Needed cargo fare reduction
Rafiqul Akter: Vegetable exporters demanded for reducing the cargo charges for boosting the export incomes from EU and middle-Eastern countries because the demand of vegetables is gradually increasing in the international market.
At the same time, the available air service can enhance the export income in the post virus pandemic period. Exporters of perishable goods now pay between US$4.0 and $4.5 for carrying a kilogram of vegetable from Dhaka to London, more than twice the freight of $1.5 and $1.7 in pre-pandemic period, said the industry insiders.
Due to higher cargo fare, the exporters are incurring loss to export the vegetable items. Exporters claimed that vegetable exporters from Bangladesh fear that they may lose the Middle Eastern market to Indian exporters due to lack of affordable air communication system. They said that Bangladesh’s air communications with all other countries had remained suspended for more than five months due to the coronavirus pandemic but cargo flights between India and the Middle East countries had almost continued in the period.
However, the exporters are still paying higher air fare which is hindering the export growth, said Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters Association general secretary Mohammad Monsur.
India is taking the opportunity to grab the vegetable export market as the Middle East is searching for alternative sources of the products, he observed.
He said that the government allowed vegetable exporters to make shipments to the Middle East through chartered flights, but the exporters would be able to export a very low quantity of products as a very few chartered flights carrying expatriate Bangladeshis were coming to the country.
Apart from this, the two-month long flood damaged more than 10,000 hectares of veggie fields in 37 districts this year. Besides, the water-logging in many districts is also affecting early winter crops farming.
Bangladesh exports more than 70 varieties of vegetables to 53 countries like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and UK, according to Bangladesh Fruit, Vegetable and Allied Products Exporters’ Association (BFVAPEA).
Vegetable exporters said that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates were the major destinations of Bangladeshi vegetables in the Middle East. The United Kingdom is also a key buyer of Bangladeshi vegetables.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau data, Bangladesh’s earnings from vegetable exports in July-September of the current financial Year 2020-21 stood at $26.35 million against the export target worth $54.19 million. In the first three months, the vegetables export was $70.51 million in the last fiscal 2019-20. Riding on EPB data, it may be said that the export declined by 51.37 percent from the target and 62.63 percent from the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
President of BFVAPEA SM Jahangir Hossain said, the Association has already urged the Biman Bangladesh Airlines for starting special air cargo service which could help boost the exports. He said the demand for Bangladeshi produces is high this year in the global market but we couldn’t fetch it amid higher air freight charges.