For mango producers and exporters of Bangladesh, rays of new hope are fading away, as newly started expansion to European market came to a sudden halt. This year, any consignment of mangoes is yet to be cleared by Bangladeshi authorities for export, owning due to ‘whims’ of bureaucracy, an exporting agency says.
In 2015, government patronage under a UN funded project facilitated the export market expansion. But Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) recently barred Dip International, the Bangladeshi agency contracted with international retail chain Walmart to export in European countries without explanation.
With the UN FAO providing support to Hortex Foundation, a non-profit foundation formed by the government, a project was being implemented in 25 upazilas under nine districts in the country since 2014. As part of the project DAE and Hortex officials and experts facilitated many farmers and value chain actors got the necessary training on best agricultural practices and with that they started exploring the high value export markets.
The project trained and facilitated 180 farmers from 9 Upazilas namely Baga and Charghat of Rajshahi, Bholahat and Sadar Upazila of Chapainawabganj, Ishwardy of Pabna, Rangamati, Khagrachory and Bandarban and Satkhira sadra Upazila.
Local export agency Dip International had been linked to the UK-based International Procurement Logistic (IPL) to supply fruits to Walmart chain stores run by ASDA. Primarilty three species namely Himsagar, Langra and Bari-3 (Amrapali) were selected. Last year Dip International shipped 5 tonnes of mangoes for Walmart.
Dip International claims, later due to the natural causes especially for the torrential rain in the beginning of the monsoon, black marks has been spotted on the mangoes. Worried about external beauty which is very important to European consumers, Walmart temporarily stopped to import mango from the agency as mutually agreed. Owner of the agency Paritos Chandra Das Manik said, Walmart again expressed interest to import almost 400 tons of mangoes in 2016. But Quarantine Wing of DAE barred his firm on the ground of being non-compliant. DAE said, the firm lacks requirements for quarantine certificate.
As a result Dip International failed to export any consignment of mangoes to Walmart this year, alleged Mr. Paritos. He said, in 2014 18 pieces of Elachi lemon was found in a consignment of Corrosion lemon and hence DAE canceled the permission. After that, on March, 2015, they again were permitted to export agricultural products from Bangladesh. 'But for a mysterious reason, DAE again held over the Plant Quarantine Certificate for Dip International for old offense' without anymore explanation, said Mr. Paritos.
Hortex Foundation said, Bangladesh is in eighth position in mango production but there was no formal export of Bangladeshi mangoes before 2015. Some mangoes have been exported unofficially in some Bengali ethnic market in little amount. Bangladesh has gained an opportunity to earned huge amount of money by exporting mangoes but lost it because of negligence.
In reply of the allegations, Deputy Director of Quarantine Wing of DAE Anwer Hossen said, We have no information about the agreement between Walmart and Dip International. The firm has exported mangoes by breaching rule. So we declared the company as non-compliant. The ministry has the same decision in this regard.
Last year, apart from the 3.5 tonnes shipped for Walmart by Dip International, a total of 155 tonnes of mangoes were exported to the UK under the supervision of Hortex Foundation. In August of last year, after receiving letter from the European Commission regarding presence of fruit flies in 5.52 tonnes of mangoes in the eight consignments, DAE decided to take tough stance to ensure quarantine certificates in exporting mangoes in 2016 season.
Asked by the Daily Sun whether any other exporters are being allowed to export this season, senior DAE and Hortex officials failed to provide any satisfactory data.
Translated from Bangla by Md. Sadiqur Rahman