Dry fish traders initially buy different varieties of fish, including Puti, Boal, Shoal, Tengra , and Shrimp of Chalan Beel from the wholesale and retail fish market of the upazila
Around 144 tons of chemical-free shutki or dried fish, worth around Tk9 crore are being produced every year beside the Chalan Beel area of the Singra upazila in the district, bringing smiles on the faces of the local people involved in this profession.
The dried fish processing begins in the upazila from the Bangla month of Ashwin (October) and continues till Falgun (March) next year.
The demand for dried fish in different parts of the country is very high because of the natural processing method. The fish caught fresh from the Chalan Beel of the district is the sole source of the products and producers refrain from using any kind of chemical for processing, locals and traders said.
Shutki is sold for around Tk 500 to Tk 1200 per kg, depending on the process, size and variety in the wholesale and retail markets in and outside the district, they added.
To observe the process firsthand, our correspondent visited the area recently and spoke to several traders and workers of the processing zone.
Dry fish traders initially buy different varieties of fish, including Puti, Boal, Shoal, Tengra , and Shrimp of Chalan Beel from the wholesale and retail fish market of the upazila.
Workers then cut and clean the fish, add salt to keep flies away and dry them on a bamboo platform in the sun for four to five days in the Ningoin area of the upazila on the Natore- Bogra road.
After collecting the dried fish, they start packaging for sale in the markets.
Shutki trader Nasir Uddin said: "I have been in this business for around 18 years. We initially collect different varieties of fish of Chalan Beel from local fish traders every morning.
"Workers cut and clean and wash the fish, add salt, and dry the fish in the sun. After four to five days, we start packaging the shutki which is then ready for sale,'' he added.
Another trader Manik said:'' The wholesale price of Tengra is Tk500 per kg while Shrimp for Tk800, Shoal for Tk1000, Sati for Tk 500, Chela for Tk500. An additional Tk100 is charged in the retail market.''
Abdus Salam, who is also engaged in this profession said that he along with five traders of the area produce 144 tons of dried fish annually for sale in the market."
Each trader makes a profit of around Tk 50,000 to 60,000 per year."
During the visit, it was also observed that a number of female workers were engaged in several dried fish processing zones.
Rasida, who was seen busy with the work said she earns Tk 140 per day in exchange for her labour.
District Fisheries Officer (DFO) Jahangir Hossain said: ''Shutki processed here is very tasty and is in high demand as traders use chemical-free fish of Chalan Beel. We are working to expand the business by raising the income of both the traders and workers.''
"Thus, it will play a part to create employment opportunities for more people and will meet the growing demand of shutki across the country,'' he added.