­tion, that benefit large food processors and brokers at the expense of small farmers.

In a recent essay in the News International newspaper, Zaig­ham Khan, a Pakistani development professional, wrote that persistent poverty in rural Pakistan is “more about the fox” than the chicken. With the political and business elite conspiring to maximize profits, he argued, only a radical reordering of the playing field can truly give family farmers a boost.

“The problem is that the whole market, at every stage, works against the poor,” he said in an interview. “It is fine for families to be eating better eggs, but even the small producers who raise 500 birds can’t compete with the crony capitalists who sell 30,000.”
Riaz Haq said…
Asafoetida (Heeng): The smelly spice #India loves but never grew. It's imported from #Afghanistan, #Iran. Known to battle flatulence, it is often recommended in recipes that involve gassy foods such as lentils (daal) or beans. #Ayurveda #Gas

Asafoetida, a smelly, acrid spice beloved by Indians, has been used to lace their food for centuries. But it was never cultivated in the region - until now.

Last week, scientists planted about 800 saplings of the plant in Lahaul and Spiti, a cold desert nestled in the Himalayan mountains, exactly two years after India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) imported six varieties of seeds from Iran.

"We are confident it will work," says Dr Ashok Kumar, one of the scientists who painstakingly germinated the seeds in a lab. He says this was necessary because for every 100 seeds, only two sprout. The plant, it turns out, has a vexing habit of going dormant.

"It goes to sleep to adapt to harsh conditions," Dr Kumar says.

Asafoetida, or hing as it's commonly known in India, is a perennial, flowering plant that largely grows in the wild. It thrives in dry soil in temperatures under 35C. So India's tropical plateaus and plains, humid coast and heavy monsoons rule out much of the country for hing farming.

Instead, Indians rely on imports mostly from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - worth more than $100m in 2019 - to get their fix.

This is surprising news for many Indians who would argue that hing is inherently Indian. For many Hindus and Jains, who don't eat onion and garlic because of dietary restrictions, hing's pungency makes it an ideal substitute.

"I use it in all my dals, and I don't cook them with onion or garlic," says Marryam Reshii, food writer and author of The Flavour of Spice. "When you have hing in your food, that tiny whiff of it... it just tastes so, so great!"

Ms Reshii calls herself a "hing lover" - she even put out a detailed thread earlier this week clarifying the origins and uses of her favourite spice.

She says hing's unique smell, a strong, bitter odour, makes it "unlike any other spice".

It even derives its name from that scent - asafoetida in Latin means "fetid gum". The smell is so strong that raw hing, a greyish-white sticky resin collected from the roots, is dried and mixed with flour - wheat in India's north, rice in the south - to turn it into an edible spice. Wholesalers who import hing use tiny amounts of it to make graded variations that sell in the form of blocks, coarse granules or a fine powder.

Although the Persians once called it "the food of the gods", hing is now barely found in cuisines outside of India. In other parts of the world it's either used for medicinal reasons or as an insecticide! But In India, which, by some estimates, accounts for 40% of the world's hing consumption, it's hard to overstate its role in the kitchen.

A dash of it while cumin seeds and red chillies splutter in hot ghee can make an everyday dal sing. Across the country, it seasons delicately spiced soups (shorbas) and fresh relishes (koshambirs) and spikes leafy greens and vegetables tossed in ginger, turmeric and tomatoes. In the north, Kashmiri Hindus stir it in with lamb, red chillies, fennel and dried ginger to make their classic rogan josh and southerners use it to temper their sambars, a variety of steaming lentil stew topped with mustard seeds and curry leaves. It's what sets apart Kolkata's famed hing kachoris (pastries fried to a crisp) and the fluffy idlis (steamed rice cakes) of the temple town of Kanchipuram.


But he says Kabuli hing is a "hot-selling" item, while Hadda hing, which is "sweeter and smells of oranges" is the least popular.
Riaz Haq said…
Pulses: More than just a meat alternative
Beans, peas and lentils are often overlooked when it comes to food staples. In a world where the devastating environmental impact of mass meat production is becoming increasingly clear, could pulses provide a solution?

Pulses, a broad category of edible seeds that includes pantry staples like lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas, are one of the world's most important food crops.

This underrated legume has featured heavily in diets around the world for thousands of years. Pulses are the main source of protein for people who don't eat meat — whether by choice or by circumstance — they're good for the environment, nutritious and tasty.

In recent years, the United Nations has recognized their global significance and declared February 10 as World Pulses Day. Read on to learn more about this humble superfood.

