Country’s earnings from agricultural products witness over eight-fold rise in 12 years
Bangladesh’s export earnings from its agricultural products hit the one billion dollar mark for the first time in 2020-21, registering a nearly 20% increase from the previous fiscal’s figure amidst a protracted Covid-19 pandemic.
Agriproduct exports have witnessed phenomenal growth over the past 12 years – fetching the country $1,028 million in the last financial year. In sharp contrast, export earnings amounted to only $122 million in 2008-09.
Agriproducts’ contribution to total national export earnings has more than trebled over the past 12 years from just 0.78% in 2008-09 to 2.87% in 2020-21, according to statistics from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
What’s driving this growth?
Year on year, the export volume shows a nearly 20% increase from $862 million in 2019-20 to $1,028 million in the last fiscal.
Of all subsectors, dry food registered the highest increase (46%) from $193 million in 2019-20 to $283 in 2020-21, while fruit export also increased by 18%.
But vegetable exports experienced a 27% decline from $164 million to $119 million.
Bangladesh’s agriproducts export basket has now a more diversified range of products, from ready-to-eat dry food confectionaries to fruits to vegetables, from tobacco to tea, and from cut flowers to spices.
Market sources are of the opinion that in recent years Bangladesh’s wheat import increased significantly, but not all of the flour, made out of the imported wheat, are being baked into confectionary products for domestic consumption only; rather, a good volume of ready-to-eat flour-made biscuits and bakery products are being exported mostly to some South Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
What’s the challenge to achieving further growth?
Exporters of vegetables, fruits and other perishable agriproducts strongly believe that Bangladesh can earn much more than $1 billion from agriproduct exports. They think the country's full potential has not been tapped yet.
They have said exporters often do not get enough policy support and cargo space available for their product shipments.
Exporters think they can export more vegetables, fruits and other agriproducts provided the government puts in place more processing and packaging facilities, packing house, hygienic cargo village, proper infrastructures at airports and more air cargo facilities.
Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Agricultural Extension say the exporters need to improve product quality, ensure sanitary and phytosanitary measures and adopt good agricultural practices (GAP) to capture bigger shares in export markets.