KHULNA, Feb 10: The outbreak of coronavirus in China has disrupted trade and supply chains, and the traders and markets in Khulna are already feeling the brunt.
Traders claim that a sharp decline in import of Chinese goods has pushed up the prices and now threaten to shut down factories that rely on raw materials from that country.
Thousands of farmers and traders are incurring loss as crab and eel exports to China have been suspended due to the virus outbreak.
Meanwhile, different markets in Khulna are reporting shortage of Chinese goods. Prices of Chinese products have already been hiked by 10 per cent to 20 per cent.
Production in some factories is about to shut down for shortage of raw materials that come from China, said a stakeholder.
"Importers are failing to order new products as all types of export-import activities with China were suspended after the coronavirus outbreak," said Jobayer Ahmed Khan Jaba, Director of Khulna Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Electronic goods seller Golam Mostofa said prices of television, computer parts, remotes and other retail Chinese goods have increased. If the situation does not improve, the prices of all products will increased further.
According to Khulna Export Promotion Bureau office, crabs worth US$ 2.68 million were exported in the last five months of 2019. Bangladesh exports crab and kuchia (Gangetic mud eel) worth Tk 7.0 billion every year. Ninety per cent of these go to China.
According to the District Fisheries Office, large crab market has been created in China, Taiwan, Belgium, UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Australia in the past several years. Among these, soft crab crabs are exported to Australia and normal crabs are exported to other countries. In the beginning, crabs were only extracted from the Sundarbans.
District Fisheries Officer Md. Abu Sayed said, farmers were motivated to grow crabs on commercial basis due to increasing demand in the world market. At present, crab is being cultivated on 28,546 hectares of land in Khulna district.
During the last fiscal year, 6,989 tonnes of crab have been produced from these areas. The target for the production of 7,000 tonnes of crab has been set in the current financial year.
Deputy Director of the Fisheries Inspection and Quality Control Department Md. Mizanur Rahman said the crabs of Khulna region are exported directly from Dhaka.
Traders claim that export to China, the main international market for crab and eel, is now in jeopardy. Traders in the southern region exported 416.2 tonnes of eel and crab worth Tk 346.4 million in the first six months in 2019-20 fiscal year, said Basudeb Mondol, General Secretary of Kuchia and Crab Traders Samity. Crab and eel export to China has remained suspended since January 25.
"Around 25 tonnes of crab are sent from Khulna region to Dhaka every day. Of this, around eight tonnes come from Satkhira district, six tonnes from Bhaga of Bagerhat district and seven tonnes from Khulna," said Debabrata Das Debu, president of Paikgaccha Crab Businessmen Cooperative Society Ltd.
Crab farming became popular in the last four to five years for good market and price. More than 21,000 crab farmers in Khulna and Satkhira districts. Over 200 businessmen are involved in eel trading in the region, sending around 10 tonnes of eel to Dhaka daily.
Farmers and traders now fear they will incur loss due to the suspension of export.