Agriculture is the single most important sector in Bangladesh’s economy. Over 80% of the population (or 70% of the workforce) of Bangladesh is engaged in agriculture. The share of agriculture in GDP has fallen from around 57% in the 1970s to 23% in recent years. Nonetheless, agriculture is still one of the largest economic sectors in Bangladesh. In short, agriculture is the driving force behind economic growth in Bangladesh and, as a result, increasing food and agriculture production have always been major concerns of Bangladeshi policy-makers. Agro Index Limited is a modern Fish Processing, Block Ice Manufacturing and Storage Unit located at Alipur union, Kalapara upazila under Patuakhali district. Agro Index Limited employs about 144 personnel for its various categories and is a promoter of the green investment by Index Group.
BUSINESS NEED ASSESSMENT
About 80% of the total fish production in Bangladesh is inland fishing, which is divided equally between captured and cultured fishing. Almost all the districts of the country have ponds, baors, beels, floodplains, rivers, etc. Therefore, white fish as well as shrimps, are available more or less in every district of the country. All inland fishing is primarily based on small scale farming with thousands of farmers farming in their own little pond etc. The inland fish production in Bangladesh grew by 25% on average during the last five fiscal years. In the fiscal year 2007-08, a total of 2.066 million metric tonnes of fish, including 0.135 million tonnes of shrimp & prawn, was produced in a total water area of 4.575 million hectares. In the FY 2007-08, Bangladesh exported 75,299 metric tonnes of shrimps, fish and fish products worth USD 492.38 million. In the same fiscal year, the contribution of export of processed white fish and fish products was 24,649 metric tonnes worth USD 64.76 million (13%). The export of processed white fish and fish products has registered steady growth in the last two decades. In the last five fiscal years, the contribution of processed white fish and fish products grew from 20% to 33% and 9% to 13% in volume and value respectively. In 2007-08 Bangladesh processed white fish and fish products worth USD 64.76 million and exported to 14 different countries of the world. 47% is to Asia, 17% to the Middle East and the last 36% to the USA, Canada, and Europe.
Enlightened by the facts and growth potentials, industrial unit Agro-Index Limited primarily has taken the fisheries as its initial business. The Hilsha fish storage and Block Ice manufacturing unit for storage of 5600 MT of Hilsha fish and 29403 MT of Block Ice per annum. 76% of the produced Block Ice is for the factory’s own consumption for different processing stage and rests are sold mainly into the local market.
Agro-Index Limited has enabled the marginal fishermen/fish farmers to receive the right price of their harvest by eliminating both transport costs and middlemen. We give direct contracts to these fishermen to provide various kinds of fish straight to our factory at a preset fair price. This system has significantly increased the buying power of the local community and thus greatly enhanced their living standards.
Technology Transfer & Awareness Campaigns
In the remote location of Kalapara, Patuakhali, Agro Index Ltd., has set a shining example of technology transfer and conducting effective awareness campaigns by arranging sessions with local fish farmers and fishermen on how to scientifically preserve fish for a longer period of time. This has drastically reduced the loss of huge quantities of fish due to ineffective storage measures. Many smaller units of fish storage and Block Ice manufacturers have sprung up following the example of our company. Core values of agro-business development that Index Group conceives are:
1. Social and environmental responsibility: respect for neighboring communities, implementation of socio-cultural projects, and respect for the environment.
2. Developing the value of staff members: recognition, opportunities, and professional growth.
3. Compliance with the laws in force.
4. Satisfaction and safety of the consumer.
5. Ethical conduct and respect in relations with competitors and partners.