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Hilsa price spirals amid export

The price of hilsa shot up in the local market, influenced by demand for exports of the fish to India ahead of Durga Puja, one of the biggest Hindu religious festivals, to be celebrated in the third week of October.

Termed the national fish of Bangladesh, hilsa prices have risen by around Tk 100 per kilogramme following the beginning of shipments, said Narottam Das, a hilsa wholesaler at Karwan Bazar, one of the major wholesale markets for fish in Dhaka.

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The price of each kilogramme-plus hilsa increased to Tk 1,520-1,550 from Tk 1,450-1,470, he said.

Bangladesh caught 5.66 lakh tonnes of hilsa in the fiscal year 2021-22.

Exports of hilsa are prohibited but shipments are allowed based on prior permission from the government.

Every year before Durga puja, a large number of exporters seek approval from the commerce ministry to send hilsa to India.

The government recently allowed the export of 3,950 tonnes of hilsa to India between September 21 and October 30 at the rate of $10 per kg.

Hilsa prices have risen by around Tk 100 per kilogramme following the beginning of shipments, said Narottam Das, a hilsa wholesaler at Karwan Bazar

Our Patuakhali correspondent reports that the wholesale price of the fish soared by Tk 10,000 per maund (37 kilogrammes) at fish landing stations following the government's decision to export hilsa.

Visiting different fish markets, it was seen that hilsa weighing more than one kg was now being sold at Tk 68,000-70,000 per maund, which was between Tk 50,000 and Tk 55,000 during the last season.

Besides, traders were asking for Tk 55,000-60,000 for one maund of hilsa where each weighed between 800-900 grams.

Although the rise in prices brings smiles to fishermen and traders, local buyers are upset as prices rose to one and a half times higher than last year.

Helal Majhi, who works in a trawler named FB Allah Daan, said he came to Mohipur, a fish landing station in the southern coastal district, on Friday noon after fishing in the sea for eight days. He sold 30 maunds of fish at the rate of Tk 45,000.

"We are being able to repay our previous loans after getting good prices of hilsa," said Md Khais, who works at another trawler.

Didar Uddin Ahmed Masum, owner of Rajin Fish Arat and president of Mohipur Fisheries Arat (Wholesale) Owners Association, said traders from Barisal and Dhaka were buying hilsa from there to export to India.

Abdul Malek, a resident of the New Market area in Patuakhali town, said that prices had gone beyond the capacity of many local buyers despite it being hilsa season.

However, Khokon Samaddar, a hilsa wholesaler with depots in Jatrabari, Abdullahpur and Rampura in Dhaka, said prices had not increased to that extent.

Narottam Das said the supply of the fish was not in line with the demand in the local market. "So, any decline in prices is unlikely ahead of the Durga puja without higher catches," he said.

Last year, the ministry granted permission to ship 2,900 tonnes of hilsa to India.

(Our Patuakhali correspondent contributed to the report)