It is extremely encouraging to learn that we are exploring avenues to cultivate coffee in Sylhet, which could, if we take the right steps, become an extremely valuable export item for Bangladesh.
With Sylhet long being held in high regard for its tea gardens, it seemed almost a given that it would also facilitate growing coffee, given the climate of the whole country is favourable for growing coffee.
Moreover, in addition to it being a potential export product, the demand for coffee in Bangladesh continues to rise every year; currently, more than 90% of the demand is being met through imports, which makes the exploration of coffee cultivation in the country exciting as far as meeting local demand as well.
Indeed, the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) deserves credit here for recognizing the potential here, and facilitating the right environment for the authorities to work with suitable researchers to establish coffee farms.
The challenge for Bangladesh now is for these small-scale private farms and initiatives, which also exist in pockets in other districts, to scale up and expand, so as to become a viable product for Bangladesh to meet local demands and be able to export.
To that end, news that the authorities were working to spread coffee farming under a project initiated by the Agriculture Ministry to popularize the cultivation of coffee and cashew nuts around the country is indeed welcome news, displaying a pro-active approach to these potential cash crops for the nation.
Bangladesh is set to become a middle-income economy very soon and in order to keep pace and fulfil our potential, we must remain pro-active and continue exploring new avenues.