Sri Lanka is promoting the use of plastic containers to pack vegetables and fruit when transporting it to the market. The Treasury has granted a sum of Rs. 103 million for the programme implemented by the government to introduce plastic containers with the aim of supplying clean and quality fresh vegetable and fruit to the market preventing wastage taking place while transporting it in low standard containers such as gunny bags or fertilizer sacks, Finance Ministry sources said. Over 150,000 containers have already been provided to the farmers, collectors of vegetables and the traders, and further arrangements have been made to provide adequate plastic containers shortly.
The programme of providing plastic containers for vegetable transportation is being carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Co-operatives and Internal Trade. Some 400,000 plastic containers will be distributed under this programme to be used for the transportation of vegetables.
The main purpose of switching to plastic vegetable containers has been to lessen the wastage occurring through the transportation of fruits and vegetables. Wood or plastic containers have to be used for the transportation of vegetables, the Consumer Affairs Authority stated adding that legal action will be taken against those who don’t abide by this rule. This decree will come into affect under Article 10 of the Consumer Affairs Authority Act. The Ministry of Cooperatives and Internal Trade has issued a gazette notification directing the transporters of vegetables to use plastic crates or any other proper method for transportation of vegetables.
However, the traders say that the use of plastic crates cost space and the transport costs will go up since the amount of vegetables that can be transported in rigid crates in the trucks is much less than the amount filled in gunny bags. It is common in Sri Lanka for vegetables to be transported even on rooftops of lorries but with crates, this may not be possible.
However, it is estimated about 30% of the harvest is wasted due to improper transport and the new initiative is to save such waste and avoid further price increases due to shortages expected after unusual rains. It has been pointed out that annually some Rs.20 billion worth of food items are damaged or wasted during transportation in Sri Lanka.