PRAN-RFL Group, a Bangladeshi multinational conglomerate is about to commence its export of food items to India for the first time through waterways on 16th March (Tuesday) with the maiden shipment.
The cargo ship will embark its journey for India from the PRAN Industrial Park, marking the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.
After being loaded at Shitalakshya in Narsingdi, it will take eight days for the ship containing 25,000 cartons of PRAN litchi drink to cross a 710km river route via Narsingdi, Narayanganj and the Sheikhbaria point in Khulna and finally reach the Kolkata port, on 24th March (Wednesday).
The first export of food items to the neighbouring country under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between Bangladesh and India will reduce the export cost by 30 per cent of what is required by road, according to PRAN.
However, PRAN has been exporting food products to India since 1997. In the first shipment, it sent chanachur, a traditional snack item, to Tripura.
PRAN exports around 150 products to India, including fruit drinks, chips, snacks, sauce, ketchup, noodles, jelly and spices. It sends its items to 28 Indian states, including Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujrat, Tripura, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Besides, PRAN’s 500 products are now exported to 145 countries. According to Pran, the group has exported goods amounting to $234 million to India in the last three years.
Meanwhile, PRAN has taken all required permission from Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority to export food products to India, said Mobarak Hossen Mojumder, deputy director for public relations at PRAN.
“The consignment will be a symbolic one. Exporters and importers will be hugely benefited from the use of river routes as a single ship can carry products of nearly 50 trucks.”
“River routes cost 30 per cent lower than the roads. Besides, there is also a risk for the goods to get damaged and lose quality in case of exports through roads,” said Kamal.
For road transports, businesses have to face the hassles of managing and renting trucks and it increases manifold in case of disruptions on the way, which is a common phenomenon, he said.
Export through the river route has huge potential of bilateral trade now. There is a huge demand for Bangladeshi processed food products in India, especially in the West Bengal and seven sister states, Kamal said.
PRAN is constantly trying to supply products that meet the needs of the people of India and its exports to the country is growing at an average rate of 10 per cent a year, he said.
The export volume to India came down slightly since the beginning of the ongoing pandemic, he said.
However, the export activities are getting its momentum back again now.
It is a matter of pride for Bangladesh as the products of PRAN are now competing with the renowned brands and making a place in Indian super shops and retail stores, he said.
According to PRAN’s data, the company’s exports to India are growing by 10 per cent on average every year. Besides, India accounts for about 30 per cent of its total food exports.
In the current FY 2020-21, over 22.23 lakh tonnes of goods were transported in 2,591 trips by Bangladeshi ships through the protocol route. At the same time, 88,566 tonnes of goods were sent in 59 trips by Indian ships.