Food Corporation of India (FCI) has floated state-wise tender to auction 4.29 lakh tonnes (lt) of wheat and 3.95 lt of rice from its stock to bulk consumers on July 12. Though some improvements have been noticed in off take of wheat in second round from first round, only 0.04 per cent of rice could be sold on July 5.

Still, there is no change in policy on rice and the government continues with same criteria even though it has said that bringing down the retail prices is the main objective of the open sale scheme.

“The government is offloading wheat and rice from the FCI stock under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) to bulk consumers to improve the domestic supply and control the retail price of rice, wheat and atta,” the food ministry said Friday.

In the third round of e-auction, the allocation of wheat and rice has been increased. Wheat will be auctioned from 482 depots and rice from 254 depots, the ministry said.

The stock declaration by bidders in wheat stock management portal of the government of India is made mandatory for participation in the e-auction for wheat. In the current tranche of e-auctions, the ministry said that the reduction in retail price is being targeted by offering up to 100 tonnes maximum for a buyer.

However, experts and traders have blamed this maximum cap as reason for poor off take and thereby defeating the purpose of raising market availability.

According to Consumer Affairs Ministry data, the all India maxium retail price of rice has been unchanged at ₹65/kg since June 12, when the government first announced to sell the grain in open market. However, only ₹2/kg has been increased in its minimum rate from ₹23/kg on June 12. The modal retail price of rice has increased to ₹38/kg on July 7 from ₹35/kg on June 12.

Modal wheat prices in retail market has remained constant at ₹25/kg and minimum price has inched up to ₹21/kg from ₹20/kg during this period.