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Bangladesh: Study on strawberry export potential soonMonday, March 16, 2015 > 11:32:51
(The Financial Express)
By Yasir Wardad
Strawberry, farming of which began in the country, on non-commercial purposes, has the potential to be added to the export basket, according to sector insiders.
Farming of the juicy fruit, popular in different parts of the globe, has been gaining momentum in the Rangpur and Rajshahi region and other areas of in the country because of its easier cultivation process, lower land requirement and maintaining better profit margin, said sector insiders.
Businesses are now eyeing export the fruit, which will be added as a new product to the export basket.
Five or six years back, imported strawberry (all imported variety) were available only at the selected fruit shops in the city's Baitul Mokarram, Newmarket, Gulshan, Banani or Dhanmondi areas in the city and prices were so high, only the rich could effort.
Now, the western juicy fruit is being sold at almost every fruit shop or even by the vegetable vendors in the cities as local farmers-gardeners are producing a huge quantity.
Md Anisul Islam, a vegetable vendor at Nowabganjbazar in the city, told the FE that he had no idea about the fruit two years back.
"I'm selling it besides other vegetables like pointed gourd, brinjal etc," he said.
However, local strawberry is now selling at Tk80 to 250 per kg based on the quality in the city kitchen markets and fruit shops.
Md Arman, manager at City Fruits and Juice Bar, at Purana Paltan area in the city, told the FE that they have added strawberry juice to their menu following availability of local good quality strawberry at cheaper price.
"One can enjoy 375 ml juice at Tk100," he said.
However, strawberry farming in Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions in the country has made the fruit available to the consumers.
Deputy director at the horticulture wing under the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Md Rafiqul Hasan told the FE that strawberry farming was expanded to more than 2,000 hectares of land in 2014, which was less than 100 hectares six years back.
Rajshahi, Pabna, Bogra, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Jessore and Kustia agricultural regions are supplying the major share, he said.
Assistant General Manger (Marketing) at the state-run Hortex Foundation, Mr Mitul K. Saha told the FE that the country's annual production of strawberry reached 30,000 tonnes.
The country has the potential to produce more than 0.2 million tonnes if at least 12,000-13,000 hectares of land could be brought under farming, he said.
Mr Mitul said his foundation is going to conduct feasibility study on strawberry export as the fruit has a great demand in the Middle-East, the EU, Canada and the US.
Bangladesh Agro Products Producers and Manufactures Association director Mohd Ishaqul Hossain Sweet said that strawberry of normal variety can be sold at $4,000-$4,500 per tonne in the global market.
"But Bangladesh has the potential to produce organic strawberry, which could be sold at more than four times than that of normal ones," he said.
Prof Md Rafiul Islam (Phd), a botany teacher at Rajshahi University and President of Bangladesh Strawberry Association (BSA), told the FE that strawberry is easier to cultivate as potatoes or eggplants.
"Saplings can be planted in rows during the period between November and December every year. The plants start flowering within one month of plantation, and fruits can be collected till March," he said.
Mr Islam said per plant of Bangladeshi strawberry bears up to 300 grams of fruit.
He said a farmer can make Tk0.25 to Tk0.3 million profits from a hectare of land where 1.3 tonnes to 1.5 tonnes of fruits can be harvested per year.
The USA, China, Turkey, Mexico, Spain are the biggest strawberry producers in the world.
China and the USA produce annually 1.5 million tonnes and 1.31 million tonnes of strawberry respectively.