Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in the agricultural sector over the past few years. The country’s fertile land, favourable climatic conditions and proper policy support by the government have created enormous opportunities for agri-business. With increasing demand for high-quality agricultural products in international markets, Bangladesh has great potential to boost its agri-export earnings. The country’s agri-food exports have been increasing in recent years, with over $1 billion worth of products exported to different international markets. As Bangladesh prepares to graduate from a least developed country to a middle-income country, there is a growing need to diversify its economy and find new sources of growth. Agriculture, as one of the country’s largest sectors, has great potential to contribute to this effort. However, there is still a lot of untapped potential in the sector, and if properly harnessed, it can be a game-changer for Bangladesh’s economy. It can help to earn foreign exchange, create employment opportunities, and increase farmers’ incomes.

Bangladesh has a strong comparative advantage in the production of many agricultural products, including rice, jute, tea, and shrimp. By increasing exports of these and value added other products, the country can build a more diversified and resilient economy. Identifying the challenges of agri-export is crucial to overcome them and achieve its goal of boosting agri-exports. Bangladesh has started addressing these challenges with concerted efforts from the government, private sector, and development partners to improve infrastructure, increase productivity, and ensure compliance with international quality standards. Investment in modernising its SPS infrastructure and building the technical capacity of its regulatory agencies like Plant Quarantine wing and Plant Protection Wing of the Dept of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is very important. Initiatives have already been taken to expand modern testing facilities, enhanced information sharing with importers to help ease the burden of compliance for exporters. The government has initiated several projects to introduce advanced technology in various stages of agri-production, storage, and processing. Projects have been taken to improve the quality of agricultural products. Implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) is in place. Plant Quarantine Wing of DAE is working with USDA for the implementation of a traceability system to track the entire supply chain of agricultural products. The system enables exporters to provide detailed information about the origin of the products, the methods of cultivation and processing, and the storage conditions. This will help to ensure that products meet the necessary quality and safety standards.

Now, we have to think about establishment of integrated cold storage system and investment in developing the required infrastructure to preserve the quality of perishable agricultural products during transportation. This can involve setting up refrigerated trucks and storage facilities as well as establishing cold chain logistics systems to ensure the smooth transportation of products from farm to market. Marketing and branding strategies should be modernised to promote agricultural products in international markets. This can involve investing in market research to identify target markets, developing promotional materials that highlight the unique qualities of Bangladeshi agricultural products, and participating in international trade shows and exhibitions.

Country branding is a crucial aspect of promoting a nation’s identity and image to the world, and it can have a significant impact on the export of agricultural products. We all know that branding is an effective tool to market a country’s products and services globally, and it creates a positive perception of a country in the minds of the consumers. Bangladesh needs to develop a brand strategy that can clearly articulate its unique selling proposition. The strategy should include an appropriate brand message, logo, and marketing campaigns that can bring to light the strengths and competitive advantages of Bangladesh’s agro-products. Public bodies can collaborate with industry leaders and experts in the agro-trade sector to develop a comprehensive branding strategy. Thailand’s efforts to create a country brand for agri export have been focused on promoting its products, improving  quality, and engaging with other countries and international organisations. These efforts have helped Thailand become a major player in the global agri-export market and can serve as a model for other countries looking to build their country brand for agri-export.

Australia has also successfully created a strong country brand for agri-export through a combination of factors such as product quality, safety, reliability, and sustainability. They have invested in marketing and advertising campaigns to promote agricultural products, such as the “True Aussie” campaign, which highlights the country’s high-quality produce and livestock. The campaign has been successful in positioning Australian agriculture as a premium, trustworthy, and sustainable brand in international markets. They have also established trade agreements with various countries to reduce trade barriers and improve market access for its agricultural products. These agreements have helped to improve the country’s competitiveness in international markets and enhance the recognition of its brand.

Bangladesh can learn from Thailand’s and Australia’s approach and develop a similar strategy to build a strong country brand for its agricultural products in international markets. Agri-exporters face several challenges in exporting  agricultural products, particularly in meeting sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements. SPS measures are designed to protect human, animal, and plant health by preventing the introduction and spread of pests and diseases. While necessary to ensure food safety, these measures can also pose significant barriers to trade, particularly for developing countries like Bangladesh that may lack the necessary infrastructure and resources to comply with complex SPS requirements. For example, many countries require products to be free from specific pests and diseases that may not be prevalent in Bangladesh. In those cases, exporters may have to invest in costly pest control measures or obtain additional certifications to meet these requirements. It is necessary to strengthen  regulatory framework and surveillance system to ensure compliance with SPS measures and implementation of phytosaniatry guidelines, protocols to meet international standards. Producers must be made aware of the harmful effects of excessive pesticides use and the importance of adhering to the recommended usage guidelines. The existing initiatives of the government to reduce the use pesticides needs to be refocused because it is a growing concern for non-compliance in export.

The European Union (EU) is one of the largest markets for agricultural products in the world. Compliance with EU standards and regulations remains a major challenge, with many exporters facing barriers to entry and struggling to meet the requirements of the EU market. A comprehensive plan for reducing noncompliance and improving access to the EU market for agro products will require a coordinated effort from government, industry, and civil society. By working together to address the root causes of noncompliance and develop practical solutions, exporters can increase their competitiveness and access new markets, while also ensuring that their products meet the highest standards of quality, safety, and sustainability. The country has an abundant supply of raw materials, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, grains, and fish, which can be processed into high-value products for export. One of the most promising areas for export is the processed food sector. Processed food products such as jams, pickles, sauces, chutneys, and canned fruits and vegetables have a high demand in international markets due to their convenience, longer shelf life, and unique flavors.

The use of advanced processing techniques and modern packaging methods can help ensure that these products maintain their quality and freshness during transportation. Bangladesh has great potential for exporting a variety of dry and processed food products, including processed foods, dry foods, and seafood. By investing in infrastructure, quality control measures, and compliance with international standards, Bangladesh can tap into these markets and increase its export earnings. This will not only benefit the country’s economy but also provide new opportunities for farmers, processors, and exporters to contribute to the development of the agriculture sector. To overcome the upcoming challenges for market access, international cooperation is essential for enhancing agricultural exports for Bangladesh. This requires engagement with international organisations, markets, and partners to improve compliance with standards and regulations, improve market access, and introduce new technologies and knowledge. By working together, Bangladesh can continue to develop its agricultural sector and become a competitive player in the global marketplace.

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