The weights which are used in the marketing of agricultural products in Bangladesh usually consist of a maund of 40 “seers”. The “seer” is generally based on “tolas” varying from 80 to 140. The measures used in the marketing of grains consists of baskets made of cane and other materials with varying capacities while those used in the marketing of liquid substances, such as milk and oil, consist of small containers made of bamboo, coconut shell, tin, etc.
Both weights and measures in our country differ from one district to another, from one market to another within the same district and even from one commodity to another within the same market.
Affects of weights and measures in the efficiency of agricultural marketing
The variation in the weights and measures adversely affect the efficiency of agricultural marketing:
(a) It affords greater opportunities for cheating the ignorant farmer producers. The unscrupulous dealers and traders readily avail themselves of such opportunities.
(b) it gives rise to needless complications in practices between one market and another which is by no means conducive to the interest of trade and commerce.
(c) For collection of data on price movement, the relative level of prices in different regions, the volume of agricultural production, lack of standard weights and measures is bound to be a great handicap and seriously affect accuracy of statistical calculation.
In 1913 the Government of India appointed a committee to investigate about the present system of weights and measures. No action, however, was taken on its recommendation that the maund should be declared as the standard weight of India. The Royal commission also pressed for immediate reform.
The regulated markets reconunended by the commission provided for inspection, verification and correction of scales, weights and measures. The Bombay Government was the first to take steps for improvement in this direction. The Bombay Weight and Measures Act was passed in 1932 in 1936 it was made applicable to the whole province. Under the Government of India Act, 1935 the Central Government was made responsible for the establishment of standards of weights while the Provincial Government were concerned with the enforcement of the use of weights and measures based on these standards.
Accordingly, a “Standards of Weights Act.’ was passed by the Central Legislature in 1939 which defined the standards of weight throughout British India. Legislation was passed in a number of provinces for enforcement of standard weights and measures.
In Pakistan (former west Pakistan) the Bombay Weights and Measure Act is in Sind region and the Punjab Weights and Measure Act in Punjab region. A similar Act had also North West Frontier Province in 1946 but it has not been enforced. The other areas of Pakistan do not have any such Act.
There is no Weights and Measures Act in Bangladesh and hence there was no arrangement for regular inspection and verification of weights and measures and elimination of non-standard and defective weights and measures used in trade in the country. The East Pakistan Agricultural Produce Markets Regulation Act, 1964 prohibits the use of non-standard weights and measures in the notified markets and provides for ins-pection and verification of weights and measures used in these markets.
The defects in the weight and measures suggest that in order to bring about a uniformity oll over the country in respect of the weights and measures, standard weights and measures should be enforced in all the markets of agricultural produce. Uniformity in weights is as important as uniformity in currency. In fact, the advantage of having a uniform currency is lost partially if weights and measures are not standardised.
There is no proper law or regulation governing the use of weights and measures in Bangladesh. Although by the standards of Weights Act of 1939 the former government of India fixed the standards of weight, it has not been followed up in the area now forming Bangladesh. In addition to the enforcement of standard weights and measures, there should be provision for regular inspection and verification of weights and measures in different markets.
Without proper and regular verification, the introduction of standard weights may not be effective. The decision of the Government to introduce metric system of weights will confer double benefit by
(i) introduction of unified weights in the country, and
(ii) rationalisation of the system of weights.