THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With rice prices going through the roof, the Kerala State Cooperative Consumers’ Federation Limited (Consumerfed) has gone all the way to West Bengal to procure rice varieties.
Rice consignments from West Bengal will reach Kerala by March 10, said Minister for Cooperation Kadakampally Surendran on Tuesday.
Consumerfed is banking on West Bengal with chances of procurement from southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu receding. Representatives of a consortium of 26 primary cooperatives formed by Consumerfed are currently holding negotiations with Food Corporation of India officers and rice mills in West Bengal, Surendran informed the Assembly on Tuesday.
The negotiations are expected to conclude by Thursday. “The consignments will arrive by March 10,” he said. Consumerfed had difficulties in procuring rice from Andhra Pradesh as mill owners were reluctant to supply rice due to delay in payment in the past. The agency had run up massive dues, forcing mill owners and middlemen in Andhra Pradesh to cut off supply.
“The LDF Government has paid Rs 52 crore to 241 suppliers after assuming office. The ar rears now stand at Rs 157 crore and steps are being taken to clear the arrears,” Surendran said. Also, the shortage in supply of ‘Jaya’ and ‘Surekha,’ the popular varieties in Kerala, prompted Consumerfed to knock at West Bengal’s doors.
Even as rice prices were climbing past Rs 45 per kg, the minister informed the Assembly the hike in rice prices was a national phenomenon. In Andhra Pradesh, the prices ranged between Rs 46 and Rs 49 per kg, while in Gujarat it stood at Rs 30-34. The prices ranged between Rs 29 and Rs 32 in Uttar Pradesh. The price of Kuruva variety stood at Rs 29 to Rs 32 in Tamil Nadu and Rs 32 to Rs 36 in Andhra Pradesh, Surendran said.
The price of Matta variety was between Rs 28 and Rs 33 in Karnataka, he said.