Millers instructed to report weekly rice stock levels

The food ministry on Friday requested that traders, wholesalers, retailers, large chain shops, and milers around the states reveal stock positions within a week in order to stop speculation and a jump in rice prices. “The domestic prices of rice are increasing despite a good crop this kharif, ample stocks with Food Corporation of India (FCI) and in the pipeline and various regulations on rice exports,” a ministry statement stated, noting that the retail prices of rice have increased by 14.51% over the past year.

The government currently offers chana dal and atta (flour) at reduced rates of Rs 60/kg and Rs 27.5/kg through Kendriya Bhandars, NCCF, and farmers’ cooperative Nafed as part of the Bharat Dal and Bharat Atta programes. Rice retail inflation has been in double digits since October 2022, and the price of rice increased by 12.33% year over year in December 2023.

The FCI’s open market sale of excess rice to bulk purchasers at a subsidized rate of Rs 2900/quintal below the economic cost of grain for 2022–2023 of Rs 3,537/quintal has received only a lukewarm reception. In July 2023, FCI was only able to sell 0.16 MT of rice through weekly e-auctions, out of the 5 MT allotted for the current year. In an effort to boost domestic supplies, the government last year outlawed the export of white rice and placed 20% export taxes on parboiled rice.

Out of the 19.54 MT of rice stocks that FCI currently has, 37 MT are payable from millers. The stock of rice is below the 7.61 MT buffer for January. The predicted rice production for the July–June 2022–2023 crop year was a record 135.75 MT. The first advance estimate of food-grain production for the crop year 2023–24 projects that the output of rice for the Kharif crop will be 106.3 MT, a slight increase over the previous year. Over 80% of the world’s rice production comes from kharif crops.

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