Fishermen and their hired workers in Atrai upazila of Naogaon are passing busy times in drying the fish as they are getting good catches of local fish after the flood in August.
In the last couple of years, fishermen failed to get profit due to poor catches. But a festive mood is prevailing among the fishermen in the upazila this season as netting of fish has gone up after the flood in August. Besides, the price is also good.
“There are smiles on the faces of fishermen all around, and we are hoping to recoup the losses of previous years,” said Zahedul Islam of Bhartetulia village.
According to locals, hundreds of villagers depend on fishing for their livelihood. Many of them produce dried fish due to absence of preserving facilities in the upazila, which has huge areas of wetlands (part of Chalan Beel) and the Atrai river that are key sources of fish in the upazila.
Fishermen have set up bamboo platforms in their areas for drying the fish.
Abdus Sattar of Bharatetulia village said large quantities of local varieties of fish, including mola, walking fish, catfish, carp, bacha, tengra, pangas, eel and many others, are caught from the rivers and beels by the fishermen and dried on the bamboo platforms.
“There is huge demand for sun dried fish due to its unique taste,” said Md Altaf Hossain of the area. It also creates employment for a large number of men and women of the area, he said, adding that around 7,000 people of ultra-poor families are involved with the industry.
The dried fish produced in Atrai are supplied to different parts of the country, including Dhaka, Chittagong, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Rajshahi and Sylhet, after meeting the local demand, traders said.
The price ranges from Tk 2,000 to Tk 20,000 per maund (40 kg), depending on the size, variety and quality of the fish.
The fishermen told this correspondent that they get one kg of dried fish after sun drying three to four kg of fish. It takes around 30 to 40 days for drying the fish.
“It is a hard work, but we are happy as we are getting good price,” said Rampodo Shill, a dried fish producer in the upazila.