The government on Sunday said that data collection of wholesale and retail prices of 22 essential commodities on a daily basis has improved following the launch of a mobile app from January this year. The Department of Consumer Affairs monitors prices of rice, wheat, wheat flour, gram dal, tur/arhar Dal, urad dal, moong Dal, masoor Dal, sugar, milk, groundnut oil, mustard oil, vanaspati, soya oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, gur, tea, salt, potato, onion and tomato.
The price data is being collected from 127 centres across the country through food and civil supplies departments of state governments. "To improve the quality of prices data for reporting daily prices by the price reporting centres, the Department of Consumer Affairs launched a Mobile App on 1st January, 2021," the department said in a statement.
The monitoring and predictive analysis of prices of essential commodities has taken a giant step forward, it said. The mobile app for price monitoring for 22 essential commodities has started providing effective real time information about retail and wholesale prices from 127 locations across the country, the statement said.
The daily report of retail and wholesale prices are obtained from 127 centres located across the country. The daily report of prices and indicative price trends are analysed for taking appropriate decisions such as release of stocks from the buffer and export-import policy etc.
"Price reporting through Mobile App ensures reporting from the market location as data are geo-tagged thereby displaying the location from where price data are reported," the statement said. The reporting of static data from office desktop is ruled out through the application of Mobile App.
"Therefore, the condition to operationalise Mobile App is that each Price Reporting Centre has to furnish market details such as names and addresses of the shops and markets from where prices are being collected daily," it said. As per the guidelines for retail price reporting, the prices of the same variety of a commodity are to be collected from three markets — high income market, middle income market and low income market, and the average of the three prices is to be reported.
The department said that the mobile App has inbuilt feature to calculate and report the average price. This helps in avoiding human errors in calculation. Market information from Agmarknet, Agriwatch, NAFED and trade associations also constitute inputs for price analysis.
The department is also utilising the services of Agriwatch for providing market intelligence, predictive analysis of prices and to develop price forecasting model. The department said it had proposed to DEA (department of economic affairs) for technical assistance fund under CARES Progamme of Asian Development Bank (ADB) for improving price monitoring and analysis.
The activity components under the technical assistance are upgradation of price monitoring portal, capacity building for price reporting centres and price monitoring cell, identification of long-term improvements for food commodity supply chain & market efficiency. The DEA has approved the proposal, it said.