Dhaka’s self-imposed ban to better vegetable exports

Dhaka’s self-imposed ban to better vegetable exports

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GreenWatch News Desk with Junayed Shishir & AKM Moinuddin, UNB Staff Writers
Dhaka, May 23 – Bangladesh has introduced a self-imposed on vegetable export to the European Union market encouraging local growers to improve quality of their produce by following Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
The Bangladesh government has adopted the strategy to avert ‘any possible ban’ on vegetable exports to EU from where Bangladesh has been receiving objections for the last few years over the quality of vegetables and fruits.
The government has introduced ‘contract farming’ for local growers who will be allowed to export to the EU market maintaining the required quality.Officials at the Commerce Ministry and Agriculture Ministry confirmed the self-imposed ban.
Contract farming is based on agreement between a buyer and farmers, which establishes conditions for the production and marketing of a farm’s produces. Under such an agreement, the farmer agrees to ensure quantity of the produce.
“Those who are maintaining good agricultural practices won’t face any problem. Many are reportedly exporting vegetables by showing fake Phytosanitary certificates. Such practices bring more harm than good,” Commerce Secretary (in-charge) Subhashish Bose told UNB.
Phytosanitary certificates are issued to indicate that the consignments of plants, plant products or other related articles meet specified phytosanitary import requirements, and are in conformity with the certifying statement.
Bose said he thinks no one of those meeting the requirements is facing any legal barrier or difficulties.
“We want to export quality products. Nobody wants to see the market gets closed for unscrupulous of people who are forging documents or products which are not of desired quality,” the Commerce Secretary said.
The Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters Association (BFVAPEA) general secretary Mohammad Monsur said a committee was formed comprising representatives from EPB, Department of Agricultural Extension, Agriculture Ministry and vegetable exporters. The committee is scheduled to write to Commerce and Agriculture Ministries recommending the easing rules to remove export difficulties.
“There has been no decision yet,” Mohammad Monsur told UNB adding that he does not have any idea whether the ‘self-imposed ban’ on vegetables export to the EU market will be withdrawn at all or not.
Responding to a question on contract farming, the exporters’ representative said the government initiative is not being implemented properly for lack of trainers at the Department of Agricultural Extension. “Without proper guidance and monitoring, farmers cannot grow quality products,” he said.
Monsur said Bangladeshi expatriates, in most cases, are the key buyers of Bangladeshi vegetables and many of them do not give much importance to what EU authorities consider quality issues.
Vegetable exporters in a letter on April 16, to the Commerce Ministry mentioned that it is not proper to impose a ban on export of all types of vegetables in the name of contract farming.
They mentioned that some exporters at different regions of the country are producing vegetables with support from vegetable exporters’ associations adhering to good agricultural practice and demanded the removal of ban on vegetable export.
The deputy director of Plant Quarantine Station at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Hafizur Rahman said this initiative (self-imposed ban) has been taken considering the need to avert adverse consequences that exporters might face in the EU market.
He, however, said there has been no ban on export to other countries.
Hafizur Rahman said the EU alerted Bangladesh on its products — vegetables and fruits — in the past but some exporters took some dubious steps.
Citing an example, he said, the export of betel leaf from Bangladesh remained banned to the EU market for the last three years as the EU wants disease-and pest-free vegetables and fruits.
“We couldn’t remove the ban despite many efforts. So, in the case of vegetables export, we’ve imposed a this ban. We’ll let them know our products are safe once we can produce as per their requirements. The exporters will benefit from this,” Hafizur Rahman added.

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