The sudden increase in prices of essential commodities like rice and cooking oil has worried city homemakers.
In just a week, retail rates of raw and boiled rice has shot up. Ditto for prices of dal varieties and cooking oil.
Homemaker Saraswathi Partheban says she buys a kg of rice at Rs. 42.
“It is not of the best quality but we can’t afford anything else. Now, with the price rise, I don’t know how we will manage even that,” she says.
Senior citizen K. Gopalan says his monthly household budget is likely to go up by Rs. 1,000. “Rice and oil are essentials. We cannot cut down on them,” he says.
According to Jagan who runs a wholesale rice outlet in Thoraipakkam, the cheapest rice variety is the kuchi arisi, sold at Rs. 27 a kg.
However, prices seem to differ from shop to shop with supermarkets selling them at lesser rates. The price of rice has gone up due to poor harvests, say shopkeepers.
However, president of Federation of Tamil Nadu Rice Mill Owners and Paddy – Rice Dealers Association, D. Thulasingam, insists there was enough stock.
“Diesel and fertilisers have become costlier resulting in the hike in prices of essentials. There is a shortage of labour on the farm too,” he says.
M. Seran, president of Federation of Farmers Associations, says the increase in price of rice is artificial. “Traders must be holding stocks and increasing rates. If farmers sell paddy at Rs. 13 per kg, how can it cost Rs. 52 when it reaches the end user?” he says.
Prices of toor dal and gingelly oil too have increased. “Production of groundnut and sesame seeds was affected resulting in the price rise,” said an employee at Jai M. Aiyasamy Nadar, a wholesale merchant.
According to Manish Parmar, secretary of Madras Kirana Merchants Association, the price of toor dal has climbed steadily since December.
“There was no carry-forward stock from last year. In December, the wholesale price was Rs. 38.50 per kg. Now it stands at Rs. 45,” he says.
In a trickle-down effect, the rise in prices of essentials may spur restaurants and eateries to up the rates of their dishes.
K.T. Srinivasa Raja, president of Chennai Hotels Association, says some restaurants are considering increasing prices by 5 per cent.