Bangladesh received all-time high earnings from agricultural product exports in the just-passed fiscal year (FY), 2018-19, riding on processed food shipments.
Business insiders have attributed this to massive development in 'compliance issues' of the country which put a positive impact on export receipts.
The country fetched $909 million, 35 per cent up from that of FY '18, by exporting processed items like vegetable, betel leaf, tea, dry food, tobacco, fruit and foliage.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), earnings from farm produce in FY '19 are also 28 per cent higher than the $711-million target.
Dry and other processed food items fetched 77 per cent or $700 million of the total earnings.
Vegetable sector showed a tremendous performance by pulling in $100 million followed by tobacco $63 million and spices $42 million.
"The quarantine policy has helped minimise non-compliance against Bangladeshi processed and fresh produce in the past two years," plant quarantine wing director Dr Md Azhar Ali.
"This policy helped the country get all-time high earnings from farm produce in FY '19)," he told the FE.
Mr Ali said the European Union member countries banned the import of six Bangladeshi items in 2014, claiming the presence of unexpected elements in them.
Following the ban, he said, Bangladesh took a hard line and started executing rules and regulations properly.
It even stopped exporting farmed produce like pointed gourd, teasel gourd and betel leaf to bring checks and balances in the market.
The official said, "The self-imposed ban continued for two years and a half, taking a heavy toll on our exports as shipment fell for three consecutive years."
"But we believe after fully preparing ourselves for the highly-regulated global market, we can regain our space in the export arena," he cited.
Exporters are mandated to collect crops from the farmers who have adopted good agricultural practice (GAP), hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), traceability and maximum residue limit (MRL).
Mr Ali said they have also made it obligatory for traders to collect produce from contract growers under the supervision of upazila agriculture officers.
Contract growing is mandatory for exporters from this fiscal year (FY '20), he mentioned.
Bangladesh Fruit, Vegetable and Allied Products Exporters' Association president SM Jahangir said local traders have gradually become more conscious of quarantine issues.
The country could increase exports to over $2.0 billion within years if the government ensures more chilling facilities for fresh produce at major hubs, he added. Currently, it has only one chilling and packaging centre located at Shyampur in Dhaka district.
Mr Jahangir said, "Export earnings could touch $1.0 billion mark this fiscal if we could boost exports of fruit, betel leaf, flower and foliage."
Fruit and flower-foliage export earnings were only $6.0 million. Fruit export was a paltry $0.33 million.
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