Basmati Rice at Rs.3 per kg through PDS – FCI began purchasing the new crop from October 1 and will continue to buy as long as farmers sell it, the official said. The OMSS off-take is very poor as only 38,600 tonnes could be sold out of 6.73 million tonnes on offer since April this year, according to official data.
The food ministry has allowed the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to purchase Pusa 1509 and Pusa 1121 basmati rice, the world’s longest grains post-cooking, as Punjab and Haryana have requested for it, a government official said. “Earlier too, FCI used to buy higher grade, but basmati was never bought as it earned a premium,” he said. There are two options before the government – either to sell it through the public distribution system (PDS) or in the open market sales scheme (OMSS), the official said.
FCI began purchasing the new crop from October 1 and will continue to buy as long as farmers sell it, the official said. The OMSS offtake is very poor as only 38,600 tonnes could be sold out of 6.73 million tonnes on offer since April this year, according to official data.
The government purchases paddy from farmers at Rs 1,410 per quintal for common variety and Rs 1,450 per quintal for higher grade. After processing, it sells rice to states for distribution through ration shops. Rice is sold at Rs 3 per kg to the poorest of the poor under the antyodaya anna yojna and to all beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act.
However, the population below poverty line (BPL) category gets it at Rs 5.65 per kg and those above poverty line (APL) get the common variety of rice at Rs 7.95 a kg. In addition, a higher grade is available at Rs 8.30 per kg. Currently, farmers in Haryana are selling Pusa 1509 variety of paddy at Rs 1,550 per quintal, which is sold at Rs 1,350 in Punjab. Prices in Haryana improved only after FCI started buying the grain, said Vijay Setia, former president of All India Rice Exporters Association.
Farmers in Punjab are protesting declining prices of basmati rice and have sought Rs 4,500 per quintal rate for Pusa 1509 variety and Rs 5,000 per quintal for Pusa 1121 type of rice. “Though exports will not drop in terms of volume, the realisation will definitely be less as prices have dropped,” Setia said on Monday.
Exporters are earning $600-$700 a tonne this year for the same basmati rice for which they were getting $1,100 last year and about $1600 in 2013, he said. The higher production of basmati contributed to the drop in prices, Setia said.
India ranks 55th in the global hunger index of countries, according to US-based international food policy research institute . The country has 172 million poor people, according to the World Bank, which considers global poverty line as a person’s ability to live on $1.90 (Rs 123.15) per day. Data released by the plan panel in 2013 calculated the number of poor in India to 269 million. In rural areas, about 81 per cent of the population does not consume the recommended level of 2,400 kilo calories a day, a 2011 plan panel data said.
India has a share of 65 per cent in world’s basmati rice trade, while the only other producer, Pakistan, accounts for the rest, according to agricultural and processed food products export development authority (Apeda). Saudi Arabia and Iran are two major buyers of Indian basmati.
Source: deccan Chronicle