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India: Closure of Bangladesh market worries mango growers

Mango hotspot Malda is expecting exceptionally high level of production this year. But the delight comes riding a major worry for post harvest stage as export option to Bangladesh is practically closed now.

West Bengal's Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia, all these three districts put together is considered as the largest mango producing belt in eastern India. "Against average annual yield of 6 to 7 lakh metric ton(MT), the figure may cross 10 lakh MT this year making it a record for last one decade," said S Misra, President, Malda Mango Merchants Association. "But, lack of available consumption avenue of this heavy yield is making us worried," he added.

According to a case study prepared by CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics & Environment, Bangladesh consumes almost 60 percent of the mango produced in Malda. Few varieties of that always remain in high demand in Bangladesh. "But this option is almost closed now. There is a heavy import duty of BDT 36/kg (Eqv. Around INR 29/kg) on import of mango from India. This pushes up the final cost of Indian mango to an unacceptable level in Bangladesh market. Naturally, no Bangladesh importer is interested to buy from us," said U Saha, Secretary, West Bengal Exporters Coordination committee.

But, "WB produces around 5% of total Indian mango yield which is over 50% of global production. Against this, India enjoys only 1% of global mango export market. Streamlined and smooth export to Bangladesh can significantly brighten this picture," said market experts.

While talking to ET on this, senior officials from Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) said, "The issue deserves a deep initiative. West Bengal State Government may approach Delhi to take up the issue with Bangladesh at diplomatic level to find out some direction that can ensure benefits for Indian and Bangladesh both."

However, "Without any export to Bangladesh, we are bound to have over 4 lakh ton surplus after local consumption. Without any major organized processing facility nearby, the local unorganized processing sector alone can consume maximum 15% of that. We do not yet know how to save the remaining volume," said Mr. Misra.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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