Dr. F H Ansarey:The total vegetable export from Bangladesh was USD118.73 million in FY20-21 (Source: Export Promotion Bureau). The major destinations of these exports are UAE, Malaysia, UK and Qatar where large number of NRB and migrant workers reside.
Shifting from these traditional or ethnic markets to mainstream markets is crucial for further growth of our country’s vegetable export segment. With the help of modern technology and practices like Protected Farming, our farmers can produce vegetables that are suitable for export to the mainstream markets. Apart from the added export potentials, these vegetables can also cater the changing food habit of our ever growing middle-class domestic consumers (currently 25% of total population, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics) through the increasing number of super shop outlets and other delivery channels.
Protected Agriculture (PA) is an agricultural practice that involves modification of environment for higher yield, better quality or an extended season of a crop. Here temperature, rainfall, humidity, light, and wind are some of the environmental factors that are modified. It can help to reduce losses due to insects, excessive fertilizers, pesticides and irrigations, and poor farm maintenance. Most importantly, it can be used for highly profitable off-season cultivation. So, virus-free cultivation of Tomato, Chili, Sweet pepper, Cucumber, Strawberry, Potato and other vegetables mainly during the rainy season is now possible. Moreover, many expensive foreign flowers and fodder can be produced in the protected house which reduces import requirements and promotes export.
On the other hand, Protected Farming can ensure safe and healthy food as the environmental factors as well as inputs are highly controlled and standardized for these practices. Finally, Protected Agriculture or Farming offers great economic possibilities. For instance, our farmers are getting benefit of BDT 401 by spending BDT 281 in floating seedling cultivation. Apart from the economic potentials, it can help us to tackle challenges like climate change, and rise of water levels and salinity of the soil in many regions across Bangladesh.
-Writer: President, ACI Agribusinesses Division