Bangladesh is set to resume vegetable exports to the EU in February as the quality of vegetable products have been ensured through contract farming as per Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
Under the initiative, farmers are now growing vegetables those are free from pest, bacteria and other harmful chemicals. Cabbage produced through contract farming in Jessore Sadar area is being exported to Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
The government maintained a self-ban on vegetable export to the EU market from 2015 to 2017 to avert any possible ban as Bangladesh has been receiving objections over the quality of its vegetables and fruits.
This was followed by the formulation of a National Action Plan in 2017 for production of pest-free and quality vegetables and fruits for domestic consumption and exports.
The action plan outlined the production and post-harvest management practices to produce high-quality and safe vegetables and fruits to comply with national and international market standards.
“A shipment of 40 tonnes of vegetables has left for Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan last week through Chittagong port while another consignment will depart on Sunday,” said Mohammad Mozibul Hoque, supply chain specialist of Solidaridad Network Asia, an international supply chain development organisation.
“Battle leaf, eggplant, bean, pointed gourd and green chilli are marked as critical commodities,” he said, adding that the exports of critical commodities to the EU will begin with the bean.
The National Action Plan was developed through consultations with the stakeholders to leverage multilateral cooperation in developing farmers support, market structures and business linkages for the promotion of sustainable fruits and vegetable production both for the domestic and international markets.
“Contract farming has been made mandatory in the action plan for the production and marketing of safe fruits and vegetables.The plan emphasises to maintain the highest level of quality control and food safety standards in the production and post-harvest management,” Mozibul Hoque said.
Under the business model developed in light of the Action Plan, Solidaridad facilitated contract farming with 162 farmers in Jessore Sadar area to produce safe and quality mango to supply to the domestic and international market.
The farmers are also cultivating cabbage, cauliflower, bean, bitter gourd, gourd, eggplant and pointed gourd
on a total 4,000 bighas of land, said Kazi Munni, owner of Rifat Enterprise, a leading vegetable exporter.
She informed that pest-free safe vegetables are being produced in Hazratpur, Churamonkhathi, and Shahbazpur of Jessore Sadar under contract farming model.
The farmer will produce three lakh tonnes of cabbage this season, she said.
Mozibul said the export cluster will be expanded to other districts like Bogra and Narsingdi.
Bangladesh exported 65,699 tonnes of vegetables in FY 2015-16, 131,369 tonnes in FY 2014-15 and 120,561 tonnes in FY 2013-14, according to the data of Plant Quarantine Wing of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
The country exports vegetables mainly to the UK, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Franc, Canada, Saudi Arab, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore and Lebanon.
Bangladesh is ranked third among the largest vegetable producing countries. The country’s total vegetable output stood at 15,264,000 tonnes in 2015-16 fiscal. Bangladesh produces more than 150 different vegetables and exports 119 types of vegetable items.