Bengal nets big catch as Bangladesh starts exporting 1,450 MT hilsa to stater

Written by Sweety Kumari
| Kolkata |

September 16, 2020 8:32:11 am

Customers purchase hilsa at Maniktala market in Kolkata on Tuesday. Partha Paul

Padma’s hilsa has began swimming again from Bangladesh to the West Bengal markets this monsoon. The neighbouring nation will export a complete of 1,450 metric tonne of the silver fish to India, thereby rekindling hope of resumptionof border commerce frequently after a niche of eight years.

After Bangladesh gave particular permission to its merchants for hilsa export, the state has already acquired 70 metric tonne hilsa within the final two days. Packed inside ice-filled theromocol packing containers, the primary consignment of 20 metric tonne of fish reached in three vans on Monday. The 50-metric-tonne second consignment reached the native markets on Tuesday. Nine firms have been granted permission to export hilsa and has to be accomplished by October 10, mentioned sources.

It is speculated that the Bengal and Bangladesh governments failed to discover a assembly floor on the Teesta water-sharing settlement in 2011, which was the explanation behind the neighbouring nation’s banning of hilsa export the following yr. However, Bangladesh had acknowledged that low availability of fish was the explanation behind the ban.

“We have always been very optimistic. Almost every year, we have written letters to the Sheikh Hasina government to lift the ban. Last year, we received 500 metric tonne of Bangladeshi hilsa as puja gift. This year 1,450 metric tonne will reach the state in a phase-wise manner. Let’s hope Bangladesh government lifts the ban on cross-border trade of hilsa,” Syed Anwar Maqsood, Secretary of West Bengal Fish Importers’ Association, instructed The Indian Express.

Depending on dimension, the worth of hilsa in native markets varies from Rs 600-1300. The fish usually weighs between 600 and 1200 gram. As quickly as the consignments reached Bengal, merchants auctioned the catch to retailers, who in return at the moment are promoting it to clients.

Depending on dimension, the worth of hilsa in native markets varies from Rs 600-1300.

“I got one kilo of hilsa at Rs 1,200. For a Bengali like me, it’s not a big price to pay for ‘opar hilsa’ (Bangladeshi hilsa). Prices may come down later. But if you get fresh Bangladeshi hilsa during the monsoon, then what else can you ask for,” mentioned Koushik Ghosh, a buyer at Howrah fish market.

Since the ban was imposed, it was solely twice that Bangladesh authorities had allowed hilsa exports, as soon as in May 2016 after which once more final yr when 500 tonne of fish from the Padma-Meghna rivers have been despatched to Bengal throughout Durga Puja. With the ban, the demand for hilsa has been all-time excessive in West Bengal, specifically Kolkata.

While hilsa can be out there in West Bengal, the dimensions and high quality is much extra superior on the opposite facet of the border. About two years in the past when the hilsa manufacturing was comparatively excessive, even then 90 per cent of touchdown was between 200 and 300 gram.

“We can never compare Bangladeshi hilsa to what we get here locally. The taste is completely different . You have to taste it to believe it. Bengalis are food lovers, we don’t understand cross-border politics. It’s sad that we live on the mercy of Bangladeshi government to relish our favourite delicacy. I bought a medium-sized hilsa today, for which I shelled out Rs 900,” mentioned Supratim Dasgupta, one other purchaser at Teghoria fish market.

According to fish merchants, the largest downside with native hilsa is that fishermen catch them even earlier than they develop mature. It hampers the replica of fish.

“There are certain steps that must be followed if we want to conserve hilsa locally, which we fail to do. We hope the Bangadesh government lifts the ban some day. We have regularly written to them and we are still hopeful,” Anwar added.

For 72-year-old Arindam Chatterjee, monsoon and hilsa go hand in hand.

“You can’t enjoy one without the other. Now that Bangladeshi hilsa is flooding the local market, we won’t buy other fish at least for the time being,” he mentioned.

Explained: Why the haul is depleting 

Dwindling availability of hilsa in West Bengal has left a bitter style within the mouths of Bengalis. The fixed apply of netting hilsa whereas they’re but to grow to be mature, coupled with interruptions of fishermen and trawler actions in the course of the breeding season don’t enable fish to develop to its pure dimension. Hence, the out there fish weighs solely between 250-500 gm. Inadequate rainfall and rising salinity of water have additionally contributed to its reducing manufacturing.

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