The farmers could not sell their fish because of the abnormal decline in prices and reduced scope of supplying fish to Dhaka due to the lockdown, they said
Fish farmers in Rajshahi are trying hard to recoup their financial losses due to Covid-19 pandemic situation as trading began in full swing after the lockdown in the region.
Farmers of Bagdhani village under Paba upazila said fish selling has started in full swing after lifting the lockdown over the last couple of months. Despite low prices to some extent, fish selling is going on successfully at present.
They said 140 fish-laden trucks are going to Dhaka every day. Fish trading valued at around Tk 1,700 crore happened during the normal time each year on an average.
The farmers could not sell their fish because of the abnormal decline in prices and reduced scope of supplying fish to Dhaka due to the lockdown, they said.
Aminul Islam, a farmer of the village, blamed the sudden death of fishes in the ponds due to shortages of oxygen there.
Around 600 metric tons of fish worth around Tk12 crore died early last month in various ponds of the city and surrounding upazilas -- due to excessive day temperatures and shortages of oxygen in those ponds -- affecting many fish farmers badly, according to sources.
Shahidul Islam has 15 ponds. Though the fish in five of his ponds died due to oxygen shortage, he has sold fish worth Tk30 lakh after the withdrawal of the lockdown. He is going to sell fish worth several crores of taka within a few days.
Sadiqul Islam, another farmer of Naohata village, said he is selling eight to ten trucks of fish every month after the lifting of the the lockdown. The selling prices are yet to be normalized due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
He said that the prices of fish have declined by Tk40 to 50 per kg. However, he expects the prices to increase soon as their fish are now being supplied to Dhaka.
During the lockdown, which was enforced on March 26 and continued till May 31, the supply of fish to Dhaka was almost stopped. Besides, the selling prices of fish fell sharply.
Even though the prices are still low, fish trading has started in full swing like before.
According to sources, for the last one week a huge supply of fish has been noticed in all city markets. Especially on the weekends, the city fish markets including the wholesale fish markets at New Market, Naodapara, Rajshahi Court, and Shaheb Bazaar experienced a huge supply of local varieties of fishes.
Moreover, there was also a huge supply of Ilish, Rupchanda, and other types of sea-fish.
As a result of supply of so much fish in the markets, the price of all varieties of fish also dropped substantially.
Anisur Rahman, a fish farmer at Sripur village in Bagmara upazila, said he sold fish worth Tk10 lakh after the lockdown was withdrawn. He has more fish in his ponds. He will sell them when the market situation becomes normal like before.
District Fisheries Officer Alok Kumar Shaha said there are 50,000 ponds on 13,000 hectares of land producing around 81,000 tonnes of fish each year in the district. Of those, 85 percent are carp fish.
In terms of carp fish production, Rajshahi retained the top position for the last couple of years. After meeting up the local demands, around 140 trucks of live fish are being supplied to Dhaka every day on an average. Each of the trucks carries 700 to 800 kilograms of fish.
“We have around 17,000 fish farmers in the district and about nine lakh people are involved in fish farming, production, transportation, and trading,” he said, adding that the extent of yearly fish trading may be around TK1,620 crore.
According to a report published on 28 August in Dhaka Tribune, Tofazuddin Ahmed, divisional deputy director of the Department of Fisheries, attributed the success to the adoption of multidimensional development and extension programs including the promotion of modern technology.
He said fish farming is making many people financially solvent along with boosting their social dignity and contributing to meeting the demand for the animal protein of the region, besides different other parts of the country.
In order to boost fish production in the country’s internal water-bodies, stock of around 104,000 lakh tons of fish fingerlings has been arranged in different water-bodies at a cost of around Tk15.62 crore, benefiting 684,000 lakh fish farmers.
Besides, Beel nursery on 1,370.06 hectares of water-bodies has been installed at a cost of around Tk2.8 crore, benefitting 58,984 fish-growers and contributing a lot to boosting carp fish in internal water bodies.