Pushing for a fair price at rice fair

Pushing for a fair price at rice fair

No place for middlemen

The department will organise ‘Akki Sante’ wherein rice mill-owners will sell rice directly to buyers. Rice of almost all varieties, including Sona Masuri, will be sold at reasonable prices — minimum of Rs 16 and maximum of Rs 26 per kg.

Currently, Sona Masuri costs Rs 38 to Rs 42 per kg in the open market, depending on the variety. To begin with,  rice fairs will be organised in Bangalore from August 18 at ten places on an experimental basis. Among the 10 locations, seven will be at Janata Baazars.

The other three centres are yet to be finalised. The department will only facilitate organising the fair. It will not have a direct role to play.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister H Halappa told reporters on Tuesday that almost all varieties of rice would be available at affordable rates as there will be no role for middlemen.

“We have already held talks with rice mill owners, and they have agreed to sell rice at the fairs,” he said. The minister said middlemen charge up to Rs 20 as commission for every kilogram of rice, and the entire cost is passed on to the consumer. They operate at three different levels: when farmers sell their produce to rice mill owners; when rice mill owners sell it to wholesale traders and when wholesale traders sell the produce to retail traders. The experiment, if proved successful, would be extended to all districts, the minister added.

However, a senior official of the department, who did not like to be named, expressed his doubt about the success of the plan. “We had actually asked rice mill owners to provide Sona Masuri rice at Rs 22 and 24 per kg for the public distribution system (PDS) in the State. But they have refused. Instead, they have been supplying a cheap quality rice (Dosa Akki), while selling Sona Masuri at a higher rate outside the State. The mill owners have excess stock of Dosa Akki, and most probably they will clear the stocks at the fair,” the official said.

He also said the government must put pressure on rice mill owners to provide quality rice for PDS. In Andhra Pradesh, card-holders get quality rice such as Sona Masuri at Rs 22 a kg. In Karnataka rice mill owners were selling Sona Masuri and other quality rice to other states, while selling inferior quality rice to the government for PDS, he pointed out.

*Akki Sante from Aug 18 in Blore at 10 places

* Mill-owners to sell rice directly to consumers

* Rice of all varieties, including Sona Masuri, at maximum Rs 26/kg