Bangladesh has received its first consignment of fruits and other horticulture products from the northeast part of India amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown in both countries to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier on April 22-23 (Wednesday-Thursday), 30.02 metric tonnes of grapes, 12.006 metric tonnes of pomegranates, 6.004 metric tonnes of oranges and 36.023 metric tonnes of ginger were exported by India, via the Sutarkandi land customs station (LCS) in Karimganj district, Times of India reported.
This comes at a time when all exports from the northeast India through air cargo, primarily to the Middle East, have come to a halt owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The export of over 84 metric tonnes of fruits and ginger to Bangladesh comes as a ray of hope for exporters in Karimganj.
Karimganj Fresh Fruits, Spices Exporter and Importer Association's chief adviser Jamiruddin said that the resumption of trade was crucial as their stock has started to rot.
"We are expecting that our remaining stock of 220 metric tonnes of fruits and other horticultural produces will be sent to Bangladesh within a week. 80% of our stock is still in good condition. We are facing a lot of delay in exporting the produces as sanitizing all vehicles before transport takes a lot of time," he added.
Sunita Rai, assistant general manager of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), told TOI on Friday, "We have been calling up exporters during the lockdown to pin down difficulties faced by them and interventions required. Initially, they informed us that they would export only after the shutdown. However, when it was further extended till May 3, the Karimganj exporters' association approached us for seeking permission from the deputy commissioner (DC) of the district to allow movement for agro products.
"Upon receiving the DC's nod, exports have resumed to Bangladesh through Sutrakandi from April 22. However, all precautionary measures are taken to prevent the spread of the virus," she added.
However, APEDA officials said that the agency is urging the government to reopen export routes through Ragna Bazar LCS and Manu LCS in Tripura.
Speaking on measures that APEDA is taking to help out exporters in these times of crisis, Rai said, "If required, a special freighter can be arranged by APEDA for the exporters. Besides this, the association is arranging permissions or requisite passes for the exporters, ensuring movement of the produces and holding meetings with airliners on regular basis."