Agro-processing industry prospects bright in NW region
RAJSHAHI, Feb 12: The prospect of Agro-processing industries is bright in the north western region as it produces food grain, fruits and vegetables in surplus amount. Talking to BSS here on Saturday, business leaders, bankers, agronomists and researchers reiterated that the region offers excellent potentials for making agro- processing enterprises sustainable as it has been producing varieties of fruits and vegetables contributing to the national economy.
They focused on the agricultural potentials of the region with special emphasis on value added agro-processing and agro- based industries.
President of Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Abu Bakker Ali said the region has been producing rice, maize, wheat, soybean and fruits especially mango, banana, papaya and tomato and other vegetables in adequate quantities for the last several years.
Vegetables like potato, cauliflower, tomato, white gourd, bean, spinach, and baby corn are being produced in the region in large quantities alongside broccoli, carrot, celery, capsicum, and strawberry.
He said the Bangabandhu Multipurpose Jamuna Bridge contributed a lot in improving road communication in the northern region, creating wider scopes for increased production of cereals, fruits and vegetables.
“The bridge has in fact opened up many opportunities for agro- businesses to grow in the region,” he said stressing the need for uninterrupted power supply and gas for promotion of agro- based small, medium and big industries in the northern districts. The Chamber leader urged the government to upgrade Rajshahi Airport, making it an outlet for direct export of the processed agri- Products, fresh vegetables and fruits to the Middle East and European markets.
He underscored the need for setting up more agro-processing industries to ensure maximum utilization of agricultural products for increasing the contribution of the sector to the GDP.
Besides, establishment of agro- processing industries would encourage the farmers to grow more high- value products for increasing their own income, he added.
Kabirur Rahman Khan, another business icon of the city, said the region has now been fulfilling 52 percent of the country’s total food demand along side supplying 76 percent raw- materials to country’s agro- based industries. “Unfortunately, big industrial units have not yet been established here,” he said.
He said potato flakes have great demand in the international market and its production technology being simple, the item can be produced in great quantity in the northern region.
Besides, he added the region alone shares 49 percent of total mango produced in the country creating ample opportunity for establishing mango-based industries here. Managing Director of Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) Pradaip Kumar Dutta said the northwest region alone produces nearly one-third of total rice produced in the country.
He said there exists ample opportunity to extract edible oil from rice bran in the region by setting up a large number of medium sized rice-bran oil processing mills.
Some of the districts like Rajshahi, Naogaon, Chapainawabgonj, Natore and Dinajpur produce good quality aromatic rice. There exists a tremendous scope to export aromatic rice, he added.
He, however, said in this regard that there is a need of collaborative approach involving producers, millers, exporters and financial institutions.
He said maize production can be doubled and then quadrupled within a short time in the region by establishing backward and forward linkages among the maize growers, buyers and entrepreneurs. Poultry feed mills can be established meeting the demand of the country, he added.
Additional Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Younus Ali described ‘value addition to agricultural products and agro-processing’ very much consistent with the government’s declared policy.