Inland fish producers suffer heavy losses as the price of fish on the market remains stagnant in the midst of spiraling production costs.
Let's take the example of Noor Khan, owner of a fishery from Trishal upazila, in Mymensingh, which accounts for losses of 15 tk per kilogram of Pangasius fish. Its production cost is 80 taka per kg but the maximum that the fish will fetch is 65 taka per kg.
The backdrop to the great success of inland fish producers, which made Bangladesh the fifth largest producer of cultured fish in the world in 2016, according to the World Food Organization. United Nations for Food and Agriculture.
But the rapid growth of fish production is proving to be a curse for inland aquaculture: its market has not increased as a result and its price either.
Meanwhile, commodity prices such as fish feed are rising.
The price of fish feed, the main raw material used in fish farming, has increased by 15 to 20% during the year 2016, according to Khan.
Inland fish farming accounted for 56.82% of total fish production during the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the Department of Fisheries.
And yet, the sector does not get the attention of the government.
"They also do not tackle the problem of losses suffered by farmers and take no action to avoid such a situation," said Shamsul Alam of Mymensingh, owner of fish and hatcheries who have been farming for more than 10 years. 20 years.
Many orthodox fish farmers are even considering stopping fish production and changing activity as they can not even increase the money they spend to feed their fish by selling their products on the current market, adds Alam.
Citing the example of the growing popularity of "recirculating aquaculture system" in neighboring countries such as India and China, Mr. Alam said the government could introduce new technologies and methods of culture to reduce costs and space used in fish farming. .
RAS is a series of culture tanks and filters where water is continuously recycled and monitored to keep a suitable habitat for fish all year round. This is an alternative to open air aquaculture.
"A farmer gets the desired amount of fish with less fish in less time in this system," said Alam, also a PRA pioneer in Bangladesh.
The current attitude of the government towards the fish farming industry as a whole will not help the industry to be sustainable, said AKM Abu Noman, a producer of fish and fish feed.
"Experts and authorities should tell farmers what to do to avoid overwhelming losses or tell them to stop producing fish altogether."
He also said that the government should take steps to demystify the myths surrounding fish farming.
For example, it is often said that consumption of tilapia fish can lead to cancer.
"Nothing like that has been scientifically proven," he said.
There is no quality control or regulation for fish on the market or fish feed.
"Fisheries are set up as mushrooms without proper guidance, training, and knowledge about the finer points of fish production.These non-experts produce poor quality fish without much investment."
As a result, serious farmers are facing massive losses and are gradually losing interest in the trade, added Mr. Noman.
Mohammad Mahfujul Haque, head of the aquaculture department of the Agriculture University of Bangladesh, acknowledged the problem of huge losses suffered by farmers.
"Many peasants have come to us to find solutions, they have trouble equaling the price of production, and even less making profits."
Haque suggested exporting more fish grown in inland waters as a solution to this problem.
He stated, however, that the fish produced here did not necessarily correspond to the quality required for the export market, so the need for quality control became all the more relevant.
Haque then cited the case in Vietnam, where the government set up a certification body to monitor the quality and price of fish and fish feed.
"With the seal of the Vietnamese certifying body, the fish can be exported anywhere in the world," he said.