Frozen food sector target not fulfilled

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shrimp-300The country’s frozen food sector, which is contributing a lot to earn foreign currencies, has experienced a shortfall in meeting revenue earning target during the first two months of the current fiscal year.

After a robust growth in revenue earning during last fiscal year (2013-2014), the industry is now passing through a critical time as the sector is yet to raise productivity due to absence of scientific cultivation methods, industry insiders said.

To overcome the stalemate, the government should encourage and provide support on adaptation of scientific cultivation methods instead of traditional farming system, they suggested.

Stakeholders of the sector said that application of scientific methods, especially for farming shrimps which holds more than 80 percent share of frozen food sector, is necessary.

According to sources, this sector has witnessed a 1.97 percent shortfall in earning foreign currencies during the first two months (July and August) of the current fiscal against its given target.

Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data said during the two months of the current fiscal year, the sector was set to earn foreign currencies worth $122.20 million by exporting frozen foods. But it fetched only $117.96 million, which indicates 1.97 percent shortage over the target.

During the fiscal year 2013-2014, the sector was set to bring $578.77 million, but it earned $638.19 million, marking a 10.27 percent growth over the target.

Md Amin Ullah, President of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA), said the sector has a huge potential to earn foreign currencies and contribute to the country’s economy.

The government should patronise scientific cultivation methods instead of traditional shrimp farming system, he said, adding that BFFEA has already conducted a pilot study over the scientific method of shrimp farming and found its potential.

Sources said BFFEA in its own effort conducted two separate pilot projects on 10 acres of land at Khuruspur in Cox’s Bazaar Sadar Upazila applying the two methods which hinted at the prospect of large-scale production of shrimps.

BFFEA sources said farming black tiger species of shrimp, the mostly cultured species of the country, under semi-intensive shrimp cultural system has made a production of around 4.5 tonnes while the improved extensive farming system produced 1.5 tonnes of shrimp.

Amin Ullah said such methods will help the sector which employs around 5 lakh people directly.

Frozen food exporters and experts also suggest introduction of soft loans for shrimp farmers, application of scientific technology in farming to increase production and taking initiatives to rehabilitate the sick processing plants.

They also advised introduction of loan for exporters at single digit interest rate and market promotion across the globe.

Mentionable, Bangladesh Bank recently announced 5.0 percent cash incentive for export of frozen fish. The bank issued the circular in line with the government’s decision of giving 5 percent incentive against all shipments of frozen fish which will be made during the period between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

The Daily Sun

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