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Exports of fruit and vegetables, particularly mangos, from south-west Bangladesh to Europe started in mid-May, as pandemic-linked restrictions eased, causing a spike in air cargo volumes.

Some 150,000 farmers are producing ‘safe vegetables’ under a project to export produce mainly to Europe, prices for which have risen following a year’s suspension due to Covid-19.

The deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension in Satkhira district said the aim this year was to export 500 tonnes of mangoes from the district.

Meanwhile, fruit and vegetable exporter Mohammed Monsur said that, due to Covid-19 disruption and to restrict the movement of people, there had been a reduction in the number of passenger flights and Bangladesh exports its produce as belly-hold freight, as cargo-only services are too costly.

“Air cargo shipments will see a significant rise once restrictions on passenger flights are lifted after pandemic situation eases,” said Mr Monsur, adding air freight rates now stood at a peak since the start of the pandemic last year.

In January, some 11,866 tonnes of goods were exported by air, followed by 12,189 tonnes in February, 15,733 tonnes in March and 16,259 tonnes in April.

During the July 20 to April 21 period of the current fiscal year, Bangladesh exported vegetables worth $83m and fruit valued at $290,000, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.

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