The export of agricultural products increased substantially so far in the current fiscal year (FY 2018-19), amid a great leap in shipments of processed food items.
In the first nine months, the exports have already surpassed the target worth US$ 711 million set for the FY, according to the latest data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
The local traders exported goods worth $ 723 million within the third quarter (July-March), a 53 per cent growth over the corresponding period of last FY, EPB data showed.
The overall shipment of fresh produces including vegetables, fruits, tobacco, tea, flower and foliage, dry and processed foods were worth $674 million in FY ’18.
Processed food items comprised more than 75 per cent ($545 million) of the total farm produce exports, according to EPB.
The sub-sector showed a 95 per cent growth in the July-March period of FY’19 than that of FY’18.
Insiders were expecting that the trend might continue in the next three months and the exports might touch $1.0 billion mark for the first time with the end of this FY, amid rising demand for Bangladeshi process and fresh produce abroad.
More than 100 companies are exporting food products like confectionaries and beverages to different Middle Eastern, South Asian, African and European countries.
Pran, Square, Sajeeb, ACI, Partex, Globe, Bombay Sweets, Star Line Food Products, Akij Foods, BD Foods, Arku and Ahmed Foods lead the exporters, according to Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA).
Md Kamruzzaman Kamal, director (marketing) of Pran, said his company is now exporting products to 141 countries and set to explore the Latin America market.
Mr Kamal said the Bangladeshi expatriates want to have the taste of local foods.
The demand for fruit drinks, juice, chanachur, puffed rice, aromatic rice, mustard oil, fried pulses, pickles, jam and jelly is rising, he said.
Member of Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA) Nurul Moyeen (Minu) said the demand for Bangladeshi products has been rising gradually in the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asian countries.
He said the local exporters have been able to make markets in South Asia, Africa and South America in recent years thanks to improvement in product quality and the competitive prices of Bangladeshi goods.
He said the exporters might increase further if the government reduces air cargo fare.
“It costs us $2.5-$3.0 per kg as compared to less than $1.5 in India and Thailand,” said Moyeen, proprietor of Ramani Consumers Products, a Dinajpur-based exporter.
President of Bangladesh Fruits Vegetables & Allied Products Exporters Association SM Jahangir Hossain said the export of vegetables and other fresh produces also showing good trend amid development of the country’s quarantine infrastructure.
He said veggie exports surpassed $ 60 million so far this fiscal year and we are expecting that it could reach $90 million.
He said the EU has allowed Bangladesh to export a dozen of veggies and fruits, which were restricted in the FY 2014-15.
He said that both the government and private sector have worked jointly for last four years to improve the quarantine rules and regulations and compliances.
“Export of farm products worth $ 1.0 billion mark would be tough this fiscal year if the present trend continues,” Mr Hossain, also vice president of BAPA.
“Apart from processed food items, shipment of fruits, veggie, spice and tobacco will have to be increased to fetch one billion in exports,” he added.