- Hilsa export banned since 2012
- 500 tonnes exported to India in 2019 on special permission
- 5 firms to export 175 tonnes each this year, 4 others 150 tonnes each
- No Hilsa export beyond stipulated amount, after specified date
- Earning even $1 from exports in this critical period very important: commerce secy
Nine firms will export 1,450 tonnes of Hilsa to India by October 10 as a friendly gesture of Bangladesh in view of massive demands for the Bangladeshi delicacy across the neighbouring country during the Durga Puja festival.
Commerce ministry officials said the Hilsa export would not affect the domestic market.
Kolkata in West Bengal of India is the main buyer of Bangladeshi Hilsa abroad. Hilsa was also exported to various countries in Europe.
However, Bangladesh imposed a ban on Hilsa export in 2012 following the failure to sign the much-awaited Teesta deal facing objections from Kolkata Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Bangladesh visit in late 2011.
During her visit to Bangladesh in 2015, Mamata Banerjee requested Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to lift the ban on Hilsa export to Kolkata following a luncheon at the latter's official residence Ganobhaban.
Sheikh Hasina reminded her of the Teesta agreement and said in a light tone, "Hilsa will go [to Kolkata] if water comes [to Bangladesh]."
Since 2012, fish traders have been asking for opportunities to export Hilsa to India every year, but the government did not allow them till last year. In 2019, Bangladesh allowed the export of 500 tonnes during that year's Durga Puja. The export volume this year is three times the size last year.
Commerce Secretary Md Zafar Uddin told The Business Standard that Hilsa exports will not be allowed beyond the stipulated amount as well as after the specified timeframe.
He said there is no risk of any price impact in the country because of exporting a very little amount as about 6 lakh tonnes of Hilsa has been produced this year.
"It is also very important to earn even $1 from exports during the present critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic. Considering all aspects, the special opportunity to export Hilsa to India has been given on certain conditions," he added.
Commerce ministry officials said more than 20 companies applied to export 1,000-1,500 tonnes of Hilsa each.
Among the selected 9 companies, Janata Fish, Union Venture, Ripa Enterprise, Jahanarabad Sea Foods and Gazi's Fresh Sea Foods have got an opportunity to export 175 tonnes each.
Pacific Sea Foods, Jahanabad Sea Foods, Seven Star and Tiger Traders will be able to export 150 tonnes each.
No Hilsa can be exported on the sub-contract basis, officials added.