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Bharat rice to hit market, with price tag of Rs 29/kg

31 January 2024

The plan is to cool the retail prices of mass consumption rice varieties. (Image/Reuters)

To curb rise in prices, the government has decided to sell subsidised grain through retail outlets under the Bharat rice initiative from next week, sources said. A formal decision to sell rice at Rs 29/kg through retail outlets will be announced in the next couple of days.

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 the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

“The issue of high rice prices remains a concern, hopefully Bharat rice initiative may have some impact on bringing down prices,” an official told FE. The official said that the domestic prices of rice are at elevated levels despite a record output, ample stocks with FCI in the pipeline and various restrictions and duties imposed on grain exports.

At present, the government is selling chana dal and atta (flour) at subsidised rates of Rs 60/kg and Rs 27.5/kg respectively under Bharat Dal and Bharat Atta initiatives. In addition FCI has sold more than 7 million tonne (MT) of wheat to bulk purchasers under the open market sale scheme froms its surplus stock so far.

Sources told FE that around 0.45 MT of non-fortified rice stock with the FCI will be initially offered for retail sales by agencies such as farmers’ cooperative Nafed, National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and Kendriya Bhandars.

There has been a lukewarm response to open market sale 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. Retail rice prices rose by 12.33% in December and rice prices are at an elevated level since October 2022. This is despite the government’s attempt to sell surplus rice in the open market from the FCI stock.

The government has banned exports of white rice and imposed 20% export duties on par-boiled rice last year to improve domestic supplies. Currently, FCI holds 19.54 MT of rice stocks, excluding 37 MT receivable from millers. The rice stock is against the buffer of 7.61 MT for January 1.

Recently Food minister Piyush Goyal had stated that the FCI’s open market sale scheme 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.

Source : financialexpress