WITH a potential European Union (EU) ban staring us in the face on Bangladeshi vegetable and fruits exports worth nearly US$210 million per annum, perhaps now the government will wake up to ground realities regarding food adulteration. Unlike the domestic market where public health remains at constant risk due to widespread usage of industrial-grade toxic chemicals, the export market is far too sensitive in such matters. Exporters may soon be in for a rude awakening should such a ban be enforced by the EU. We find it ironic that authorities have failed to act upon EU's repeated warnings on the issue from 2010 – 2013. And though promises were made to keep exports virus- and bacteria-free, such pledges were not implemented. We are informed that the ministry of agriculture has prepared an action plan to prevent falsification of export-certification and contract farming that will be placed under government watch. And indeed, a host of other measures being contemplated that will step up monitoring and laboratory facilities to test produce before it leaves for the EU market. Government must move expeditiously to implement such measures.
We can't afford to lower our guard when it comes to EU's stringent health and consumer guidelines. With export receipts from vegetables and fruits rising 15 percent over the last fiscal, this is proving to be a lucrative export sector, and one which needs to be protected and promoted. We certainly hope that inertia of authorities will be replaced by dynamic concrete action on the ground to root out harmful organisms in agro-foods and check fraudulent practices by unscrupulous growers and traders.