Vol. 5 Num 731 Sun. June 18, 2006  
Star City

Reducing chemical use in vegetables
Ministry of Agriculture launches projects to ensure high quality in fruits and vegetables

To ensure high quality of vegetables and fruits, the Ministry of Agriculture has launched a project with its own fund titled Integrated Quality Horticulture Development Project (IQHDP).

Involved in the project are four organisations of the ministry -- Department of Agriculture and Extension (DAE), Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC), Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM).

The details of the project were unveiled at a programme at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) in the city last week.

On an average a human being needs 200 to 210 grams of vegetables whereas people consume only 80 to 85 grams. Urban dwellers have increased their consumption of vegetables and fruits to maintain good health, in comparison with production.

"The current production of vegetables and fruits are 6.48 tons per hectare in our country which is very low comparing with the demand," said AHM Monirul Haque Naqvi, the project director (PD).

He also said due to already increased population pressure on the land it may not be possible to bring about additional area under vegetable production, and the strategy has opened perhaps only two ways.

Firstly by increasing production using hybrid seeds where the quantity of production can be increased from 6.48 ton per hectare to about 9 tons, he said.

"Though government is only confined to rice-paddy regarding hybrids, some private companies like East West seed company, Metal seed company in Bangladesh have already developed some hybrid seeds," Naqvi added.

Secondly he emphasised on reducing the existing post harvest losses. According to some estimates, post harvest losses of up to 30 percent in vegetables and fruits are being experienced.

Every year the country produces 72.78 lakh tonnes of vegetables and we lose 25 percent due to lack of post harvest management, resulting in an average loss of about 15 lakh tonnes.

The project includes training farmers on various issues that will help them reduce loss along with others like collectors and stakeholders who are also involved in the post harvest management.

"The post harvest loss that we face every year is because of lack of awareness. One of our main aims is to create awareness at district level," said the PD.

He also talked about the current problem faced by city dwellers which is the medicine used in different fruits and vegetables to attract consumers.

"This bad practice is increasing day by day as there is no control over this matter," he said.

"According to international standards one can use the ratio of 1000:1 medicine on any product which means one can use 1 kg chemical on the product of 1000. Whereas dishonest traders use 20 kg to 25 kg on the same quantity of product which is very harmful to health and causes itching, diarrhoea and even skin cancer," he added.

There should be a government regulatory body that includes technical persons with knowledge of calcium carbide a chemical widely used.

He also said media can play a vital role in this regard especially in creating awareness.

Frequent use of chemicals pose risk to public health. PHOTO: STAR