As if skyrocketing prices of vegetables are not enough, people of Odisha are now facing the pinch of rise in cost of state’s staple, rice. Prices of common varieties of parboiled rice, consumed by over 80 per cent of the state’s population have gone up by Rs 10 a kg.
The common varieties of rice, which were selling for Rs 25 a kg a couple of months back, are now being sold for Rs 35 a kg. Prices of finer varieties of rice have also gone up. Attributing the price rise to shortage of rice in the open market, general secretary of Odisha Byabasayee Mahasangha Sudhakar Panda told The New Indian Express that the quantum of shortfall is not known as there is no official figure available.The state is facing a shortage of paddy despite the fact it had registered a record food grain production of over 136 lakh tonne including rice output of about 115 lakh tonne in the 2022-23 kharif marketing season.
In June, TNIE had reported a sudden rise in prices of rice after discontinuation of five kg of free rice under National Food Security Act (NFSA) since December last year. “The annual requirement of common variety of rice (boiled rice) and fine rice called ‘Arua’ in Odisha is around 50 lakh tonne and 10 lakh tonne respectively. These varieties are brought to open market from about 400 rice millers across the state. The millers are now saying they have inadequate stock of paddy,” Panda said.It is difficult to verify the fact as the state government has left it to the market forces (millers) to determine the price of rice, he added.
If millers are to be believed, they buy paddy as per their milling and storage capacity which is subject to government verification. A rice miller on condition of anonymity said since paddy is commanding a good price in open market, the farmers prefer to sell it to private traders.
This year a good volume of paddy has been procured from traders from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. Private traders procured paddy from Odisha farmers by paying more than Rs 2,200 per quintal against the minimum support price of Rs 2,140 announced by the Central government. Since farmers are happy, the government is not taking any steps to stop the inter-state movement of paddy keeping the next elections in mind, said informed sources. “The ban on export of rice notwithstanding, Odisha rice is finding its way to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other south Asian countries through unofficial channels,” the miller said.
This article has been republished from The New Indian Express