Bangladeshi lychee passes France lab test

Lychee exported from the country’s Dinajpur to France has passed all the lab tests required for exporting agricultural products to the European Union (EU) member countries.

Commerce ministry officials said a shipment of 300kg (16,000 pieces) of lychee was sent from Dinajpur to Paris, France on a trial basis on 8 June. The lychees were sold in different cities across France including Paris as they met the sanitary and phytosanitary standards and other conditions of the EU.

French importer SUS Primesia has expressed interest in importing more lychee from Dinajpur and ordered 25,000 more pieces of the fruit in the second shipment, said sources.

Officials of the commerce ministry, Dinajpur district administration, and Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters’ Association said the lychee consignment that passed the lab tests in France would create an opportunity to increase the exports of agricultural products from the country and diversify its export basket.

Despite getting duty-free facilities for exporting all goods except arms to the EU member countries, Bangladesh has been mainly exporting ready-made garments along with only a small number of other products as it has not been able to ensure compliance and product quality.

Even processed agri-foods from Bangladesh often fail to pass Europe’s rigorous laboratory tests. The EU has also banned Bangladesh’s export of various types of agricultural products and processed food due to the presence of harmful ingredients in the products.

Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh told The Business Standard that the ministry has always been giving utmost importance in diversifying export products and increasing export of agricultural products.

Md Mizanur Rahman, the commercial councillor of Bangladesh appointed in France, took the initiative to export lychee from Dinajpur to that country. He engaged the importing company SUS Primesia to import lychee from Bangladesh. Dinajpur Deputy Commissioner Shakil Ahmed took necessary measures including involving the Department of Agricultural Extension and other stakeholders in implementing the initiative.

In a letter to the commerce secretary and agriculture secretary on 10 June, Md Mizanur Rahman said, “The major hurdles in exporting lychees are getting the fruits to the airport as soon as possible after harvest to prevent them from perishing, and arranging proper packaging for long haul transportation. The deputy commissioner sent the trial consignment to Dhaka under special arrangements. For the later shipments, the district administration can take necessary initiatives to ensure proper and cost-effective transportation for regular exports.”

He also said the Department of Agricultural Extension can provide technical advice on post-harvest management and cost-effective packaging to prevent rotting and discoloration of lychee during transportation.

Dinajpur Deputy Commissioner Shakil Ahmed told TBS, “The district administration will continue efforts to export any product from Dinajpur, including lychee.”

Monjurul Islam, advisor to the Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters’ Association, told TBS that this year Bangladesh has exported about 75 tonnes of lychee to different countries. The export volume can reach 150 tonnes by the end of the season.

According to the Department of Agriculture Extension, the country produced around 2.10 lakh tonnes of lychee in FY21, while it produced around 1.81 lakh tonnes in FY16.

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