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Blockade, hartal cripple shrimp exports

The exports and production of shrimp have been severely affected by the ongoing political turmoil.

Over 10,000 tonnes of shrimp, the market value of which is estimated at Tk. 1,452 crore, are lying in

warehouses across the country. Exporters, including local buyers, are not much interested in buying

shrimp from farmers, as they fear the items would not be transported at all because of the indefinite

blockade programme enforced by the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance.

This has seriously affected both farmers and exporters of shrimp, as they are now staring at

humungous losses.

According to officials of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, shrimp exporters of the country have

already suffered losses to the tune of Tk. 300 crore due to the ongoing blockade and the series of

shutdowns called by the BNP-led alliance.

“Shrimp exports and production have been severely affected by the political impasse. Over 10,000

tonnes of shrimp are lying in different warehouses in the country, the market value of which is

around Tk. 1,452 crore,” Amin Ullah, president of the Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association

(BFFEA), told The Independent.

He claimed that shrimp exports were likely to decline by 10 per cent against the target in the current

fiscal year (2014–15) due to the global economic recession. But, because of the political unrest,

exports will be less by as much as 25 per cent.

Taking the present situation into consideration, the government is likely to provide assistance as

incentives for the affected shrimp farmers and exporters. Though the plan has not been finalised

yet, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is keeping overall production and export conditions in the

sector under observation.

If it is found that farmers and exporters are seriously affected, the government would assist them,

officials of the ministry told The Independent.

State minister for fisheries and livestock, Narayan Chandra Chanda, said the government is indeed

planning to save the most important export-oriented sector of the country, after the readymade

garments sector.

“We are closely monitoring the overall situation, and shrimp production and exports of the country.

Ministry officials and officials of the Department of Fisheries are keeping a close watch on the

sector. Necessary steps would be taken by the government to help them after consulting the Prime

Minister,” the state minister said.

Narayan Chandra Chanda, MP from Khulna district, said none of the shrimp farmers, traders and

exporters have as yet requested the government to assist them. However, the government is

observing the situation. If the situation deteriorates, the government will provide support to the

shrimp farmers, he added.

Chanda also acknowledged the troubles that shrimp farmers, traders and exporters are facing with

respect to the ongoing blockade and series of shutdowns. “They are mainly facing transport

problems. As a result, most of the importers and traders cannot deliver the items on time. Though

all the farmers and producers have their own storage capacity, it is too limited. So, some of the

farmers and producers are facing problems with their stocks. Exporters are facing transport

problems. The government is aware of the problems of the sector,” he said.

The blockade has been enforced since January 6, after BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia was prevented

from holding a public rally in the capital on January 5.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), shrimps worth Tk. 2,525 crore were exported in

the first six months (July–December) of the current fiscal year, which is 2.3 per cent less than that of

the same period last year. Last year, Tk. 2,584 crore was earned over the same period of time.

The shrimp exports target is Tk. 4,957 crore in the current fiscal year, but exporters are doubtful

whether the target would be met.