Food exports soaring

Country's export basket is getting a significant boost as the shipment of agricultural products has made a massive headway with 9.1 percent jump in July-April period of the current fiscal year (FY21).

Local agricultural product exporters made a shipment of goods worth US$824.59 million during July-April period of FY21.

In FY20, the volume of shipment of the agricultural items was worth $755.8 million, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data showed.

Exporters said the impact of the Covid-19 across the world could be one of the reasons for the rise in exports of the agricultural products such as tea, tobacco, spices and dry food.

During the pandemic, the agricultural items importing countries' dependence on dry food, other agricultural products and other related stuff has increased, they said. 

Besides, the government policy support, including cash incentives from 2010, has facilitated the export of the Bangladeshi agro-processing food, they pointed out.

Exporters said that the 20 percent cash incentive has helped the Bangladeshi agro-processing food industry in enlarging the shipment of dry foods mainly.

The shipment of dry food items - biscuits, cakes, uncooked pasta, corn flakes, bread, waffles and wafer, couscous, mixed-food preparation ingredients, chips, chanachur, chocolate, and different prepared food from cereals - had swelled by more than double in the first 10 months of the current FY2021, compared to that in FY2017.

In FY2017, the volume of Bangladeshi dry food export was $109.61 million.

However, in July-April of the current FY2021, the volume had picked up to $243.47 million, EPB data showed.

The shipment of the Bangladeshi dry foods in the following FY2019 also marked a significant rise to $227.09 million.

In FY2020, Bangladeshi producers exported the prepared food worth $193.71 million to different overseas markets.

The major importing countries of dry and processed food items include India, Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Hong Kong, the UK, Italy and France.

Meanwhile, export of tea soared 17.38 percent in July-April period of FY21 and the country fetched $3.31 million during the period against $2.82 million of FY20.

Tobacco export also grew 3.16 percent in July-April period of FY21 to 73.03 million which was $70.79 million in the same period of FY20. 

Export of spices, another agricultural item, maintained a steady growth in FY21 as the country earned $36.22 million against $29.04 million earned in the previous fiscal year.

General Manager of Bombay Sweets,Khurshid Ahmad Farhad said that they were getting 20 per cent cash incentive against the export of agro-processing food items.

Besides, the Covid-induced lockdown in some cases becomes a boon for the exporters as the food habit of the people in the importing countries has changed to some extent, resulting in the rise in dry food export in the current fiscal, he added.

Syed Mohammad Shoaib Hassan, managing partner of Chittagong-based HIFS Agro Food Industries, said that Bangladeshi producers had continued their production when the Covid-19 had shutdown manufacturing industries in the competing countries.

So, the export of the products had increased in the current FY2021, he added.

The cash incentives, lower labour cost, and available raw material at home have also prompted the increase in shipment, said Hassan.