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July 2024

Piyush Goyal launches sales of subsidised Bharat rice

The rice is being sold to consumers in five and 10 kgs packs and the grain will be available at more than 18,000 outlets and mobile vans across the country.

FCI holds 21.53 MT of rice stocks. (Image/Reuters)

To curb spike in prices, the government on Tuesday launched sale of subsidised ‘Bharat rice’ at Rs 29/kg through retail outlets of Kendriya Bhandar, farmers’ cooperative Nafed and National Cooperative Consumers Federation besides the digital platform – open network for digital commerce (ONDC).The rice is being sold to consumers in five and 10 kgs packs and the grain will be available at more than 18,000 outlets and mobile vans across the country. After formally launching mobile vans for selling of subsidised rice, food minister Piyush Goyal told FE “this measure will continue till required and expected to give relief to consumers,”.Sources said that the government will incur a subsidy of Rs 5.4/kg on account of Bharat rice initiative. This will be funded from the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) of the department of consumer affairs.

According to Goyal, since 2014-15, the government has spent Rs 27,500 crore so far under the PSF which is aimed at retail interventions and procurement for curbing any possibility of increasing prices of pulses, grains and vegetables.

In the first phase, around 0.45 million tonne (MT) of non-fortified rice stock with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been offered for the Bharat rice initiative. The plan is to cool the retail prices of mass consumption rice varieties, which have remained stubbornly high despite curbs on certain exports and open market sales by FCI.

At present, FCI holds 21.53 MT of rice stocks, excluding 37 MT receivable from millers. The rice stock is against the buffer of 7.61 MT for January 1. Retail inflation in rice rose to 12.33% in December, 2023, higher from 11.81% in November on year. Rice inflation has been in double digits since October, 2022.

At present, the government is selling chana dal and atta (flour) at subsidised rates of and atta (flour) at subsidised rates of Rs 60/kg and Rs 27.5/kg respectively under Bharat Dal and Bharat Atta initiatives.

There has been a lukewarm response to open market sale scheme (OMSS) of surplus rice to bulk buyers by the FCI at subsidised rate of Rs 2900/quintal, below the economic cost of grain for 2022-23 at Rs 3,537/quintal.

Since July, 2023 FCI could sell only 0.16 MT of rice through weekly e-auctions so far against an allocation of 5 MT for the current year. The FCI has sold more than 7 MT of wheat to bulk purchasers under the open market sale scheme from its surplus stock so far this fiscal which led to a sharp fall in inflation in wheat to 4.69% in December,2023 from 6.36% in the previous month.

The government has banned exports of white rice and imposed 20% export duties on par-boiled rice last year to improve domestic supplies. Last week, the food ministry had asked retailers, wholesalers, processors, and big retail chains to disclose their stocks to check hoarding.

An official said that inflation in rice is probably coming from non-FCI varieties of rice which are less consumed by those families not covered under the National Food Security Act.

Recently Food minister Goyal had stated that the FCI’s OMSS has proved to be an effective tool in moderating the prices of essential commodities like wheat. “Bharat Atta, Bharat Dal, interventions regarding Onion and Tomato have assisted Government of India in price stabilization,” Goyal had said. QR Code

Published Date: February 7, 2024

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