Monday, February 23, 2009

Transporting fruits, vegetables in gunny bags to be banned

The government will ban the use of gunny bags for the packing of fruits and vegetables for transportation to the market from May 1, 2009 and recommends plastic trays instead, to reduce the wastage; Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Bandula Gunawardane said yesterday.

The decision had been taken after the Institute of Post Harvest Technology found that 30-40 percent of vegetables and fruits are wasted due to the use of gunny bags for this purpose.

The Minister told the Daily Mirror that he initially proscribed the use of gunny bags at the Dedicated Economic Centre in Narahenpita, and would do so at the proposed Economic Centre in Ratmalana as well.

He said that plastic trays were provided to the traders at a subsidised price at the Narahenpita centre to popularize the new method.

“Vegetables and fruits are crammed into gunny bags. Then, traders load these bags into lorries tightly. In the process, the wastage is high,” he said, adding that star grade hotels never accept vegetables and fruits contained in gunny bags.

He said, “Those who go to such hotels for meals can enjoy the taste of quality vegetables and fruit. Yet, ordinary consumers are deprived of that chance in the local market. We should encourage the use of plastic trays as a result.”

The issue had been discussed at the cost of living committee chaired by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week. The Minister said that the Nation Building Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry and the Trade Ministry would work together in implementing this decision and distributing plastic trays among traders and farmers.

Source: Daily Mirror