Bangladesh has resumed exporting betel leaf to European Union (EU) countries, a ban on it lifted after six and a-half years.
In the first shipment, one ton of betel leaf was exported to the EU on Wednesday.
The EU imposed a ban on betel leaf imports from Bangladesh in 2014, finding Salmonella bacterial infection. The ban remained in effect until 2020.
Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzaque inaugurated the "Safe and Quality Beverage Export to Europe" programme at the Central Packing House in Shyampur of the capital city on Wednesday.
At the programme, he said his ministry will continue its initiatives so that future export of betel leaves is not hampered.
The minister said there is a lot of potential for export of agricultural products. Efforts are underway to tap that potential and increase exports of other agricultural products to developed countries, including Europe.
Md Abdur Razzaque said work has already begun to adopt good agricultural policies and practices in the country. Organic vegetables are being produced, integrating pest management and accredited laboratories have started providing certificates.
Work is also underway to set up a vacuum heat treatment plant. Agricultural products will play a major role in boosting the country's exports and earn a lot of foreign exchange for Bangladesh, said the Agriculture Minister.
The EU imposes certain criteria on the import of betel leaves from Bangladesh. The conditions include that betel leaves must be free of Salmonella bacteria, there must be Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), and Good Hygienic Practices (GHPs), from production to shipment. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) must be followed and Salmonella free certificates must come from international standard accredited labs.
On 15 April, the EU lifted the ban on the export of betel leaves as Bangladesh was able to meet the criteria set by it.
Prior to the ban, 18,780 tons of betel leaves were exported in 2012-13, and 13,250 tons in 2013-14, worth about $38 million and $30 million respectively.