Kerala looks to procure rice from Andhra directly to rein in rising prices

Representational image. Shutterstock/Santhosh Varghese

Thiruvananthapuram: In an attempt to rein in retail prices, the Kerala Government is looking to procure rice directly from Andhra Civil Supplies. The state would initiate discussion on this matter with its Andhra government on Monday, said State Food and Civil Supplies Minister GR Anil.

Within a month, the retail price of rice rose by Rs 15 per kg in the state. The prices of Matta and Jaya rice, which are mostly used in the state, have increased by Rs 10 to Rs 15 per kg.

Currently, branded Matta rice is priced at Rs 60-63 per kg. The price of Jaya rice, which was being sold at Rs 40 per kg a month ago, has reached Rs 55. 

Traders indicated that retail prices are unlikely to change till next January. They attribute the sudden rise in prices to reduced production in the rice-producing states of Andhra and Karnataka and the imposition of 5% GST on packed rice.

Mill owners said that though the season has started in Karnataka, they are not getting enough rice. Rice prices are likely to come down only when the harvest begins in Andhra, they said.

There is a significant shortage of rice stock in large mills in Kerala. The state's internal production does not affect the open market, as the rice produced here is stored by the government itself and distributed through the public distribution system (ration shops).

Jaya rice from Andhra is available at Rs 55 per kg and that from Karnataka at Rs 45 per kg. The price of Surekha rice has gone from Rs 36 to Rs 40 per kg in a month. The price of raw rice has also increased by Rs 4 per kg.

The imposition of 5 percent GST on packs of up to 25 kg has led to an increase in the price of branded rice. Even if there is no tax on rice is sold unbranded and as pr customers demand, retailers are unwilling to make reduce the price.

At present, the wholesale price of Matta (long grain) stands at Rs 56-57 per kg, while the short grain variety is available at Rs 42-43 per kg. The retail price stands at Rs 57 per kg.

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