Nagpur: Orange growers and exporters want a tit-for-tat action from government of India by hiking duties on imports from Bangladesh, which has increased import duty from Rs20 per kg three years ago to Rs65 this year on the citrus fruit.
Not only import duty hike, but banks in Bangladesh are also not issuing letter of credit (LC). The farm produce is sent against LC through Indian clearing and forwarding agents (C&F) and it is channelized through their agents in Bangladesh.
“Nearly 90% of the orange crop is exported to Bangladesh from Warud. Other towns like Morshi and Achalpur in Amravati and Pandhurna and Saunsar in MP also contribute. Last year, at least 200 truckloads of oranges were exported daily to the neighbouring country which has been confined to 15-20 truckloads this year. Not only oranges, even export of grapes, apples and pomegranates are also facing problem,” says Ramesh Jichkar, CEO of Shramjivi Nagpuri Santra Producers’ Company Limited, Warud.
Vidarbha is leader in orange production. Over 1.26 lakh hectares area in Maharashtra is under orange orchards. Of this, 78,000 hectares is in Amravati district alone and Warud and Morshi tehsils account for 43,000 hectares.
“Due to non-issuance of LC by Bangladesh banks followed by skyrocketing import duty, exporters are being forced to sell their produce at a lower price suffering heavy losses. Many orange-laden trucks are being diverted to other cities after reaching Kolkata as LC is not available,” said Sonu Khan, president, Indo-Bangla Orange Association (IBOA).
In a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari and other ministries concerned, the IBOA has alleged that banks in Bangladesh are not supportive of opening LC accounts and have raised the value of it by 2000% making the export situation worse for the Indian farmers. Due to this, other countries are benefitting.
Khan says, “The statistics speak for themselves. In 2020-21, over 1.41 lakh MT of oranges were exported to Bangladesh from India. In 2021-22, the exports came down to 1.03 lakh MT. This year, we expect only 30% of exports compared to last year. Bangladesh is continuously increasing import duty to discourage fruit exports from India.”
The IBOA office-bearers said Bangladesh has tightened the LC rules. In July this year, the country’s central bank announced new letter of credit (LC) requirements for local banks, amid rising concerns over the impact of inflating import costs on foreign exchange reserves. Bangladeshi financial institutions have imposed certain restrictions on opening LCs for import transactions.
Jichkar demanded that the Indian government should retaliate by increasing duty on hosiery and other products exported by Bangladesh if it doesn’t give LCs and reduce import duty on oranges.
BITTER ORANGE
* Bangladesh is biggest importer of oranges from India
* Import duty has been increased to Rs65 a kg from earlier Rs20
* Similar is the fate of other fruits like apples, grapes, and pomegranates
* This has been done to discourage exports from India
* Over 70% of the crop is exported from Warud, Morshi, and Pandhurna to Bangladesh
* Bangladeshi banks are refusing to give LC forcing exporters to sell fruits at losses

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