Mango shipment dropped significantly only a year into the start of export as the fruits fail quarantine tests of European standards, exporters said.
Bangladesh exported more than 800 tonnes of mangos, mainly to the European markets, last year, but the amount fell to 300 tonnes this season.
The first shipment of 500 boxes of mangos (625 kilograms) was sent in May last year.
Exporters have to obtain phytosanitary or quarantine certificates -- relating to the health of plants, especially with respect to the requirements of international trade -- from the department concerned.
“Last year I exported more than 100 tonnes, mainly to different stores of Walamrt in London, but this year I sent only 35 tonnes, not to my previous customers, as the agreement with Walmart has been scrapped this year,” said Paritosh Chandra Das, proprietor of Dip International.
This year, he sent mangos mainly to the non-resident Bangladeshis. “I could not send mangos to Walmart this year despite a rise in order,” he said.
Mango export became difficult this year as the quarantine department asked exporters to pack the mangos in the garden, not in warehouses or elsewhere, so that the produce remains free of health hazardous elements.
But packing the mangos in the garden is not possible now, he said.
The traders cannot also go for contract farming immediately as the process for such farming is lengthy, Das said.
“So, the entire system for exporting mangos has to be revisited,” Das said.
The EU last year cancelled 15 consignments of vegetables and mangos as those failed to maintain the health standards of the EU, he said.
Some consignments were abandoned this year as well because of the same reasons, he added.
Khaledur Rahman, proprietor of Khaled Trade Syndicate, said: “I exported a small quantity of mangos as the authorities asked us to export through contract farming.”
Traders and officials from the agriculture and commerce ministries already visited some mango gardens in different districts to get an idea how contract farming can be done, Rahman said. Not only England, some other European countries such as Germany, France and Italy also became a major destination, he added.
Muhammad Anwar Hossain Khan, deputy director (export) of the plant protection wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension, said the European Union gave some suggestions on how to improve packaging standards.
“We have already contacted some mango growers in 13 districts to encourage them to do contract farming,” Khan said. Farmers and exporters will get higher prices if they follow the European standards, he added.
He said they have prepared a national action plan on safe and pesticide-free mango export. “We will submit the action plan to the agriculture ministry this week,” he said. Farmers and traders will have to follow guidelines of the action plan as mango has potential for becoming a major export item, he said.
Zahir Uddin Ahmed, additional secretary (export) of the commerce ministry, said: “We are working with different ministries to resolve the problem in mango export. We will soon be able to start export in bulk.” Japan is also a major market for Bangladeshi mangos, he said, adding that traders will have to follow the standards to raise exports.