In a strategic move to combat the escalating retail prices of rice, the Indian government has unveiled ‘Bharat rice’ at a subsidized rate of ₹29 per kilogram. The announcement, made by Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, aims to cushion the impact of a 15 percent surge in grain prices over the past year.
Goyal asserted the government’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the affordability of daily food items for the common people. The initiative falls under the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF), with retail interventions initiated when wholesale measures failed to benefit a broader population.
‘Bharat Rice’ – A Sigh of Relief for the Middle Class
Under the ‘Bharat brand,’ each kilogram of the newly introduced rice will be available at ₹29, with a 5 percent inclusion of broken rice. Piyush Goyal emphasized that this retail intervention specifically targets providing relief to the middle class and the economically disadvantaged. The move follows successful endeavors like ‘Bharat atta,’ where wheat inflation remained at zero for the past six months.
Highlighting the positive impact of prior government efforts, Goyal cited the reduction in prices of essential commodities such as tomatoes and onions. Expressing confidence in the success of ‘Bharat rice,’ he underscored the government’s proactive approach in stabilizing prices, particularly for middle-class households.
FCI’s Role in ‘Bharat Rice’ Distribution
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) will play a pivotal role in the distribution of ‘Bharat rice.’ In the initial phase, 5 lakh tonnes of rice will be provided to cooperatives like the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED), National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF), and retail chain Kendriya Bhandar.
These agencies will then package the rice in 5 kg and 10 kg packs, retailing them under the ‘Bharat’ brand through various outlets and e-commerce platforms. This innovative approach aims to reach a wider consumer base and replicate the success witnessed with ‘Bharat atta’ and ‘Bharat chana.’
Tackling Retail Challenges
The decision to opt for retail sales of FCI rice comes in response to a lukewarm reception for bulk sales through the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS). Goyal acknowledged the success of previous initiatives and expressed optimism in a positive response to ‘Bharat rice.’
Despite facing challenges in controlling rice prices, Goyal urged key stakeholders, including retailers, wholesalers, processors, and large retail chains, to disclose their stocks to prevent hoarding.
Dignitaries Present at the Launch
The launch event saw the presence of key figures such as Ministers of State for Consumer Affairs Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Ashwini Choubey, Food Secretary Sanjeev Chopra, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, and Food Corporation of India (FCI) CMD Ashok K Meena. Their participation underscores the significance of ‘Bharat rice’ in the government’s ongoing efforts to stabilize essential commodity prices.
In conclusion, the introduction of ‘Bharat rice’ marks a crucial step in addressing the challenges posed by rising retail prices, reflecting the government’s dedication to ensuring food affordability for all segments of society.