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Agriculture Ministry Targets Reduction in Fresh Produce Losses During Transportation

April 06, Colombo (LNW): The Sri Lankan Ministry of Agriculture is intensifying efforts to address the significant loss of nearly 40% of fresh vegetables and fruits during transportation from distant cultivation areas to major markets. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera emphasized the importance of implementing proper transportation guidelines to minimize such losses, particularly in key vegetable markets like Dambulla and Peliyagoda.

According to the Industrial Technology Institute of Sri Lanka (ITISL), vegetables and fruits are primarily transported from cultivation districts such as Dambulla, Peliyagoda, Polonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya, and Ampara to economic centers nationwide, and then further to urban centers like Colombo.

Minister Amaraweera highlighted the potential to reduce the current 40% loss rate to around 10% by adopting measures such as using plastic crates for transporting certain varieties like tomatoes, cabbage, and citrus fruits. Additionally, proper timing of harvest for certain vegetables and fruits, including ladies’ fingers, beans, papaya, and mangoes, can further minimize losses.

The minister emphasized the need for farmers to adhere to proper agricultural practices to maximize the longevity of their produce. Harvesting at the right time, before maturity, is crucial to preserving freshness and quality during transportation.

Concerns were also raised about the detrimental effects of improper transportation practices, such as workers sitting on gunny bags filled with fresh produce, which accelerates spoilage.

Somasiri Peiris, a member of the Peliyagoda Manning Market Vegetable Traders Association, highlighted the potential role of strengthened railway transportation in reducing losses. He noted that significant quantities of vegetables and fruits, amounting to around 3,000 kg daily, are currently being discarded due to transportation challenges.

The Ministry’s proactive measures, coupled with cooperation from farmers, traders, and transportation authorities, are essential in minimizing post-harvest losses and ensuring the efficient distribution of fresh produce across the country.

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