Govt eases food grain packaging norms to protect wheat farmers amid lockdown

NEW DELHI, Apr 7: The government has eased jute packaging norms to allow alternative packing arrangements for foodgrain in a move to protect the interest of wheat farmers amid the closure of jute mills due to coronavirus-related lockdown.

The Union Textiles Ministry on Tuesday said that the limit for high-density polyethylene or polypropylene (HDPP/PP) has been increased to 2.62 lakh bales from the earlier 1.80 lakh bales with a view to protecting the produce of wheat farmers by providing them alternate packaging bags.

“Huge quantities of packaging bags are required. Food grains are primarily packed in jute sacking bags under JPM Act. Due to COVID-19 lock down, Jute Mills are unable to produce jute bags, hence alternate arrangement is inevitable to avoid distress to wheat farmers,” the Textiles Ministry said.

The move has been taken mainly to protect the interest of the wheat farmers as the grains are likely to ready for packing mid-April onwards.

However, whenever the production of jute bags in the jute mills resumes after the lockdown period is over, priority will be given to the jute bags for packaging of food grains.

The government protects the interest of the jute farmers and workers through provisions of the Jute Packaging Materials Act (JPM), 1987 and it provides about 100 per cent reservation for packaging of foodgrains in jute bags.

To help jute farmers during the lockdown period, the Ministry of Textiles has written to all jute growing state governments to allow movement, sale and supply of the jute seeds, fertilizers and other farming aids.

The COVID-19 related lockdown has affected the working in the jute mills thereby disrupting the production of jute bags.

“Since jute millers are not in a position to cater to the requirements of the State Procurement Agencies and the Food Corporation of India who are engaged in the Public Distribution System, Government is, therefore, constrained to proactively intervene and engage in trouble shooting by taking alternate measures,” the Textiles Ministry said. (PTI)