IT IS worrying that up to 30 per cent of mango produced in the country get wasted before reaching the market in the absence of proper storage and transport facilities. The call that growers and exporters put out at a discussion programme on Wednesday for building chilling and packaging centres in all districts known for producing mango, therefore, sounds justified. The Department of Agricultural Extension and non-governmental organisation Solidaridad organised the discussion which government horticulturists and researchers attended. A grower from Rajshahi said that he had produced 200 tonnes of mango in 2017 but could export only 26 tonnes. Most of the growers, as New Age reported on Thursday, keep waiting for exporters to arrive in time to buy it from them. But most of the times, exporters do not turn up. Growers also cannot sell mango in the domestic market as it becomes ripe and they do not have access to chilling centre for preserving their mango.
It has, unfortunately, become commonplace in recent years that growers incur losses when they have a bumper mango production. In the absence of a proper marketing mechanism for their produces, growers in general have to sell their produce at prices even less than their average production cost. Growers mostly are obliged to sell their mango to meet their day-to-day expenditure and repay the money that they have to borrow from others to meet the cost of production. A Solidaridad official assessed that Bangladesh’s mango had domestic and global markets worth about Tk 12,000 crore. the European Union imported from developing countries mango worth $737 million in 2016. But Bangladesh was compelled to stop exporting mango to EU markets in 2015 after it was found harmful to health for contamination in tests in the EU. In 2018, Bangladesh exported a little more than 220 tonnes, including 100 tonnes to EU markets. Bangladesh produced more than 22 lakh tonnes of mango in 2017. Incidents of contamination can easily be avoided by properly processing mango, but cold chain is crucial to mango export. The government also needs to embark on a commercial farming. But grower benefits are central to it.
The incumbents need to realise that although mango is a delicious fruit, it is perishable; and that there are no arrangements to store mango in villages. The cold storages that the country has are inadequate in number. The growers, therefore, have no others options but to sell their produce at a price much lower than the production cost. In order to save the growers, the incumbents need to build more cold storages and ensure uninterrupted power supply to them for preserving mango. To facilitate the consumption of mango, they also need to attach importance to establishing more agro-processing industries in their efforts to buttress the growers from crumbling, in addition to ensuring a proper marketing mechanism.
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