COVID-19: State promises to remove bottlenecks in supply chain

 thehindu.com  03/26/2020 15:52:50  2

Restrictions on movement of goods vehicles have severely disrupted supply chains of farmers-wholesalers and wholesale-retail creating an artificial scarcity in the State leading to panic buying. Given the demand, many retailers have increased the price of essential commodities and vegetables. To make matters worse, due to low stock Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) yards across the State were closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

The government on Thursday held a special meeting of all wholesalers, after which APMCs announced that they will reopen on Friday and function from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day.

We have stock of pulses only for three days and rice for eight days. Trucks laden with rice and wheat, pulses and oil are stranded on national highways. So we shut down. Now the government has assured us that there will be no restrictions on the movement of heavy vehicles both inter- and intra-State. Subject to removal of all bottlenecks as promised, we have decided to re-open, said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, chairman, APMC Committee, FKCCI.

This is expected to ease the situation for retailers to a large extent.

While police are being blamed for the disruption of supply chains, a senior police official said such a lockdown was unprecedented, and there were several teething problems which he assured would be ironed out over the next few days.

There is a strict instruction to seal district borders and stop inter-district movement. But we are facing traffic pile-up at these borders. Goods vehicles are getting stuck. In some cases, it will be tough to manage crowds while selectively allowing vehicles to cross borders, a senior police official said, adding they were trying their best to enable movement of goods vehicles.

While movement of essential goods across district borders have been streamlined to a large extent, the same cannot be said for State borders. However, the State government has assured wholesalers that the problem will be sorted out.

Tomatoes, probably, serve as the best illustration of the resultant problem. Due to short supply in the city, the cost of a kilo of the vegetable has gone up to 80. However, it was trading at 10/kg in Kolar and 2/kg in Tiptur.

So the problem is not of shortage of produce, but disruption of supply chains, said B.N. Prasad, Managing Director, HOPCOMS. If farmers are not able to bring perishable goods to the markets, the produce will perish causing more stress to farmers, he added.

Safety measures

Health concerns are being raised at these wholesale markets.

There are no preventive measures at APMC yards. We fear the spread of the infection. There are goods from Maharashtra, which is a hotspot for COVID-19. Officials have now assured that they will help us observe social distancing, provide us with thermal scanners and other preventive measures, said Mr. Lahoti.

HOPCOMS suggests that instead of Kalasipalyam, the crowded and narrow wholesale market in the city, vegetables need to be distributed in stadiums and playgrounds across the city.

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