A huge amount of dried fish was destroyed at a warehouse due to the fallout of Covid-19
Dried fish (called shutki in Bangla) traders in the northern region of Bangladesh have suffered huge financial losses this year due to Covid-19's effects, floods, rain, and Cyclone Amphan – losses traders across the country have never incurred.
Mohammad Sanwar Hossain, a dried fish producer in Singra upazila of Natore, said he sold dried fish in Syedpur for around Tk6 lakh last season but this year he was unable to sell anything, incurring a loss of at least Tk1 lakh.
He added that traders prepare to buy and sell dried fish during the season – from November to January. This year, they could not prepare due to natural disasters, including Covid-19 and Cyclone Amphan.
The demand for puti fish dried fish of the Chalan Beel area is always high in India, but this time its production started late, which may disrupt exports, he continued.
Mohammad Nannu Hossain has been trading dried fish at Mohish Luti Market in Tarash upazila of Sirajganj for a long time. He said "I have faced a loss of Tk2 lakh" and at least 12 dried fish traders, who have been trading at this market for the last 16 or 17 years, have suffered losses due to the bad weather this year.
Md Rasedul Alam Mamun, who has been doing business at Syedpur's dried fish market for about 37 years, said 60 wholesalers and retailers, 50 middlemen and 12 storekeepers involved in the dried fish business have suffered losses.
"A huge amount of dried fish was destroyed at the warehouse due to the fallout of Covid-19. I have never seen such a recession in the dried fish business in 37 years of business," he said.
Sheikh Mohammad Delwar Hossain, general secretary of the Syedpur Dried Fish Traders Association, said the warehouse traders had lost at least Tk6 crore this year due to natural calamities and the pandemic.
"Of the total losses, 40% were due to Covid-19 and the remaining 60% due to natural disasters," said Delwar Hossain.
The dried fish market in Syedpur is the second-largest market of the country, and the dried fish comes from: Chalan Beel, the Sundarbans, Khulna, Jashore, Satkhira, Cox's Bazar, and various northern and southern districts.
In Syedpur, traders have not had any incentives even though the employees who worked on the dried fish farms were given food aid by the government during the general holidays declared for Covid-19.
Syedpur upazila nirbahi officer Nasim Ahmed said the affected traders have not yet received government incentive assistance, but their case is being considered.