Dhaka, May 8 (UNB) - The government has taken a number of ‘important’ projects to expand the activities and surveillance of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) across the country.
BSTI, the country’s lone national standard institution that helps ensure food and health safety and protect the environment through ensuring the quality of locally-produced products, provides CM (Certification Marks) certificates for various products from its Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Barishal offices.
According to an official document, the state-run organisation has taken an initiative to provide CM certificates from all of its existing district-level offices.
The plan is aimed at ensuring the marketing of quality products by companies and metrology services to people in addition to creating institutional infrastructure of BSTI at the district level.
Currently, the 'expansion and strengthening of BSTI (in 5 districts-2nd revised) project' is going on in Rangpur and Mymensingh divisions with Faridpur, Cumilla and Cox's Bazar districts.
The project, being implemented at an estimated cost Tk 5,182.45 lakh, was supposed to be completed by the end of this fiscal year.
The project has been taken to set up office-cum-laboratories in 12 districts -- Gopalganj, Jashore, Kushtia, Dinajpur, Patuakhali, Tangail, Pabna, Rangamati, Gazipur, Narsingdi, Noakhali and Bagura.
Another Tk 23,306.62 lakh project taken for establishing modern BSTI regional offices in Chattogram and Khulna is scheduled to be completed by the end of current financial year.
The aim of the project is to ensure quality products to consumers, construct the total structure of 10-storey buildings and finishing work up to 2nd floor, including foundation for office-cum-laboratory buildings with 10-storey foundation, in Chattogram and Khulna, and procure modern laboratory equipment.
For testing facilities of air conditioners, refrigerators, electric fans and electric motors at the BSTI, the government is implementing another project at a cost of Tk 1,200 lakh.
This will increase and improve the facilities of BSTI for testing electrical and electronic products through establishing an energy-efficient product testing laboratory.
It will also test air conditioners, refrigerators, motors and fans using modern technologies.
The BSTI has a plan to set up a laboratory for testing tyre tubes, LPG cylinders and protective helmets.
It is also considering modernising and expanding its National Metrology Laboratory (NML) and expand the Petroleum Product Testing Laboratory.
The BSTI also plays a vital role in increasing export by enhancing acceptability of local goods in the international market and removing international trade barriers.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB) – Bangladesh has asked Myanmar to come up with a ‘clear roadmap’ for the repatriation of Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar and identify all the issues that are hindering and obstructing the repatriation process.
“We’ve also asked Myanmar to find out ways and means to remove the obstacles,” a senior official told UNB.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.2 million Rohingyas with more than 700,000 fleeing to Bangladesh from Rakhine state since August 25, 2017.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed ‘Arrangements on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State’ on November 23, 2017. No Rohingya has so far been repatriated as the current crisis steps into almost two years.
Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.
Foreign Ministry officials said Bangladesh insisted on adopting a ‘rights-based approach’ so that their freedoms are ensured with free movement without fear, and freedom of choice.
Bangladesh is also seeking “full and faithful” implementation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State by the Myanmar government, said another official.
He said Bangladesh has asked Myanmar to dismantle the existing IDP (internally-displaced persons) camps and take back the several thousand Rohingyas stuck in limbo in the Zero Line of the Bangladesh- Myanmar border.
At the recently held fourth meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on the repatriation of displaced Myanmar residents from Bangladesh to Myanmar, the Myanmar side demonstrated a ‘positive outlook’ and agreed to initiate follow-up measures for expediting the process of repatriation of the Rohingyas, said a diplomatic source.
There was clearly an understanding that ‘verifiable measures’ have to be taken so that the repatriation process is completed within a time-bound framework as agreed under the arrangements for the return of Rohingyas.
Myanmar has responded positively to Bangladesh’s proposal to deepen and expand further the involvement of ASEAN as a group so that the repatriation process is expedited, another official said.
Bangladesh wants Myanmar to allow a greater engagement of the international community, including ASEAN and interested partners, in improving the situation on the ground in Rakhine.
Bangladesh also proposed appropriate mechanisms for the coordination of actions among those actors to create a greater confidence, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Some 73 percent of the surveyed Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps do not believe that the repatriation will happen in two years' time, according to Xchange, a research institution.
Besides, 69 percent of them do not believe that Myanmar will recognise and accept them as its citizens in the next two-year timeframe. The institution conducted a three-week survey between March and April on 1,277 Rohingyas.
Dhaka, May 7 (UNB) – Online shopping has started gaining momentum ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr amid its growing popularity with the boom in internet penetration across the country.
An increasing number of people, mostly city dwellers, choose e-shopping to save time as well as avoid traffic chaos and other hazards in the busy city life.
