Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Textiles and Commerce and Industry, Shri Piyush Goyal launched the sale of Rice under the ‘Bharat’ brand and flagged off 100 mobile vans here today.

While addressing the event, Shri Goyal said that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is sensitive towards the needs of the people of the country. It is under his watch that the price of essential commodities is being kept in check.

The Union Minister said the Government of India is committed towards welfare of farmers as well as people of the country. The Central government purchases essential commodities from farmers and sells them to consumers at subsidised rates whenever in need.

The launch of retail sale of ‘Bharat’ Rice will increase supplies in the market at affordable rates and will help in continued moderation of prices of this important food item. This is the latest among a series of steps taken by the Government of India towards the welfare of consumers. 

‘Bharat’ Rice will be available at all physical and mobile outlets of Kendriya Bhandar, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India (NCCF) from today and will be expanded to other retail outlets and e-commerce platforms. ‘Bharat’ brand rice will be sold in family-friendly 5 Kg and 10 Kg Bags. Bharat Rice will be sold at a maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs. 29/kg.

Bharat Atta is already being sold by these 3 agencies @ Rs. 27.50 per Kg in 5Kg and 10 Kg packs from their physical retail outlets, mobile vans as well as through some other retail networks and e-commerce platforms. Similarly, Bharat Dal (chana dal) is also being sold by these 3 agencies @ Rs.60 per kg for 1kg pack and Rs.55 per kg for 30 kg pack along with onions @ Rs.25 per kg. Apart from these 3 agencies, state-controlled cooperatives of Telangana, Maharastra and Gujarat are also involved in the retail sale of Bharat Dal. With the launch of the sale of ‘Bharat’ Rice, consumers can get rice, atta, dal as well as onions from these outlets at fair and affordable prices.

Under the overall umbrella of PMGKAY (Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana), farmers, general consumers, over 80 crore beneficiaries under the Targeted Public Distribution System, as well as other groups like school children, children in anganwadis, adolescent girls, children in hostels etc. are receiving benefits in different ways. 

For the farmers, GoI fixes MSP (Minimum Support Price) of food grains, pulses as well as coarse grains and millets. Nationwide procurement operations are undertaken to implement the PSS (Price Support Scheme) which ensures the benefit of MSP to farmers. In RMS 23-24, 262 LMT of wheat was procured from 21.29 lakh farmers at the declared MSP of Rs.2125 per quintal. The total value of procured wheat was Rs.55679.73 crores. In KMS 22-23, 569 LMT of rice was procured from 124.97 lakh farmers at the declared MSP of Rs. 2060 per quintal for Grade ‘A’ paddy. The total value of procured rice was Rs. 1,74,368.70 crores. In KMS 23-24, 414 LMT rice has been procured till 04.02.2024 from about 77.93 lakh farmers at the declared MSP of Rs 2203 per quintal for Grade ‘A’ paddy. The total value of procured rice is Rs.1,36,034 crore.

The procured wheat and rice is offered completely free of cost under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) through a network of about 5.38 lakh FPS in the country to about 80.7 crore PDS beneficiaries. PMGKAY has been extended for a further 5 years till 31.12.2028 in a historic decision, thereby providing continuity to one of the largest food and nutrition security programs in the world. Further, about 7.37 LMT of coarse grains/millets were also procured at MSP and distributed under TPDS/Other Welfare Schemes in 22-23. In the current year, about 6.34 LMT coarse grains/millets have been procured and procurement is still going on.

Many measures are taken for the benefit of consumers who are not covered under TPDS. Sale of ‘Bharat Atta’, ‘Bharat Dal’, ‘Bharat Rice’, tomatoes and Onions at affordable and fair prices is one such measure. So far, 2,75,936 MT of Bharat Atta, 2,96,802 MT of Chana dal and 3,04,40,547 Kg of Onion has already been sold, benefitting ordinary consumers.

Food Corporation of India (FCI) is conducting Nationwide weekly e-auctions for the sale of wheat under the Open Market Sale Scheme (Domestic [OMSS(D)]. Only wheat processors (Atta chakkis /roller flour mills) can participate in these weekly e-auctions. FCI is offering FAQ and URS Wheat for sale @Rs. 2150 and 2125 per quintal respectively, in accordance with the prices fixed by Government.  Traders are not allowed to participate in the e-auction as the intent of the Government is to ensure that purchased wheat is directly processed and released to ordinary consumers at affordable prices. Each bidder can take up to 400 MT in the weekly e-auction. FCI is offering 5 LMT of wheat for sale in the weekly e-auctions under OMSS (D) at this time. So far, 75.26 LMT of wheat has already been released into the open market by FCI as per Government directions.

The government of India has significantly increased the total amount of wheat to be offered for sale under OMSS (D) to 101.5 LMT till March 2024, instead of 57 LMT till December 2023 as part of a series of measures taken to moderate wheat prices. A further quantity of up to 25 LMT (over and above 101.5 LMT) of wheat can be offloaded from the buffer stock, if needed, by 31.3.2024.

The export of wheat has already been banned in order to ensure sufficient domestic availability of this commodity. The government has also imposed limits on the stock holding of wheat by different categories of entities like wholesalers/traders, processors, retailers and big chain retailers, to prevent hoarding. Stock holding of wheat is being monitored on a regular basis, so as to ensure that wheat/atta is released into the market by traders, processors and retailers on a regular basis, and there is no stockpiling/ hoarding.  These steps are taken to check the increase in the market prices of wheat by increasing its supplies. 

