The government has decided to send 1,475 tonnes of hilsa fish to India as a gesture of goodwill on the occasion of Durga Puja, an annual Hindu festival, and has already given the go-ahead to nine exporters to begin shipments from the next week.
The commerce ministry shared the info via a circular issued on September 10.
"It's a Durga Puja gift for the people of India," said Nargis Murshida, deputy secretary (export-2) of the commerce ministry.
"Last year, we allowed the export of 500 tonnes of hilsa fish," she added.
Hilsa, the national fish of Bangladesh, is mainly exported from the Pathorghata, Bhola, Barishal, Kalapara districts of Barishal division and from Chandpur under Chattogram division.
Exporters from different parts of the country purchase the fish from these areas before shipping them abroad.
Around 200 people have applied for permission to export hilsa this year but only nine got the opportunity, said Nirab Hossain Tutul, president of the Barishal Matso Arotdar Samity, a local committee of fish wholesalers.
Hilsa fish of 800 to 1,200 grams in size will be exported this year, said Tutul, who is the only local exporter to be included in the list of nine exporters.
However, the per kilogram price of the fish is yet to be fixed.
Export of these fishes to India's West Bengal through Benapole port will continue until October 10, according to the traders and exporters at Barishal.
At present, various preparations are ongoing. This year, the exporters have to operate under quarantine orders from the authorities concerned to ensure that the fishes are safe and do not spread Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the price of hilsa at local markets increased as soon as the news of the new export order was released, Tutul said. In local markets, each kilogramme of hilsa fish is now selling at Tk 850 to Tk 900 while it was Tk 750 a week ago, he added.
Over 80 per cent of the hilsa fish which will be exported to India this year will come from the Barishal belt, according to Ajit Kumar Das Manu, a local hilsa trader.
"Last year, 350 tonnes out of the 500 tonnes shipped to India came from Barishal," Manu said.
Hilsa production has increased in Barishal in recent times thanks to strict supervision and widespread campaigns from the government to protect and allow the fishes to grow bigger, said Bimol Chandra Das, district fisheries officer (hilsa).