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Pineapple, aloe vera make it to export list
Locally grown pineapples and aloe vera are exported abroad in processed form, ushering hopes that farmers would not suffer losses for production gluts, said three persons familiar with the matter.
Two companies, Taiwan Food & Processing Industries Ltd and Pran, have been exporting sliced pineapples and processed aloe vera for the past couple of years.
“We have been exporting pineapple juice for many years. And over the last three to four years, we have been exporting sliced pineapples,” said Md Mizanur Rahman, chief operating officer (export) at Pran Group.
“The global market for sliced pineapples is quite big and there is scope to work on it,” added the official of one of the biggest food processors.
“We see very good prospects for aloe vera. We will export aloe vera juice to Europe,” he said, citing the signing of a contract last month with a Netherlands-based chain shop, Engel Foreign Food.
Meanwhile, Taiwan Food & Processing has been shipping pineapples abroad, particularly to Taiwan and China, following processing at its Bhaluka plant which was established in 2014.
The company mainly exports pineapple “tidbits” and processed aloe vera, said one of its officials seeking to remain unnamed for not being authorised to talk to the press.
The official said farmers in the producing regions now take better care of their pineapple farms and aloe vera after it started buying from them.
Pineapple cultivation has been rising in Bangladesh with 2.11 lakh tonnes being produced in fiscal 2016-17, up from 2 lakh tonnes the year before, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Export earnings from preserved pineapple, however, slumped 69 percent to $1.82 lakh in fiscal 2017-18 from $6.08 lakh a year ago, according to Export Promotion Bureau.
The official of Taiwan Food & Processing said export of processed pineapple declined for a fall in the fruit's prices in the global market. He said supply of pineapple was adequate but the country lagged behind in aloe vera production.
“We see huge demand for aloe vera. But its supply is limited as the plant is grown in certain villages in Natore,” he said, adding, “We are planning to go for contract farming.”
The official said though production of aloe vera has increased, it was inadequate to meet requirement for both domestic and export markets.
Government initiatives are needed to increase production of aloe vera and to provide training to growers on production practices, he said.
Mitul Kumar Saha, assistant general manager for supply & value chain, marketing of Hortex Foundation, said the state-sponsored organisation provided support to Taiwan Food & Processing to develop market linkages between farmers and processors.
Hortex also worked to ensure that canned pineapple and aloe vera once exported become eligible for a 20 percent cash incentive, he said, adding that some local companies were planning to ship fresh pineapples.