As our motherland is a riverine country, it has been full of agricultural produce since eternity. Bangladesh has a glorious history of handicrafts too. Predominantly since the British period, Bangladeshi products have started earning foreign exchange income and gaining worldwide fame by meeting demands in the global market. Every district of the country offers some unique, special and high-yielding products that strengthen the branding of that particular district. E-commerce has greatly facilitated these products being spread across the country. Now the time has come to bring these products to the attention of all the people of this country. Cheese from Austagram, Kishoreganj, or Barisal’s amra (Hog plum) can be mentioned, just to name a few.
We generally do not keep track of so many different types of products produced across Bangladesh. Our trade and business, and economic activities are centered in Dhaka. But only 10% of the population resides in the capital city, with the rest living in 63 other districts. As a result, Dhaka-centric development disrupts the national development. And the kind of development taking place in our country cannot be termed ‘balanced development.’ So, the people from other districts are continuously lagging behind.
Narsingdi district, for example, offers quality products such as textiles and agricultural produce like banana, which are in high demand across the country. People from all the districts use handloom fabrics as everyday outfit, while banana is part of their daily food chart. Demands for these products in 63 other districts can be further enhanced given that they obtain the GI recognition and their GI tag is promoted in a structured and systematic way maximizing efficiency. Even if these products from Narsingdi get introduced to other districts in a slow but steady manner, it will eventually add to their overall countrywide demands and sales. Increased sales will generate more employment opportunities at every level, starting from production or cultivation to the delivery of products to the final consumers.
Moreover, further opportunities for employment will also be created for those associated with jobs related to these products, such as companies providing logistics support. It will also see a rise in the number of wholesale shops in the market and, thus, enhancing the prospect of more job opportunities. There will be more discussions held regarding these products, and thus more and more opinions from experts will be sought and valued. This way, Narsingdi’s GI products will be in discussion throughout the year, while transactions involving these products will also go on all the year round.
This way, more GI recognition attained for the products at the district level will pave the way for more and better job opportunities created for the educated local workforce, whose income, too, will eventually see a significant rise. The resulting economic prosperity of the district will, then, realize an immediate need for a highly educated workforce of at least 100 people in every district, who will be tasked with the overall development of GI products by planning and leading the research activities, as well as creating content for media promotion. Highly educated young people will, thus, find employment in their own districts, and be able to utilize their talent in a more productive way. As a result, this will cease the influx of highly educated local youngsters coming to Dhaka looking for better employment opportunities.
Pressing ahead with district-wise GI products will not face any serious crisis leading to strong obstacles; rather it will open up a new door of possibilities. To cite an example, global business and trade was critically affected during the corona virus pandemic as most of the sea ports including Bangladesh’s remained non-operational due to the months-long lockdowns, thus, seriously disrupting the import-export in the international market. It eventually stroked the high inflation inside the country as we are an import-driven economy, which is also the reason behind the dollar crisis that we are currently grappling with in our everyday life.
But on a reversed picture where instead of relying on imported products, if we start using local products produced in our districts, and manage to accelerate their exports, we can be at an advantage facing any crisis. Our everyday life will remain largely unaffected with less reliance on import, and a strong foreign exchange reserve will strengthen and safeguard our economy more efficiently.
The writer is the President of EDC