Vishu in the time of scarcity; prices soar sky-high

via Courtesy:Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram published on April 13, 2008

Keralites are celebrating perhaps the hottest Vishu in history with prices of all essential commodities touching the sky and the measures taken by the Government failing to reach anywhere. However, the special Vishu markets started by the Government for the occasion, the supply of essential commodities at fair price through the permanent Supplyco outlets and the temporary Vishu vegetable stalls opened by the Horticorp, succeeded in reaching some relief to the people.

Kanivellari (golden cucumber), an essential ingredient of the Vishukkani, cost an average of Rs 25 in the open market while it had cost below Rs 12 two weeks ago. The cost structure of almost all vegetables was in this level for the past several days. This situation, coupled with the shortage of rice and the subsequent rise in its price, has made this year’s Vishu a burning affair for the Malayalee. Several hundred households in Kuttanad and Thrissur will miss the festive mood of Vishu this year in the particular context of the crop loss tragedy due to the heavy summer rains that submerged thousands of hectares of paddy fields.

Wholesalers in three of the four chief rice markets in the State – Kollam, Kochi and Thrissur – have run out of stocks and the stocks in Kozhikode might last for some days.

As no rice is expected to arrive from Andhra Pradesh in the next two weeks, the post-Vishu food situation in the State is promising to be famine-like.

The severe shortage has encouraged at least some traders to hoard the essential commodity and it has given rise to unrecognised spurt in the prices. Popular rice varieties were being sold at more than Rs 21 a kilo in several rural areas while these had cost less than Rs 19 a week ago. With no chance seen for getting rice from Andhra Pradesh and no time for making an effective invasion in the market, the State Government also failed to effectively control the prices as well as hoarding.

Vegetable-vendors were allegedly fishing in troubled waters across the State with a reported fall in arrival of the items from Tamil Nadu. Several wholesalers in the main markets said that such reports were not entirely true and that there was a fall in arrival but not enough to create a price spurt.

“Some retailers must be making maximum out of the prevailing confusion on the price front but I must tell you there is no need for panic. Vegetable is coming from Tamil Nadu, though supplies in certain markets had become slender due to the rains some three weeks ago. There is reason for a ten to 20 per cent rise in prices but not for a hike of 80 to 100 per cent, which it seems is happening now,” said a wholesaler in Kollam. “But I would say that this happens just because the Government is inefficient,” he added.

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