Hilsa, arguably the most delicious fish in this part of the world, was selling at much higher prices at Dhaka’s kitchen markets on Friday, the day before Pahela Baishakh, reports UNB.
As happened every year ahead of the Bangla new year, the hilsa price jumped due to higher demand triggered by its use during the celebration.
Despite campaign over the past few years against keeping hilsa on the Pahela Baishakh morning menu, people were seen buying it at exorbitant prices to celebrate the new year.
As an eight-month ban on catching, transportation and selling of jatka (hilsa fries) is in progress, fishermen are catching hilsa on a limited scale, forcing traders to go for frozen and imported hilsas.
Visiting different city kitchen markets on Friday, it was found that hilsa weighing 1.800 kg was sold at Tk 5,500 per kg while per four pieces weighing 1-1.200 kg each at Tk 8,000-10,000, 800-900 gram per four pieces Tk 6,000-7,000, 600-700 gram per piece Tk 600-700 and 400-500 gram per piece Tk 450-550.
Buyers said almost all the pieces of the hilsa are frozen fish.
It was also seen that customers were buying hilsas imported from Myanmar. A 10-kg box containing 22 hilsas was selling at Tk 3,400 while that containing 19 and 16 hilsas at Tk 4,800 and Tk 5,800 respectively.
Mobile hilsa sellers are selling these types of hilsas in the name of hilsa from Chandpur, some customers alleged.
Mohammad Selim, a wholesaler of Karwan Bazar market, said hilsa is not available at this time. "Fishermen are not catching hilsas as the jatka conservation programme is in progress. To avoid arrest and fine, fishermen are not going to rivers for catching hilsa. So, most of the hilsas available in markets are frozen and imported ones," he said.
According to a government estimate, a total of 4.134 million tonnes of fish were produced in 2016-2017 fiscal year and hilsa accounted for 12 per cent of it. The contribution of hilsa to the GDP is 1 per cent.
In the past eight years, hilsa production increased by 66 per cent.