The Kerala Government has taken a number of steps to bring down prices of essential goods, particularly items of food. It has, among other things, persuaded traders and hoteliers to cut prices by 5 per cent. Have the measures already initiated had any effect, and what more needs to be done? Our readers respond:
The increase in the prices of essential goods has affected the common man. Most retail and wholesale vendors in the city hesitate to exhibit the selling price of the commodities. The vendors charge more for certain commodities and consumers are forced to pay it. The authorities should initiate steps to ensure that the price-list of commodities sold is exhibited in front of all shops selling essential goods and food items.
The reported measures taken by the State Government to bring down prices of essential commodities should not become a temporary arrangement adopted in the wake of complaints reported by the media. Mobile stores introduced in the State should be made permanent. Hoarding of essential commodities and black-marketing such items in the public distribution systems should be checked. Government measures have their own limitations. So, shops that fleece people should be boycotted. This would deter other shop owners from indulging in such deeds. The public should stand united.
The Government action in persuading the traders to reduce the prices of provisions by five percent is not viable. Only effective market intervention through fair price Government agencies will succeed in tacking the problem. The Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector can stabilise the price, as major players in the sector will invest in bulk storage facilities and buffer stocks to tide over scarcity situations. The Government should procure agricultural produce from other regions or imports the goods during drought or floods to prevent sky rocketing of prices. Transport strikes should be declared unlawful and necessary action taken. The Government's curb on hoarding of goods should be made more effective. Steps should also be taken to check corruption in the public distribution system (PDS). This will help reduce the price of essential goods.
Steps taken by the Government to bring down prices deserve to be lauded. But such steps largely based on persuasive and ideological grounds will hardly prove to be effective. Such measures can succeed only if they are based on sound economic principles relevant to the region. Towards the end of January, the all-India inflation rate stood at 6.58 per cent compared to 4.04 per cent at the same time in 2006. Kerala is predominantly a consumer State. More effective ways of reining in price rise are needed. The State authorities can restrain monetary circulation to check the inflation rate. The long-term measure should be to improve the productivity of goods in a region. The efficiency of labour should be increased. Unless concrete steps are taken to strengthen the productivity of labour, the quantum of wealth produced in the State will gradually decrease.
The rise in prices of essential commodities is a matter of grave concern. There should be a weekly consumer price index to monitor the price. This will help the authorities take corrective measures. Steps taken by the State Government to distribute essential articles through the PDS have started showing results. However, if action is taken as during festival seasons such as Onam it can bring about considerable changes. The Government should purchase chilli and pulses from other regions when the prices are low. Free flow of goods from rural areas to other parts of the country should be facilitated.
A. Jacob Sahayam
The fiscal and monetary measures being taken by the Central Government should be capable of checking inflation. The PDS of the Central Government should be revamped so that each State will be given a deserving share depending on its needs. The State Government has begun to take steps to check the price rise of essential goods. Responding to the request of the Government, the Restaurant and Hoteliers' Association has extended its support by reducing the price of meals by a rupee. Traders should also respond in a similar manner to help the Government bring down the price rise. The Government should enhance the number of retail outlets across the State through the Civil Supplies Department. The commodities should be collected from its prime sources and made available to the common man at a lower price. This will help prevent exploitation of consumers by middlemen. A committee should be constituted to monitor the price of goods in the State regularly. The authorities should also ensure that traders and hoteliers display the prices of items. Raids should be conducted to prevent hoardings.
Reduce sales tax
By convening a meeting of merchants and making them agree to a five percent reduction in their selling price does not prove to be an effective measure.
The Government should have demanded a selling price of all food items sold. Each shopkeeper should be made to display the selling price and the reduced rates. Monitoring the fee demanded by head load workers, reducing sales tax on many of the essential commodities, brining down the fuel tax and conducting random inspections at the market will help achieve the desired results. In Kerala, labour charges are very high. The subsidy allowed to Supplyco and other counters of horticulture are ineffective.
Address the issue
The steps taken by the Government to bring down the prices of essential commodities have ameliorated the sufferings of the common man. But the real issue is yet to be addressed. In Kerala, the southern districts depend on Tamil Nadu for the supply of vegetables and fruits. Despite the high transportation cost in procuring goods from other States, the goods brought in from Tamil Nadu are cheaper than those sold in the local markets here.
The price difference in commodities is a result of the high labour charge in Kerala. Hoarding and black-marketing weaken the food supply distribution system.
The real estate boom has prompted farmers to sell their lands and few take to farming these days. Steps should be taken to stabilise the pricing of goods. Opening mobile food supply stores, Maveli stores and Supplyco chains are a step in the right direction. But the move has affected the Government exchequer. Vegetable production needs to be improved and the Government should provide incentives and technical support to farmers taking up vegetable farming. The scheme drawn up the Minister for Agriculture, which includes setting up of Haritha Sanghoms and reopening of Horticorp outlets, are steps in right direction. Since the early Nineties there has been no major breakthrough in agricultural research. Efforts should be made to support research. The intermediaries in the supply chains should be avoided since it leads to price hike and other unfair practices.
