As Cauvery is drying up due to the adamancy of Karnataka to release water, huge loads of rice from the State have started flooding the delta markets.
Owing to the lack of paddy procurement from delta districts due to the failure of kuruvai and the apprehensions over samba, rice mill owners in the area have started procuring paddy from Karnataka to keep their mills going and pay wages to workers.
For Ramachandran, a departmental store owner on the outskirts of Tiruchy, the sale of Karnataka ‘Ponni’ has soared in the recent past.
He says, “The rice from Karnataka especially from Mysore is sold at the same rate as that of the local variety. However, the local variety stock has drastically reduced due to low cultivation.”
Shopkeepers in the city echo Ramanchandran’s views about the increased sale of Karnataka variety.
Speaking to Express, Puliyur R Nagarajan, vice-president of Tiruchi District Rice Hullers’ Association, says, “After betraying Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery row, Karnataka traders are reaping profits at the cost of delta farmers’ livelihood.”
Karnataka farmers went ahead with the summer crop while Kuruvai ‘died’ due to lack of water. Now, the traders in Karnataka were giving their harvest at a lower price than TNCSC procured variety, he added.
“The Bangalore wholesale market has amicably priced their variety lower than TNCSC aiming to woo rice mill owners from Tamil Nadu,” says Selvam a rice mill owner near Musiri.
Last year, rice mills across the state were able to avoid paddy from other states as the TNCSC had ample procurements.
Unfortunately, this year rice mills in the state face financial crunch due to the failure of Kuruvai. Paddy from Karnataka offered a better deal than importing rice from far away states like West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar, he added citing the transportation cost involved in the process.
“Around 440 mills in the state are either shutdown or operating with meagre paddy supply. The pricing of paddy in Tamil Nadu has taken a U-turn this year. Raw variety rice from Tamil Nadu is doing a brisk business due to the export market dependent on Kerala,” said Selvam adding, “However, the fine variety paddy has lost its market to Karnataka and other paddy growing states”.
Besides private rice mills from delta districts, owners from Ramnad, Kumari, Nellai and Sivaganga were in a distress situation. The mill owners have appealed to the state government to find an alternative to resolve the deadlock in the local rice market.