Shipment of vegetables falls for floods
Vegetable exports from Bangladesh dropped significantly over the last few months as the massive flood damaged seasonal crops in many districts, exporters said.
Even two months ago exporters shipped up to 120 tonnes of vegetables a day, but the quantity dropped to 70 tonnes a day due to scarcity of fresh produce.
Most of the fertile northern districts, including Kurigram, Thakurgaon, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Jamalpur, Bogra and Sunamganj, were hit by flood.
Moreover, the transportation is also a big challenge for the vegetable exporters as the roads and highways have also been damaged by the flood, said Mohammad Mansur, general secretary of the Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables & Allied Products Exporters’ Association.
“We are facing a scarcity of produce,” said Khaledur Rahman, a vegetable exporter.
In full season, when the there was no flood, Rahman used to export between 4 and 6 tonnes of vegetables a week. But, now the quantity has become negligible.
Rahman said his quantity declined not only for flood but also for an ongoing self-imposed ban on the export of vegetables to European Union by the government.
The Plant Protection Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension has imposed a ban on export of vegetables to the EU to avoid any harsh action.
The Plant Protection Wing came up with the self-imposed ban as there were warnings of non-compliance from the EU in shipment of vegetables a few months ago, said Md Anwar Hossain Khan, its deputy director of export.
“We have stopped vegetable exports to the EU for some months now as we found insects in the consignments.”
The EU, especially the UK and Italy, is a major destination for the country’s fruit and vegetables because of a sizeable population of non-resident Bangladeshis.
Of the total exports of vegetables from Bangladesh in a year, 60 percent are sent to the EU and the remaining 40 percent elsewhere, according to the exporters.
Khan also said his office has relaxed the ban slightly for three to four items like lemon and jackfruits a few days ago as those have little chance of having insects on them.
He, however, is hopeful that the ban could be lifted permanently from early next year as exporters have been advised to pack the produce from the central warehouse that was partly launched a few months ago.
The central packaging house, which has been set up at the city’s Shyampur area, has washing, sorting, grading, packaging and cooling facilities for fruit and vegetable exporters to ensure hygienic processing before shipment.
Bangladesh exports carrot, tomato, potato, eggplant, spinach, cauliflower, papaya, pumpkin, bottle gourd, cabbage, coriander leaf, ladies finger, cucumber, bitter gourd, bean, jute leaf, drumstick, radish, dry fish, fish and meat.
The growers at the district level also hiked the vegetable prices by 40 percent due to floods, Mansur said.
Mansur said the ban on direct cargo flights from Dhaka to the EU has also hit exports.