Coronavirus outbreak: Stock up as APMC to shut twice a week

Updated: 19 March, 2020 14:47 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

The decision comes as several trucks come daily to the market from Karnataka, Kerala, Delhi, Telangana, and J&K, which have seen positive COVID-19 cases. The drive will be extended to other units like onion potato, and food grain markets

Workers swept the APMC fruit and vegetable market clean on Wednesday
Workers swept the APMC fruit and vegetable market clean on Wednesday

Stock your fruits and vegetables before every Wednesday and Saturday, as APMC will be observing a 24 hour closure for cleaning and for spraying disinfectants in the fruit and vegetable market, to start with.

The preventive decision has been taken by the APMC committee, as thousands of truck loads are coming to APMC daily from states which has already been tested positive for COVID 19 cases viz Karantaka, Kerala, Delhi, Telangana, J&K etc. The cleaning drive will gradually be spreading to other units viz Onion and Potato market, Grain market and Food grains market.

Confirming the same, Shirish Badgujar, Assistant Secretary, Administration, APMC said, "We have nearly eight hundred gallas (800 traders) and three open auction hall where buying and selling of fruits and vegetables happen on an average daily during the week days, and nearly over thousands of people work at this market. Moreover our concern is taking utmost precaution about cleanliness at this market, due to perishable nature of vegetables and fruits that come here from all over the country."

When asked if they have already intimated other state APMC about their decision of closing the market twice a week, Badgujar replied in affirmative stating, "We have already intimate all our counter parts across the other state APMC's and even if the truck loads come to APMC on Wednesday night, no loading or unloading would take place until Thursday midnight. Such trucks laden with fruits and vegetables, will be made to park at the APMC Truck Terminal which has a capacity to park 1500 trucks at a time."

Coronavirus OutbreakAPMC committee members at the cleanup drive in APMC, Vashi.

And about short supply of vegetables in the market, Badgujar said, "Public may or may not be having regular supply of leafy vegetables, mint, coriander leaves as the shelf life of these green leaf's are from a day to two days maximum. Also from APMC, we supply the vegetable and fruits to Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, where the vendors have already been informed about the APMC committee decision, so some have started stocking additional vegetables and fruits to cover the closure days stock."

When asked the daily turnover at APMC and how it will impact revenue, Badgujar said, "We have a daily turnover of approximate Rs 100 crores daily and the additional day of shutting down (Wednesday midnight to Thursday midnight) would result in forgoing approximate few crores, which has been considered by the committee during the decision taking meeting"

Interestingly, other markets like dry furits, and food grains, since it doesnt have perishable commodities, they will be taken up, once the fruit and vegetable market is cleaned and disinfectants sprayed, explained the officer.

Satish Katakdhond, Senior Sanitary Officer, APMC added, "We have deployed fifty labours, three cleaning machines and multiple dumpers for the deep cleaning work, which has been planned in different stages - to start with, the waste will be collected, the entire fruit and vegetable market sweeping will be done, which is spread in a large area of almost eight acres of area and later the entire market will be washed with water and then disinfectants sprayed."

"We will then be using the detergent solutions for rubbing of walls and floors of the market. The toilets and dumping areas would also be disinfected before actually spraying the entire fruit and vegetable market with the disinfectants and only post midnight on Thursday, the vegetables and furits will be unloaded in the market, this will be a continuous process every week, until directives are in place" said Katakdhond.

When asked about the expenses that APMC committee will have to bear towards the special drive, he said, "The material costs, is all that the committee will have to bear, which might be approximate Rs 1 lakhs for the disinfectants and other cleaning materials required, per week."

Expert speak

When contacted Dr Anand Kumar Singh, Deputy Director General, Horticulture at Indian Council of Agriculture Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Delhi, appreciated the move taken by APMC, Vashi saying, "It is a good practice and even need of the hour to sensitize the APMC and thousands of public who keep visiting the market on daily basis. Also the traders, staffers and even the loaders need to be appraised about the need of practicing a good hygiene, which should implemented right from the field of produce till the end users kitchen."

"Also consumers need to follow the best cleaning practice of vegetables (see box) before cooking or eating raw as green salads, and as far as fruits which are known to have pesticide should be consumed after peeling off the skin," explained Dr Singh.

Dr Singh further advised, the need for disinfecting the harvesting tools and machines, and also the cold storages where these produces are preserved. Moreover public at large should refrain having already chopped and packed vegetables, as far as possible, under present scenario.

Dr Singh had a word of caution, which he expect APMC committee to take into account stating, "Most of the fruits and vegetables unsold, get thrown, which should also be treated with disinfectants to avoid any virus spread, as untreated waste fruits and vegetables will be eaten by cows and cattle's wandering in these markets, who in turn will be the carrier of the virus, which will be passed on the human beings through milk or meat." 

Advice to Consumer: FSSAI list following tips that can be followed at home to reduce the level of contamination-

  • Select fruits and vegetables without spots or necrosis (lesions) and any abnormality.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly with water (preferably) running potable water before eating and cooking.
  • Purchase fruits and vegetables from known dealers.
  • Peeling of fruits before consumption and vegetables before cooking will reduce exposure to pesticide.
  • Do not buy and consume cut fruits from open market. 
  • Throw away fruits and vegetables infected by mould/fungus
  • To minimize the hazards of pesticide residues, discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage.
  • Do not wash fruits and vegetables with detergents as they may get absorbed inside.
  • Ensure the quality of fruits and vegetables by sending them to voluntary testing laboratories.
  • Wash your hands with soap and potable water, use clean utensil and clean cutting board with stainless steel knives.

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First Published: 19 March, 2020 07:33 IST

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