Saifur Rahman
The country’s earning from fruit exports fell 96.36 percent year-on-year to $0.06 million in the July-October period of the 2018-2019 fiscal.
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), in the first three months of the current fiscal, fruits export fetched $0.06 million, which is 90.77 percent less than its target for the period. It is 96.36 percent less than the same period of the previous fiscal.
During the period, the target was set at $2.10 million. In FY18, earning from the sector was $2.24 million.
Mansur Ahmed, general secretary of Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables & Allied Products Exporters Association, told Bangladesh Post: “This time the demand for fresh fruits is decreasing globally.”
Besides, the sector has to battle a number of bottlenecks such as lack of cold chain facility, limited number of warehouses and frequent changes in air cargo fares, Ahmed said. Maintaining proper temperature is a must for exporting fruits to developed countries such as Canada, Sweden and the UK, Ahmed said.
“Besides, cold chain facility is needed for entry to superstores in Europe and Middle East,” he said.
Ahmed called for more cold chains as the value addition of such perishable items are much higher than any other exports.
The recent hikes in Biman’s cargo fares have also affected the business, as exporters and importers of perishable goods usually ink business deals and set prices at the beginning of a year, he said.
“The government has set up a central packaging house in the capital’s Shyampur to ensure optimum quality of the fruits and vegetables being shipped abroad,” he said.
“But it is not enough. A regional packaging house is needed to help the exporters meet the requirements of the buyers. Export of betel leaves to the EU remains suspended since the EU halted the import of the item for bacterial contamination,” Ahmed added.
Communication with the packaging house in Shyampur is very difficult. Considering traffic jam building of another packaging house near the airport is necessary, he said.
“Exports of fruits can be raised if all the bottlenecks are removed,” said the association secretary.
Bangladesh exports mango, jackfruit, litchi, blackberry, pineapple, banana, palm fruit, coconut, guava, lotkon and watermelon etc.
The main destinations for the fruits are England, Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore, USA and Canada.