The Government should sanction loans to farmers. Women's organisations such as Kudumbasree should help the cause by teaching housewives in rural areas how to create vegetable gardens in their backyards. Government needs to extend its support to such initiatives.
Bobby Francis Joseph
The Government has taken steps to tackle the price rise of essential goods. Making traders and hoteliers reduce five per cent of the price is a welcome decision.
The move to make available kits for Rs.9 through the Haritha stalls is a commendable decision. It will help the poor. Such measures will help the Government boost business in the Haritha stalls that have almost ceased to function in many districts.
The Government has to deal with the problem of price rise at the grassroots-level. In most cases, the middlemen are the beneficiaries and the farmers do not get any profit. The products should reach the market directly through Government agencies. A special committee should be set up under the Department of Agriculture to oversee the implementation of the programme.
The move to bring down prices of essential goods, especially food items, is welcome. However, in evaluating the impact of the move, one needs to consider two things. Firstly, it has been reported that traders and hoteliers have been forced to bring down prices by five per cent. But this may not prove to be an effective step. None of the hotels in the city have been known to slash the price of food items. The Government should take steps to ensure that the people are benefited by the scheme. Usually, when the prices of food items go down, quality tends to suffer. This should not be allowed to happen. There may be an increased propensity among traders to sell adulterated food items. Systematic quality checks are a necessity to prevent such incidents.
The steps initiated by the Government may prove to be fruitful for now. But it will affect the exchequer will be felt only later. A permanent method should be devised to address the situation on a permanent basis.
The price rise seems to have been triggered by factors such as a high demand, low supply and decline in production. Statistics reveal that the crop production has grown only by a meagre 1.5 per cent in the last fiscal despite the economic growth of nine per cent.
Vast tracts of land are left uncultivated or are acquired for industrial and commercial needs. Modern agricultural practices should be adopted to improve the yield. The reasons for the price rise should be analysed.
The Director of Agriculture is the head of the Department. The department has offices at the regional, district and Panchayat levels. It has a presence in all the village panchayat through Krishi Bhavans. There is a directorate of soil conservation, which has a soil conservation wing and soil survey wing. They undertake investigation preparation, and execution of all the soil conservation work.Agriculture Production Commissioner heads the Agriculture department and under him there is Secretary Agriculture and Secretary Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development. There are separate field departments for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development.
Agriculture (Establishment - A) Department
Agriculture (Establishment - B) Department
Agriculture (planning - A) Department
Agriculture (planning - B) Department
Agriculture (NCA) Department
Agriculture (Farms) Department
Agriculture (P U) Department
Agriculture (Agri.) Department
Agriculture (IFA) Department
Agriculture (PPM cell) Department
Agriculture (PS) Department
Agriculture (WTO Cell) Department
Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (Dairy) Department
Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (AHE) Department
Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (AHF) Department
Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (AHG) Department
1. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (Establishment - A) Department
AGRICULTURE (EA) DEPARTMENT
· Organization and set up of Agriculture Department
· Krishi Bhavans
· Agricultural Field Officers
· Agricultural Officers
· Assistant Director of Agriculture
· Deputy Director of Agriculture
· Joint Director of Agriculture
· Additional Director of Agriculture
2. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (Establishment - B) Department
AGRICULTURE (EB) DEPARTMENT
Establishment papers of Soil Survey & Soil Conservation Department.
Revision of Codes and Manuals of Soil Survey & Soil Conservation Dept.
Review of Administrative Report of Soil Survey and Soil Conservation Dept.
- 3. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (planning -A) Department
AGRICULTURE (PA) DEPARTMENT
Centrally Sponsored Schemes in Agriculture and Soil Survey & Soil Conservation.
Review of progress report of centrally sponsored schemes
National Projects on Biogas development.
Non-conventional energy sources including Biogas and Biomass.
Bio-diesel and Getropha plant.
Pokkali and Kariland cultivation.
Kariland Development Agency.
Micro irrigation(Drip & Sprinkler Irrigation).
Construction, Repair and Maintenance of bunds, ponds and canals for agricultural purposes.
Monthly review of development activities.
State Level Nodal Agency for Watershed (NWDPRA)
Miscellaneous papers of the section.
4. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (planning - B) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518130
AGRICULTURE (PB) DEPARTMENT
- 5. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (NCA) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518019
AGRICULTURE (NCA) DEPARTMENT
6. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (Farms) Department
Phone : 0471- 2517159
AGRICULTURE (FARMS) DEPARTMENT
7. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (P U) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518528
Agriculture (P U) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518528
All papers related to:
- Plantation Corporation of Kerala.
- Oil Palm India Ltd.
- Horticultural Products Development Corporation.
- Trivandrum Rubber Works
All papers related to:
- Kerala State Coconut Development Corporation.
- State Warehousing Corporation of Kerala.
- State Farming Corporation of Kerala.
