The Foundation’s executive board held an emergency meeting chaired by its Chairman Syed Mahmudul Huq on Monday to review the challenges.
The participants observed that the sector has come under “serious strain due to two major consecutive setbacks during the recent months”, the Foundation said in a statement.
The measures taken by the government to ensure social distancing and lockdown have affected the workforce in the hatcheries and in the grow-outs. These have disturbed the production while problems were created in timely clearance of vitally important inputs needed for the sector at different customs stations.
Also, suspension of the banking activities has also seriously affected the loan disbursements, the BSFF added.
The impact of COVID-19 crisis was further compounded by the recent Cyclone Amphan which flooded a large number of shrimp farms in the southwestern part of Bangladesh, destroying important infrastructures and farm establishments.
Some of the concrete measures which the government may take according to the BSFF Executive Board are:
- expeditious disbursement of concessional agricultural credit for shrimp sector stakeholders;
- support for procurement of necessary inputs;
- rehabilitation of infrastructure and production facilities damaged by the cyclone; and
- administrative facilitation of clearance of imported inputs at ports of entries and their smooth movement.
The BSFF also called for assistance for the small shrimp farmers who do not have any access to formal institutional finance.
It urged the government to consider appropriate assistance packages to help them procure the necessary seeds and feed and survive the challenges.
Immediate assistance packages would be particularly needed and helpful now that the farmers at the grow-out level are preparing for the next production cycle for the black tiger shrimp which accounts for more than 90 percent of the export of the fisheries products of Bangladesh.
“In the absence of timely assistance, the shrimp farmers of Bangladesh will not be able to take advantage of the next production cycle and the export from the sector will suffer immeasurably,” the statement said.
It also proposed that in case the inputs cannot be imported from traditional sources, the inputs from alternative sources should be expedited.
The Foundation called upon the government to consider measures to help the sector through concrete activities in the upcoming budget for 2020-21 fiscal year.
Among the BSFF members who attended the meeting were Salman Ispahani, Chairman of MM Ispahani Group, development economist Sultan Hafeez Rahman, former principal secretary Abdul Karim, former commerce secretary Md Ghulam Hussain, former ambassadors Liaquat Ali Choudhury and Shafi U Ahmed, former NCC Bank chief executive Md Nurul Amin, former World Bank official Imtiaz Uddin Ahmad, Policy Research Institute’s Operations Director GM Khurshid Alam, and Fawzia Khondker, executive director of PRAGROSHOR.