After the retailers, now fruit importers and wholesalers too have chosen the hard-line to protest the ongoing anti-adulteration drive of law enforcers using what they call the "wrong device".
They yesterday called a half-day strike in the capital for today which comes amid an indefinite strike of the city's fruit retailers that began Monday last.
In solidarity with the retail traders, the importers will join their human chain programme scheduled to be held in front of the National Press Club today.
“We are not able to sell any fruits. So we have decided not to take delivery of any imported fruits from the Chittagong port if the government does not stop the ongoing drive using wrong device,” said Md Sirajul Islam, general secretary of Bangladesh Fresh Fruit Importer Association, at a press conference at the capital's Badamtoli yesterday.
With Ramadan only a week away, over a hundred containers with around 300 tonnes of imported fruits, including dates, apples and grapes, are awaiting to be released at the Chittagong port, said Sirajul Islam.
The demand of fruits in the country goes significantly higher during the Ramadan than any other time of the year. And if the importers do not release the imported fruits, there might be a huge shortfall in supply during the month of fasting for Muslims, resulting in public sufferings.
Claiming all imported and local fruits are formalin-free, Sirajul presented two reports of formalin test on different fruits.
The tests carried out by Institute of Food Science and Technology of Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research on June 2 and June 12 found no formalin in any fruits, he claimed.
They urged the government not to "destroy fruits in the name of formalin check" without ensuring proper laboratory tests.
"Fruit traders are being harassed as Dhaka Metropolitan Police started the anti-formalin drive on June 11 and has kept destroying fruits after testing those using Formaldehyde Metre Z-300 device," Sirajul read out from a statement at the press conference.
The device is not meant for measuring formalin in fruits, he said, adding that they wrote to the kit's manufacturers in the US in this regard.
"We have contacted the US company and they informed us that the kit is for measuring chemicals or gases in the air of laboratories, not fruit items," Sirajul said.
He also claimed that his association had requested the commerce ministry and the DMP not to use the kit before the recent drive began.
Mobile courts have been using the device for the last two years for detecting formalin in fish, fruits and vegetables across the country.
It has created a negative impact on the consumers, who have almost stopped eating fruits, Sirajul claimed, adding that this has put the future of around 30 lakh people engaged in fruit business at stake.