The Financial Express

Promoting mango export

| Updated: October 19, 2017 19:21:46

Promoting mango export

As the mango season is approaching fast, it is now time for launching an awareness programme among farmers about the do's and don'ts keeping in view bitter experiences of the past as regards the export of the fruit. The country exported more than 800 tonnes of mangoes, mainly to the European markets, in 2015 but the quantity fell to 300 tons in 2016 due to tough safety standards there. 
Bangladesh, with the production of around 1.0 million tonne, has emerged as the seventh largest mango-producing country in the world. The country's mango is very sweet and of good quality and that is why its demand in international market is increasing day by day. However, exporters have to obtain phytosanitary or quarantine certificates -- relating to the health of plants, especially with respect to the requirements of international trade -- from the department concerned. It may be recalled that the European Union (EU) cancelled 15 consignments of vegetables and mangoes as those failed to meet the health standards of the EU.
According to a report on global agriculture production by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the production rate of mangoes is the highest in Bangladesh. Bangladesh started exporting mangoes only in 2015.  In terms of exporting mangoes, the country has a lot of advantages in the world market, according to the FAO. For example, when mangoes in Bangladesh ripen, mangoes from other countries are not available in the world market. Besides, buyers of the UK consider Bangladeshi mangoes the best in the world. If Bangladesh can maintain international quality in production, exporting a thousand tonnes of mango per year is not impossible at all, experts say.
Bangladesh needs to adopt safe mango harvesting and mango marketing practices.  The government has a big role to play in ensuring safe mango production in the country. It is also true that farmers, traders as well as consumers are now more conscious about the harmful pesticides used in fruits, especially in mangoes. In many countries, there are ripening chambers which we do not have. The government can facilitate the private sector to develop mango storage system in the country. 
A study on 150 stakeholders nationwide and 12 mango farmers on behalf of USAID Bangladesh Agriculture Value Chains (AVC) found that most of the farmers do not use calcium carbide or formalin for ripening mango. For ripening, farmers are now using 'Ethephon' in a judicious quantity which is not harmful for human health. In Bangladesh, 10 to 30 per cent mango traders use ripening agent. In 2016, 510 maunds of mangoes were destroyed by the law-enforcement agencies. 
For producing export-quality mango, the government should create awareness among farmers and encourage them to use modern technology and knowledge. It should also ensure easy bank loan for the farmers so that they could establish mango processing plants. Mango harvesting time-frame needs to be outlined and mango preservation plants are badly needed in some selected areas. The government can also facilitate duty-free import of specialised 'fruit bag' for hygienic fruit transportation. 
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