Imports of fresh fruits dropped 50pc in the four months till August with the government tightening rules regarding the procurement of such non-essential items to ease pressure on depleting forex reserves.
The National Board of Revenue raised the regulatory duty on imports of various fresh fruits to 20pc from the earlier 3pc, while the Bangladesh Bank slapped a 100pc cash margin requirement for opening letters of credit for imports of such products.
As of April this year, fruit imports through Chattogram port were around 70,000 tonnes on average. In the wake of such restrictions, imports came down to 35,000 tonnes in the span of a month. The falling trend continued in the next two months and slumped to 21,571 tonnes in July, according to Chattogram customs.
In August, fruit imports marked a 55pc month-on-month rise to 33,454 tonnes, but the quantity still remained way lower than that in April.
Businesses say the overall import duty on fresh fruits has now increased to 113pc from a little over 89pc because of the 20pc regulatory duty imposed by the government in May this year.
Besides, they now have to make a full deposit before opening LCs for fresh fruit imports. Earlier, the margin ranged between 10pc and 20pc, they note.
That is why small and medium entrepreneurs have now stopped fruit imports as they are unable to maintain such a high cash margin.
Bangladesh imports various fresh fruits, such as apples, oranges, mandarin, grapes and pears mainly from China, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand, Afghanistan and France.
Importer Zinnat Ali, an owner of JM Trading, told, “I would import fruits worth Tk2 crore per month by making a 20pc deposit against LC opening. But the 100pc cash margin has made it impossible for small importers like me to continue with the imports.”
A drastic fall in fruit imports has affected retail sales. Billal Hossain, a retail fruit trader in Chattogram city’s Baluchara market, said prices of imported fruits have increased between Tk100 and Tk150 per kg in the last few months. At the consumer level, fruit sales have fallen by more than half.
In the span of five months, apple prices have shot up to Tk250 per kg from Tk180, malta to Tk220 per kg from Tk160 per kg, orange to Tk250 per kg from Tk200, grapes to Tk500 per kg from Tk300, he noted.
Jonaidul Haque, a fruit importer, said, “We used to import fruits worth Tk30 crore on average every month. We are now facing financial losses as our imports have dropped drastically in recent months.”
Touhidul Alam, general secretary of Falmondi fruit market traders’ association in Chattogram, said in normal times, Tk27 crore worth of fruits were sold in Chattogram per day, but sales have now halved.
Bangladesh to Establish Int. Laboratory for Agricultural Certification
Agriculture Secretary Wahida Akter announced plans to establish an international laboratory in Bangladesh to issue accredited certificates, supporting the roadmap for exporting agricultural products. The country is also developing a world-class packaging system and training around 200,000 farmers to produce commodities meeting global demands.
Expressing optimism, Akter anticipates Bangladesh’s capacity to export agricultural products to all countries within the next two years. She addressed these initiatives at a workshop titled “Export of Agro Products: Challenges and Way Forward” at the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council.
While acknowledging global praise for Bangladesh’s agricultural products, Akter stressed the need to enhance exports and reduce production costs. The Ministry of Agriculture has launched a dedicated export desk to expand the export of agricultural products.
Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Fisheries and Livestock Secretary Dr Nahid Rashid, and other officials discussed the challenges and opportunities for agricultural exports. Ghosh emphasized the importance of private sector investment in agri-processed industries and urged entrepreneurs to contribute to the agricultural sector’s growth.
In summary, Bangladesh is proactively taking steps to strengthen its position in the global agricultural market by focusing on certification, packaging, and training, with a vision to boost exports in the coming years.
Govt Approves Procurement of 90,000 Metric Tons of Fertilizer, 1.10cr Liters of Soybean Oil
During the 39th meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP), the government approved several crucial proposals. This includes the procurement of 90,000 metric tons of fertilizer and 1.10 crore liters of soybean oil, aiming to meet the rising demand in the country.
Two separate proposals were also given the green light for fixing the power tariff for two power plants. The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) will be responsible for procuring soybean oil from Green Nation Builders & Developers in India. Cabinet Division additional secretary, Sayeed Mahbub Khan, shared details on the approved power tariffs. This includes the 11 MW waste-based power plant in Brahmanbaria and the 100MW AC solar-based power plant in Sonagazi.
Furthermore, the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) received approval for the procurement of urea fertilizer. The BCIC will acquire consignments from Muntajat in Qatar, KAFCO in Bangladesh, and SABIC Agri Nutrients Company in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the CCGP meeting greenlit a road project involving the upgrading of the Aricha-Gheor-Doulatpur-Nagarpur-Tangail regional highway.
In a separate meeting, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs convened and approved the maintenance of the import agreement for non-urea fertilizer from six countries. These include Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Canada, Russia, and Belarus. The government will also initiate the procurement of non-urea fertilizer (TSP, DAP, MoP) from three more countries: China, Malaysia, and Jordan.
Vegetable Prices in Dhaka Markets Witness Significant Decline
The prices of most vegetables in various markets in the city are on a declining trend due to abundant supplies of early winter vegetables in the country over the past two weeks.
Prices of various vegetables, including beans, eggplants, radishes, cucurbits, yard-long beans, cauliflower, cabbage, papaya, okra, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, sweet gourd, and green chili, have seen a decrease of Tk 20-30 compared to their prices two weeks ago.
“Two weeks ago, vegetable prices reached a maximum of Tk 80-120 per kilogram in the city markets, but they have been significantly declining since then,” said Mohammad Shahadat Hossain, a vegetable retailer at Hazrat Shah Ali kitchen market, Mirpur-1.
“Vegetables like beans, eggplants, yard-long beans, and bitter gourds are now being sold at Tk 60-80 per kilogram, whereas they were Tk 80-120 two weeks ago,” said Md. Jewel, a retailer at Karwan Bazar, a hub for vegetables.
Retailer Taiyab expressed hope that vegetable prices would continue to decrease over the next two weeks, especially after a 100% arrival of vegetables in the city’s kitchen markets.
The prices of bundles of green leafy vegetables, including spinach, water spinach, and Malabar spinach, have also seen a 50% decrease compared to their previous prices.
However, the prices of newly-harvested potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots remain relatively high, ranging from Tk 120-140 per kilogram.
One resident, Mohammad Khalil, attributed the decline in vegetable prices to the sufficient supply of winter vegetables.
While prices are decreasing, advocate Mahmudul Hasan from Judge Court, Dhaka, suggested that the government should properly monitor prices, as they can vary from market to market.
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