Bangladesh has started exporting fruits using reefer containers for the first time in the country’s history. Earlier, only potatoes were exported by seaways packed into containers. Usually, vegetables and fruits like mango are exported by air.
On 17 March, watermelon and tomato were exported to Malaysia in a short sea sailing for seven to 10 days.
Abdul Kaium, owner of the exporter Sattar International, said 13.32 tonnes of watermelon and 700 tonnes of tomato were shipped in a container to Malaysia. From watermelon alone, the exporter will fetch US$4,000 in this shipment.
He noted that a significant volume of watermelon is being produced in Bangladesh and if the waterway shipment of watermelon is found to be successful, the country will be able to earn huge amounts of foreign currency by exporting fruits like watermelon, lychee, banana and jackfruit, which are being produced in Bangladesh plenty.
“Our target is to earn foreign currency by sending non-traditional export items,” pointed out Kaium.
The last time that watermelon was exported by air was in 2014. Since then, no watermelon was exported from Bangladesh in the last eight years.
Nasir Ahmed Khan, director of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BFFA), said the country has prospects to earn a good amount of foreign currency by exporting fruits. But, he noted that as fruits are perishable items, sending them by ship is risky, even if they are carried into refrigerated containers.
“From Bangladesh, fruits can be sent by waterways to nearest countries like the Middle Eastern states, Malaysia, Singapore and other South Asian counties,” he noted. “A seven to 10 days short sea shipment of fruits is suitable,” said Khan adding that, otherwise, there is a possibility for the fruits inside to become rotten.