35-40% vegetables get wasted for lack of storage facility, transportation system
Although vegetable production increased by 35.24% over the last five years (from 2013-14 to 2017-18 FY) in the country, the consumption rate is still poor for various reasons, including its high price at the consumer level, said agriculture experts.
According to officials at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DoAE), some 26,230,927 tons of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year from 1,169,326 hectares of land, while 19,396,755 tons in 2013-2014 fiscal year from 9,68827 hectares.
"Additional 26,47,786 tons of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year compared to 2016-17 FY. 19,984,334 tons produced in 2015-2016 fiscal year, while it was 21,041,406 tons in 2014-15FY," according to annual data of the department.
Besides, 7,30,991 tons root-crops/vegetables (excluding potatoes) were produced in 2017-2018 fiscal year against 5,72,946 tons in the previous year, the data revealed.
Talking to UNB, agro experts said many people in the country cannot take required amount of vegetables every day despite huge production due to exorbitant prices of vegetables thanks to the presence of middlemen at different levels and the widening gap between production cost and the prices the consumers pay.
They also suggested boosting organic vegetable production across the country.
Chief scientific officer and head of Vegetable Departmental of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Dr Golam Morshed Abdul Halim told UNB that a healthy individual should take 300 grams of vegetable every day but the people of Bangladesh take just one-third of it.
Besides, 35-40% of total vegetables are wasted from production to consumption levels due to the absence of storage facility and better transportation system, he said.
"Around 150 varieties of vegetables are cultivated in our country. Of them, 35 types are commercially cultivated. Many farmers use pesticides to make more profit but it's harmful to our health," he said.
Although Bangladesh ranked 3rd in vegetable production in the world but the production is not sufficient to meet the demand of its growing population. "We should increase vegetable production by three times more than the current figure," he also said.
Dr Md Ashraful Islam, a professor of Horticulture at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) said, "Many farmers use harmful chemicals while producing vegetables not knowing its bad impacts on human health. Awareness should be developed among farmers about chemical-free vegetable production."
"Around 30 or 40% children of the country suffer from vitamin deficiency for not taking enough vegetables," he added.
Dr Sumon Chowdhury, a physician at Dr MR Khan Shishu Hospital and Institute of Child Health, said, "Now farmers use pesticides in vegetable increasing the health risk of people. The intake of poisonous food for a long time can cause various diseases, including stomach cancer. We must take huge pure vegetable daily."
Sabina Yesmin, an assistant horticulturist at the Department of Agricultural Extension, said, "We're trying to increase vegetable production in our country. The areas which remain inundated for nearly six months have also been brought under vegetable cultivation through floating farm. So, the volume will further increase in the future."
As per the DoAE data, 37,00914 tons of vegetables were produced in Dhaka, Gazipur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Tangail and Kishoreganj in 2017-18 fiscal year while 34,07,740 tons in Bogra, Joypurhat and Pabna while some 273,237 tons (lowest) in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.