Bangladesh Table of Contents
The quality of Bangladesh's tea, grown in the Sylhet hills area, is not competitive with tea grown elsewhere in Asia, and during the Pakistan period sales were increasingly restricted to West Pakistan. The war of independence raised a question about whether alternative markets could be found for Bangladesh's tea. Production in FY 1973 was 24 million kilograms, down from 31 million kilograms in FY 1970. Pakistan remained interested in Bangladeshi tea and again became the chief customer, followed by several Arab countries. In the 1980s, production returned to the pre-1971 level and was relatively stable from year to year, but prices were not. Bangladesh received less than half the value in FY 1986 for virtually the same amount sold in FY 1984 (US$33 million versus US$69 million). As with jute, Bangladesh could hope for little more than to preserve--but not expand--its small niche in the world's tea trade.
Bangladesh also holds a small place in the international leather trade. World prices were somewhat less volatile than for tea, and in the 1980s Bangladesh could count on annual earnings of between US$56 million and US$90 million, primarily because of the high quality and premium prices of skins from Bangladesh. There was little scope for increasing production because competition over land and feed kept down the population of cattle and goats.
In the mid-1980s, fruits, vegetables, and spices also began to become important export items. Previously negligible in export accounts, in FY 1986 this category brought in nearly US$15 million, chiefly from Middle Eastern and British customers. Prospects were bright for continued growth of this diversification of Bangladeshi agriculture, as external demand was expected to remain lively.
Data as of September 1988