Weak rain makes rice 20% costlier in Karnataka

By Sanika Athavale

Rice, the staple food a majority of Indians, has become dearer and farmers, market leaders and agriculture experts have pointed to scanty and erratic rainfall patterns as the reason. With supply falling short of demand, rice has become costlier by 15-20% in just about a month and a half.
As per traders at Yeshwantpur APMC, raw Sona Masuri was selling for Rs 55-60 per kg on Friday, up from Rs 45-48 by June-end. While idli-dosa rice was selling for Rs 35 per kg, as against Rs 28-30 earlier, steam rice, used most by the hospitality industry, cost Rs 45-50 per kg, up from Rs 38-43. The retail rice prices could be another 10-15% the wholesale rates at the APMC, the traders said.

“The prices had increased in July and have spiked again this month… Last year, the crop was affected by heavy monsoon and this year, sowing is down 40% across Karnataka because of less rain. The farmers who have sown paddy have not seen rainfall in 20 days. The next 10 days are crucial. If rain remains elusive, rice prices will shoot up even more,” said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, a member of the Yeshwantpur APMC co-ordination committee.
Sources in the agricultural marketing department said it takes 2,500 litres of water to successfully grow and harvest just 1kg of paddy.
Kurubur Shanthakumar, a farmers’ leader and owner of two-acre paddy field, told TOI he grows Sona Masuri every kharif and rabi season but hasn’t sown the rabi seeds this time because of lack of water resources. “There is no water in the KRS. Paddy-growing areas around Mysuru, Mandya, Hassan, and Chamarajanagar are desperately waiting for water. We need continuous flow for at least three months to have yield.”

Hanumanthappa Anjanappa, a paddy grower from Davanagere, said the authorities released water from the dam to their field about five days ago but that is not sustainable when water is needed daily. Hallikerehundi Bhagyaraju, a farmer from Chamarajanagar, said he is seeing paddy farmers quit work to go to the city to take up ad hoc jobs related to construction and carpentry.

This article has been republished from The Times of India

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