From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Bharat Atta
Mains level : Not Much
- In a bid to maintain stability in food prices during the festive season, the Indian government has unveiled a subsidized packaged wheat flour initiative accessible to all consumers.
- Termed “Bharat Atta,” the scheme aims to release a quarter of a million tonnes of state-owned wheat to various cooperative outlets and federations.
- Distribution Channels: The government has chosen Kendriya Bhandar, a network of cooperative general stores, along with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation, as the primary channels for distributing Bharat Atta.
- Reduced Price: Bharat Atta is offered at a reduced price of ₹27.50 per kilogram, which is lower than the earlier rate of ₹29.50 at Kendriya Bhandar.
- Expansion: To ensure accessibility, the subsidized flour will be available at Kendriya Bhandar, NAFED, NCCF, government cooperative outlets, and food vans operated by NAFED and NCCF.
- Government Support: The government is facilitating this scheme by milling the wheat through firms selected through a tender process, thereby minimizing the milling cost, which is approximately ₹1.80 per kilogram for large wheat millers.
Why such move?
- Free Cereals: PM recently announced that cereals would be provided free of cost to 800 million beneficiaries entitled to subsidized food for the next five years.
- Price Controls: The government has implemented various measures such as banning wheat and rice exports, setting a floor price for onion exports, and reducing import duties on pulses to combat rising food prices.
- Election Context: These anti-inflation measures come as India faces key assembly elections in five states and a general election in the near future.
Challenges in implementation
- Cereal Inflation: Despite a significant wheat harvest, India continues to grapple with high cereal inflation, which has persisted for over a year, reaching double digits.
- Record Foodgrain Production: The fourth and final round of estimates for the 2022-23 crop output indicates a record high in foodgrain production. However, wheat production slightly decreased from initial estimates.
- Positive Outlook: Despite minor fluctuations, wheat production remains higher than the previous year, reflecting a positive outlook for addressing food price concerns.
- The government’s subsidized wheat flour initiative, Bharat Atta, exemplifies its dedication to ensuring that the joy of the festive season is not marred by soaring food prices.