The country’s import of fruit saw a 70 percent rise over the last eight years as the fruit consumption has become a part of daily diet for many people.
With a 70 percent rise in import of fruits is attributed to people’s rising awareness about nutrition, affordability and development of transport system as well.
According to official records, import of fresh and dried fruits increased over the past eight years by 2.5 lakh tons from 3.6 lakh tons in 2009-10.
The financial year 2016-17 witnessed the highest amount of fruit import – 6.12 lakh tons, which include, among others, apple, orange, grapes, dates, malta, almond, tamarind, pear.
The first four months of the current fiscal (2017-18) saw 1.55 lakh tons of fruits coming into the country from different countries of the world with apple sitting on top of the import volume.
Professor Dr Md Iqbal Rouf Mamun, member of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) told newsmen that the demand of local and imported fruits is increasing day by day.
As the imported fruits come from European and other developed countries, there is an assurance that the exporters are exporting those maintaining proper tests, he added.
Mentioning that safe food products can bring better future for the country and the nation, he said that as there is only one sea port through which all fruits are being imported, it is not always possible to test the food products’ standard properly.
According to official record, local fruits meet 35 percent of demand while the rest of the 65 percent demand is fulfilled by the fruits imported from Saudi Arabia, Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia.
Agriculturalist Dr Md Jahangir Alam said people in Bangladesh are still having less than required daily intake of fruits as supply is not sufficient to meet up the full demand. He is, however, hopeful that people of will put in more efforts in growing more fruits in the country.
Serajul Islam, General Secretary of Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association told newsmen that fruit importers pay one of the highest amounts of import tax at Chittagong Sea Port.
Grapes importers pay the highest tax rate with 70.7 per cent for per kilogram red grapes and 59.5 per cent for the green ones, while the tax rate of one kilogram apple is 37.20 per cent and of one kilogram malta is 29.80 per cent, he added.
The association has been urging the authority to cut down fruit import tax considering public health and demand, but the authority is not taking any measurement for this, alleged the general secretary.
Fruit traders suggested slapping higher taxes on import of fruits, which are and can be grown in Bangladesh, to encourage the local production and to reduce the tax on import of fruits, which are not grown in the country.