‘People are returning rice bags and not buying rice from the shop’, says shop owner.

As plastic rice fears grow sales in Telangana and Andhra plummetImage for representation
news News Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 15:30

Lakshman Rao, owner of Raghavendra Rice Depot in Lingampally area of Hyderabad, is a worried man, as his rice sales has come down by 80% after rumours of ‘plastic rice’ being sold in the market began to do rounds on television and social media. 

“People are returning the rice bags. Not just that, hardly anyone is buying rice from the shop,” says Lakshman. 

“Initially I used to sell four to five quintal in a day, however, for past 20 days, I could hardly sell, one quintal rice. I have been telling the customers that, this is a fake news but they do not want to take risk,” he adds. 

The rumour reportedly started after a video where people were seen bouncing balls made of rice cooked at home went viral.

In the last 10 days in Hyderabad, there have been complaints from the Charminar area, Yousufguda, Saroornagar and Meerpet. 

According to NDTV , a person named Ashok, a resident of Meerpet, alleged that when he rolled cooked rice into balls, it would bounce like it was made of rubber.

Soon after that, samples of rice were sent for analysis to a laboratory by Telangana Food and Civil Supplies Department. 

“We did not find any plastic in the rice we tested. These news are fake. We cooked some amount of the rice we tested. As the rice becomes a little paste-like after cooking, when someone makes balls out of the cooked pasty rice, it bounces a little bit. It is nothing unusual,” Osman Mohiuddin, a quality control analyst from the state department told TNM.

However, people in Hyderabad has claimed that there have been several WhatsApp messages doing the round warning about plastic rice.

“The rumours had a huge effect in rice production in Telangana in total. As several local media, without confirmation had covered the news and have been conducting debates during news hour, people are scared to buy rice,” says Dayakar Reddy, General Secretary of Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy Rice Mill Association. 

According to him, rice sale in Telangana has gone down by 30% across the state because the rumour.

“Specifically in Hyderabad and Telangana, more than the traders, the rice mills have been affected. The production and demand of rice has come down by almost 50%,” says Dayakar. 

The association also says, several rice mills have been finding it difficult to pay daily wages to their workers. 

“For the past 15 days, we are struggling to pay the workers here. Mostly farmers will be affected if the situation continues. Usually the rice mill runs for 24 hours, however, due to the rumours, there have been drop in demand, so we are running mills only for 10 hours,” he adds. 

He says that mills are finding it difficult to meet the weekly expenses, which goes upto Rs 10 lakhs, due to which nearly hundreds of workers are not getting their wages on time. 

The situation is similar in Andhra Pradesh. 

According to Visakhapatnam Rice Mill Association, the production of rice for local brands have come down by 30%, due to the decrease in demand. 

“People are preferring branded rice and packet rice rather than the local brands. They find the big brands trustworthy more than the local once. The mills have been facing losses due to this,” says Ganni Veeranna Chowdary, President of the association. 

He also added that the sale of rice in the city has come down by 40% and the traders are not buying rice in bulk quantity. 

“People, who used to buy 15 kg, are now buying hardly 5 kg suspecting it to be plastic rice. We have given notification few days back that the news is fake and the rice we are selling is not plastic rice, however, it has affected the sale,” he adds. 


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