For the first time in Bangladesh’s history, reefer containers are being used to export fruits, as earlier, only potatoes were exported via containers by seaways. Usually, vegetables and fruits, such as mangoes, are exported by air.

On March 17th, watermelon and tomatoes were exported to Malaysia in a short sea sailing that lasted between seven to 10 days. Sattar International, the exporter, shipped 13.32 tonnes of watermelon and 700 tonnes of tomato in a container to Malaysia. The exporter estimates that they will earn $4,000 from this shipment alone. The owner noted that if this waterway shipment of watermelon is successful, Bangladesh will be able to export other fruits such as lychees, bananas, and jackfruits, which are abundant in the country, and earn substantial amounts of foreign currency.

The last time that watermelon was exported by air was in 2014. Since then, no watermelon was exported from Bangladesh in the last eight years. Nasir Ahmed Khan, director of the Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BFFA), said the country has prospects to earn a good amount of foreign currency by exporting fruits. But, he noted that as fruits are perishable items, sending them by ship is risky, even if they are carried into refrigerated containers.

“From Bangladesh, fruits can be sent by waterways to nearest countries like the Middle Eastern states, Malaysia, Singapore and other South Asian counties,” he noted. “A seven to 10 days short sea shipment of fruits is suitable,” said Khan adding that, otherwise, there is a possibility for the fruits inside to become rotten.