Mango exports hit five-year high
Mango exports from Bangladesh touched a new high in the outgoing fiscal year thanks to increasing interest among growers and exporters to ship the juicy fruits abroad, official figures showed.
Between July and May of 2021-22, exporters air-shipped 980 tonnes of mango, up 24 per cent year-on-year, according to data from the Plant Quarantine Wing (PQW) of the Department of Agricultural Extension.
The volume is the highest in five years and officials said the total amount would grow further since mangoes are shipped abroad.
Mango exports stood at 790 tonnes during the entire fiscal year of 2020-21.
"We expect the overall shipment of mangoes to surpass last year's total," said Md Rezaul Karim, deputy director of the PQW, which issues plant health certificates for exports.
The overseas sales of the popular fruit have gone up in recent years as the agriculture ministry has been encouraging exporters to sell it in the international markets. It has taken several measures, including providing training to farmers to produce quality mangoes.
There is a lot of demand for the summer fruit grown in Bangladesh among the consumers in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines apart from the Bangladeshis abroad, said Mohammed Mansur, general secretary of the Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters' Association.
"The taste of mangoes produced in Bangladesh is unparalleled. So, the consumers who get the taste of our mangoes look for it again. Our mangoes have selected customers. Nowadays, we see that Arabs are consuming Bangladesh's mangoes."
Mansur mainly exports fruits and vegetables to the Middle East. His firm has exported 100 tonnes of mangoes this summer.
A good quantity of mangoes is exported from Bangladesh to the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and Canada.
Mango exports are not without challenges.
Though Bangladesh's mangoes are sweet and tasty, the fruit does not attract the nationals of other countries since ripen fruits remain largely green in colour.
"We could have exported huge quantity had the colour of our mangoes been yellowish once they ripened," Mansur said, urging agriculture scientists to do research on developing varieties that will turn yellow on maturity.
The quality of mangoes in Bangladesh has improved because of public and private sector efforts, reflecting in increasing export earnings, said Md Manzurul Hannan, managing director of Hortex Foundation.
According to him, some farmers have begun farming export-quality mangoes. There is also the entry of new exporters in the segment in the last two to three years. Improvement has also taken place in packaging as well.
Hortex is a government-sponsored agency working to facilitate the export of fresh produce.
Hannan is optimistic that the export of the summer fruit will increase in the coming years as the government plans to set up two vapour heat treatment plants to improve the quality of mangoes and eliminate fruit flies.
The plant uses a method of heating fruit with air saturated with water vapour at temperatures of 40–50°C to kill insect eggs and larvae as a quarantine treatment before shipment.
There is an effort to develop chambers to ripen mangoes by applying ethylene, said Hannan.
Bangladesh exported 4,352 tonnes of fresh fruits in 2020-21, fetching $580,000, according to data from the Hortex Foundation.
The volume is insignificant when it comes to mango production.
Twenty-five lakh tonnes of mangoes were produced on 2 lakh hectares of land across Bangladesh in 2021, making the country one of the top producers of the fruit in the world.