Floods wash away Tk 140cr fish in Sylhet
The current flooding in Sylhet has caused losses of more than Tk 140 crore for the local aquaculture industry, with farmers in Sunamganj district being the worst affected, according to a preliminary estimate by the Department of Fisheries (DoF).
Some 32,802 farmers, who were raising fish such as carps on 5,258 hectares of land in the division, saw their hopes for profit dashed by torrential rainfall in the country's north-east and flash floods upstream in India's Meghalaya and Assam.
The fisheries office in Sylhet says the flood has washed away both fish and fry in farms.
"This is a preliminary estimate. The actual losses of farmers would be higher as almost all farms in Sunamganj have been inundated," said Md Motaleb Hossain, deputy director of the DoF in Sylhet.
Local farmers are suffering these losses at a time when fish farming was expanding in the region as many people aimed to profit from the growing demand for protein in the country, where population and economic growth has increased buying capacities.
Cultured fish, which emerged as a low-cost source of protein, accounted for 57 per cent of the total 45 lakh tonnes of fish produced in fiscal year 2019-20 thanks to steady growth in aquaculture.
That year, Bangladesh was the 5th biggest producer of farmed fish in the world, according to the DoF and Food and Agriculture Organisation.
A decade ago, overall production of cultured fish was 13.5 lakh tonnes, which was around 47 per cent of the total production, as per DoF data.
Sylhet accounts for 3 per cent of the total cultured fish produced in the country.
Officials say fish production in open waterbodies is usually higher in the northeast region, where farmers are showing interest in producing catfish and freshwater prawn, Hossain said, adding that tilapia and pangasius fish are already farmed in the region along with carps.
The flood damage to farms will affect consumers along with farmers, officials said.
Hossain went on to suggest that farmers should use nets to protect their fish farms from the flood.
Md Moshiur Rahman, managing director of Paragon Group, a leading poultry and feed producer, said the group has two hatcheries and two fish farms in Sylhet.
"We built a dam that is three-feet higher than normal to stop the flow of flood water in the past but as water levels have risen, we are increasing the height of our nets," he added.