Dried fish is a highly sought-after protein delicacy originating mainly in Bangladesh’s southeastern coastal belt and some inland water bodies across the country. Thirty to thirty-five varieties of fishes are processed as dry fish. However, Chhuri (Ribbon fish), Rupchanda (Pomfret) Loitta (Bombay duck) and Faisha (Phasa) and shrimp varieties are processed the most. Dried fish processing occurs all year round, with November to February being the peak processing period. Per maund prices (1 maund is approximately 37 kilogram) varied from BDT 10,000 to BDT 80,000 in the pandemic period, which is much higher in the usual business seasons.
Dry fish is a burgeoning and lucrative commodity trade in Bangladesh, where the local production barely meets 40% of the local demand. The rest, 60%, is met via imports, and not to mention that local varieties also head for international destinations like the United Kingdom, United States and the Middle East with sizable Bangladeshi diaspora because it is a highly sought-after delicacy.
Local annual demand is approximately 65,000 metric tons to 75,000 metric tons. The imported dried fishes are predominantly from India, along with small quantities from Pakistan and Myanmar. Dried fish exports from Chittagong alone amounts to BDT 300 crore annually. The port city of Chittagong meets 30% of the local production in Bangladesh. Locally produced dried fish is sold at a premium over its imported counterparts from the neighbouring countries.
The processing of dried fish in Bangladesh is still at its nascent stage as sufficient cold storage and modern preservation techniques are not used by the majority of the producers except for a handful of producers.