Frozen shrimp export from Bangladesh has been gradually returning to normalcy after it was almost halted for several months since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around 290 purchase orders worth around Tk1,000 crore were cancelled at that time. Farmers suffered a loss of Tk200 crore as they exported 3,000 tonne shrimp less than the target from February to May.
However, shrimp export from the country started to become normal in June, encouraging the exporters to expect to recover from their losses in the new fiscal year.
Sources at the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters' Association (BFFEA) said 85 percent of the shrimp exported from Bangladesh went to European countries while 15 percent went to America, Japan and other countries.
Sources said Bangladesh earned Tk4,228 crore by exporting frozen shrimp in fiscal year 2018-19. However, fish export dropped by 70 percent when the novel coronavirus hit countries in Europe and other parts of the world.
A shrimp exporter and BFFEA Vice President Abdul Baki said, "We could not export shrimp because of the coronavirus in the peak season from March to May. We suffered great losses."
He said although fish export resumed in June, they are getting low prices for shrimp at the world market. So, they are not making any profit.
"We have to sustain our businesses despite facing losses. The season for lobster is coming. We hope to make profit at that time. Currently we cannot provide good prices to the farmers who are not getting better prices at the home market either. So, they are in trouble," he added.
ATM Toufiq Mahmud, fish inspection and quality control officer in Khulna, said 2,479 tonne fish was exported from Khulna in June this year, 95 percent of which was shrimp.
Exporters earned Tk197.74 crore from exporting the fish, he added.
In July, 2,905 tonne frozen fish including shrimp were exported from Khulna, which earned Tk201 crore.
Toufiq opined the novel coronavirus had not affected the yearly export of fish from the area. In FY 2020, 29,541 tonne frozen fish worth Tk2,359.79 crore was exported from Khulna.
Majinur Rahman, deputy director of Fish Inspection and Quality Control office in Khulna, said, "European and American importers cancelled or suspended their deals with our exporters when the Covid-19 started to spread in January."
He also said, "From February to May, we exported a very little amount of shrimp. However, the export started to return to normalcy in June."
Although the exporters could not export around 2,500-3,000 tonne fish in the four months, Rahman was hopeful that shrimp export from the country would increase this year.