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Taste remains crucial behind surge in mango export

Mehedi Al Amin
25 May 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 25 May 2023 00:02:35
Taste remains crucial behind surge in mango export

Over the past few years, Bangladesh has experienced a significant surge in mango exports, with taste playing a crucial role in combating competitors despite other unfavourable conditions.

The remarkable growth in exports has instilled hope among mango exporters, while the government is actively working on infrastructure development to facilitate export. And the exporters are also seeking solutions to existing problems to further enhance their operations.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh exported approximately 310 tonnes of mangoes in the fiscal year 2018-19, followed by 283 tonnes in 2019-20, 1,632 tonnes in 2020-21, and 1,757 tonnes in 2021-22. This reflects a staggering 467 per cent increase in mango exports over the past three years. Middle Eastern countries are the primary destinations for Bangladeshi mangoes, while the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany present significant markets with immense potential.

The most exportable varieties include Himsagar, Amrapali, Lengra, Banana Mango, and BARI-4. Currently, Haribhanga is also gaining popularity in the export basket. Among the 72 varieties of mangoes grown in Bangladesh, 21 varieties are exported to different countries.

Mohammad Arifur Rahman, director of the Exportable Mango Production project under the Department of Agricultural Extension, said, “We have set a target to double mango exports this year. Our mango varieties have distinct tastes, all of which are sweet. In comparison, mangoes from other countries lack that unique taste. Although they are sweet, they have a milder flavour.”

He added, “Colourful or reddish mangoes tend to attract consumers. However, our mangoes have a greenish hue. By implementing proper bagging techniques, we can enhance the colour of the mangoes, and we are actively working on achieving the desired demandable colour.”

Saiful Alam, the managing director of North Bengal Agro Farm Limited, said, “Consumers across importing countries appreciate Bangladeshi mangoes for their exceptional taste and sweetness. To boost mango exports, we need increased production, supply, and involvement of fresh educated entrepreneurs, along with solutions to existing problems in the export process.”

Saiful said Bangladeshi exporters face certain limitations compared to their competitors. “While our mango season is just beginning, mangoes from India and Pakistan have already hit the shelves in various countries. Pakistan and India operate several cargo flights dedicated to mango exports, while we face cargo space shortages and higher freight charges compared to our competitors,” he added.

Shyampur Central Packing House serves as the central location where all exporters must bring their produces and obtain the necessary certificates accepted in European countries, he said.

Transporting mangoes to this location and then to the airport incurs substantial transportation costs, Saiful added calling on the government to establish packaging houses in mango-growing areas to address this issue.

The lack of a cooling transportation system results in significant mango wastage, he said emphasising the need for joint efforts among the Department of Agriculture Extension, the Export Promotion Board, and relevant departments to address these problems.

Approximately 25-30 per cent of mangoes go to waste due to the lack of modern agricultural technology in transportation, storage, marketing, and production stages.

Mohammad Arifur Rahman, the project director of exportable mango production, stated, “The cost of bagging per mango is around Tk 4. This cost should be minimised by reducing import taxes. Additionally, a special cargo service, similar to the special train service in the country, should also be introduced.”

The Department of Agriculture Extension is implementing a Tk 47 crore “Exportable Mango Production Project (2022-2027)” in 46 upazilas of 15 mango-producing districts in the country.

The project includes organising 2,300 mango produce exhibitions, developing 2,300 exportable mango orchards, arranging 1,840 programmes for fertiliser and weeding management in existing mango orchards and holding 1,840 exhibitions at the grassroots level on the use of modern technology to produce quality mangoes.

With a target to export around one lakh tonnes of mango, Bangladesh now grows 24 lakh tonnes of mango every year. This year’s mango export will be inaugurated today.