3 months ago

Export of agri items thru' HSIA hindered

Lack of scanner, storage, EDS main factors

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The export of agriculture products through the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital is being hampered due to a number of factors, including lack of separate scanning system, insufficient cold storage facility, and inadequate explosive detection systems (EDS), a government team has found.

To remove these obstacles, it has suggested introducing separate lanes for scanning perishable and non-perishable export items as well as scanning perishable items on a priority basis.

A high-powered team of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), headed by its director general-1, has identified the constraints through inspection in the country's largest airport and also placed a set of recommendations.

The EPB team has inspected the cold storage system, tariff system and air transport system in the HSIA for exporting various agricultural items, including fresh fruits, vegetables, etc.

The team has identified lack of ample cold storage and scanning facility as the main reason, for which agro items' export is not growing at the expected level, a high official of the entity has said.

The EPB's inspection report has also suggested resuming operation of the ineffective EDS urgently. It has pointed out that the EDS should be linked with the respective customs office for reducing product testing steps.

The EPB team has also recommended fixing scanning charges at the HSIA at a logical level as far as possible.

"We have sent the suggestions to the authorities concerned to take necessary steps in this regard," he added.

The team has favoured taking a joint project by the EPB and the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) - at the HSIA third terminal - for doubling capacity of the existing cold storage facility for preserving fresh fruits and vegetables.

The state-run agency has recommended writing to the third terminal project implementation authority - for taking proper steps to ease the process of loading/unloading fresh fruits, vegetables and other perishable items as well as building a large warehouse for removing the existing difficulties for safe scanning and storing export goods to reduce their shipping time.

Prospect of agricultural products in Bangladesh's export basket is bright with their export proceeds crossing billion-dollar mark, raising hopes for boosting the country's external trade, industry insiders have said.

In last fiscal year (FY), 2021-22, export of agricultural goods and relevant processed foods fetched foreign exchange worth US$ 1.16 billion, which was 13.04 per cent higher year-on-year, the EPB data show.

In the previous FY, the country's agro products touched the billion-dollar export-earning mark for the first time with shipments amounting to $1.02 billion.

According to the EPB, the items that performed well in the export earnings last year included edible vegetables and certain root and tubers ($99.91 million), coffee, tea, meat and spices ($49.54 million), ginger, saffron, turmeric (curcuma) and other spices ($39.66 million), sugar confectionery ($26.93 million), malt extract, food preparations of flour ($67.23 million), and fruit juices and vegetable juices ($58.20 million).

Some exporters have said export of agro-products will be growing in the future, as many Bangladeshi companies are now trying to expand their overseas markets, with agro-processing industry flourishing amid high prospects.

They are hopeful of getting a big boost in the export amount within the next couple of years.

The largest agro-processed products' exporter - PRAN-RFL Group - has already announced the target to double its export earnings to $1.0 billion by 2025. Major portion of the Bangladeshi agro-products goes to the Middle-Eastern markets alongside some Asian, African and South-Asian countries.

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