Fish farmers and traders have been suffering since the only fish hatchery had to shut down
Local fish farmers and traders have to spend twice as much while purchasing fish hatchlings now from other districts, as production at the only fish hatchery in Shualak of Bandarban Sadar upazila came to a halt a little over a year ago.
Since the Mini Fish Hatchery halted production in July, 2018 for the second time since its launch in June, 2010, its employees were yet again out of jobs.
The hatchery was scheduled to operate from April to September, that is during the peak breeding season of fish. However, for the lack of new projects allocated to the hatchery, it had to shut down its production and operations following its last project in 2018, said Md Ziauddin, senior fisheries officer of the upazila.
"We sent letters to the authorities, regarding the revival of the hatchery with new project allocation. This will generate more revenue, which will provide the salary of the employees and officials, and boost production," he added.
Iti Bikash Tripura, a former fish hatchling farmer, said: "More or less all fish farmers are unemployed right now and we can barely sustain our family through rearing poultry."
Montu Marma, a former employee of the hatchery, said: "We cannot even manage a day’s meals. If the hatchery begins operating again, we will be able to do something for ourselves and fish farmers in our area will make profits once more."
Local fish farmer Abdul Jalil said: "Ever since the hatchery closed down, we are buying fish hatchlings from Chittagong, Dohazari, Patia, Chakaria and other places at a higher price."
According to sources in the Upazila Fisheries Office, the government spent Tk2 crore and 13 lakh to build the Mini Fish Hatchery equipped with 7 ponds, hatching jars, a laboratory and a staff quarter on 5.50 acres land.
However, farmers said the lack of permanent projects for the hatchery, not only made life difficult for its employees and local fish farmers, but incurring a loss for the government by missing an opportunity to generate revenue from here.