Bangladesh has been ranked among the top ten countries in the production of 22 agricultural products, including rice, lentils, potatoes, onions, tea, and various fruits.
Over the past decade, Bangladesh has made a fresh entrance into the top list of producers of some vegetable products, such as pumpkin, cauliflower, and others.
The rankings have been prepared on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of country-wise agricultural production statistics by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The report was updated in March, with the data of 2021.
Despite being the 94th largest country in terms of area, Bangladesh now holds the 14th position globally for production of primary crop commodities. China, India, and the United States acquired the top spots in the list. Bangladesh fared well in terms of agricultural production.
According to FAO data, the volume of agricultural produce in Bangladesh reached 93.3 million tonnes and its value amounted to USD 36.11 billion.
Agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque said, “Production of most of the crops is increasing in our country thanks to geographical location, (favorable) weather, and land. The government is also providing subsidies and emphasizing innovation of new varieties, extension and agricultural mechanization. These efforts have yielded positive results, placing us among the top ten global producers for various crops.”
However, the agriculture minister acknowledged that the insufficient storage facilities are leading to spoilage of potatoes, vegetables, and fruits. The authorities have undertaken a mega project to address the issues related to crop processing, storage and marketing.
FAO took 162 primary crop commodities into account and assessed their worldwide production volume. Bangladesh produces 68 types of crop commodities.
Bangladesh was among the top ten producers for 11 commodities in 2001 and it increased to 17 by 2011. Over the years, five other agricultural products were included to the list, such as onions, pumpkins, cauliflower and broccoli, bird feed (seeds), and other categories of beans. As a whole, Bangladesh held a top-ranking position in the production of 22 products in 2021.
Bangladesh did not claim the top spot for any specific product, but it secured the second position in the production of jute, betel nuts, and dry chilies. The country ranked third for rice, garlic, and other sugar crop categories and fourth for berries such as jaam, jujube, karamcha, Bengal currant, Burmese grape, and other aromatic spices.
Bangladesh stood at the sixth position for the production of lentils and tropical fruits (jackfruit, lychee, and others). It secured the seventh position for onion, potato, ginger, eggplant, bean seeds, and coconut coir. It ranked eighth for tea and pumpkin, ninth for mango, guava, cauliflower, broccoli, and beans and bird feed (seeds).
Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in potato production. It was previously ranked at 20th position and it has now climbed to the seventh position, surpassing countries like Canada, Turkey, and Poland. FAO revealed that Bangladesh produced 9.8 million tons of potatoes in 2021.
Bangladesh holds the second position in production of dried chili, following India. Bangladesh surpassed China and Thailand to secure the position.
Bangladesh held the fourth position in global rice production for over four decades. However, it moved to the third position in 2020, leaving behind Indonesia.
After independence, Bangladesh was among the top ten countries in terms of lentil production. However, it lagged behind in the following years. Now, it has advanced to the sixth position.
Saving in import cost
Bangladesh saw a decline in the cost of importing many products because of rise in production. Production of onion, for example, surpasses 2.5 million tonnes in 2021-2 fiscal, which is 45 per cent more than that of six year ago, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). Currently, Bangladesh ranks seventh in the production of onion and similar spices. According to the National Board of Revenue, about 1.2 million tonnes of onion were imported in the country in 2018. As production continues to rise, import of onion now stands at about 700,000 tonnes a year.
Decline in onion imports is saving foreign currency. But, the country has to spend a lot in importing soybean seeds, sugarcane and cotton due to low production domestically. According to Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh spent USD4.17 billion to import edible oil and sugar, and USD4.44 billion to import cotton in 2021-22 fiscal. The dollar crisis, however, is disrupting import of several products now.
Bangladesh also earned foreign currency from exporting agriculture and agro-processed products. According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), exports of jute and jute-processed products stand at USD1.13 billion in 2021-22 fiscal while exports of agriculture and agro-processed products including vegetables, dried foods and fragrant rice surpassed USD1.16 billion.
No scope for satisfaction
Jahangir Alam, professor of agribusiness and marketing department at Bangladesh Agricultural University, said like the overall economy in Bangladesh, agriculture is also undergoing a transformation. It is good news that Bangladesh ranked among the top ten agri product producers for many crops, with its limited land.
“But there is no scope for us to become complacent with this news. In terms of per capita consumption, we lag behind remarkably in terms of many crops, other than rice and potatoes,” he added.
Jahangir Alam further said the government’s five-year initiative should be implemented seriously. “If this initiative is implemented, we will be able to enter the top ten in terms of per capita consumption of many other crops. We have to keep our efforts on.”