Like regular shopping malls and other shopping places, online shops also offer discount and other facilities to attract buyers ahead of the biggest religious festival of Muslims.
E-shopping started gaining pace particularly after Shab-e Barat and its upward trend will continue till 15th Ramadan, said insiders.
A two-day e-commerce fair will be held at the capital’s Gulistan on May 17-18 to promote online shopping ahead of Eid-ul Fitr.
Bangladesh Post Office and e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) are organising a series of fairs to promote online shopping.
Sifat Ara, owner of Women's Fashion BD, who runs online business through Facebook from the city’s Shewrapara area, said their sales started going up after Shab-e-Barat.
“We used to get 15 delivery orders on average a day before Shab-e Barat, but now we’re getting 25-30 delivery orders every day,” she said.
Sifat expressed the hope that the upward trend in their sale will continue till 15th Ramadan.
She said her online shop gets orders from even outside Dhaka.
Abdul Wahed Tomal, General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said e-shopping has been witnessing an upward trend for the last two weeks. “The average number of e-shopping deliveries was 25,000 every day before the last two weeks, but now it has reached 35,000-40,000 ahead of Eid-ul Fitr,” he said, adding that different e-shops now offer discount and other facilities to attract more consumers.
Tomal said e-shopping marked 30 percent growth this year as the number of social media users, particularly mobile Facebook, has also sharply increased in both urban and rural areas.
He said the number of e-shopping delivery orders was nearly 20,000 a day last year, which is now more than 25,000. “The yearly turnover of the country’s online shopping is Tk 800 crore-Tk 1,000 crore,” said the general secretary of e-CAB, an association of more than 900 e-shops.
He said the e-CAB and the Bangladesh Post Office will jointly organise an e-commerce fair on the GPO premises on May 17-18 next where leading e-commerce companies are scheduled to showcase their products and services.
The e-CAB and the Bangladesh Post Office started arranging a series of e-commerce fairs in divisional headquarters this year. The fairs were arranged in Chattogram on March 30, Rajshahi on April 6, Sylhet on April 13, Rangpur on April 27 and in Barishal on May 4. A similar fair will be held in Mymensingh on May 11.
Marjahan Akter, a service-holder living in Mirpur-13, said she purchases products online in some cases to avoid traffic congestion on the city’s streets and save time.
She, however, remains concerned over the quality of products in case of e-shopping.
The e-shopping is becoming more trustworthy as buyers can see reviews before buying any product from online.
In the last few years, online shopping and business gained much popularity thanks to the rise in social media users like Facebook.
There were some 9.3 crore internet users, including 8.7 crore mobile internet subscribers, in the country till March 2019, according to statistics provided by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.
Dhaka, May 6 (UNB) - The government plans to introduce fortified rice or ‘Pushti Chaal’ to help people overcome micronutrients deficiency.
The modification of regular rice with added micronutrients can eliminate the existing nutrition deficiency and ensure a better result in terms of public health, experts suggest.
A majority of Bangladesh’s population suffers from the deficiency of micronutrients such as zinc, iron, folic acid and other essential vitamins.
Each 150-300 gram of Pushti Chaal contains 1.5 ppm Vitamin A, 4.0 ppm Vitamin B1, 0.01 ppm Vitamin B12, 1.3 ppm Folic Acid, 60 ppm Iron and 40 ppm Zinc.
Bangladesh, with support from World Food Programme (WFP), started the rice fortification project in 2013 after an icddr,b research showed that a large part of the population suffers from various diseases due to lack of micronutrients.
Initially, 30,000 people were provided with Pushti Chaal.
Dr Mohammad Mahbobor Rahman, Senior Programme Officer of Scaling-Up Rice Fortification Initiative, told UNB that so far two million people in 96 upazilas have experienced the positive effect of fortified rice as part of Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) project.
“Researches done by several institutes show that the use of fortified rice is much beneficial to the health of the participants in those areas,” he said.
A survey by BRAC found that 32 percent consumers of fortified rice has perceived health benefits while another research carried out by icddr,b shows that consumption of fortified rice reduced anemia by 4.8 percent.
“We picked rice for bridging the nutrition gap as it’s our staple food and can be made available countrywide,” Dr Rahman said.
The process of fortification is fairly simple as grained white rice is made into rice flour in which essential minerals and vitamins are added. The flour is later given shape to rice kernel and then added to normal rice with a ratio of 1:100 kernels.
“The ratio of mixture is one fortified kernel of rice for 100 normal rice kernels,” Dr Rahman explained.
