The country's first-ever quality control (QC) lab will help to boost exports of animal products as well as ensure standards of animal protein for domestic consumers, hopes the government.
The fisheries and livestock ministry has set up the lab at Dhaka's Savar to ensure the quality of locally produced animal protein and products, including: fish, meat, egg, and milk. The lab will also test the quality of imported animal products and feed.
Officials of the ministry said meat exports have already started on a small scale. Various other products, including yoghurt, roshmalai and cheese, and by-products – such as cow omasum, bully sticks, ear, tail, and intestines – are also being exported.
It is possible to earn a huge amount of foreign exchange if these products can be exported after meeting the importing countries' demand and ensuring the international standard, they also said.
The fisheries and livestock ministry sought views from various ministries on Sunday about a draft policy prepared for the operation of the lab built with Tk106 crore.
Meanwhile, the commerce ministry has also taken an initiative to issue health certificates and halal certificates to increase the export of animal products.
For this reason, the ministry is thinking of setting up a laboratory of international standard, Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin told The Business Standard recently.
There is great potential for exports of various animal products – including fish, meat and eggs – to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. For this, it is necessary to certify their quality according to the demand of the importing countries. The government is working on these issues, the secretary said.
The lab was launched in August with a fish feed test. The feed was exported to Nepal on the basis of the certificate issued by the lab
Md Mostofa Kamal, the project director of the QC Lab Establishment Project, told The Business Standard that the lab was launched in August with a fish feed test. The feed was exported to Nepal on the basis of the certificate issued by the lab.
Although the lab started its journey with just eight tests, it now performs about 40 different tests. By December, 100 tests will be conducted on fish and poultry, including various types of feed and feed processing equipment, cattle, buffalo, mutton, eggs, milk, and their products, he also said.
"After we apply to the International Accreditation Board, at that time, we will get the accreditation – by next July. From then on, our certificate will be accepted globally, which will boost our exports," he remarked.
Mostofa Kamal said Bangladesh is self-sufficient in fish, egg and meat production. There is a huge opportunity to export these products. But foreign buyers are discouraged from importing from Bangladesh due to questions about quality.
Many consumers in the country are also reluctant to buy poultry and farmed fish. In this situation, if it is possible to ensure the quality of these locally-produced animal products, the confidence of buyers will also rise, he added.
After we apply to the International Accreditation Board, at that time, we will get the accreditation – by next July. From then on, our certificate will be accepted globally, which will boost our exports
Under the existing law, it is mandatory for poultry and fish feed producers to obtain quality certification. But the law has not been implemented properly as there were no opportunities to test in the country.
As a result, only two to three firms have quality certificates even though hundreds of companies produce the feed. From now on, all companies will have to have their products tested and obtain a certificate.
Officials concerned said although Bangladesh is self-sufficient in fish, meat and egg production, milk production here is about 60 million tonnes less than the demand.
This deficit is filled through imports but there has been no opportunity to test the quality of imported milk in the country. Hereafter, all imported milk will have to be tested in this lab.
According to the draft policy signed by Alamgir Hussain, deputy secretary of the fisheries and livestock resources ministry, although the country has achieved adequate quantitative production of food products from animals, there are questions about its quality.
Every conscious citizen is concerned about food. It is necessary to ensure the quality of various ingredients used in the production and processing of food produced and imported in the country. Otherwise, the goal of producing quality food will be threatened, the policy also said.
The draft policy further said various animal and agricultural by-products are being exported from Bangladesh. The presence of adulterated, contaminating and harmful substances in these products is happening intentionally or unintentionally. Only through proper testing can the presence of these harmful substances be confirmed.