Assistance packages would be helpful now as the farmers are preparing for the next production cycle for black tiger shrimp, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the fishery export
The Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) said that the shrimp sector will suffer if they do not get timely assistance from the government.
The executive board of the non-profit private research organisation made the remark during an emergency meeting on Monday.
It said immediate assistance packages would be particularly needed and helpful now that the farmers at the grow-out level are preparing for the next production cycle for the black tiger shrimp.
Black tiger shrimp alone accounts for more than 90 percent of the export of the fisheries products of Bangladesh.
The meeting was mainly focused on reviewing the situation in the country's shrimp sector due to Covid-19 pandemic and the possible immediate, short and long term implications for the sector. But it was observed that the sector has come under serious strain for two major consecutive setbacks during the recent months.
The impact of Covid-19 in the sector was further complicated by the recent Cyclone Amphan which flooded a large number of shrimp enclosures in the south-western part of Bangladesh, destroyed important infrastructures and farm establishments.
The emergency steps that were taken by the government to ensure social distancing and lockdown has also affected the workforce in the hatcheries and in the grow-outs.
The executive board further said that social distancing disturbed the production in the hatcheries, problems relating to timely clearance of vitally important inputs needed for the sector at different Customs Stations, especially at the land border at Benalpole.
Besides, suspension of the banking activities has also seriously affected the loan disbursements.
Following a review of the challenges being faced by the sector, the BSFF Executive Board appreciated the initiatives that the government has taken so far to overcome the challenges, especially the stimulus packages announced for the different sectors of the economy.
The executive board called upon the government to come forward with further comprehensive assistance packages for the shrimp sector as well to enable it to overcome the present challenges.
The board also proposed some measures that the government can take to support the sector further.
The measures are - expeditious disbursement of concessional agricultural credit for shrimp sector stakeholders, support for procurement of PLs and other necessary inputs, rehabilitation of infrastructure and production facilities damaged by the cyclone Amphan as well as administrative facilitation of clearance of imported inputs at ports of entries and their smooth movement.
The board specially mentioned the assistance to the small shrimp farmers who do not have any access to any formal institutional finance.
As such, the BSFF Board urged the government to consider appropriate assistance packages for them to help them procure the necessary seeds and feed and survive the present critical problem.
It also called upon the government to favourably consider budgetary measures to help the sector.
In Bangladesh, the shrimp sector makes a significant contribution to the country's economy. It provides employment of a sizable workforce and also brings export earnings.