Bangladesh lags behind in exporting agricultural products for lack of food irradiation technology which reduces post-harvest losses by disinfecting and prolonging the shelf-life of crops, said entrepreneurs at a seminar in Dhaka on Saturday.
The technology is extensively used in many countries of the world, but its use in Bangladesh is very low, they said at the seminar in the capital organised by GB Corporation London Ltd, a London-based company.
Entrepreneurs say it is necessary to ease the investment and approval process in establishing food irradiation centres in the country.
"Many countries put conditions for sterilising agricultural products using this technology before importing them. In Bangladesh, we cannot do it commercially. That is why our exports in this sector are low," said Naser Ahmed, executive director, Pran Group.
Speakers at the seminar said this technology is widely used for spices, various processed foods, potatoes, mangoes, onions, animal feed etc. It is also used to sterilise medical equipment. Entrepreneurs in the country get these equipment sterilised from China, Vietnam, India, South Korea, Japan spending extra money.
Md Abdur Razzaq, founder and managing director, JMI Group, said, "We are compelled to spend a lot to get this technological help from abroad. Government initiative and support is needed for commercial use of this technology in Bangladesh."
Science and Technology Minister Yafes Osman, chief guest at the seminar, said, "We are working to increase our exports. The government would provide all kinds of help to the entrepreneurs investing in setting up irradiation centres."
People concerned said that an investment of Tk100 crore to Tk400 crore is required to set up an irradiation centre.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission has two irradiation centres in Savar. But they are generally used for research purposes.
In the seminar, IBA Life Science Irradiation Center informed about two technologies – X-ray and electron beam – that are widely used in radiation centres worldwide. These two technologies are also said to be environment friendly.