Govt to sell Bharat Rice at Rs 29/kg in retail from next week
Traders asked to declare rice stock
New Delhi: The Centre on Friday said it will sell ‘Bharat Rice’ in the retail market at Rs 29 per kg from next week to give relief to the common man and has also directed traders to disclose rice/paddy stock, as part of its efforts to control prices that have risen by around 15 percent in the last one year.
In a press conference, Union Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra exuded confidence that these two measures along with the various restrictions of exports will help in cooling down the prices.
Seeking to dispel market rumours, he categorically said the government has no plans to lift restrictions on rice exports any time soon. The restrictions will continue until prices fall to a reasonable level.
“The first priority for the government as of now is to ensure that rice prices are brought down,” Chopra said, while asserting that prices of all essential food items are under control except rice.
Prices of rice have risen by 14.5 percent in retail and 15.5 percent in the wholesale markets in the last one year, he added.
To control prices, Chopra said the Centre has decided to sell subsidised ‘Bharat Rice’ at Rs 29 per kg in the retail market through two cooperatives the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Ltd (NCCF) as well as retail chain Kendriya Bhandar.
E-commerce platforms will also be roped in to sell Bharat Rice.
He said Bharat Rice will be available in the market from next week in 5kg and 10kg packs.
In the first phase, Chopra said the government has allocated 5 lakh tonnes of rice for sale in the retail market.
The government is already selling Bharat Atta at Rs 27.50 per kg and Bharat Dal (chana) at Rs 60 per kg.
“We are now issuing orders that all the entities that are stocking rice would need to disclose their stocks on the portal of the food department. So the retailers, the big chain retailers, the wholesalers and the processors would all be required to disclose their stocks on the portals. They would need to disclose stocks in categories such as broken rice, non-basmati rice, parboiled rice and basmati rice,” he said.
Chopra said this step will check hoarding of rice.
The secretary said the prices are going up despite the comfortable stock position of rice in the government’s buffer stock as well as in the domestic market.
He said this step would ensure that “entities that are holding stocks for reasons best known to them are able to get this kind of a signal and release the stocks into the market which should cool down the prices.”
Chopra highlighted that the government has taken various steps in terms of export regulations, including prohibition on shipments of non-basmati white rice and broken rice, 20 percent export duty on parboiled rice and minimum export price of USD 950 per tonne for basmati rice.
Under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS), he said the government has been vigorously pushing but with not much success.
“In spite of all that, we find that the prices are still showing an upward trend,” he said.
Asked whether the government will impose a stock limit on rice or ban shipments of par-boiled rice, he said, “all options are open” to bring down the prices.
Chopra also sought to dispel market rumours that the government would lift restrictions on rice exports.
“There is some kind of impression in the trade that the export regulations will be taken off very soon. So I would also like to take this opportunity to convey through you to the general public and also to the traders in particular that the government has no proposal to revisit the restrictions which are prevailing at this time and they are here to stay for some time until the prices are controlled,” he said.
The secretary said he is giving a signal to those people who are holding stocks for export purposes, that “this is not going to get done anytime soon.”
The ministry further said the stock position of rice/paddy must be declared by traders/wholesalers, retailers, big chain retailers and processors/millers in all States and Union Territories, until further orders.
This step has been taken to manage the overall food inflation and to prevent unscrupulous speculation.
The respective legal entities will have to declare stock position of Paddy and Rice in categories such as broken rice, non-basmati white rice, parboiled rice, basmati rice and Paddy.
Earlier, the ministry highlighted that the export of broken rice was prohibited from September 2022. In respect of non-basmati rice, which constitutes about 25 per cent of total rice exports, an export duty of 20 per cent has been imposed from September 8, 2022.
Subsequently, the export Policy of non-basmati white rice was prohibited with effect from July 20, 2023.
In basmati rice, the contracts for basmati exports with the value of USD 950 per tonne only and above are being registered for issue of Registration – cum – Allocation Certificate (RCAC). A 20 per cent export duty on parboiled rice has been imposed which will be applicable till March 31, 2024.
“All these measures have curbed the pace of the increasing trend of rice prices in the domestic market,” the statement said.