On Tuesday, the government introduced ‘Bharat rice’ at a subsidized rate of ₹29 per kg, aiming to alleviate the burden on consumers amidst a 15% surge in retail rice prices last year. Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal announced the launch of the subsidized rice, which will be available in 5 kg and 10 kg packs. He emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring the availability of essential food items at affordable prices for the general populace.
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Interventions for Price Stabilization
Minister Goyal explained that retail intervention was initiated under the Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) when wholesale interventions failed to reach a wider population. Under this initiative, rice will be retailed at ₹29 per kg under the ‘Bharat’ brand, providing relief to both middle-class consumers and the underprivileged. Additionally, subsidized wheat and chickpeas, branded as ‘Bharat’ products, are now available.
Impact and Expansion
Goyal highlighted the government’s success in reducing the prices of essential commodities like tomatoes and onions. He pointed out that wheat inflation remained at zero in the past six months since the introduction of ‘Bharat atta,’ anticipating a similar impact on rice prices. The minister reiterated the government’s proactive stance in ensuring affordable daily necessities.
Distribution and Availability
To kickstart the distribution, Minister Goyal flagged off 100 mobile vans set to sell ‘Bharat rice’ nationwide. In the first phase, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will provide 500,000 tonnes of rice to various cooperatives and retailers. The rice will be packaged in 5 kg and 10 kg packs under the ‘Bharat’ brand and retailed through outlets, including e-commerce platforms.
Response and Future Prospects
The government’s shift to retail sale of FCI rice comes after a lukewarm response to bulk sales through the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS). Minister Goyal expressed optimism about the response to ‘Bharat rice,’ drawing parallels with the success of ‘Bharat atta’ and ‘Bharat chana’ sold through the same channels.
In conclusion, Minister Goyal shared his personal endorsement of ‘Bharat’ products, affirming their quality and affordability. With concerns over potential food inflation, the government remains vigilant, implementing various measures to stabilize food prices and ensure consumer welfare.