Roadmap to double agriproduct export earnings unveiled

Bangladesh’s export volume of agriproducts is nowhere near to its potential. The yearly earning from the export of farm produces is still as low as $1 billion, which is less than 3% of the country’s total export volume.  

To unleash the enormous potentials the sector holds, the government on Sunday unveiled a draft roadmap aiming at doubling the agriproduct export earnings in two years.

An Agriculture Ministry-constituted body came up with the roadmap at an event in the city identifying the roadblocks and suggesting action plans so that Bangladesh can earn at least $2 billion from agriproduct exports by 2022-23 financial year. Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque attended the program held at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC).

Some of the important targets that the roadmap set include, introduction of good agricultural practice (GAP) from next month in contract farming so that products derived through can gate pass sanitary and phytosanitary requirements in export markets, arranging dedicated space, entry-point and scanners for exportable agriproducts at Dhaka airport’s cargo village by February next year, keeping at least one-fifth of airplanes’ cargo space reserved for agriproducts from February next year, reducing air cargo fares and make those competitive, and establishment of a dedicated cold storage facility at the airport by February 2023.

The seven-strong roadmap preparatory committee headed by the director general of the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) also recommended for establishment of accredited testing labs, removing different tax and non-tax barriers, setting up product-specific modern packing houses at different production zones in the country, upgrading the plan quarantine wing into an independent directorate, and introducing cool chain facilities under public-private partnership initiatives.

To give an example the committee said export of jute stick charcoal fetched for Bangladesh $10 million in 2020-21 financial year whereas some policy interventions can potentially open up opportunity for earning almost $300 million from this product.

It said Bangladesh can earn big if policy supports are provided to help grow sector where fibres are made out of pineapple leaves.

Earlier, Bangladesh’s export earnings from its agricultural products hit the $1 billionmark 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 good growth over the past 12 years – fetching the country $1,028 million in the last financial year. The export earning was 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).

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