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Goan food businesses facing bureaucratic hurdles


Goans in food business on Tuesday said that local bureaucracy is destroying tonnes of vegetables and perishables available within the state even as residents are facing acute food shortage due to the lockdown.

Speaking to this daily, Dr Sangam Kurade, producer of mushrooms said that he lost almost 100 tonne mushroom crop over the last seven days due to bureaucratic hurdles leading to disruptions in the supply-and-finished produce chain.

“Mushroom production is a continuous process. The production cycle from seeding to soil making to cropping and harvesting is of 100 days. For the past seven days, I have been running from pillar to post, between collectorate offices trying to get travel permits to keep my unit running. About 30-40 lots of harvest got spoiled because I did not get the permission to transport the mushrooms. The harvest could have easily been sold out of Goa State Horticulture Corporation (GSHC) outlets and alleviated the local shortage in vegetables,” he said.

Kurade is the largest producer of mushrooms in India and has made the state nearly self-sufficient in farmed mushrooms. His bitter experience is in wake of mushrooms identified as one of the ideal food by doctors to prevent coronavirus due to its anti-viral properties.

He said that restarting his two closed units is going to be an uphill task due to the continuous nature of mushroom production and he is disheartened at the lack of support.

RS Kamat, director general, GCCI, said that several producers or owners of food units are staring at financial disaster due to delay in timely travel permits to move the finished goods.

Speaking to this daily, Joseph D’Souza, president, Fish Farmers Association of Goa, said that there is criminal wastage of food in these coronavirus scarcity times. He said that about four prawn farms in the state are ready to harvest.

“Prawns, shrimps have to be harvested as soon as they are ready because of the danger of mortality. Fish farmers are pleading with the director of fisheries for the last four days for travel permit to harvest the crop and send it for processing. With the fish market closed, we have no place to sell but we can salvage our production by putting it in cold storage (owned by sea food exporters). Close to 30 tonnes of prawns are likely to go waste if not harvested in time,” pointed out D’Souza.

The Centre has allowed continuous process industries to operate during the lockdown period. Movement of raw material and finished goods is also permitted between states.

According to the GCCI, food units whose process is continuous and whose finished produce are perishable must be given permission to operate.

“Food availability is a problem these days but the state government seems to be making special effort to see that locally obtainable food does not reach the people,” said D’Souza.

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