Hilsha prices skyrocket ahead of Pahela Baishakh

Salesmen display hilsha in a local market ahead of the Pahela Baishak.

The country will be celebrating Bengali new year Pahela Baishakh just two days after the holy Eid-ul-Fitr. The demand of hilsha has risen centring the two festivals back to back. However, there are not enough hilsha fishes in the rivers at the moment. As a result, supply has fallen and hilsha prices are skyrocketing in both retail and wholesale markets.

Visiting different markets in Barishal and Barguna it has been learnt that the sellers asking Tk 3,000 to Tk 6,000 per piece hilsha weighing over 1 kg. And the price of 500gm-hilsha fishes now stands at Tk 1,200 per kg, which was Tk 800 a few days ago.

Hilsha prices have also gone up in the wholesale market. The price per mound of hilsha fish has reached Tk 100,000. Even the price of per mound small sized hilsha fish has crossed Tk 50,000 at the hilsha port in the Barishal city.

Speaking to Prothom Alo Barishal Sadar Matsya Aratdar Association (fish traders association) vice-president Zahir Sikder said fishing has been banned in the Meghna river for nearly two months. Besides, there is a scarcity of hilsha fish in other rivers. Some 100 to 150 mounds of hilsha fishes are coming to the port road every day, which is one sixth of the amount during normal times.

He further said the demand of hilsha fish skyrocketed ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and Pahela Baishakh celebrations. However, the supply is quite low as compared to the demand. As result, hilsha prices are on rise at the moment.

At the port roads, 1.5-kg-hilsha fishes are being sold at a rate of Tk 100,000 per mound, 1.2-kg-hilshas at Tk 96,000 per mound and 1-kg-hilsha fishes are being sold at Tk 85,000 per mound. Besides, the hilsha fishes weighing below 1 kg are being sold at Tk 65,000-70,000 per mound and hilshas weighing below 600 grams are being sold at Tk 50,000-55,000 per mound.

The taste of fish from rivers in Barishal is tastier. Therefore, the prices are high, said fish wholesaler Rafiq Molla. Traders from Dhaka, Chattogram, Chandpur and other parts of the country have come here to purchase hilsha ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr and Pahela Baishakh. In addition, there is the demand of the local people. However, there are not enough hilshas in any of the shops. So the price is rising.

Md Emon, a seller in the port road market, said the prices of hilsha fish have increased by Tk 10,000 to Tk 20,000 per mound in the last three days. It is likely to increase further.

The supply was quite low as compared to the demand in the Bangla Bazar and Chowmatha retail markets in Barishal.

A customer named Rakibul Islam said the price of a 1 kg hilsha fish is Tk 3,000 per piece in the Chowmatha market. He tried to buy a piece of hislsha with Tk 2,000, but couldn’t.

There was a massive rush of customers at the fish market in Barguna on Wednesday at noon. The prices of fishes were also quite high. A fish seller named Milon asked Tk 4,500 for pair of hilsha fishes weighing below 1 kg.

A customer named GM Faruk said, “The prices of all fishes doubled up, not only the hilsha. We don’t have the ability to buy fishes at such a high price.”

Barishal district fish department official (hilsha) Bimal Chandra Das said, “There is not enough fish in the rivers right now. However, the demand is quite high in the markets. So we don’t have anything to do in this regard."