Leaders from the government, business and farming industry showed support for Solidaridad interventions during a fruit and vegetables workshop in June.
Jointly organized by the Solidaridad Network Asia, and the Bangladesh Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Ministry of Agriculture, and Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters Association (BFVAPEA), participants of the programme included a number of government officials, representatives from the private sector, agriculturists and representatives of the mango farming communities. In Bangladesh, Solidaridad developed business models through a multi-stakeholder initiative for an inclusive supply chain for the safe production of horticulture products, and market access for smallholders at the domestic and international level. In 2016, sustainably produced mango is now being exported to Italy, Spain, the UK and Germany with active support from the partners named above.
Moziball Hoque, supply chain and supermarket specialist for Solidaridad, briefed the audience in a presentation about the model for production and market promotion of safe and quality mango for domestic consumption and export chain development. Hoque further explained that the model developed through this intervention could be expanded and replicated for boosting local consumption and export on a much larger scale.
Speaking out in support of sustainability
Reactions gathered from the workshop participants indicate a strong willingness to collaborate in partnerships designed to support farmers in responsible sourcing and promotion of sustainable fruits and vegetables for the domestic and international markets.
- Secretary of the Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce and the chief guest of the programme, Hedayetullah Al Mamun, commended the Dutch embassy in Bangladesh for sponsoring this needed initiative and emphasized the importance of complying with standards for realizing the full export potential of Bangladeshi products. He mentioned that in order to tap into the global supply chain, we must uphold the interests of the smallholder farmers while ensuring rigorous quality control.
- Arjul Islam, a mango producer from Kolaroa, Satkhira attributed the success of this initiative to wholehearted support from Solidaridad, local partners and the DAE. He hoped that if the present trend continues, mangoes from Satkhira could emerge as a model for safe fruits supply to the domestic and international market.
- Representative from the exporter Islam Group, Zahirul Islam, added that all the consignments of mango they have exported so far have safely reached the markets of Italy, France and the UK.
- BFVAPEA President S. M. Jahangir Hossain commented that if proper support from the government could be ensured, the mango export could be extended to even 2,000 metric tons in the following year. Jahangir mentioned that there is enough demand in the export market, but we [Bangladeshi producers] fail to meet the demand because of the compliance issues. He urged Solidaridad to extend their activities to the vegetable sector to enhance food safety and boost export.
- President of the Bangladesh Supermarket Owners Association, Niaz Rahim, remarked that through inter-ministerial coordination and collaboration between the public and private sector, the potentials of the local market could be fully realized while improving the image of Bangladeshi products worldwide. Rahim mentioned that Agora started sourcing fruits and vegetable from Solidaridad’s SaFaL project because of safety and quality, and it reduces the sourcing cost from 35% to 20%. He urged businesses to support the farmers for sustainable production and consumption of safe food. That’s why a local foundation for a safe food supply chain should be developed for strengthening the export market.
- First secretary for Food Security at the Dutch embassy in Bangladesh, Laurent Umans, put emphasis on building value chains alongside supply chains because this will lead to greater and sustainable welfare for smallholder farmers. Umans urged for the development of an inclusive approach where market forces need to work for the poor. More dialogue and collaboration is needed for developing a sustainable food system. A long term perspective is vital for achieving this. He also urged for the inclusion of more women in value chains, commenting that gender discrimination undermines the potential development in all sectors.
- Director of the Plant Quarantine wing at the Bangladesh DAE, Soumen Saha, commented that by strictly following protocols like good agriculture practices and hazard analysis of critical control points, and incentivizing the smallholder farmers, the export potentials of Bangladeshi products could be optimized to the highest level.
- Director-General of the Indian DAE, Hamidur Rahman, remarked that in today’s highly globalized world, we need to utilize modern technologies and ensure the highest level of quality control in order to boost our export of agricultural commodities while incentivizing the farmers. He urged interested parties to strengthen post-harvest management and focus on value added services to help Bangladesh emerge as one of the leading exporter of food and allied products.
- Additional Secretary to the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture, Mosharraf Hossain, hoped that through public-private collaboration and by following scientific procedures for agriculture, the hidden potentials of Bangladeshi agricultural commodities could be fully realized. This would contribute to helping Bangladesh emerge as a mid-income economy by 2021.
- Country Manager for Solidaridad in Bangladesh, Selim Reza Hasan, thanked all concerned for their efforts and remarked that the platform which has been built through this initiative would contribute significantly to expand the business promotion of safe food supply chain at the national and international level. He mentioned that Bangladesh has every potential for expanding business growth of safe fruits and vegetables in order to increase its market share at the domestic and international levels. Public-private investment and support are needed to reduce post-harvest loss and to make the supply chain efficient which will address the interests of both the farmers and the consumers.
Solidaridad's Fruit & Vegetables Programme
The fruit and vegetables sector is one of the biggest and diverse economic sectors in the world and occupies more land than coffee, cocoa, sugar, and soy. Specifically, the fruit and vegetables sector can help the agriculture industries in developing nations stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty. Solidaridad's work in fruit and vegetables focuses on collaboration within and between all levels of the supply chain, with the farm at the centre. At the farm level we strive for innovation in production techniques, irrigation, and seed quality so farming practices can indefinitely support the environment, the dependent economies, and those who cultivate crops. We view sustainable agriculture as the foundation for sustainable communities.