Despite a sharp decline last fiscal year, exports of vegetables may bounce back this fiscal year, said exporters.
Businesses have achieved more than 100 per cent growth in shipments of vegetables in the first two months of the current fiscal year.
Vegetable exports witnessed a 28 per cent decline in the last fiscal year when traders made shipments of vegetables worth US$ 118 million.
The situation has changed as local exporters bagged shipments worth $28 million during the July-August period this FY, a 102 per cent growth compared to the corresponding period of last FY, according to the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
An increase in the shipment of summer veggies to the European Union and Middle-Eastern countries has helped rise in overall shipments, said insiders.
The shipment might increase further if the airfreight charge could be minimized to the pre-pandemic level, they added.
Md Anwar Hossain, a vegetable exporter, said exports of summer vegetables like pointed-gourd, bitter gourd, brinjal, colocasia etc to some EU countries, especially UK have started this year.
Exports of vegetables to these countries almost came to a halt, he said, adding that sourcing summer vegetables during the June-September period of last year was much costlier due to floods across the country which damaged crops severely.
Mr Hossain said: "But shipment to Middle-East, Malaysia and Singapore has still been contributing a major share of exports of vegetables this year too."
Liton Debnath, the proprietor of AH International, said airfreight charge is now highest for Bangladeshi exporters compared to its competitor countries like India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Now they have to pay $4.5-$5.0 as freight charge for per kg of vegetable which was below $2.0 a kg before March 2020, he said, adding that exports could be double if freight charge could be re-fixed at pre-pandemic level.
The government has set a target to make vegetable shipment of $120 million for the current fiscal year.
Exporters expect that total shipments might surpass the target by a large margin if the current upward trend in vegetable exports continues.
Bangladesh exports 0.07 million tonnes-0.1 million tonnes of vegetables to 52 countries annually, according to the Hortex Foundation and EPB.
Cabbage, potato, country bean, long-yard bean, pointed gourd, bitter gourd, brinjal, and colocasia are lead exports.