- An average of 100 tonnes of fish worth $2.5 lakh is exported to India's Agartala every day
- The total worth of exports through the port now stands at $3 lakh per day
- In the height of pandemic, exports through the port fell to $1 lakh, causing a loss of at least $80 lakh
Akhaura Land Port in Brahmanbaria, one of the largest land ports in the country, has turned around – mainly because of fish exports absorbing the shocks of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An average of 100 tonnes of fish worth $2.5 lakh is exported to India's Agartala every day while the total amount of exports through the port stands at $3 lakh per day.
Before the pandemic, products worth an average of $2-$3 lakh were exported through the port. But during the pandemic, it reduced to $1 lakh.
Shafiqul Islam, general secretary of the Akhaura Land Port Importers and Exporters Association, said, "The pandemic has caused a loss of at least $80 lakh. The current situation is better than before. Agartala traders are taking a lot of fish."
Rajib Uddin Bhuiyan, proprietor of Suyeb Trade International at Akhaura Land Port, said, "The export activities at the land port are better now than before. However, most of the exported items are fish as the demand for fish is increasing every day. Other products are being exported in small quantities."
Apart from fish, rod, cement, coal, cotton, and various food items are being exported to Agartala now.
According to the Fish Exporters Association of Akhaura Land Port, traders are allowed to export all species of fish except shrimp and hilsa.
The average price of fish is $2.5 per kilogramme.
At present, 30 to 40 fish-laden trucks go to India every day.
About 50% of the fish goes to the markets of Tripura and the remaining 50% goes to Assam's Silchar.
Traders said the demand for pangas is higher in the markets of Tripura and Silchar. Out of the 100 tonnes of fish exported every day, 30 tonnes are pangas.
The demand for Bangladeshi fish is high there this winter, according to fish exporters.
An average of 50 tonnes of fish was exported every day in winter last year, they said.
The list of exported fish includes: pangas, rui, katal, mrigal, silver carp, curfew, and pabda.
Faruk Mia, general secretary of the Akhaura Land Port Fish Exporters Association, said, "The demand for fish is high now as it is winter. The amount of fish exports is double this time as compared to last winter. Fish has brought a sliver of hope for traders. However, the demand for fish will decrease after winter. Besides, we do not get much fish here in summer."
According to the Land Port's Importers and Exporters Association, the exports through the land port were reduced to 50% due to the Covid-19 situation.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus, Indian traders stopped importing goods from 24 March to 3 April last year and then again from 7 June to 15 June.
Later, due to the lockdown across India, Indian traders started importing a handful of goods including: fish, cement, cotton, and food items through Akhaura Land Port.
Over the last two-and-a-half months, the land port's exports have increased.