It’s not just polished rice that has become expensive. Traditional varieties, available mostly in organic food outlets here, have also seen a rise. The bigger fear for traders is that supply could be severely disrupted in the coming months due to a sharp decline in production.
Failure of rain and the resultant drought have led to a decline in production of dryland and rain-fed paddy varieties, pushing up the prices of popular traditional varieties such Rajamudi and Gandasale.
“The price of Rajamudi, which was between Rs. 40 and Rs. 42 a kg a month ago, is now hovering between Rs. 48 and Rs. 65 at different outlets. Similarly, Gandasale, which was between Rs. 50 and Rs. 55, is over Rs. 64 a kg,” B. Somesha, chief executive officer, Sahaja Organics, told The Hindu. According to him, Ratnachudi and Salem Sanna, the other two popular varieties, have also seen a rise.
Decline in production
While traditional dryland paddy varieties such as Doddabairanallu, Puttabatha and Mundga, mostly grown in Bangalore, Ramanagaram, Kolar and Mandya districts have seen a decline in production by more than 75 per cent; rain-fed varieties such as Buddabatha, Jolga, Sannavalya, Karijeddu and Dodgya, mostly grown in Dharwad, Haveri, Uttara Kannada and Shimoga districts have declined by about 50 per cent in production, farmers claim.
It is estimated that about 15 tonnes of Rajamudi, nearly 3 tonnes of Ganadasale and about 8 tonnes of organic Sona Masuri are sold in Bangalore across various outlets in Bangalore. Besides, about 5 tonnes of red rice and smaller quantities of Ratnachudi and Salem Sanna are also sold.
Hoysala S. Appaji, a Rajamudi farmer in Holenarasipura, said: “Yield of Rajamudi has come down drastically due to non-availability of water. The mill price of Rajamudi has gone up from Rs. 27 to Rs. 31 a kg and we expect it to cross Rs. 40 shortly.” He, however, lamented that though the retail price had gone up, the farmers were not getting the benefit as their margins remain low or did not meet production cost. “We grow rice even if it is a loss because paddy gives good fodder for our cattle and assures our food security.”
Weather the culprit
But in the case of another farmer at Shikaripura in Shimoga, B.N. Nandish, who cultivates traditional varieties of Chikkasanna and Ratansagar, the early setting of cold weather and prevailing dry winds has resulted in loss of crop for him even though water was not a problem in the area. “Major loss has been witnessed in Ratansagar, and Chikkasanna crop has also been damaged.”
Mr. Somesh said in the light of declining production, the retail cost of traditional rice could rise in the coming weeks and some varieties may run out of stock.