KOCHI: Rice prices in the state, which saw a spurt during March and rose to Rs 50/kg, have cooled down to Rs 36-38/kg now, justifying the government’s claim in the Assembly on Wednesday there has not been any spike in rice prices. With the government likely to place orders for 750-1,000 loads (1 load equals 10 tonnes) of rice from Andhra Pradesh for Onam to sell it through Consumerfed/SupplyCo, the prices are likely to remain subdued for another couple of months at least, say dealers.
The state imports its branded rice from Andhra Pradesh, especially its preferred Jaya variety. The government purchases the rice at wholesale prices and sells it at subsidized rates of around Rs 25-26/kg during the festive season. “Due to this, prices will remain lower,” said Gangadaran, a leading rice broker. However, compared to last Onam, when the rice prices were in the Rs 26-27 range, the prices this year are higher. The state consumes nearly 40 lakh tonnes of rice per annum, of which the ‘Jaya’ and ‘Surekha’ varieties account for at least 22 lakh tonnes. Around 70 per cent of the state’s populace consumes the two rice varieties.
Venkatesh Divakaran, another rice dealer, said rice production has been good this season in Andhra Pradesh. “The lack of domestic demand will ensure the prices continue to be lower in the coming months. There has not been a major hike or fall in prices in recent months. We expect it to rule steady until the end of Onam season,” he said.The spike in prices during January-March was attributed to large-scale rice exports from Andhra Pradesh to Africa and south Indian states, which led to a reduction in arrivals from Andhra Pradesh.