The eel hunters in the district have been passing hard days due to coronavirus outbreak.
Local hunters said some 1000 people of Das community (low- caste Hindu) live by catching and selling eel. A huge quantity of Eels are exported to China. But eel export from Bangladesh has come to a halt due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
The hunters added that consequently, its price has fallen drastically. Before the pandemic, they sold per Kg of eel fish at Tk 300 but now per Kg is sold at Tk 100. They cannot maintain their family with the low income.
Eel hunter Rup Kumar of Bejpara village in Kaliganj upazila said around 80 men in the area live by catching the fish. They sell the eels to local trader Gopal Chandra Das.
Kumar further said that Gopal purchased per kg of eel at Tk 300 from them before March 8, but he is now not buying the fish as its demand has fallen sharply in the market.
As a result, he has to pass most of his days either remaining half-fed or unfed, said the eel hunter.
Anothet hunter Bablu Das of Mahadebpur village in the same upazila said he is passing very hard days with his family.
He caught three to four kg of eels every day and sold at Tk 250 to Tk 300 per Kg before the pandemic, said Bablu, adding that but at present, he sells per kg of eel at Tk 100. This scanty income is too small to meet the daily needs.
His son is a student of Class VII, said Bablu, adding that how will I spend his education expenses with the low income from now?
Eel trader Gopal Chandra Das said the family members of the hunters are completely dependent on eel catching.
Gopal added that he usually provides two tonnes of eels to Dhaka per week and other traders provide about four tonnes. But at present, they are incurring losses as the demand of the eel has fallen drastically in the market. The eel hunters are passing miserable days in the challenging time.
He further said the government is providing financial support to every sectors in this time of crisis. So, the government should come forward to help the hunters financially as they are extremely very poor. The eel hunters have no other alternative jobs to earn their livelihood and maintain their families.
Kaliganj upazila fishery officer Saidur Rahman Reza said they have a project on eel farming. If it is implemented, the eel hunters will be benefited.