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Bangladesh to focus on food industry to diversify export base

Hasina said the country has made huge success in agricultural production and that should be leveraged in the export sector

Apr 22, 2022
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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (File)

Bangladesh will focus on boosting its food exports by developing the food processing industry, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, in a bid to diversify its export base which relies heavily on the garment sector.

Once mocked as a “bottomless basket”, Bangladesh has made tremendous strides in the agricultural sector in the last two decades, becoming self-sufficient in food production last year. Now when the world is facing disruption in the food supply chain, mainly because of the Ukraine war, Dhaka sees it as an opportunity.

The government is paying special attention to the development of the agro-products and food processing industry, said Hasina, under whose leadership Bangladesh has made remarkable economic progress in the last decade, averaging annual GDP growth of over 6 percent in the last decade.  

Hasina said the country has made huge success in agricultural production and that should be leveraged in the export sector.

Despite a robust increase in its exports, the country remains heavily reliant on its Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector, accounting for almost 83 percent of its total exports. Over 5000 RMG factories, employing around 4 million people, have greatly helped the country reduce its poverty, and enhance its socio-economic indicators.

However, continued reliance on the RMG sector may prove counterproductive, mainly because of the technological shift that demands automation for factories to remain competitive in the global market. 

Furthermore, Bangladesh is also facing tough competition from countries like India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Turkey.

The country’s agriculture sector and food processing industry are among many sectors that could help it not only diversify its export base but also create jobs for its huge adult population.  

The World Bank in a report noted that over 20 million people will enter the country’s labor force in the next decade and the job growth in the RMG sector has already stagnated. This requires the authorities to explore other sectors and develop those in order to diversify its export base.

(SAM) 

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