Prices of essential food commodities to remain stable in festival season: Food Secretary

New Delhi: Government on Thursday assured that prices of of essential food items
will remain stable during the upcoming festival season. Food secretary Sanjeev Chopra told mediapersons that government is using all tools to control prices. He chaired a Press Conference on the ‘Export Policy of Sugar and Rice’ at Krishi Bhawan today.

The govt of India has extended restrictions on sugar export to protect domestic supplies, aid consistency in the Ethanol Blended with Petrol Programme, regulate prices & prioritise the interest of domestic consumers.

According to the news agency ANI, Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary Department of Food and Public Distribution said, “We have roughly 57 lakh tonnes of stock available till October 1, 2023, which is adequate for our country to use up for 2.5 months. We have a stock of roughly 230 lakh tonnes of wheat. Although the costs of all other oils have significantly decreased, the price of ground nut oil has climbed by 2pc in a year. Despite the fact that the prices of all other oils are now under control, we are constantly negotiating with the producers of edible oils”.

Exports of sugar have been placed under the ‘Restricted’ category, as initially outlined in the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) notification on October 28, 2022.

This restriction has now been extended beyond its original deadline of October 31, 2023, and will continue until further orders. Notably, this restriction encompasses various types of sugar, including raw, white, refined, and organic sugar.

The objective behind this measure is to maintain healthy sugar stocks within the country. This ensures an ample and stable supply of sugar for the common Indian consumer, thus stabilizing prices throughout the year.

Furthermore, these restrictions facilitate the seamless execution of diverting sugar for ethanol production.

Through the appropriate and timely implementation of government policies, India has successfully maintained some of the world’s lowest sugar prices, thereby promoting food price stability and accessibility to its citizens.

Another critical aspect of this food price stabilisation strategy is the extension of a 20 per cent export duty on parboiled rice until March 31, 2024.

This move aims to sustain an adequate supply of parboiled rice within the domestic market, ensuring food security for the nation’s population.

As a result of this measure, there has been a significant decline in the export of parboiled rice, decreasing both in quantity by 65 per cent and value by 56 per cent.

In addition to the export duty, customs authorities have been directed to conduct stricter essential checks to prevent the export of other rice varieties disguised as parboiled rice.

The Indian government has further contributed to food price stability through the Open Market Sale Scheme (D). It involves offloading 50 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) of wheat via e-auction, with 2 LMT of wheat already being offered in weekly e-auctions by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) as of August 13, 2023.

A total of 25.6 LMT of wheat has been offloaded under the OMSS (D) scheme up to October 18, 2023.

To ensure consumers’ benefits, 2.5 LMT of wheat is being allocated to various agencies at a reserve price of Rs 2150 per quintal. These agencies will mill the wheat and manage logistics to sell atta (flour) in the open market at Rs 27.50 per kilogram.

These efforts have resulted in an increased availability of wheat in the domestic market, ultimately leading to moderate retail and wholesale wheat prices.

Despite a hike of 5.46 per cent in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat for the Rabi 2023 season, retail inflation for wheat has remained at around 3.6 per cent over the past year.

These food price stabilisation measures showcase the Indian government’s dedication to ensuring food security and stable prices for essential commodities like sugar, rice, wheat, and rice.

By extending export restrictions, implementing duties, and actively participating in the domestic market, the government aims to safeguard the interests of its citizens and maintain a sustainable food supply.

(With inputs from ANI)




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