Farmed fish market up by 25 times in three decades, reveals IFPRI study

Dhaka,  Mon,  25 September 2017
Published : 08 Aug 2017, 22:42:46

Farmed fish market up by 25 times in three decades, reveals IFPRI study

FE Report

The market for farmed fish in the country grew by a dramatic 25 times in three decades, with 75 per cent of fish farmers selling fish commercially, according to a recent study.

There has also been an equally rapid shift among consumers eating fish from a home pond to purchasing farmed fish from the market, said the study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

"Bangladesh is experiencing a quiet revolution in its domestic fish farming market, with significant gains among all the players in the industry," IFPRI researchers said in a recent journal article.

This rapid growth has been spawned by increased demand; improvements in technology, communications and infrastructure; and investments by millions of farm households and small and medium enterprises, the study said.

Very little change was brought about by NGO or government action, although the government did play an important role in the early stages with infrastructure investment (such as investment in fish seed production, electricity and roads), a pro-business outlook, and a laissez-faire approach to land use and crop choice, it added.

"What really surprised me about these findings was the extent of the growth in many sectors, not just in production but also in many off-farm segments, such as rural and urban traders, input dealers and feed mills," says Ricardo Hernandez, research coordinator at IFPRI and lead author of the study,  

The rapid increase in mainly small and medium actors has produced a more competitive environment that has pushed the adoption of new technologies, which has increased productivity. This has greatly benefitted poor and low-income consumers, he added. He said what was once a subsistence enterprise in Bangladesh has seen a tripling of volume and players in all segments. There has been a proliferation of feed mills, hatcheries, farmers and traders, with rapid increase of purchased seed and feed, rapid increase in the use of chemicals, increase in the use of hired labour, and rapid increase in investment in agriculture equipment.

"Aquaculture has become an important driver of the Bangladeshi economy," Mr Hernandez said "and the industry now employs as many persons as the garment sector." Just over a decade ago, rural fish farmers usually sold their fish to local traders; now they are selling two-thirds of their product to large wholesalers based in towns and cities.

The researcher said rapid increases in urban consumption of farmed fish in Bangladesh mirror the trend taking place throughout Asia.
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