The government yesterday approved a Tk 156 crore project to improve the testing capacity of a central plant quarantine laboratory with the aim of increasing exports of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Under the project, the existing laboratory complex will be expanded, new equipment will be purchased and 180 officials in the country and six officials abroad will receive training, according to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
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“We took the project to ensure the export of quality products and to diversify our export basket”, declared the Minister of Planning MA Mannan at the end of the ECNEC meeting where this decision was made. socket.
The move comes as exporters in Bangladesh struggle to test their exportable crops and get timely results from government agency labs, delaying shipments in the process.
The laboratory at the Shyampur Central Packaging Factory in Dhaka City has a few machines for testing plants and plant products.
“But this testing equipment is not enough either,” said an agriculture ministry official.
“In addition, the laboratory is now inactive,” said Mohammed Mansur, secretary general of the Association of Exporters of Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products of Bangladesh.
“This is very good news. The laboratory was supposed to be operational with the start of operations at the central packing station. However, the latest decision will be decisive in increasing exports,” he added.
Bangladesh earns more than $ 100 million a year from shipping fresh fruits and vegetables. In fiscal year 2020-2021, the sector’s export earnings fell 28% due to declining demand amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Exporters shipped 61,000 tonnes of fresh produce mainly to Middle Eastern and European Union markets in fiscal year 2020-2021, down 26% from 83,000 tonnes the previous year , according to Mansur.
He went on to say that exporters would be able to ship fresh produce after completing the required tests, as this would ensure compliance with the requirements of importing countries.
Mohammad Anwar Hossain, director of the plant quarantine wing of the Agricultural Extension Department, said the new project would improve the testing capacity of the quarantine laboratory at the central packing station.