With Pohela Boishakh just around the corner, businesses are stocking up on Ilish. It is part of urban culture to enjoy panta-Ilish (soaked rice and Hilsa) on the first day of the Bangla new year.
Even though the prime minister has repeatedly encouraged the public to not have Ilish on the occasion, which coincides with the fish’s breeding season, some still indulge in the practice.
Fish sellers from several markets in Dhaka said that Ilish is very popular this season every year. The price is higher than usual as well. The closer Pohela Boishakh gets, the higher the demand and the higher the price.
Businesses are eager to take advantage of the expected hike in the price of Ilish. Fish traders are directly buying fish from the fishermen. Super-shops in the capital are doing the same. On average, Ilish costs around Tk1,000-1,500 per fish. Each usually weighs no more than 500-600gm. Each Ilish that weighs around 400-500gm costs around Tk1,200 in markets in Khilgaon and Shantinagar.
Hossain Zahid, a man who bought Ilish at the Moghbazar market, said: “I have been buying Ilish for my family on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh for over a decade. It is only for one day of the year, so I do not care so much about the price. However, the cost of the fish is still reasonable. It gets more and more expensive as the event date approaches. ”
Regarding the prime m,inister’s suggestion to avoid consuming Ilish on the occasion of the Bangla new year, he said: “My children are young. They do not understand these things. As a father, how can I say no?”
Contacted, Ismail Mia, a fish trader from Pirojpur said: “Laying nets on the river is banned right now. As fish traders, we cannot supply fish under these circumstances. Our storages are empty. Some fishermen try to catch fish secretly. But some traders have bought fish beforehand and have kept the Ilish frozen. They intend to sell it during peak season, which is just before Pohela Boishakh. These fish could be being sold in a few days in the capital.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com