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Organised supply chains for fresh produce disrupted at southern borders
Thursday, 26 March, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
The movement of essential commodities, fresh fruits and vegetables by organised supply chains, has been hit due to the lack of clarity on the part of the officials manning the borders between the five south Indian states.

The lockdown, which has been imposed by various state governments in India to avoid the spread of COVID-19 virus, is mainly aimed at restricting civilian movement across the states and encouraging social distancing. 

The government notifications clearly mention that the movement of essential commodities, including fresh fruits and vegetables, will not be hampered.

However, the authorities at the checkposts at the five southern states are imposing restrictions even on the movement of transport of fresh fruits and vegetables due to the lack of clarity at their levels.
Lawrencedale Agro Processing India (LEAF), which plays a crucial part in ensuring adequate safe-to-consume fresh produce across the five states in south India, has been trying to ensure that the citizens across South India are able to get the most important fresh fruits and vegetables which are grown with the safety of the consumers in the mind.   
“We have been striving that safe-to-consume fresh produce is made available to the consumers which is highly important given the current scare of contamination and the requirement of adequate nutrition,” said Palat Vijayaraghavan, its founder and chief executive officer.

“We work with marginal farmers across South India and support them in growing safe fresh produce without harmful residues and then we take it through a process to further make it safe with advanced global technology for the consumers’ benefit,” he added.

“However, after all this effort, due to the lack of clarity at the checkposts of states in South India, the entry of our vehicles is being either stopped or not allowed to return to home base,” said Vijayaraghavan.   
“The move announced by the state governments is extremely important and highly necessary to avoid the spread of the virus. However, we are facing severe challenges when we move hundreds of tonnes of fresh produce across the states. We sincerely request the state governments to intervene on an immediate basis and clarify the position to the checkpost authorities who are playing an important role,” he added.   
LEAF is ensuring that its fleet of temperature-controlled vehicles are sanitised comprehensively before and after every trip and that drivers have adequate sanitisers, masks and safe food for them to consume during the shipment.

“We are taking exhaustive steps to ensure our fleet managers and operators are adequately protected and we are a responsible company serving the essential needs of citizens,” said Vijayaraghavan.

“We are fully following the local rules and regulations of all the State Governments. Despite these, during the past few days, our movement has been restricted by due to not enough clarification to the officials manning the check-posts at the borders,” he added.

LEAF has been working with the Government authorities closely to with all the states, and hopes that this issue will be sorted out soon, so that the important essential commodity of fresh fruits and vegetables are allowed to move across the borders between the five southern states.
The company, on any given day, moves scores of temperature-controlled trucks crisscrossing the five South Indian states bringing to various supermarkets and neighbourhood retailers with its LEAF brand of safe-to-consume fresh produce.  
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