- Nadukkara Agro Processing Company.
- Establishment of cold storages.
- Vazhakkulam Agro & Fruit Processing Company
- Kerala Pineapple Mission
All papers related to:
- Kerala Land Development Corporation
- Kerala Agro Industries Corporation
- Kerala Agro Machinery Corporation
- Miscellaneous papers of the section
8. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (Agri.) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518070
AGRICULTURE (AGRI) DEPARTMENT
9. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (IFA) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518796
AGRICULTURE (IFA) DEPARTMENT
10. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (PPM cell) Department
Phone : 0471- 2461452
AGRICULTURE (PPM CELL) DEPARTMENT
11. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (PS) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518130
AGRICULTURE (PARLIAMENT) DEPARTMENT
12. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (WTO Cell) Department
Phone : 0471- 2517169
AGRICULTURE (WTO CELL) DEPARTMENT
- The WTO Cell set up in the Agriculture Department in 2004 looks into matters related to trade in Agriculture in general and specifically on issues related to foreign trade policy, WTO & Regional Trade agreement intellectual property rights affecting Agriculture. It also looks into the functioning of EEC aided wholesale market, AEZ Projects, plan review exercise and L.A.R cases related to EEC markets.
13. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (Dairy) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518728
- Plan Schemes of Dairy Development Department including Central Sector Schemes.
- Budget papers of Dairy Development Department.
- General Sector Schemes benefiting SC/ST.
- Establishment papers of all officers of the Dairy Development Department.
- All papers relating to Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation and the three milk Unions and
APCOS/Co-operative Milk Societies.
- Residuary papers on kottayam Dairy Projects and other allied subject
- OP's relating to Milk Societies.
- All papers relating to Flood II Programme.
- Swiss Aided Dairy Project.
- Papers relating to Motor Vehicles and purchase of Stores of Dairy Department.
- Administration Report of Dairy Department.
- Papers not alloted to any other seats in the section.
- Papers on Sewage Farms under Dairy Department.
14. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (AHE) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518569
- All Establishment matters relating to AH Department including farm labourers
- All papers relating to appointment under compassionate employment scheme in Directorate of
- Papers of continuance of temporary non-gazetted posts in the Directorate of Animal Husbandry.
- Special rules of Animal Husbandry Subordinate service.
- Establishment papers of Livestock Inspectors.
- Delegation of powers to officers of Animal Husbandry Department.
- Papers relating to charge allowance to officers of A.H.D. and their Deputation, Seminars/Training outside to state.
- All papers relating to Special Recruitment.
- Establishment papers of Sr. Superintendents/Administrative Assistants/ Accounts Officers etc.
(including disciplinary action)
- Papers not allotted to other branches in this Section.
- All papers relating to Gazetted Officers of the Animal Husbandry Department.
- Special Rules for Animal Husbandry State Service.
15. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (AHF) Department
Phone : 0471- 2518754
- All papers relating to K. L. D. B.
- All papers relating to Kerala State Poultry Development Corporation.
- Papers on cattle improvement Assets and others selected through special employment programme.
- All papers relating to Meat Products of India.
- Papers of Kerala Feeds Ltd. (including budget)
- Papers on New Veterinary/Dairy Colleges and the proposed Veterinary University.
- Papers on LIPCOS/SPCAs including Budget.
- Amendment/Additions to the existing Acts/Rules of Animal Husbandry Department and all papers relating to
Indian Veterinary Council/Kerala State Veterinary Council.
- Artificial Insemination facilities.
- Miscellaneous papers/petitions and consolidation work of the Animal Husbandry and dairy Departments.
- Papers on Meetings/Seminars/Exhibitions etc.
- Papers not allotted to other branches in this Section.
16. Agriculture Development & Farmers' Welfare (AHG) Department
- Phone : 0471- 2518506
- Plan Schemes of Animal Husbandry Department.
- Budget papers of Animal Husbandry Department.
- Papers relating to Central Sector Schemes in A.H.D.General Sector Schemes.
- Benefiting Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.
- Livestock Census.
- Special Animal Husbandry Programme.
- Review of 20 point programme.
- Annual Administration Report of Animal Husbandry Department.
- Miscellaneous papers of the AHG Section.
- Write off of birds/animals died.
- Papers relating to Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, Palode.
- Construction works of Department of Animal Husbandry.
- Opening of Veterinary Dispensaries,Hospitals, Sub Centres etc.
- Shifting of Veterinary Institutions of A.H.D.
- Compensation to loss sustained on natural calamities.
- Papers relating to purchase of feed ingredients, medicine chemicals.
- Follow up action on non-supply/defective supply medicine feed etc.
- Purchase and repair of Sundry articles and various equipment of the A.H.D.
- Condemnation of artices not useful to the A.H.D.
- Write off/loss due to theft and natural calamities.
- Settlement of dues payable on account of purchase of feed etc.
- Inspection report of Stores Purchase Department, Finance Department and Accountant General.
- Purchase of vehicles of Animal Husbandry Department.