Jashore farmers had been worrying at the sharp fall in cabbage price, but the recent initiative to export the winter vegetable to Singapore has brought smile to their faces.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), an export firm, ‘City Impex’, collected cabbage from the farmers recently and started exporting it to Singapore after processing.
The first consignment of 20,000 pieces of cabbage was exported to Singapore from the field of Shahbazpur in Sadar upazila last week.
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Jagoroni Chakra Foundation, a private organisation, named and Solidaridad Network Asia are working with the farmers, the DAE and the export farm through a project named ‘SaFaL project’ took the initiative to export vegetables.
‘Safe vegetables’ weighing 74,314 kgs, including bottle gourd, green papaya, snake gourd, pointed gourd, raw banana, bean and eggplants were exported to Europe and Middle Eastern countries from September to December under their initiative.
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A temporary processing zone was built along the Bhairab River where people are seen passing busy time in packaging the cabbage, scheduled to go to Singapore, in a tent.
During a recent visit, a UNB correspondent found the cabbage being taken to the tent from fields directly and then the workers were wrapping those in white newspaper and then keeping those in nylon bags.
Shamsul Alam, deputy director of Plant Quarantine Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension, inaugurated the export activities recently in presence of local DAE officials.
Shafiqur Rahman, an exporter, said, “The cabbage will be taken to Chattogram port by a covered van and then it will be shipped to Singapore. The shipment will take four to five days to reach Singapore. We’ve taken the initiative for the first time.”
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Usually, potatoes and dry food are exported to various countries from Bangladesh.
“If we can ensure the quality of our product and satisfy the customers, then it’ll be possible to export two consignments of cabbage in a week,” he said.
Mobin, a farmer in Shahbazpur, said, “I’ve brought seven bighas of land under cabbage cultivation. On the first day, I sold 3,000 pieces of cabbage from my land at Tk 8-9 per piece. We get Tk 5-7 from local market for per piece. We’re making profit and that’s important.”
Rezaul, another cabbage grower, said, “The cultivation process of the cabbage is different as only vermicompost and organic fertilizer is used for cultivation. Farmers use vermicompost for cabbage cultivation as it’s safe and poison free. I’ve cultivated 48,000 pieces of cabbage and managed to sell cabbage, worth Tk 5,000, on the first day.”
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Touhidul Islam, director of ‘SaFaL Project’ said, “We’ve created direct link between farmers and exporter so that farmers can make profit without any hassle of middlemen. The DAE is supervising the whole process.”
Badal Chandra Roy, a deputy director at DAE, Jashore, said, “Some 16,400 hectares of land have been brought under vegetable cultivation in Jashore and 75 hectares of land used for cabbage cultivation. Now the vegetables of Jashore are being exported after meeting the local demand.”
Vegetable production on the rise
Vegetable production marked a rise by 35.24 percent over the last five years (from2013-14 to 2017-18 FY) in Bangladesh.
According to officials at the (DAE), some 26,230,927 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year from 1,169,326 hectares of land, while 19,396,755 metric tonnes in 2013-2014 fiscal year from 9,68827 hectares.
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Additional 26,47,786 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year compared to 2016-17 FY. 19,984,334 metric tonnes produced in 2015-2016 fiscal year, while it was 21,041,406 metric tonnes in 2014-15FY, according to annual data of the department.
Besides, 7,30,991 metric tonnes root-crops/vegetables (excluding potatoes) were produced in 2017-2018 fiscal year against 5,72,946 metric tonnes in the previous year, the data revealed.