Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal, recently launched a new initiative called ‘Bharat Atta,’ aimed at providing affordable wheat flour to consumers. Under this program, 100 mobile vans have been deployed to sell Bharat Atta at a price of Rs. 27.5 per kg. Additionally, Bharat Atta will be available in physical retail outlets and mobile vans operated by organizations like the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF), and Kendriya Bhandars.
The initiative involves the allocation of 2.5 lakh tonnes of wheat for Bharat Atta, with the goal of lowering inflation rates. In February, Kendriya Bhandar, NAFED, and NCCF were instructed to procure up to 3 lakh metric tonnes of wheat from Food Corporation of India (FCI) Depots. The wheat was then sold to consumers at a subsidized rate of Rs. 29.50/kg through various retail outlets and mobile vans.
In the latest development, FCI conducted its 19th round of e-auction, selling 2.87 lakh metric tonnes of wheat to 2,389 bidders. The weighted average selling price was Rs. 2,291.15 per quintal, slightly higher than the reserve price of Rs. 2,150 per quintal. This Open Market Sale Scheme, which aims to control retail prices, will continue until March 31, 2024, with an estimated offloading of 101.5 lakh tonnes of wheat.
Additionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the government’s free food grains program by five years, providing essential support to 80 crore consumers amidst rising cereal prices. This initiative, estimated to cost the government around Rs. 2 lakh crore annually, involves increased government spending and procurement of wheat and rice from farmers to sustain the welfare program. India, being a significant global producer of wheat and rice, has already imposed restrictions on cereal exports to stabilize domestic market prices.