It is really an issue of serious concern that Bangladesh annually loses fruits and vegetables worth Tk. 3,391.71 crore due to lack or inadequacies in transportation, processing and storage. A study conducted by Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) shows that inadequate transportation, shortage, processing and marketing facilities cause the loss. It identified ignorance of the stakeholders, absence of monitoring by the authorities and the use of chemicals contribute to the recurring loss each year.
The study estimated the loss of fruits at approximately Tk. 3065.6 crore of vegetables at nearly Tk. 3, 26.11 crore. Jackfruit growers sustain the highest loss of about 44 per cent and pineapple growers follow 40 per cent loss due to fruit borer, soft rot, stem bleeding as well as the use of growth promotion and ripening chemicals in Mymensingh, Gazipur and Madhupur. A teacher of the University Kamrul Hasan did the study, ‘Post Harvest Loss Assessment: A Study to Formulate Policy for Socio –economic Loss. Reduction of the stakeholders on account of Fruits and Vegetables in eight districts of Rajshahi, Chapainawabgonj, Tangail, Bogra, Sylhet, Dinajpur, Mymensingh, Gazipur, Jessore, Comilla and Narsingdi”.
The study has indeed made some important disclosure. It found an increased rise of ripening chemicals in recent years which resulted in reduced nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables by 21 per cent. Besides, it says, the use of the chemicals is harmful for the consumers. Indiscriminate use of un-recommended chemicals posed a serious threat to human health. According to physicians the use of chemicals damage kidney and can cause cancer and retard the growth of children. Growers as well as traders sustain losses for carrying bananas, papayas, pineapples citruses lichis, Jackfruits, leafy vegetables, cauliflowers, brinjals, cucumbers in traditional ways to markets. Agricultural experts said growers and traders also sustain significant losses due to rot, degeneration or other factors, as no proper post harvest sorting, grading, packaging are done to ensure production of quality during transportation to local selling centers and the whole markets at a distance.
The study revealed that about 84 per cent of the growers use growth chemicals for early marketing of many and vegetables at immature stages to maximize profit. It is also learnt that the present status of preservation and packaging fruits and vegetables in Bangladesh is far from satisfactory with letter presentation and packing the losses in fruits and vegetables can be reduced drastically like in the developed countries. To achieve it, the traders have to use admissible level of preservatives also low cost technology to store perishables in rural areas. The government has the responsibility to monitor the situation to ensure compliance in a sustained manner.