The government is going to set up three 'Vapour Heat Treatment' (VHT) plants in three districts of the country to increase the export of mangoes abroad. These VHTs will be set up in Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi and Satkhira districts.
Bangladesh is among the top 10 countries in the world in mango production and there is high demand for Bangladeshi mangoes in the countries of Europe, America and many other parts of the world.
According to Department of Agricultural Marketing, 20 to 30 percent of mango yield are wasted during the harvest as both temperature and humidity remain high at that time.
The government thinks that if VHT is installed, the waste of mango will be reduced by 10 percent. At the same time, the quality of this popular and delicious fruits can be ensured through this treatment which will help to expand the mango export market across the globe.
According to Mohammad Yusuf, Director General, Department of Agricultural Marketing, mango is currently being cultivated in 30 districts of the country. However, the highest yields are in Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore and Satkhira.
When asked, Director General of the Department of Agriculture Marketing Mohammad Yusuf said, "Although mango is exported to different countries of the world, it is less than the production. VHT is being planted keeping these aspects in mind. The plant equipment will be imported from Europe.”
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), there are 235,000 acres of mango orchards in the country. Generally, each tree produces an average of 77 kilograms of mango. A total of 12.22 lakh tonnes of mango has been produced in the country in 2019-20 financial year.
Mango has been exported to various countries in Europe and the Middle East for several years. These mangoes were taken by expatriate Bangladeshi traders. After collecting mangoes from contract farmers in Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon and Satkhira, the exporters send the mangoes to different countries of the world through cargo and passenger planes.
According to the Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetable and Allied Products Exporters Association (BFVAPEA), 231 tonnes of mangoes were exported in the 2016-17 financial year. The following year it rose to 308 tonnes. Due to corona pandemic, mango export decreased to 278 tonnes in the last year.
This year, over 1000 tonnes of mango have already been exported, according to the statics collected from different mango growers.
The exporters hope If VHT is installed, it will be possible to increase mango export from Tk 400 crore to Tk 500 crore.
It is learned that the cost of setting up three VHT plants will be Tk 100 crore. The total cost will be provided from the government funds.
However, Additional Secretary of the Planning Commission (Department of Agriculture and Rural Institutions) Matiur Rahman has stressed the need for private sector’s initiative to set up more plants. He also said that mango ripening is less scientific and healthy in our country. So the desired amount of mango is not exported. That is why the government as well as the private sector should come forward to build the plant.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture says that the locations for setting up the plants have been fixed. Those who export mangoes will collect mangoes and bring them to the plant. Purifying mangoes in hot water will increase the storage capacity of mangoes and will also remove parasites inside the mangoes. This treatment does not have any harmful side effects like formalin and pesticides. The mangoes preserved in this process will be of international standard, which will help in earning foreign exchange by increasing mango exports.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the government started talks on setting up VHT plants more than one year ago after the Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh met the Agriculture Minister and offered to import mangoes to his country.
In this light, the three agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture — Department of Agricultural Marketing, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and Barind Multipurpose Development Authority took initiative to set up three separate refineries.