The mixing processes are carried out by three companies currently – Igloo, Masafi Agro Foods and Star Foods. The project so far has more than 30 blending units and adequate fortified kernel factories.
The original plan was pitched by WFP back in 2013 for combating the nutrition deficiency.
WFP Deputy Country Director Alpha Bah told UNB that the organisation is currently giving its full support for scaling up rice fortification in the country.
“We’re mainly providing technical assistance for the entire project,” he said.
Alpha Bah said the goal is to provide fortified rice at an affordable price to all, especially the working class who are the main victims of nutrition deficiency.
At a national-level discussion on the fortified rice project, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said the government is taking measures to introduce the fortified rice in the local market soon.
Currently, the rice is being given to poor families at maximum 30 kg rice for each family.
After the initial commercial launch, Pushti Chaal will cost about Tk 3-4 more per kg compared to other rice. But the price will decrease once it gains the customers’ confidence.
Dhaka, May 4 (UNB) – Universities in Bangladesh should formulate curricula based on market demand and real-life situation as 36 percent of employers in the country are now facing the shortage of skilled manpower, says Syed Alamgir, a renowned marketer and Managing Director of ACI Consumer Brands Limited.
In an interview with UNB, he also said the universities need to build a strong rapport with industries and devise a framework for students to build experience while studying.
Alamgir, who won the first-ever ‘Channel I Bangladesh Brand Forum Marketing Superstar Award’ this year, suggested the young generation interested in taking up marketing as their profession to enhance their ability to understand people’s need and mindset to have a success.
“Around 36 percent of employers in Bangladesh are facing the shortage of skilled manpower which is a leading reason for entry-level vacancies,” he said.
Alamgir said a company wants to hire a complete (ready) person, but the universities now only focus on education ignoring the issue of developing skills and mindset of their students. “University graduates should be taught the real-life situation instead of giving them knowledge on some theories and theses. Curricula should be linked to careers as well.”
The ACI MD said there should have coordination between the industries and the universities to produce ready graduates with practical knowledge.
“Industries asses a newly graduated student based on education, set of skills and mindset. So, the universities should give importance to improving skills (relevant transferable experience and qualities) and mindset (attitude, interests and initiatives) of their students for producing ready business graduates,” he said.
Mentioning that a very few partnership projects are in place between the universities and businesses, the renowned marketer thinks constant collaboration and mutually beneficial projects and study need to be designed and implemented by the universities.
“Our current practice needs to change as four-year business study and three-month internship gives very little to graduates for skill development. Students should be involved with the business right from the beginning of the study,” Alamgir observes.
Marketing in digital age
Alamgir said four things--good marketing strategy, product quality, innovation and premier services --are necessary for having success in marketing in this digital age.
“Good marketing strategy doesn’t mean deceiving consumers, rather giving them good and quality products and persuade them to accept those,” he opined.
Besides, the marketers need to know people’s mindset and their need, but there should not be any falsification. “You’ll be able to do many things if you don’t resort to falsification.”
“The main reason behind my success is that I roam around all regions of the country, including the remote ones, to read people’s mind and know their needs. I talk to cross-sections of people to know them and their requirements. A marketer needs to know the needs and mindset from the wealthy to the bottom of the pyramid,” he pointed out.
Before launching any product, the ACI senior official said they think two things -- need gap and replacing any current product with diversification.
For example, he said, there is a huge demand among people for real juice in Bangladesh, but there is no real juice here. “Real juice is available all over the world. So, if any company now comes up with real juice product with affordable prices, it will evoke tremendous response from consumers.”
About his much-talked-about marketing concept ‘halal soap’, he said it gets remarkable success in the country as well as the globe as it is now being used by many multinational companies, including McDonald’. “Philip Kotler, a famous professor of marketing, included a case study on my concept halal soap in his book titled “The Principles of Marketing” describing it a smart and clever idea.”
Alamgir said the modern marketing began in Bangladesh in the 80s while nearly 55 lakh people are now engaged in this profession who are working for development of the business through which the country will be developed.
“Marketing is not an easy job. It has a lot of challenges involving values and morality. I’ll have to take your hard-earned money from your pocket by satisfying your need with honesty, but I can’t take it through depiction. There’s no scope for deception in marketing for success and sustainability. It’s not possible to survive in the market with deception.”
He suggested the young marketers to try to be focused on their jobs. “They must learn their consumers so that they can understand the need gaps and also can find out what the message the consumers should be given to pursue them.”
Alamgir said Bangladesh’s most of the businesses are now covered by international companies. “We, the local companies, have to fight and outsmart them with quality and strategy. When I introduced halal soap, it outsmarted international soap brands.”