Bangladesh's agro-processing export is set to fetch US$ 1.0 billion in the current fiscal, a US report forecasts.
The report stressed the need for proper policy support from the government to explore the true potentials of this emerging sector.
The sector brought $635 million in export income during fiscal year 2017-18, with growth averaging over 44 per cent in the past five years.
Rising household income and increase in purchasing power have contributed to this growth, agro business expert Khurshid Ahmed Farhad told the FE.
But experts blamed low investment in the sector, saying being limited to a specific region-northern part of the country- the agriculture output produced in other parts of the country cannot be mobilised under the processing industry.
The country has more than 400 food processing firms but only a dozen of them are export-oriented and among these exporters, the market leader alone earned $333 million from exports in 2016-17, which is 66 per cent of the total volume, says the report prepared by the USAID recently.
With a yearly growth rate of 15 per cent from 2014 to 2018, the market size has reached around $4.81 billion, domestic sales and exports combined.
The sector also has huge employment generation potential with an employment growth of 15 to 20 per cent, industry insiders said.
Currently, it employs around 300,000 people, of which 22.86 per cent is female.
The experts cited the import dependency on packaging materials of the processed foods, lack of quality control mechanism and the absence of a nodal agency to supervise the sector as the main challenges for tapping the real potentials of this sector.
But they noted that government's fiscal incentives like 20 per cent cash subsidies against exports played a crucial role in promoting the sector.
Dry food like puffed rice, biscuits, potato flakes, frozen fruits, vegetables, processed fruit items like jams, jellies, pickles, pulp, juices, ketchup are included under agro processing sector.