Fish trade in Manikganj continues to suffer because of a bleak demand outlook triggered by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Even though the government reopened the economy – after over two-month countrywide shutdown – around three months ago, wholesale fish markets of the district still see their turnover down to around one-third of the amount they usually see during this time of the year.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, fish worth around Tk1.5-2 crore used to be sold at Tora wholesale fish market in Manikganj Sadar upazila every day.
However, the sale has dropped to around Tk50 lakh per day during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to the fish traders of the market.
There are a total of 90 wholesale traders in the market that buzzes from 6:00 am to 8:00 am every day. More than 1,000 retail fish traders from different upazilas of Manikganj and adjacent districts throng the market, according to Bholanath Halder, president of Tora Fish Warehouse Association.
Jahangir Alam, a wholesale trader of big fishes at the market, said he brought good quality Hilsa fish from Chandpur and sold the fish in the market.
During this season last year, Hilsa fish worth Tk2.5-3 lakh were sold every day, said Jahangir.
"But it has become difficult to sell Hilsa fish worth around Tk1 lakh per day this year," he added.
Both Bholanath and Jahangir said the fish trade in the wholesale market had declined as the demand of fish in retail markets is low.
Retail traders echoed the same. According to them, the business in the wholesale market has declined as the numbers of consumers in local retail fish markets have decreased during the ongoing pandemic.
Nikhil Rajbangshi, a retail fish trader at Srirampur Bazar in Dhamrai upazila of Dhaka district, said fish sales in the retail market had decreased since the onset of coronavirus pandemic. Earlier, he used to sell fish worth Tk25,000-30,000 per day. Now he has to struggle to sell fish worth Tk15,000.
Meanwhile, Swapan Halder, a retail fish trader at Dhankora Bazar in Saturia upazila of Manikganj, said, "The demand for local small fishes is higher than big fishes' in retail markets. The market remained closed when the area was declared red zone. Since then fish business has been dull."
Though Swapan used to sell fish worth Tk20,000-25,000 before the pandemic, now he sells fish worth Tk10,000-12,000.
"Income of retail traders has reduced by around 50% as the sale has decreased. Before the coronavirus crisis, I used to earn around Tk1,000 per day. Now I earn Tk300-400," said Swapan.