Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Textiles and Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, launched the sale of Rice under the ‘Bharat’ brand and flagged off 100 mobile vans.
While addressing the event, Goyal said that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is sensitive towards the needs of the country's people. Under his watch, the price of essential commodities is being kept in check.
The Union Minister said the Government of India is committed to the welfare of farmers and the country's people. The central government purchases essential commodities from farmers and sells them to consumers at subsidized rates whenever needed.
Launching the retail sale of ‘Bharat’ Rice will increase supplies in the market at affordable rates and help in the continued moderation of prices of this vital 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 from today's physical and mobile outlets of Kendriya Bhandar, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), and the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India (NCCF). They 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 three agencies @ Rs. 27.50 per Kg in 5 kg and 10 Kg packs from their physical retail outlets, mobile vans, and other retail networks and e-commerce platforms. Similarly, Bharat Dal (chana dal) is also being sold by these three agencies @ Rs.60 per kg for a 1kg pack and Rs.55 per kg for a 30 kg pack, along with onions @ Rs.25 per kg. Apart from these three agencies, state-controlled Telangana, Maharastra, and Gujarat cooperatives 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, and 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.
GoI fixes the MSP (Minimum Support Price) for the farmers of food grains, pulses, coarse grains, and millets. Nationwide procurement operations are undertaken to implement the PSS (Price Support Scheme), which ensures farmers benefit from MSP. 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 are offered entirely 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 five years till 31.12.2028 in a historic decision, providing continuity to one of the world's largest food and nutrition security programs. Further, about 7.37 LMT of coarse grains/millets were procured at MSP and distributed under TPDS/Other Welfare Schemes in 22-23. In the current year, about 6.34 LMT coarse grains/millet have been procured, and procurement is ongoing.
Many measures are taken to benefit consumers who are not covered under TPDS. The 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 have 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, by the prices fixed by the Government. Traders are not allowed to participate in the e-auction as the Government intends 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. At this time, FCI is offering 5 LMT of wheat for sale in the weekly e-auctions under OMSS (D). So far, 75.26 LMT of grain 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 by, if needed, 31.3.2024.
The wheat export has already been banned to ensure sufficient domestic availability. 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 grain is being monitored regularly to ensure that wheat/atta is released into the market by traders, processors, and retailers regularly and that there is no stockpiling/ hoarding. These steps are taken to check the increase in wheat market prices 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 the weekly eAuctions to increase the availability of rice in the domestic market. FCI is offering Rice for sale @Rs. 29.00-29.73/ Kg by the prices fixed by the Government.
The government has shown unwavering commitment to the welfare of sugarcane farmers and domestic consumers. On the one hand, with payment of more than Rs.1.13 lakh crores to farmers, about 99.5% of cane dues of the 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 had just 2% annual inflation in the last ten years and about 6% inflation in the previous 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 are passed on to the end consumers. Government has taken the following measures to control and ease the prices of edible oils in the domestic market: -
The primary 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 primary duty on Refined Soybean oil and Refined Sunflower Oil was reduced to 17.5% from 32.5%, and the primary duty on Refined Palm Oils was decreased from 17.5% to 12.5% on 21.12.2021. This duty structure has been extended up to 31st March 2025.
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 have decreased since last year. Due to continuous efforts made by the Government to ensure that the decrease in the international prices of edible oils gets 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 centres in 34 States/Uts. The daily report of prices and indicative price trends are duly analyzed for taking appropriate decisions for the 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 to mitigate the hardships cons consumer farmers face. 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.
Under the PSF, a dynamic buffer stock of pulses (Tur, Urad, Moong, Masur, and Gram) and onion is maintained. The calibrated release of stocks from pulses and onion buffers has ensured the consumers' availability and affordability of pulses and onions. Purchasing such a buffer has also provided remunerative prices to farmers of these commodities.
To check the volatility in the prices of tomatoes and make them available to consumers at affordable prices, the Government procured tomatoes under the Price Stabilisation Fund. It made it available at a highly subsidized rate to consumers. The National Cooperative Consumers Federation (NCCF) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED)procured tomatoes from mandis in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. After subsidizing the cost to the consumers, they made it available at affordable prices in major consumption centers in Delhi-NCR, Bihar, Rajasthan, etc. The tomatoes were disposed of initially at a retail price of Rs.90/- per kg, which was reduced successively to Rs.40/kg for the benefit of consumers.
To check the volatility in the onion prices, the Government maintains an 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 significant consumption centers 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 significant markets where prices have increased has been ongoing. As of 03.02.2024, 6.32 LMT of onion has been procured. The Govt. has prohibited the export of onion w.e.f 08.12.2023 to check the 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 to moderate prices. Chana is also supplied to the States at a discount of Rs.15/kg for welfare schemes.
GoI is committed to ensuring 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.