With paddy crop having suffered a major damage in the flood in Andhra Pradesh, prices of rice has shot up by a minimum of Rs 400 per quintal over the last two days as unscrupulous traders have got back to hoarding.

The price of rice in retail market has jumped from Rs 36 a kg to Rs 40 a kg for the preferred varieties.

Rice stocks are not freely available even at enhanced price as a section of millers and wholesale traders have joined hands to create an artificial scarcity in the wake of reports that paddy production is likely to fall by 30 lakh tonnes this Kharif season.

Kurnool is famous for its Sona Masuri, one of the most-preferred rice varieties in the state. The district was supposed to produce over 14 lakh quintals of paddy this Kharif season as the cultivated area went up to 79,340 hectares.

However, the flood caused by Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers has left the paddy crop in over 50,000 hectares devastated.

The loss on this account, according to preliminary estimates, is put at over Rs 200 crore.

Kundanavolu village, where Sona Masuri paddy is extensively cultivated, presents a sordid picture now. “Not a grain of paddy is left now as the Tungabhadra flood has totally washed our crops away,” P Goud, a farmer, said.

Farmers expected a yield of about 35 quintals per hectare this season but now it has been reduced to nothing, Mr. Goud said.

The damage to paddy crop in Kurnool will have a telling impact on the rice market in the state as the most—preferred Sona Masuri will be virtually out of supply, market sources said.

Sensing this, unscrupulous traders have started hoarding the available stocks to create an artificial scarcity and there by jack up the prices.

Reports from Hyderabad suggest that some wholesalers have been sending away retail rice traders with a ‘no-stock’ plea while many have inflated the price up to Rs 400 a quintal.

The trend is expected to continue as output is unlikely to match demand in the coming days. “Won’t be surprised if the price touches Rs 50 or Rs 60 per kg very soon”, N Nagaraju, a trader, said.

In flood-ravaged Kurnool district, black-marketing of essential goods was rampant for more than three days after the flood.

Existing stocks of rice, redgram and other commodities were totally destroyed as shops suffered the brunt of the flood in Kurnool, Nandyal and other towns.

“But now the situation is back to normal as all roads to Kurnool having been opened and goods started coming in. We have also been raiding establishments that are hoarding stocks and selling them at exorbitant prices,” Kurnool Vigilance and Enforcement Officer S A V Prasada Rao told PTI.