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Production crises shut down 30 fish export cos in Ctg

Md Saidur Rahman . Chattogram
21 Apr 2024 21:54:03 | Update: 21 Apr 2024 21:54:03
Production crises shut down 30 fish export cos in Ctg

The once-thriving fish industry of Chattogram is now in dire straits as fish exporting companies are continuing to shut down due to financial constraints, escalating operational costs and challenges in meeting foreign demand.

Despite historical leadership in processed fish exports, Chattogram businessmen are currently facing significant challenges including the inability to meet the foreign demand for shrimps and fish, leading to a decline in exports and subsequent closure of factories.

Industry people have said that vannamei shrimp, also known as white-leg shrimp, accounts for 90 per cent of the shrimp demand in importing countries. But since vannamei shrimp production in Bangladesh is not that much, Galda and Bagda shrimps have to be exported.

However, due to the lack of global demand for these two types of shrimps, some of the domestic companies involved in fish export are closing down as there are not many foreign orders.

According to the Fish Inspection and Quality Control (FIQC) office of Chattogram, about 54 factories were involved in fish exports in 2006. In 2022, the number dropped to 27, and in 2023, the number of establishments involved in fish exports fell again to 24. This shows that 30 factories in Chattogram shut down their operations during this whole period.

Md Shahzada Khosru, deputy director of FIQC Chattogram, said, “Vannamei shrimp demand is high abroad. However local companies are unable to supply this frozen shrimp according to that demand. Moreover, factories are closing down due to various crises. Many of the factories that have permits are not even operating at half of their capacity.”

Meanwhile, out of the 24 factories operating currently, some 10 to 12 are carrying out their activities at full capacity. The rest are going on somehow, he said.

Among the companies that have closed down in the last one and a half years include Minhar Sea Food Ltd, Minhar Fisheries Ltd, Fish Preserver Limited, Aqua Food, Conception Sea Food Limited, Kuliachar Sea Food, Sar and Co Ltd, and Mahi Fish Company.

Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA) President Kazi Belayet Hossain said, “The businessmen of Chattogram once led the way in processed fish exports. But in the last few years, they have been left suffering. The increase in production is going well but we are still struggling to meet the foreign demand of shrimp and fish.”

“Due to that, exports are decreasing and factories are closing down every year. Moreover, these factories — most of which are based in Chattogram — are forced to close as they are failing to pay back the bank loans on time,” said Belayet, also the managing director of Sobi Fish Processing Industries Ltd.

Fish researchers have said that the average production rate of vannamei shrimp is several times higher than that of the local types of shrimps and production cost is also less than half.

Domestic shrimp farming has to deal with different favourable conditions such as salty water and temperature control. But vannamei shrimp are salt tolerant and can be grown at any temperature, they said.

Apart from neighbouring countries like India, Myanmar, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, various countries have already taken measures to increase the production of vannamei shrimp, they added.

While others are trying to export vannamei to the global market, Bangladesh is still researching whether it can be produced here. Due to this, although the country’s overall production of fish has increased, Bangladesh is still lagging far behind in shrimp exports, researchers said.