Rice Price Hike has Public Worried

NIZAMABAD: A recent spike in the retail cost of rice has people, especially residents of northern Telangana districts, worried as they are spending an extra Rs 400 to Rs 600 per 25-kg bag.

As per average estimates, the price of a kilogram of regular-use rice has increased from Rs 36 to Rs 52, touching Rs 66 per kg in supermarkets and retail markets, based on the variety.

A dry spell in the Krishna basin and Nalgonda district was cited, alongside exports of a fine variety of paddy from Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Nirmal and Jagtial to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other states, for the sudden price rise.

Observers said that in the open market, paddy prices were lower than the MSP and rice millers did not purchase paddy from farmers, propelling a rise in demand and a reduction in supply. Meanwhile, the change of government allowed rice millers to exorbitantly increase prices.

Retailers like Vennaram Chowdhary, owner of Mataji kirana store in Lalithanagar Colony of Nagole, said the rice which sold for Rs 48.50 per kg currently cost Rs 62 - Rs 65. He said that customers who used to purchase 25-kg bags have resorted to buying 5-kg or 10-kg bags, anticipating a fall in price.

An official of the civil supplies department said the price of super-fine rice had increased from Rs 49 to Rs 57.94, and common coarse rice from Rs 32.44 to Rs 37. They said that while the respective annual price rises of the two varieties were 16.63 per cent and 14.04 per cent, respectively, the 3.51 per cent and 3.04 per cent spikes over the past month have been especially pronounced.

R. Naveen, president of the Jagtial Rice Millers Association, said, “There has been a price correction in rice and it has fallen by Rs 3 to Rs 5 per kg. The Central government’s warning on the holding of rice stocks on traders and retail consumer’s tendency to buy in smaller quantities expecting fall in prices has led to fall in off take from mills. Many rice mills have worked for only 15 days in the past 45 days. The middle-class are consuming the coarse variety of rice they get through PDS after the addition of fortified rice in them.”

The official machinery did not concentrate on rice demand and supply, causing prices to suddenly spike.

Padma, a state government employee in Nizamabad, said that they were shocked over the sudden rise in rice prices. “We regularly purchase 25-kg bags of rice from the supermarket. But we were surprised to see 30-kg bags instead of 25 kgs and the abnormal hike in price,” she said.

She called on government agencies to take necessary steps to avoid illegal hoarding of rice and stabilise the prices.

A rice miller in Nizamabad said that rice prices would decrease soon as the new crop would arrive in March and April. “We are importing paddy from Bihar, Jharkhand and other northern states to meet the demand in Telangana state. Due to cool weather, the paddy in northern states has moisture content, but we are drying it here after arrival,” he said.
( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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