Sale of Hilsa has marked a sharp rise in the kitchen markets across the country as consumers started swarming the fish markets to buy the delicious fish ahead of Pahela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year.
Welcoming the New Year is a national festival in Bangladesh and is celebrated with much ado. A dish of panta-ilish (a combination of rice soaked in water overnight and Hilsa fried, steamed or in curry) is usually featured on the day’s menu.This is why, demand for Hilsa increases each year at this period, traders said.
Like previous years, price of Hilsa already increased at different retail markets in the capital due to its higher demand.
But, the markets have been flooded with ‘tasteless’ Burmese (Myanmar) Hilsa due to supply shortage of local Hilsa. The fish is mainly imported from the neighbouring Myanmar while portions of it are imported from India, Vietnam and Oman, market insiders said.
A section of unscrupulous traders is importing the fish for making extra profit and selling it telling as native Hilsa. But, there is no monitoring on the part of the authorities concerned to check the deception.
“Burmese fish Chandana, Choukka and Sardine resemble Bangladeshi Hilsa, but rarely close to the taste and smell of the indigenous fish species,” said Dr M Anisur Rahman, a scientific officer at Chandpur Riverine Station, also a fish specialist.
Pahela Baishakh is being celebrated across Bangladesh and parts of India since Mughal period and Hilsa is being consumed widely on the day.A dish of panta-ilish (a combination of rice soaked in water overnight and Hilsa fried, steamed or in curry) has been an integral part of the Bengali New Year celebration for ages.
Skyrocketing prices of Hilsa have become a common practice ahead of the new year.
The two-month (March-April) ban on netting all kinds of fishes in the Hilsa sanctuary by the government allows growth of Hilsa fry.
Dr Anisur Rahman told the daily sun that massive Hilsa fishes have been netted in the Bay of Bengal and other rivers excepting the sanctuary.
He also mentioned that a large number of adult Hilsa will be available soon after the expiry of the ban period of March and April. Because, juvenile Hilsa gets enough time to get matured.
While visiting different fish markets in the capital, this correspondent saw that a piece of Hilsa weighing about 1.5 kg is being sold at Tk 3,000-4,000 while a piece of Hilsa weighing more than one kg is being sold at Tk 1500-1800.
Similarly, a piece of Hilsa weighing 800-900gm is selling at Tk 1200-1300 while a piece of Hilsa weighing 600-700gm at Tk 900-1000 and a piece of the delicious fish weighing 500gm is being sold at Tk 600-700.
As per report of the government-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) on Sunday, price of Hilsa increased by 30.77 percent than its price at the same period of the last year.
According to the TCB data, the price of a piece of Hilsa price was Tk 438 to 988 (different size) while it was Tk 400-900 per piece at the same period of the last year.
Meanwhile, many fish traders are waiting for much higher prices one or two days ahead of Pahela Baishakh.
Tanjamul Haque, a consumer, told the daily sun that prices of Hilsa increased abnormally within a few months at the kitchen markets putting extra pressure in our pockets. The government should take measures to check the trend.