Environmentally friendly meat alternative
Changing our diet, and how we produce what we eat, can have a huge and positive impact on the planet.

A recent key report on food and biodiversity loss linked global eating habits to around 30% of human-made emissions in terms of energy and fertilizer, making them a "key driver of climate change." It also highlighted the devastating impact of our food production on nature.

A big part of the problem is meat and other animal products. Though it might be a good source of protein, meat is terrible for the environment. Getting a kilogram of beef to your kitchen emits as much as 60 kilograms (130 pounds) of CO2-equivalent, according to a 2018 study published in Science. And with the world population set to surpass 10 billion in a little over 30 years, increasing demand for food — especially meat and monocrops like wheat, corn and soybeans — will further stress the climate, limited natural resources and biodiversity.

Pulses like peas and lentils, however, produce some 0.9 kg of CO2-equivalent for every kilo grown. And they provide a far higher protein yield per square kilometer than a herd of cattle or flock of chickens, meaning existing farmland can be used more efficiently and untouched forests can be spared.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted pulses as "a good alternative to meat," pointing out that they "can play a key role in future healthy and sustainable diets." In recent years, calls from environmental groups for people in the Western world to drastically reduce their meat consumption, has inspired a growing trend toward vegetarian and vegan diets.

In a September analysis, climate data provider Carbon Brief said "a global switch to veganism would deliver the largest emissions savings out of any dietary shift," preventing some 8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions annually by 2050. Current food production is responsible for around 13.7 billion tons per year.

"It is now becoming clear that a plant-based diet is not just a crock," said Christina Ledermann, head of the German advocacy group Humans for Animal Rights. "The future of nutrition is plant-based, or there is no future."
Riaz Haq said…
#Devil's dung or #dinner #delight? The story behind hing, one of #India's most divisive ingredients. 'Asa' means gum in Persian, and 'foetida' means #stinky in Latin. But in India, it's just called hing. It's an Ayurvedic remedy for stomach #gas. #fart

Asafoetida sounds innocent enough -- it's a wild fennel plant native to Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan.
The resin from its roots is used in Indian cooking -- usually after it's ground into powder and mixed with flour. To say it has a powerful smell would be an understatement. In fact, its scent is so pungent it might just be the most divisive ingredient in the country.

'Asa' means gum in Persian, and 'foetida' means stinky in Latin. But in India, it's just called hing.
If you accidentally get hing on your hands, it lingers no matter how many times you wash them. Put an unadulterated pinch on your tongue, and your mouth will start burning.
At the Khari Baoli market in old Delhi, for instance, hing even manages to 'out-smell' all the other spices.

"Hing is the mother of all base notes of Indian cooking," say Siddharth Talwar and Rhea Rosalind Ramji, co-founders of The School of Showbiz Chefs.
"It bridged the gap of flavors of onion and garlic that were prohibited due to religious beliefs in the largely vegetarian Indian communities such as Jain, Marwari and Gujarati. Despite the culinary diversity of India, hing is a constant."

Jains, for example, eschew onion, garlic and ginger in addition to not eating meat.
Ramji admits that the smell can be a challenge: Raw hing has been compared to rotten cabbage. It's even been given the nickname "devil's dung."
But a small amount goes a long way. Talwar advises that you put a miniscule amount of hing into hot oil.
Most people buy a powdered version that is mixed in with rice or wheat flour. However, more adventurous cooks will buy the solid crystal form, which looks like rock salt.

Some scholars credit Alexander the Great for first bringing hing to India.
"The popular theory is that Alexander's army encountered asafoetida in the Hindu Kush mountains and mistook it for the rare silphium plant, which has similar characteristics to asafoetida," explains culinary historian Dr. Ashish Chopra.
"They painstakingly carried the plant with them to India ... only to find out later that it wasn't what they (expected). Nevertheless, Indians have had their encounter with hing now; it came, it saw, and it stayed."
The professor adds that hing was used in some Greco-Roman cooking but didn't last long. These days, it's mostly absent from Western food, with one notable exception: Worcestershire sauce.
But as global food patterns and appetites change, some chefs are trying to remake their recipes by skipping onion and garlic in favor of asafetida.
According to Talwar, "hing can enhance the umami taste sensation essential for stews and stocks."
"The concept of umami was first introduced by Japanese food experts, but is now the fifth base note in gastronomy after sweet, bitter, sour and salty."
American company Burlap & Barrel even sells a Wild Hing blend made with turmeric, marketed toward people with garlic sensitivity or those following a low FODMAP diet.

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