Bangladesh eyeing potato exports to PHL (Business Mirror (Philippines))

Bangladesh said on Wednesday it is keen on exporting potatoes to the Philippines and is offering the produce to local traders at a “competitive” price.

Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes told the BusinessMirror that Dhaka has asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to consider the possibility of allowing the shipments of potatoes from his country.

“I told [the] agriculture secretary [Proceso Alcala] that the price of potatoes in the Philippines is high. I go to malls here and I buy it at P50 to P70 per kilogram. In Bangladesh people buy potatoes at 5 taka or less than P3,” Gomes said.

“If we can bring in Bangladesh potatoes and we are able to fulfill 20 percent of Philippine demand for the produce, prices will go down,” he added.

In a letter to Agriculture Assistant Secretary Edilberto M. de Luna, Bangladesh Agriculture Minister Eunusur Rahman noted that Bangladesh has emerged as a potato-exporting country over the last few years.

“This year our potato production may be around 10 million tons, and well be in a position to export a considerable amount of quality potatoes at a very competitive price,” Rahman said in his letter.

Rahman visited the Philippines recently and attended the signing ceremony between Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corp. and SL Agritech Corp. for a joint seed production.

Of the total potatoes produced by Bangladesh in a year, Gomes said 50 percent are consumed by the domestic market.

Bangladesh currently ships out potatoes to Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Brunei Darussalam.

The Bureau of Plant Industry, under the DA, usually requires a pest-risk analysis prior to allowing the entry of vegetables from other countries.

The pest-risk analysis is a sanitary and phytosanitary measure exercised by importing countries, such as the Philippines, to protect its local farms from pests carried by imported produce or food items.

The Philippines imports various vegetables and fruits, including potatoes, from other countries. Figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that in 2013, the country imported a total of 565.04 million kilos of vegetables and fruits.

According to PSA figures, bilateral trade between the Philippines and Bangladesh reached $23.16 million in the nine months to September 2014.

PSA data showed that top Philippine exports to Bangladesh during the period were storage units, and waste and scrap of cast of tinned iron or steel. Meanwhile, tobacco was the top commodity imported by the Philippines from Bangladesh.