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Staff crunch hits export of perishables

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SHORTAGE of staff at Tiruchy International Airport (TIA) to clear perishables like vegetables and flowers for export has put farmers and export agents in a bind. Export agents are demand-ing the Union Agriculture Minis-try deploy more plant protection officers (PPO) to facilitate round-the-clock clearance. Situated in the delta region, TIA handles large quantities of perishable items. Farmers here grow flowers required for religious rites at Hindu temples in other countries. Vegetables are exported to Gulf countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia daily from Tiruchy. The plant quarantine station (PQS) checks and clears perishables for export.

Infact, without a plant quarantine certificate (PQC), foreign countries will not accept the consign-ments. Due to a staff crunch, the PQS office in Tiruchy will not give clearance to consignments arriving after office hours as Just one PPO is available to clear the cargo. "Unlike other PQS, our station in Tiruchy is working every day. On weekdays (Monday to Friday), we are working from 6 am to 8 pm. Saturday and Sunday are our days off but in Tiruchy, we are working from 6am to 2 pm on Saturdays. On Sundays, we are working from 11.30 pm to 8 pm. This is to support exporters, so we are doing our best," said officials.

 The problem is it is not always possible for exporters to reach Tiruchy within the PQS office hours. "An exporter has to spend about Rs lakh to send a tonne of perishable items to places like Dubai. On Friday, almost 1.8 tonnes of drumsticks from Batlagundu was unable to reach the airport before 8 pm so the cargo could not be cleared. This cost the exporter more money as he had to book the cargo for next day. We have faced similar situations on several occasions, therefore, we are demanding a round-the-clock clearance system at TIA," said S A Sayeed, president, Express Courier Operators Association. "We are not demanding an officer should work 24/7. The Ministry has to appoint one more PPO to facilitate a round-the-clock clearance system," said an exporter.

source: epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/33161957 

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