When the export of prawns worth around Tk1,000 crore got stuck, and export orders of Tk460 crore were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the farmers of Satkhira, Bagerhat and Khulna districts had to face cyclone Amphan.
The cyclone has caused an additional loss of around Tk250 crore.
Mohammad Khalilullah Jhoru, director of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Association and managing director of Satkhira Foods Ltd, said, "Foreign buyers did not take the prawns worth around Tk1,000 crore, which were prepared for export, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Besides, several countries have cancelled export orders worth Tk460 crore. We have requested our prime minister to give us a special incentive to get over the loss in the business."
When coronavirus started to spread in China in November last year, a huge order of prawns, which were prepared for export, got stuck.
Before the farmers could get over the loss, cyclone Amphan hit the areas hard, damaging 21,500 prawn enclosures, locally known as gher. According to a government estimate, prawns in around 90,000 hectares of land have been damaged and the loss amounts to around Tk250 crore.
Dr Muhammad Anwar Hossain Hawladar, Khulna divisional commissioner, said, "Prawns worth around Tk1,000 crore were prepared for export, but could not be exported because of the coronavirus pandemic. In this situation, the government has taken initiatives to help the farmers affected by the pandemic and by cyclone Amphan."
Shyamnagar, Ashashuni and Kaliganj upazila of Satkhira were the areas worst affected by cyclone Amphan. Mohammad Moshiur Rahman, fishery officer of Satkhira, said, "The collapse of the embankment during cyclone Amphan damaged 10,456 ghers out of a total of 61,121 in the district. It has caused a loss of Tk177 crore. The government has taken an initiative to give the affected farmers Tk5,000 crore loan at four percent interest. We have informed the farmers about it."
In Khulna district, 6,866 prawn enclosures have been affected, causing around Tk70 crore loss.
The loss in Bagerhat, where 5,124 ghers have been damaged, is estimated to be around Tk5.71 crore.
Around 25,000 prawn farmers of the three districts have been affected by cyclone Amphan.
Safikul Islam, a prawn farmer of Shyamnagar upazila, said he took a loan of Tk2 lakh to cultivate prawns in around 1.5 hectares of land. Cyclone Amphan washed away all the prawns. "I have suffered a loss of around Tk4 lakh," said Safikul.
Shah Alam, another farmer of the same area, also borrowed Tk2 lakh to cultivate prawns on two hectares of land, investing Tk2.5 lakh. He has faced a loss of around Tk5 lakh. "Now I am worried about paying back the debt," said Shah Alam.