Prices of fish had dropped by an average of 19 per cent at the farm level while the income of fish farmers had been halved on average as a result of reduced customer presence on the markets with the coronavirus outbreak eroding household incomes, said a recent study.
A study on the impact of Covid-19 on the fisheries sector conducted by research organisation LightCastle found that the biggest decline in fish prices were seen for relatively high-value fish such as Shing, Pabda and shrimp varieties while low-value fish such as Ruhita, Mrigel and Tilapia had seen relatively smaller fall in prices.
The study said that fish farmers in Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna experienced average income losses of between 20 to 50 per cent owing to the lockdown that started in the last week of March this year.
LightCastle said that a total of 50 respondents belonging to various segments of the fisheries value chain were interviewed over telephone in Rajshahi, Rangpur, Khulna, and Mymensingh in order to evaluate the impact of COVID on the sector.
It found that Mymensingh had experienced the highest dip in consumer level fish prices at around 40 per cent.
Rajshahi, which is a major source of carps, and Khulna, a major source of shrimp, had also experienced price drops of 18 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.
The study identified that the reason for this price collapse was the decrease in the number of customers on the market compared to the pre-COVID situation and restricted operating hours.
It said that households were now rationing their expenses, with a clear inclination towards purchase of and opting for fish of lower price ranges such as Pangas and Tilapia as well as carps.
Consumers are also opting for fish of smaller individual sizes as their prices are lower, it found.
In the short to medium term, farmers of high-value fish are expected to be the biggest losers as they would only see a small fraction of their envisioned returns, since consumer appetite for high-value fish is expected to take moderate time to recover even after the COVID restriction, the study observed.
‘We are facing huge loss as the prices of fish decreased by 30-50 per cent at the farm level due to the coronavirus pandemic,’ Fish Farm Owners Association of Bangladesh president Sumsur Rahman Shahin said on Tuesday.
He said that the prices of high value fish, including shrimps, had fallen by up to 50 per cent while the prices of catfish and carps had declined by up to 30 per cent.
Sharif Hossain, a retailer on the Hatirpool kitchen market, said that sales of fish had witnessed a drastic drop as customer footfall on the market had taken a plunge for the pandemic.
He said that the prices of carp in the city had slumped by 10 per cent in the last one month.
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