Kochi: Rice, the staple food of Keralites, has become dearer. The price of various varieties of rice has gone up by Rs 5-10 per kg in the last fortnight even as vegetable prices have been shooting up over the past several weeks in Kerala.
The latest prices at Valiyangadi, the wholesale market in Kozhikode, are: Vellakuruva rice, which used to cost Rs 32 a few days ago, is now sold at Rs 38 a kilogram. Meanwhile, Manjakuruva’s price has gone up from Rs 30 to 36. Similarly, 1 kg of ponni variety is priced between Rs 34 and Rs 38 in place of Rs 30 per kg 10 days ago. The steepest rise of Rs 15 was for the vadimatta rice from Karnataka. It is selling at Rs 48, instead of Rs 33 a few days ago.
Middlemen and absence of state government intervention in the market are behind the spurt in prices of various rice varieties, claimed retailers.
Traders say prices have increased as a result of the heavy rains and floods in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. However, the real reason is the unethical business practices of middlemen. Moreover, rice mills which have a monopoly over production engage in hoarding of stocks to create an artificial shortage leading to price rise.
“The government is not considering these developments. It also is not intervening in the market. All this is harming us,” said a retail trader.
Apart from a 30 per cent fall in the quantity of rice arrivals from other states, a steep hike in fuel prices and increased loading and unloading charges have also contributed to the situation.
Every month, 3.3 lakh tonnes of rice are sold in Kerala, which includes 1.83 lakh tonnes of white rice and 1.5 lakh tonnes of matta (red) rice.