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Rice inflation: FCI chief says PDS rice quality good; appeals traders to buy grain under OMSS

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New Delhi: Expressing concern over rice inflation, FCI chief Ashok K Meena on Friday asserted that the PDS rice is of “extremely” good quality and urged traders to buy the grain under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to boost domestic availability and contain price rise.

To encourage more participation of rice traders and processors under the OMSS, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) on Friday increased the bid quantity to 2,000 tonnes per bidder from 1,000 tonnes and the minimum bid quantity was reduced to 1 tonne from 10 tonnes, he said.

The positive response received for wheat sales under the OMSS has helped keep wheat and atta prices under check. In the case of rice, the offtake of grain has not been much, so far, under the scheme, he added.

Briefing media, FCI Chairman and Managing Director Meena said, “Rice inflation data is slightly a concern. It is at 13 per cent year-on-year, which is a cause of worry. That’s why we are selling rice under the OMSS”.

However, rice sale has been only 1.19 lakh tonne so far since June despite extensive promotion of the OMSS initiative, he said.

The government has decided to offtake 25 lakh tonnes of rice under the OMSS.

To dispel apprehension about the quality of PDS rice, which could be one of the reasons for the poor offtake, the FCI chief, for the first time, served reporters fried rice and kheer (sweet rice) cooked from the PDS rice picked up randomly from its godowns.

“The FCI has extremely good quality of rice available. The quality of rice offered under PMGKAY is as good as what you see in the market,” he said.

The only issue is that the PDS rice contains broken rice of up to 25 per cent, otherwise, the quality is good for consumption, he added.

Rice is being offered for sale at Rs 2,900 per quintal through a weekly e-auction process under the OMSS.

According to the FCI chief, more offtake of rice by private traders under the OMSS will improve the availability in the domestic market, thereby bringing down the prices.

“Rice stock is healthy. Currently, we have a total of 20 million tonnes of surplus rice, which is more than our requirement for the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) and other welfare schemes,” he said.

About 23.7 million tonnes of rice has been procured in the 2023-24 kharif marketing season, he added.

In the case of wheat, retail prices have come under control due to the OMSS sale, along with other measures.

Under the OMSS, about 48.12 lakh tonnes of wheat has been sold, so far, since June. In addition to this, 86,084 tonnes of wheat has so far been sold to agencies Nafed, NCCF, and Kendriya Bhandar for converting it into wheat flour and selling at a subsidised rate of Rs 27.50 per kg under the ‘Bharat atta’ brand.

The government has allocated 101.5 lakh tonnes of wheat for the OMSS sale till March 2024.

Besides the sale of wheat and rice under OMSS, the government has banned the export of wheat and several varieties of rice since last year.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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