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KARACHI: Chairman of the National Business Group Pakistan and president of the Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, Mian Zahid Hussain, has said more than Rs 90 billion can be saved annually by improving flour and cement packaging.

Food-grade polypropylene bags can help save flour worth Rs50 billion which is wasted in loading, unloading and transportation of the commodity, he said.

Mr Hussain pointed out that losing such a large quantity of flour translates into losses for farmers, millers and retailers that can be prevented easily.

He said that cement worth Rs 40 billion can be stopped from going to waste by ensuring the proper packing of cement in proper bags.

Almost 60 percent of the total wheat production is sold as flour in 5, 10 and 20 kg bags in which the entire burden of losses is shifted to the consumers.

The use of plastic and chemical waste material in the manufacturing of conventional bags can also lead to health problems, he added. An average Pakistani consumes 11 kg of flour per month which contains toxic ingredients because of lack of oversight by government agencies.

Manufacturers of low-quality bags also use dyes made from harmful chemicals, the use of which is tantamount to killing people.

Flour and cement are being wasted because of substandard packaging which is against the laws of the country and directives of the World Health Organization, so the process should be stopped immediately.

Mr Hussain said the problem of food security was increasing in the country, as the majority of the population could not feed themselves and their families and heavy foreign exchange had to be spent on importing wheat. So the loss of flour should be stopped.

He said the demand for flour bags in Pakistan is up to 800 million and three to five per cent of flour is lost due to leakage from substandard bags during production and transportation.

Cement bags are also made from substandard paper and recycled plastic, which are later used for flour packaging, causing some of the cement to be added to the flour, he added.

If the existing laws are strictly enforced then billions of rupees lost due to poor packaging of flour, cement and other items can be saved annually. Public health can also be improved if attention is paid to the issue of packaging. The World Health Organisation says that contaminated food causes 200 diseases, added Mr Hussain.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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