Saturday, December 24, 2011

Why the government should scrap the crate regulation immediately as a New Year present to the Public

My previous blog entries have covered the practical aspects of this rule, and why it is that it will not work in the Sri Lankan context unless it is tied in with a host of allied initiatives, when worked together will improve the quality of the food we eat and reduce the waste, from the farmers fields to the dinner table. This holistic approach will cover the loss from animals and humans at the growing stage, to transporting in economically sensitive means like rail, which can handle the inevitable increased volumes as well as cool transport that will preserve freshness and longevity and use the services of the latest technology of internet, mobile phones and sales statistics to match producer to consumer, via the retailer.

The Crate regulation only touches a VERY minor area of this food chain, and the transport mafia who engage in price fixing an even more insignificant part in the overall waste. If Jhonny wants to tackle the transport mafia he should first take steps to control price fixing, which affects both farmer and consumer. That issue is not touched on by the crate issue, though in his simpleton’s mind Jhonny thinks it amounts to one and the same thing.

He should begin by using the pricing mechanism to sell the large crates at Rs250 and a few rupees less for the smaller ones. If this is done for a year, I am sure the usage of crates when it makes economic sense will increase by leaps without anyone being forced into it. Now that half the volume of the transported vegetables and fruit do not come under the crate rule anyway, it is silly to force only some items to be transported that way. What if the mafia say no? Jhonny’s threat to use the Army or a govt. transport system is going to increase inefficiencies at the expense of the consumer and be a retrograde step instead of being progressive. So he is going to lose his job and the consumers will have to pay a huge price for their food yet again.

I have been trying to get my hands on the particular report that talks about the wastage, to ascertain if the information that the crates alone will lead to a 40% less wastage. I think not and it is but one area, all of which result in this figure. This then means the crate issue will reduce losses by say 10% at most and the increased transport cost, will actually make the costs higher, and not lower for the consumer.

This is not the time to play politics with people’s lives. It is time to understand the extent of the problem, and have a master plan to solve it. By this method all stakeholders can be invited to participate and adopt a 'best practice' method only. It is a violation of Fundamental Rights to force people to do something, which is not necessarily in the best interests of the majority, unlike driving on the left side of the road.

No comments: