After subsidised wheat and dal, Govt launches ‘Bharat rice’

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Launching the subsidised rice that will be available in 5 kg and 10 kg packs, food and consumer affairs minister Piyush Goyal said the government is making efforts to ensure that daily food items are available at affordable rates for common people.

“When the wholesale intervention (to control prices) was not benefiting more people, the retail intervention was started under the price stabilisation fund (PSF),” Goyal said. 

As part of the retail intervention, rice will be retailed at 29 per kg under the ‘Bharat’ brand to provide relief to middle-class consumers and the poor, he added. 

The government has started retailing subsidised wheat and chickpea, or chana, as well under the ‘Bharat’ brand.

The government’s efforts have already helped in rapidly bringing down the prices of tomato and onion, Goyal further said. 

“Wheat inflation has been zero in the past six months since we started selling ‘Bharat atta’. The same impact we will see in rice,” the minister said, emphasising that the prices of commodities going into middle-class people’s plates is quite stable. “The government is proactive in making daily needs at affordable rates,” Goyal said. 

He distributed 5 kg packs of ‘Bharat rice’ to five beneficiaries after flagging off 100 mobile vans that will sell the rice across the country. 

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) will provide 500,000 tonnes of rice to the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed), National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF) and Kendriya Bhandar in the first phase. 

Mint had earlier reported, quoting officials, that the government may offer Bharat Rice at 29 per kg to consumers through the cooperatives to curb prices, and that 500,000 tonne of Food Corporation India (FCI) rice will be offloaded initially for retail sale. 

FCI, Nafed and NCCF will pack the grain in 5 kg and 10 kg packs and retail through their outlets under the ‘Bharat’ brand. The rice will also be sold through e-commerce platforms. 

The number of retail points, including mobile vans and e-commerce sites, will be increased to nearly 18,000 from the existing 8,000-9,000, Goyal informed. 

The government resorted to retail sale of FCI rice after it received a lukewarm response for sale of rice to bulk users at the same rate through the open market sale scheme (OMSS). 

The government hopes to get a good response for ‘Bharat rice’ as it has for ‘Bharat atta’, which is being sold at 27.5 per kg, and ‘Bharat chana’ at 60 per kg through the same agencies. 

Sharing his personal experience, Goyal said he has started using ‘Bharat dal’ and ‘Bharat atta’, and that both are delicious. 

“Now, I have purchased ‘Bharat rice’. This will also be of good quality,” he added. 

The Reserve Bank of India during its rate-setting meeting last month warned of a possible resurgence in food inflation. The government has been taking several measures recently to rein in food prices as the Consumer Food Price Index, which accounts for nearly half of the overall consumer price basket, rose to 9.5% in December from 8.70% in November.

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Published: 06 Feb 2024, 07:50 PM IST

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