Traders have allegedly hiked the prices of fish feed in Chattogram as the port city customs seized about 6,000 tonnes of banned and harmful meat and bone meal – a low-cost feed produced from animal carcasses such as pigs.
Imported as fish feed in 28 consignments in the last four months, 5,974 tonnes of the commodity remained detained at the Chattogram port.
Against this backdrop, traders have suddenly increased prices of almost all 20 varieties of fish feed by Tk2,000 to Tk12,000 per tonne, plunging fish farmers into a deep trouble.
The Starter is now selling at Tk80,000 per tonne which was Tk68,000 only a month ago. Also, the Grower – another variety – is selling at Tk57,500 per tonne, up from Tk55,000 in August.
Abul Kashem, the owner of the Kashem Fisheries, said all producing companies increased prices of fish feed because a large number of imported fish feed consignments were seized.
Fish farmers expressed their concerns in the wake of the increased feed prices, as selling prices of fish have not increased in line with that.
Officials of feed producing companies reportedly told farmers that prices of fish feed might go up even further in the future. Farmers apprehended that the sector would experience a big jolt if it comes true.
MA Haider Chowdhury, a fish cultivator at Mirersarai, said many fish farmers would be compelled to leave their profession if feed prices continue uptrend.
Chattogram Customs House sources said due to the presence of harmful substances in it as well as for religious sentiment, the import of meat and bone meal is banned in Bangladesh.
In an order on December 20, 2018, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock imposed a ban on the import of harmful animal protein, protein meal and protein concentrate, considering the quality of local feed, price, social and religious factors.
In a letter on January 14 this year, Mokammel Haque, the secretary of the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, directed all customs house commissioners across the country to take necessary steps to stop release of meat and bone meal, protein meal and protein concentrate from the ports.
Md Fakhrul Alam, the commissioner of the Chattogram Customs House, said they did not ban import of fish feed but meat and bone meal.
"So, traders have no reason to make an artificial crisis of fish feed in the market and thereby hiking the prices suddenly," he said.
Chattogram Customs House captured the first consignment of the banned item on June 11, said sources.
The Ayesha Corporation, through a false declaration, imported 601 tonnes of meat and bone meal as fish feed from Vietnam.
But several lab tests at the Chattogram Customs House, the ICDDRB in Dhaka and the Poultry Research and Training Centre at Chattogram found existence of banned products in the consignment.
Following this, the port city customs house took a stern position against the import of the item through misdeclaration.
Afterwards, they seized 28 such consignments imported from various countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the United States, Sri Lanka and Belgium. As many as 19 consignments came from Vietnam alone.