Pofishmarket, an online fish wholesale market, is well received by fish farmers and traders because it provides direct access to the market, reduces the number of middlemen, ensures better prices and minimizes post-harvest losses.
In July of this year, the online marketplace recorded a nine-fold increase in fish sales to over 128 tons compared to just 12.52 tons in the same month of the previous year.
In difficult times of Covid-19, the Ministry of Fisheries launched the website pofishmarket.com and a supporting app called “Fish Market” on a pilot basis last May as part of the National Agricultural Technology Phase II Project (NATP-2). Fish farmers in 22 Upazilas were connected to the platform.
According to the Ministry of Fisheries, from May 2020 to July 2021, 963.87 tons of fish worth Tk 20.48 billion were sold to 1,529 buyers via the online fish market.
Farmers can use the app to simply upload information about their products and their prices. Interested parties can then process the purchase contract via their mobile phones.
To improve market access for small farmers, 22 fish producer organizations (POs) were set up in 22 Upazilas. Of the 22 producer organizations, two are special with 1,200 members and 20 are general with around 750 members.
In addition to fish farmers, traders have also been made members of producer organizations, which are run by executive committees.
The Upazilas, in which producer organizations are founded, are Kotalipara in Gopalganj, Rajoir in Madaripur, Shibpur in Narsingdi, Bhairab in Kishoreganj, Bhola Sadar, Nandail and Trishal in Mymensingh, Barhatta in Netrokona, Satkhira Sadar in Manhairia and Paikampir Jashore, Alamdanga in Chuadanga, Singra in Natore, Raiganj in Sirajganj, Chatmohar in Pabna, Alamdighi in Bogura, Mithapukur in Rangpur, Baniachang in Sylhet, Raipur in Laxmipur and Nangalkot in Cumilla.
Md. Ohiduzzaman Sarker, President of the Shibpur Upazila Fisheries Producers Organization, said, “The PO Executive Committee and the Upazila Office of the Ministry of Fisheries provide all kinds of assistance to farmers with the sale of fish labor.”
As a result, fish farmers, both large and small, trust this online marketplace more and more every day. The amount of fish sold online is constantly increasing. The fish produced in Shibpur is sold to major cities in the country, including Dhaka and Chattogram. Many people are interested in this increasingly for commercial fish production. “
He added that these activities on the online platform have made great strides even amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, due to the market situation, many farmers are currently not selling fish. The recovery in the economy is expected to boost online fish sales.
Farid Ahmed, a fish farmer in Trishal Upazila in Mymensingh, recently sold 9 tons of pangas fish through the online fish market. The farmer said he made a lot of profit because he could sell his fish at a price of Tk 3-4 per kg more than on the local wholesale market.
He went on to say that selling fish online is very easy. There are also special facilities for transportation and storage. As a result, farmers are increasingly interested in the online marketplace.
Nuruzzaman Russel, a member of the Barhatta Upazila fish producer organization, said he sold 6,000 kg of Pabda fish at Tk 290 per kg through the online platform, while the price in the local market was Tk 250 per kg.
Md Rafiqul, President of Adamdighee Fish Producer Organization, said the process of marketing fish has become much smoother than before thanks to the online marketplace. He was able to get in touch with potential buyers in different parts of Bangladesh.
Officials from the Ministry of Fisheries said the aim of this online system is to introduce an online wholesale marketplace for fish farmers, fishermen and fishmongers. It will be an online bidding point for buyers and sellers of the wholesale fish market. In this way, fish farmers get direct access to the market, avoid middlemen and get a better price while suffering less post-harvest losses. Retail customers also benefit from this process by getting quality fish at an affordable price.
The project is financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) and the World Bank.
Dr. Arnoud Hameleers, Country Director of the Ifad Country Program in Bangladesh, said: âFarmers’ access to markets is the key to fighting poverty and hunger in rural areas. As part of the NATP-2 project, the Ministry of Fisheries is marketing fish via a digital platform that supports small-scale fish farmers in reaching larger markets. Pofishmarket is one such online wholesale fish market that enables rural fish farmers to maintain an uninterrupted fish trade even amid Covid restrictions. “
âThe high perishability of fish and the remote location of the fishermen often lead to low product prices. Expanding the fish supply beyond traditional wet markets by giving shoppers access to products online has proven very valuable and highlights the need for innovative marketing strategies. , “he continued.
âThe Ifad, together with the government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, demonstrated a high level of adaptability and the ability to innovate project activities during the Covid-19 crisis. Such efforts must continue as the world emerges from this crisis and prepares for a new normal, “he added.
SM Moniruzzaman, director of the project implementation unit of the NATP-2 project, said fish production in the country is steadily increasing. The government implemented the NATP-2 project to facilitate the spread of this fish. This initiative has proven itself in the Covid situation. The Ministry of Fisheries would take other new initiatives to expand its online activities across the country based on these pilot activities.
Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Fisheries said the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved a project called the Climate Smart Agriculture and Water Management Project on Aug. 24.
As part of the Climate Smart Agriculture and Water Management Project, 14 mini fish processing plants (for the development of value-added products) are being built under the Ministry of Fisheries. In addition, an online fish marketing website / apps will be launched to expand the online market as part of the project.
As part of the project, fish is supplied to local fish markets, fish wholesale markets and retail chains. This program is carried out in 29 Upazilas out of 18 districts in the country.
In 2019-20, the country’s total fish production was 45.03 lakh metric tons with a market value of about 1.05.005 billion Tk.
According to the eighth five-year plan, the target for fish production by 2025 is 49.01 lakh metric ton. Various new projects are in the works to achieve this goal.
In addition, a total of 76,591.69 tons of fish worth 408.98 crore Tk were exported in the period 2020-21. In the eighth five-year plan, the government set the goal of exporting 1.0 lakh metric tons of fish annually by 2025.