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Govt launches Bharat rice at Rs 29/kg

New Delhi,  The government on Tuesday launched ‘Bharat rice’ at a subsidised rate of Rs 29 per kilogram to provide relief to consumers amid a 15 per cent rise in retail prices of the grain in the last one year.

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 the common people.

“When the wholesale intervention (to control prices) was not benefitting 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 Rs 29 per kg under the ‘Bharat brand’ to provide relief to middle class consumers and the poor, he said.

In each kg of ‘Bharat rice’, there will be 5 per cent of broken rice.

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

“Wheat inflation has been zero in the last six months since we started selling ‘Bharat atta’. The same impact we will see in rice,” the minister said and emphasised that the prices of commodities going into middle class persons’ thali is quite stable.

“The government is proactive in making daily needs at affordable rates,” Goyal said.

He also flagged off 100 mobile vans that will sell ‘Bharat rice’ and also distributed 5 kg packs to five beneficiaries.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) will provide 5 lakh tonne of rice to two cooperatives — National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India (NCCF) — as well as retail chain Kendriya Bhandar in the first phase.

These agencies will further pack the rice 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 government has 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 good a response for ‘Bharat rice’ too, like it has been receiving for ‘Bharat atta’, which is being sold at Rs 27.50 per kg and ‘Bharat chana’ at Rs 60 per kg through the same agencies.

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

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

To a query on whether an accurate analysis has been done with respect to the average price of rice since there are many varieties in the market, Goyal said, “it has been correctly analysed… this is a proactive government”.

Retail prices of rice are yet to be under control despite restrictions on exports and bumper production in 2023-24.

The government has asked retailers, wholesalers, processors and big retail chains to disclose their stocks to check hoarding.

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, among others, were present at the event to launch the rice. PTI