A viral attack has devastated the shrimp enclosures in the district, leaving the sector in limbo as the farmers are counting huge losses due to the widespread death of shrimp and its falling price.
Freshwater prawn (Macrobrachiumrosenbergii), commercially known as ‘White Gold’ in Bangladesh, is farmed in around 50 lakh acres of land in six upazilas of the district.Three species –Bagda, Galda and Harina—are farmed here. Among them, Bagda and Galda are exported to various countries while Harina supplied to local markets.
The country now earns nearly Tk 1,500 crore in foreign exchange every year by exporting shrimp from Satkhira alone, official sources said.Sources at Satkhira District Fisheries Department said Bagda has been cultivated in 49,163 registered enclosures in six upazilas this year with a production target of 27,500 metric tons against last year’s 26,000 mts.
But the shrimp farmers suffered huge losses in the wake of falling prices caused by the viral attack. Shrimp worth Tk 100 crore died this year, said sources at the District Shrimp Farmers Association.Officials at District Fisheries Department said lack of fresh water and favourable environment are behind the attack by the viral disease.
Rajyeswar Das, a shrimp farmer of Sorappur village in Ashashuni upazila said, “We’re upset as we’re losing money. I’ve been cultivating shrimp for last 30-35 years. I cultivated Bagda on 2,500 bighas of land this year but incurred the worst losses in 10 years – Tk 2 crore. I’m not getting fair the price either.”Dr Abul Kalam Babla, general secretary of the association, said he farmed Bagda on around 1,500 bighas of land. Most shrimps died due to attack by a viral disease and he incurred a loss of Tk 1 crore, Kalam added.
Md Abdur Rab, president of the association, said the farmers are not getting fair prices due to downtrend in prices on the international market. The shrimps, which were selling at Tk 900-100 per kg barely two months back, are now selling at Tk 550-600 per kg, hitting the farmers and businessmen hard.
Aftabuzzaman, former president of the association, said the commercial shrimp farming in the district started in 1972. The interest of the local farmers in shrimp farming increased following its high demand both on the local and international markets, he said.He said when shrimp fry used to be collected from natural sources, the prevalence of the viral disease was low, but it started increasing when farmers became dependent on hatcheries for the fry.
Md Shahidul Islam, a district fisheries officer, said the shrimp enclosures have been built in unhygienically as the shrimp fry are hardly released in the enclosures making those free from bacteria.He said they suggested the farmers to farm shrimp in hygienically to avoid any attack by viral diseases.