The government has also banned the export of non-basmati rice and imposed a floor price of USD 950 for the export of Basmati rice. Under OMSS (D) FCI is offering rice for sale in weekly e-auctions, to increase the availability of rice in the domestic market.FCI is offering Rice for sale @Rs. 29.00-29.73/ Kg in accordance with the prices fixed by the Government.

The government has shown unwavering commitment for welfare of sugarcane farmers as well as domestic consumers. On one hand, with payment of more than Rs.1.13 lakh crores to farmers, about 99.5% cane dues of last sugar season 2022-23 have already been paid leading to the lowest cane dues pendency in the sugar sector history. On the other hand, Indian consumers are also getting one of the cheapest sugar in the world. Retail prices of sugar in India have just 2% annual inflation in last 10 years and about 6% inflation in the last one year.

The government of India is closely monitoring the domestic retail prices of edible oils to ensure that the full benefits of a decrease in international prices is passed on to the end consumers. The government has taken the following measures to control and ease the prices of edible oils in the domestic market: - 

  • The basic duty on Crude Palm Oil, Crude Soyabean Oil, and Crude Sunflower oil was cut from 2.5% to Nil. The Agri-cess on Oils was brought down from 20% to 5%. On 15th January 2024, this duty structure has been extended to 31st March, 2025.
  • The basic duty on Refined Soybean oil and Refined Sunflower Oil was reduced to 17.5% from 32.5% and the basic duty on Refined Palm Oils was reduced from 17.5% to 12.5% on 21.12.2021. This duty structure has been extended up to 31st March 2025.
  • In order to maintain availability, the Government has extended the free import of Refined Palm Oils till further orders.
  • The import duty on Refined Sunflower Oil and Refined Soybean Oil has been reduced from 17.5% to 12.5% with effect from 15.06.2023

 

The international prices of major Edible oils such as Crude Soybean Oil, Crude Sunflower Oil, Crude Palm Oil and Refined Palm Oils are showing a decreasing trend since last year. Due to continuous efforts made by the Government to ensure that the decrease in the international prices of edible oils get passed on fully in the domestic market, the retail prices of Refined Sunflower Oil, Refined Soybean Oil and RBD Palmolien have decreased by 22.67%, 16.36% and 9.69% as on 29.01.2024 respectively over a year.

Department of Consumer Affairs monitors the daily retail and wholesale prices of 22 essential food commodities through 550 price monitoring centre set up in 34 States/Uts. The daily report of prices and indicative price trends are duly analysed for taking appropriate decisions for release of stocks from the buffer to cool down prices, imposition of stock limits to prevent hoarding, changes in trade policy instruments like rationalization of import duty, changes in import quota, restrictions on exports of the commodity etc.

The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) has been set up to check the volatility in the prices of agri-horticultural commodities in order to mitigate the hardships faced by consumers. The objectives of PSF are (i) to promote direct purchase from farmers/farmers’ associations at farm gate/mandi; (ii) to maintain a strategic buffer stock to discourage hoarding and unscrupulous speculation; and (iii) to protect consumers by supplying such commodities at reasonable prices through calibrated release of stock. The consumers and farmers are the beneficiaries of the PSF. 

Since the inception of the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) corpus in 2014-15 till date, the Government has provided budgetary support of Rs.27,489.15 crore for providing working capital and other incidental expenses for the procurement and distribution of agri-horticultural commodities. 

Currently, under the PSF, dynamic buffer stock of pulses (Tur, Urad, Moong, Masur and Gram) and onion are being maintained. The calibrated release of stocks from pulses and onion buffer have ensured availability and affordability of pulses and onion to the consumers and purchase for such buffer has also contributed to providing remunerative prices to farmers of these commodities. 

In order to check the volatility in prices of tomatoes and make it available to consumers at affordable prices, the Government had procured tomatoes under Price Stabilisation Fund and made it available at a highly subsidized rate to consumers. The National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) procured tomato from mandis in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra and made it available at affordable prices in major consuming centres in Delhi-NCR, Bihar, Rajasthan, etc. after subsidizing the price to the consumers. The tomatoes were disposed initially at a retail price of Rs.90/- per kg which was reduced successively to Rs.40/kg for the benefit of consumers.

In order to check the volatility in prices of onion, the Government maintains onion buffer under the PSF. The buffer size has been increased year after year from 1.00 LMT in 2020-21 to 2.50 LMT in 2022-23. The onions from the buffer are released in major consumption centres during the lean season from September to December in a calibrated and targeted manner to cool down prices. The onion buffer target for 2023-24 has been enhanced to 7 LMT. The disposal of onion from the buffer in major markets where prices have increased has been ongoing. As on 03.02.2024, a total of 6.32 LMT of onion has been procured. The Govt. has imposed prohibition on export of onion w.e.f 08.12.2023 to check price rise and improve supplies in the domestic market.

To augment domestic availability and moderate the prices of pulses, import of tur and urad have been kept under ‘Free Category’ till 31.03.2025 and import duty on masur has been reduced to zero till 31.03.2025. Import duty of 10% on tur has been removed to facilitate smooth and seamless imports. 

Stocks of chana and moong from the Price Support Scheme (PSS) and Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) buffer are continuously released in the market to moderate prices. Chana is also supplied to the States at a discount of Rs.15/kg for welfare schemes. 

GoI is committed to ensure the welfare of its farmers, PDS beneficiaries as well as ordinary consumers by ensuring minimum support prices for farmers, free rations (wheat, rice and coarse grains/millets) under PMGKAY for five years till 31.12.2028 for Antyodaya and Priority households, and fair and affordable rates of wheat, atta, rice, dal and onions/tomatoes as well as sugar and oil, for ordinary consumers.

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