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Export of farm produce rises as compliance improves

Yasir Wardad | February 25, 2019 00:00:00

The number of non-compliance issues against consignments of Bangladeshi agro produce abroad has declined significantly in recent years, attracting more buyers and boosting its exports.

Adoption of the quarantine policy and its timely implementation by the government in export trade has helped minimise non-compliance against Bangladeshi fresh produce, said insiders.

Such reputation has also helped the country boost its exports as earnings from farm produce is set to hit an all-time high this fiscal year (FY'19), according to official figures.

Consignments of fresh produce including fruits, vegetables, betel leaf, tea, dry food, tobacco, flower and foliage and others witnessed highest 195 non-compliance tags in 2014, according to Plant Quarantine Wing (PQW) under the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA).

The number of non-compliance issues from the European Union and other regions reduced to 147 in 2015 while 117 in 2016, 37 in 2017 and only 06 in 2018, according to PQW.

Among the country's exports, only one consignment witnessed non-compliance so far in 2019.

If an importing country issues non-compliance against a produce of an exporting nation, finding any lack of goods as per its quarantine rules, it means that the consignment is cancelled.

Deputy Director (export) of PQW Md Anwar Hossain Khan told the FE that EU-based nations imposed a ban on import of six Bangladeshi produce in 2014, claiming the presence of unexpected elements.

Following the ban, he said, the government of Bangladesh went on a hard-line and started implementing its rules and regulations properly.

"We even stopped exporting many produce like pointed gourd, teasel gourd and betel leaf to bring check and balance in the market."

He said the self-imposed ban continued for next two and a half years which took heavy toll on our exports as shipment declined for three consecutive years.

"But we have faith that after fully preparing ourselves for the highly-regulated global market, we can regain our space in the export arena," he added.

The PQW made it mandatory for the exporters to collect crops from the farmers who have adopted good agricultural practice (GAP), hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), traceability and maximum residue limit (MRL).

Mr Anwar said, "Later, we have also made it compulsory for the traders to collect produce from contract growers under the supervision of upazila agriculture officers."

Contract growing will be made mandatory for the exporters from Kharip-2 season (June-November) this year, he added.

President of Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetable & Allied Products Exporters' Association SM Jahangir said local traders have gradually become more conscious about quarantine issues, which has been reflected in the market.

"We can increase exports to more than US $2.0 billion within next few years if the government ensures more chilling facilities for preserving fresh produce at major hubs," he said.

For lack of proper cooling chain, he said, they are lagging behind their competitors in India, Thailand and Vietnam.

Presently, the country has only one chilling and packaging centre located at Shyampur in Dhaka district.

Md Shariful Alam Shaurav, proprietor of Sohan Enterprise, told the FE that the demand for Bangladeshi produce has been increasing for complying with quarantine rules.

"But our airfreight charge is still 30-35 per cent higher than that of India and Thailand which is an obstacle to increasing shipment," he said.

He said it costs them $2.25 for exporting per kg of vegetables or fruits when it is only $1.7 for Indian exporters.

However, farm produce export showed a 61 per cent growth in the first seven months of the current fiscal year over the corresponding period of last year, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Local exporters have been able to fetch $ 580 million so far in the current FY.

The government has set a target to make a shipment of farm produce worth $711 million this FY.

Exporters were expecting that total export earnings might surpass the target by a high margin this FY.

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