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FT online

Published:
2019-03-10 11:15:40 BdST

Mango imports plummet as local yields keep soaring


The import of mango has declined gradually in recent years, thanks to a sustained rise in local production of the delicious tropical fruit.

This trend in mango imports has thus saved millions of foreign exchange.

Bangladesh imported only 2,050 tonnes of mango in fiscal year (FY) 2017-18, mainly from India and Thailand, according to the plant quarantine wing under agriculture ministry.

Mango import was 17,596 tonnes in FY '11, it said.

It was 2,250 tonnes in FY '17, 2,795 tonnes in FY '16 and 3,212 tonnes in FY '15.

The local mango output rose to 2.2 million tonnes in FY '18. It was 1.3 million tonnes in FY '11, according to the department of agricultural extension (DAE).

Even the area under commercial mango farming increased to 167,760 hectares in 2018 from 141,067 hectares in 2011.

The newer areas expanded mainly in southern districts like Satkhira and Jashore, said DAE director general Mir Nural Alam.

He said the growth rate of production remained at 8.0-9.0 per cent year on year.

"We've adopted the national mango action plan to produce pest-free, safe mango for domestic and export markets to boost mango economy," Mr Alam said.

He said the government will support gardeners and farmers to grow pest- and chemical-free safe mango both for domestic and external markets.

The official said fixing specific dates for mango harvest help lessen the use of chemicals.

The initiative also helps popularise local mango among consumers, he mentioned.

Mr Alam said the latest action plan has given special focus on export market.

Exporters need certificates that they have maintained good agriculture practice and their products are collected from contract growers under the supervision of upazila agriculture officers, he added.

He also said hazard analysis and critical control points, and traceability and maximum residue limit have also been made compulsory for exporters.

Bangladesh Fresh Fruit Importers Association secretary Serajul Islam said mango import from India has fallen.

A big chunk of early Indian varieties like 'guti' and 'chosa' enter the local market through Dinajpur, Rajshahi, and Jashore borders from April, he added.

Mr Islam said import has declined due to expansion of commercial gardens in southern districts that now supply fruits to the cities much earlier.

Consumers can get 'himsagar' mango a bit earlier from Jashore and Khulna regions than the Rajshahi-Chapainawabganj belt, he added.

"A little import is done mainly from Thailand and other countries. We're selling the high-value mango off season," Mr Alam said.

"But import might surge this year amid a likely fall in local production, especially in Chapainawabganj and Rajshahi, due to a hailstorm in February," he said.

When asked, the business leader said Dhaka is the key consumption hub as it consumes around 35 per cent of imported mangoes.

However, the country has started grabbing the global mango market, albeit in a slow pace.

It exported 300-580 tonnes per annum in recent years, according to the quarantine wing.

DAE officials said the country is expecting 2.25 million tonnes of mango from 0.2 million hectares of land this year.

Chapainawabganj, popularly known as the mango capital, is expecting 0.26 million tonnes from 29,500 hectares of land this time.

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