A parliamentary standing committee today recommended enlisting coconut products -- coco-peat, coir fibre, basket, and mattress -- as exportable agricultural items since the country produces a huge amount of coconuts.
However, Mehedi Masood, project director of the year-round fruit–production for nutrition improvement of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), told The Daily Star that the country may face a shortage of coconuts soon.
He said he gave a presentation to the parliamentary standing committee, where he mentioned that a coconut shortage may become visible soon as people throughout the country consumed almost 60-70 percent of the yearly domestic production of green coconuts since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Bangladesh.
JS BODY'S RECOMMENDATIONS
The parliamentary standing committee on agriculture in a meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban today recommended that measures should be taken to enlist coconut products as exportable agricultural items.
The committee chief Matia Chowdhury, also a ruling Awami League MP, chaired the meeting.
They also asked the agriculture ministry to take necessary measures through the finance, industries and commerce ministries to include coconut products as agricultural products, considering them to be exportable items, said a press release of the parliament secretariat.
According to government statistics, Bangladesh produces around 2.71 lakh tonnes of coconut annually, which has enormous industrial usage.
At the meeting, the parliamentary watchdog also asked the agriculture ministry to prepare leaflets and distribute them among farmers to increase cultivation of Vietnamese coconut in the country as its production is much higher than that of the local variety.
Committee members -- Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque, lawmakers Imaj Uddin Pramanik, M Mamunur Rashid Kiron, M Moslem Uddin, Joya Sen Gupta, Umme Kulsum Sriti and Hosne Ara -- among others, took part in the meeting.
FEARS OF SHORTAGE
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit Bangladesh, people throughout the country have consumed 60-70 percent of green coconut of the total yearly domestic production, said Mehedi Masood.
As such, coconut shortage will be visible soon, he added.
There are around 1.7 crore coconut trees in Bangladesh and the yearly domestic production is only 6,50,000 tonnes.
"Coronavirus patients and the other patients are buying small green coconuts at high prices. Doctors suggest green coconut as coconut water is a rich source of potassium, sodium, and vitamin-C. Vitamin–C is very important to increase immunity against Covid-19," he said.
"We have enough area to plant coconut trees in the southern coastal parts of the country. The government should take a project for coconut plantation in the southern regions to increase domestic production," Masood said.
Protab Kanu, a green coconut vendor at the Bogura number-2 rail gate market said, "Supply of green coconut is normal but the size is smaller than last year."
Anwar Hossain Munna, another vendor who sells dry coconuts in Bogura, said, "Coconut prices are higher than last year. Prices started to increase in the last three to four months. The supply of coconut is reducing as the demand for the green coconut is increasing."