Punjab’s fortified rice manufacturers seek premium over fixed price

Chandigarh, November 24

Rice milling for 180 lakh metric tonnes of paddy could be delayed this year if the government fails to act against some manufacturers of fortified rice kernels (FRKs), who are demanding a premium for supplying the rice to millers.

What is fortification of rice

  • Fortification is the process of adding fortified rice kernels (FRKs), containing FSSAI-prescribed micronutrients (iron, folic acid, vitamin B12) to normal rice (custom milled rice) in the ratio of 1:100 (mixing 1 kg of FRK with 100 kg custom milled rice)
  • The FSSAI defines fortification as ‘deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health’
  • As per the Government of India policy, fortified rice is to be supplied for public distribution and also for various other welfare schemes to combat several malnutrition-related diseases

Govt warns of action

All sale of FRKs has to be done through the Anaj Kharid portal, and at the prices already fixed. If any manufacturer is found seeking a higher price, we can initiate action against him, including cancelling his licence and blacklisting his firm. — Rahul Bhandari, Principal Secy, Food and Supply department

Some suppliers of the FRKs have started demanding Rs 8-10 per kg (Rs 800-1000 per quintal) over and above the price of Rs 46.58 per kg fixed by the state government for this year. The FRKs has to be supplied to the rice millers by the end of this week, as milling of rice is to start from December 1.

There are more than 128 suppliers of FRKs in the state, and as many as 338 (including suppliers outside the state) had participated in the tender process to supply FRKs in Punjab. As per rules, 1 kg of FRKs is to be mixed in 100 kg of custom milled rice.

“For the past couple of days, some FRKs manufacturers either directly, or through their brokers, have been approaching rice millers asking them to pay a premium if they want the FRKs on time. Since the Centre will not accept rice without fortification, these manufacturers are trying to browbeat millers,” Ranjit Singh Josan, a rice miller in Ferozepur said.

He said the matter had been raised by the Punjab Rice Millers Association with top officials in state Food and Supply Department, as non availability/delay in supply of FRKs could in turn delay the custom milling of rice. Interestingly, the department has also issued advertisements, warning the FRKs manufacturers against selling at a premium.

Another rice miller in Sangrur said he, too, had been approached by a broker. “In 2020, FRKs was supplied at Rs 71 per kg, while last year it was supplied at Rs 55 per kg. This year, one of the manufacturers quoted a much lower price in the bidding for the tender, and all others accepted the price of Rs 46.58 per kg. The Centre pays the state government a price of Rs 73 per kg to buy FRKs. As the number of manufacturers of the FRKs has increased, a competition has started between them to supply FRKs at lower price. But they are now trying to extract more money from the rice millers,” he said.

Date: 25-Nov-2022