Home Economy Price of rice climbs steeply in Kerala

Price of rice climbs steeply in Kerala


Kozhikode : The price of rice, staple diet of people in Kerala, has seen a steep rise in recent times, climbing around 40 percent in the last one year.

According to traders here, the price rise is the result of rice exports by Andhra Pradesh farmers. Kerala depends on neighbouring states for most of its rice.

Parboiled Kuruva rice is a variety preferred by the people in the Malabar region (comprising six northern districts of the state) and the market is currently facing 20 to 30 percent shortfall in supply, traders here say.

“My rough estimate is that 70 percent of the rice we consume in Malabar is of the Kuruva variety,” said Shyam Sunder, secretary of Calicut Foodgrains and Provisions Merchants’ Association.

The price of Kuruva rice had registered an increase of up to Rs.8 per kg in the last three months and now hovers around Rs.20 a kg. The price of Ponni and Bodhana, two other preferred varieties, also registered a rise of Rs.5 and Rs.6 per kg in the last three months. Now they cost between Rs.17 and Rs.20.

“The farmers are getting better price from exports. And they are cultivating the varieties that are in good demand in export markets. The acreage of varieties like Kuruva rice, which we prefer here, have fallen resulting in a supply crunch,” Sunder said.

“People believe that there is a shortage of rice. It is not true. The shortage is only in case of certain varieties,” said Sunder, a dealer in parboiled rice from Andhra Pradesh.

“Farmers there have started raising varieties like GR 11 which yield better harvests.”

“People in south Kerala prefer Jaya variety. In Thiruvananthapuram, Surekha variety is popular and its price is around Rs.22.”

“If the current price holds, the problem of shortage in these varieties will get solved as farmers will come back to these varieties,” he added.

There is also allegation that it was the cut in allotment of rice by the central government to the state that contributed to the price escalation.

In April 2007, the centre cut the allotment of rice for the public distribution system by 92,086 metric tonnes for above poverty line (APL) customers.

However, Kerala State Civil Supplies Corp (Supplyco) holds a different view regarding the price rise.

“It is the collection of rice by Andhra Pradesh in a levy system that caused the price rise. This curtailed the supply to Kerala. Once the levy collection is completed, the supply will become adequate,” said Yogesh Gupta, managing director of Supplyco.

“We were in Andhra Pradesh recently and held discussions with authorities there. They will soon send rice to Kerala,” he said.