Around 1,000 light engineering factories have been established over the last four decades in Bogra
Light engineering industry in Bogra has set a rare example of meeting a lion portion of the demand for machinery parts for the country’s agriculture sector, with an annual turnover of nearly Tk600 crore, industry people said.
Around 1,000 light engineering factories have been established over the last four decades in the northern district that employs nearly 50,000 workers and technicians.
A quarter of the factories are located in the compound of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation(BSCIC), while the remaining 75% have been established outside the area by entrepreneurs on their own initiative, said President of Bogra Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Masudur Rahman Milon.
A number of light engineering companies have started exporting tube wells and centrifugal pumps to India, Nepal and Bhutan in recent times, which has encouraged others to tap the huge South Asian markets for agro-machineries.
“It is not our mere success, but a revolution by entrepreneurs of Bogra as we have been saving foreign currency by meeting around 80% of the local demand for machinery parts used in the agriculture sector,” said Azam Tikul, president of Bogra Forum of Agro Machinery Manufacturing and Processing Zone.
“Many potential foreign investors are now interested to invest here to cater to the huge agricultural machinery market of our country, which is now mostly dominated by China and India,” he added.
Tikul said the machine tools factories are now producing as many as 350 types of machinery parts used in the farming sector.
BCCI chief Milon said given the interest from local entrepreneurs and the huge demand nationwide, the government should establish another industrial belt in Bogra.
According to Azam Tikul, apart from the industrial areas, several residential owners are now allocating space outside their homes to make room for workshops, where workers melt scrap metals to produce agricultural machines.
The scores of equipment produced include shallow engine-run irrigation pumps, centrifugal pumps, liners, pistons, hand pumps, spare parts of power tillers, automobile drum brakes and saw machines.
Md Anwar Ullah Bhuiyan, owner of Bhuiyan Traders at Badamtali in Dhaka, said farm machinery parts he sells are sourced mostly from Bogra-based companies.
“Customers, particularly wholesalers from different districts, have a huge demand for machinery parts made in Bogra as those are cheap and durable,” Anwar told the Dhaka Tribune.
Several foundries have also made a name for themselves, including Gunjan Metal Works, Milton Engineering Works, Akbaria Group and One Pharma Ltd.
Rony Engineering Works, Azad Engineering Works, Al Madina Engineering Works, and other factories are also exporting their manufactured machineries.
Tikul said the lack of space is hindering the expansion of agricultural machinery manufacturing, which is why there is a need to ease pressure on the BSCIC industrial area.
Mahfuzar Rahman, an official of the BSCIC industrial area in the district, said that a proposal for setting up a second area has been sent to the head office for approval. Many factory owners applying for plots are not getting any as there are no more plots available in the existing area, he added.
Azizur Rahman Milton, general secretary of Bogra Industries Owners Association, said that the first foundry-based industry of the country was set up in Bogra in the 1980s. Currently, there are 62 foundry companies, with close to 1,000 workshops to provide raw materials.
Abdul Malek Akand, president of Bogra Industries Owners Association, said the agro-machinery industry has the potential to overtake the RMG (ready-made garments) industry in terms of bringing in foreign exchange, as well as generating more employment opportunities.
Akand, who is also president of Foundry Owners Association of Bangladesh, said there are some problems in the industrial area, such as damaged roads, a non-functional drainage system, and scarcity of plots.
Industry people said the Bogra-based industry was initially run by scrapped iron bars, but it now sources raw materials from ship- breaking yards from different districts, including Chittagong.
Besides light engineering, Bogra boasts several factories that produce biscuits, plastics, insecticides and pharmaceutical products.
BSCIC officials said that land acquisition for a second industrial area had begun as early as 1980.
Later, a 15.5-acre land was selected in the district’s Charmatha Chhaipukuria area in Sadar upazila, which was proposed as BSCIC’s head office in 1998.
After years of inactivity, an order was given in 2005 to conduct a feasibility study in the area regarding construction of the second industrial area.
The proposal had said 104 new industrial units would emerge from the second area, generating 25,000 more jobs.
But there has been little progress since, the last move being in 2016 when local BSCIC officials sent a letter to their head office to send someone for land inspection—which still has not been conducted.
Additionally, heavy vehicles cannot enter the area due to dilapidated roads. Many vehicles that do enter often face problems in loading and unloading goods.
Titul concluded that an exclusive zone is of paramount urgency to attract more investment in the light engineering sector of Bogra.