Dipok Chouhan, owner of Jhalak Matsha Projonon Kendra, was feeding the Karfu fish in his hatchery at Gouripur upazila in Mymensingh on a shining afternoon.
He had no buyers in the hatchery.
Dipok said, "We have had fewer buyers since the last part of March because of the countrywide lockdown. My sales have dropped by 50% due to the coronavirus pandemic."
"As the demand has fallen and we have difficulties in the distribution channel, minnow production has also dropped this year compared to what it was in the same period last year," he added.
The scenario is no different in all the 350 hatcheries in Mymensingh district. Minnows produced in Mymensingh have been sold in almost every division of the country.
The hatchery owners say that mostly buyers from Munshiganj, Sunamganj, Bikrampur, Jashore, Cumilla, Chattogram buy minnows from Mymensingh hatcheries.
District Fisheries Officer of Mymensingh, Dilip Kumar Saha told The Business Standard that in the last two months, March and April, minnow production shortage was around 9,000 kilogram compared to that in the same period last year.
As per the target, the production was supposed to reach around 40,000 kilograms by the end of April, but overall the production just touched 31,000 Kilogram, he said.
And, due to this, the hatchery business of Mymensingh district faced a loss of Tk2.69 crore in March and April, added the district fisheries officer.
"But hatchery owners face many other expenses that are part of running a hatchery, such as paying permanent workers even when sales drops. I think government incentives are needed to ease the matter," he continued.
Dilip Kumar also claimed that they are trying hard to help hatchery owners by providing a disintegrative distribution channel.
We gave directives to the hatchery owners not to decrease production, and promised them to do our best to reach the minnow's to the buyers, he said.
He however expressed concern about the hatchery business saying, "It is a big blow to the hatchery business. If the lockdown continues further, it will be impossible to recover the losses this year."
As per sources, minnow's of Karfu, Pangash, Shing, Magur, Pabda, Monosex Telapia are mostly produced in Mymensingh district.
As per district fisheries office sources, last year, 185,102 kg minnows of various fishes were produced which were worth around Tk55 crore. And minnows of Telapia fish alone was produced in Mymensingh, which was worth around Tk32 crore.