. .

Polypropylene Bags
Rs. 200 m losses

Using PPB bags for wheat storage is causing losses rather than profits to the country

Sep 18 - 24, 2000

Storage of wheat in Polypropylene Bags (PPB) caused a huge loss of Rs 200 millions to the state exchequer, according to the sources. These losses are not only confined to monetary extent, environmental degradation and health hazards but due to the packaging of wheat in PPB has put the health of consumers and environment in peril.

Sources further said, Punjab and Balochistan food departments are using PPB bags for wheat storage which is causing losses rather than profits to the country. Describing the reason, as polypropyline bags do not absorb moisture and heat, so when wheat stored and packed in PPB which remains exposed to sunlight, disintegrate into powder and mixed with grain. This powder is toxic in nature as it contains various harmful elements and when it is recollected and re-bagged for further transport to flour mills it becomes polluted.

Last year food department of Balochistan and Punjab provinces purchased 11 million PPB of worth Rs 220 million and packed wheat in it. So when 200,000 tonnes wheat was packed in PPB, the process of respiration started and wheat became mild dewed and was attacked by fungus. So huge bulk of wheat was damaged due to the same reason.

So far jute bags were used by Sindh and NWFP. But according to some estimated figures this year Sindh government has also preferred to purchase PPB due to the increase in prices of jute bags. It was also pointed out that being made by a natural fiber, jute bags absorb the moisture and throughout the world these are being used for exclusive purpose of the packaging of food items.

Jute bags are more economical than PPB as 100Kg jute bag costs Rs 45 as compared to 50Kg PPB which costs Rs 22. But the most important fact is that jute bag can be used for consecutive three seasons and resale at the end at Rs27 per bag to flour mills. Contrary PPB can only once used and resale at Rs 6, therefore Jute bag costs Rs 6 per season which is Rs 18 in case of PPB.

Sources further said, wheat is a poor conductor of heat which is generated due to respiration process and is not quickly dissipated when wheat is stored at high moisture or temperature environment. With the production of PPB every year millions tonnes of pollution is being added to the environment, there is no way to dispose it because it is non-biodegradable. Jute bags have much rescue capability and naturally suitable for sacking and packaging of wheat.

Sources said, Pakistan's jute industry has capacity to produce 150000 metric tonnes of jute bags yearly out of which 80 per cent is purchased by the government and 20 per cent by private sector. Our Jute industry is absolutely capable to meet the demands as it is an extremely healthy unit. Imported bags costs more than locally made, so government should not allow unnecessary concessions on import of finished bags.

Packaging in PPB has damaged the quality of grain and authorities have no way to accommodate it except to offer it as it is to the public. Another way is to auction it by mixing some proportion of it in fresh wheat. But in both the cases it is at the cost of public health who is paying price for bad and health hazardous wheat. It is interesting to mention that Pakistan is the only country where four different categories of flour are supplied in the market according to its class.

In Pakistan procurement of wheat starts from 5th of April and goes on till the end of June. During the whole process wheat has the highest retention of moisture. On storing and packaging of wheat in godowns, moisture in it starts evaporating. So it is imperative that wheat should be packed in such a bag which can equalize the moisture with outside conditions. Jute bag is the only solution in this concern whose material is absorbent and protect wheat to spoil. Analyses and reports are clearly indicates that safe and adequate arrangements of wheat storage are required for the interests of the consumer health.

Better storage of wheat not only provides shield against monetary losses but also make the availability of quality possible. All the provinces must use Jute bags for the packaging of wheat in order to elude peril and losses caused by the use of PPB. Now it is the responsibility of the government to investigate in this regard and ask the concerned department that why did they store wheat in that way. Now this wheat can not be exported and every Pakistani is bound to pay the price in this concerned.