Billion-dollar agri export likely this year

Agriculture is gradually becoming a major export earning sector for Bangladesh. Trade analysts and government sources said exports of different agricultural products will cross 1 billion dollar mark in the ongoing fiscal year, if the current rising trend continues. According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the country fetched $67cr by exporting different types of agricultural goods in fiscal year 2017-18, which rose to $90.89 crore in fiscal 2018-19. The sector has achieved 34 percent growth in a year-on-year basis.

The rising trend in exports of agricultural products is likely to sustain in future as well. As a result, the authorities concerned expect to earn Tk 101 crore from this sector in this fiscal. Among the country’s three major export earning products, agriculture sector is showing new potentiality due to the government’s increased attention to the sector.

The EPB in its draft calculation for 2019-20 fiscal expressed its belief that the agriculture sector can earn more than a billion dollars per year. In their draft proposal, they identified three major sectors of export earnings -- RMG, leather and agriculture -- their earnings will be $3700 crore, $106 crore and $101 crore respectively.

“Once Bangladesh used to suffer a deficit of 20-30 tonnes of food, but today’s Bangladesh is a new country which is self-sufficient in foods. We focused on agriculture, invested more on agriculture, bought modern technologies and now we are having the results,” said MA Sattar Mondol, former vice-chairman of Bangladesh Agriculture University in Mymensingh.

Seeking anonymity, senior officials of the agriculture ministry said arable lands that were used twice for production annually, is now used four times based on region. At present, 216 percent of crop intensity is present in the country, which was 180 percent in 2006. According to Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA), the country should enhance the quality of food processing as well as manufacturing to the global standard through setting up compliant factories to enter the world market more extensively.

For this, there is no alternative to set up compliance factories and it is high time to construct compliant factories in the country for maintaining international standards. BAPA Executive Committee Member Masudur Rahman said, at present, the country is exporting agricultural products to 140 countries of the world. “If the government keeps supporting us, we hope we will be able to earn billion-dollar export from this sector before 2021,” he added.

Mentionable, under Harmonized System (HS) code, the country’s 20 agricultural products are being exported to 120 countries. Among the products, there are dairy products, egg, honey, flower, edible oil, potato, tomato, onion, ginger, carrots, nuts, tea, rice, jam, jelly, soup, noodles, and others. Of these, seven products are being exported extensively. These are tea, vegetable, tobacco, flower, fruits, spices and dried food.

Agriculture Secretary Md Nasiruzzaman told Bangladesh Post, “Flower export growth was 587 percent in the last fiscal when compared to the amount received in the previous fiscal. Export earning from was Tk 45 crore in the last fiscal, which was Tk 75 lakh in the previous year. Vegetable export growth was 27.82 percent, during the last fiscal it's export earning was Tk 835 crore”.

“Export is gradually increasing because our production is meeting domestic demand and having a huge surplus. We are now focusing more on flower and trying to produce flowers at the poly house as it needs less fertilizer and ensure quality production,” he added.