Hilsa, despite being the national fish of Bangladesh, is mostly out of low-income people's reach, but they can savour the delectable taste of dried, salted hilsa as it is becoming popular in northern parts of the country due to its affordable price.
Every year, the workers at Chandpur Boro Station Fisheries Ghat process the unsold hilsa fish. They are now busy cutting up the fish and putting salt in them.
Dried salted hilsa or "nona ilish" is catching on in Mymensingh, Tangail, Kurigram, Sherpur and Manikganj districts, and demand is consistently up.
At the fisheries ghat, many hilsa remain unsold as they go soft during the season. Some traders purchase these at average price and process them with salt. The dried salted fish are sold at Tk 900-1200 per kg.
The workers also separate the eggs from the fish, and the eggs are sold at Tk 2500-2600 per kg. Last year, per kg hilsa eggs were sold at Tk 1400.
Ramjan Bepari, a trader, said that he has been running his business for the past 30 years and every year, he comes from Mymensingh during the hilsa season and lives in the area.
He bought unsold hilsa, weighing between 700 and 1000 grams, from the wholesale market at a cost of Tk 700 to 800 per kg.
This year, he set a target to process 3000-3500 maunds of hilsa. This dried salted hilsa will remain edible for the next six months, he claimed.
Like Ramjan, many traders, including Anwar Hossain, Zakir Hossain and Chari Gazi, have come to Chandpur for the same purpose.
Some 100 women and 150 men are involved in processing hilsa fish. They are happy with the daily wages they get.
Dr Anisur Rahman, a renowned hilsa expert at the Fisheries Research Institute in Chandpur, said that hilsa can be preserved with salt for six months.
Hilsa eggs can also be preserved the same way through ensuring the right temperature in the refrigerator.
Some 25-30 lakh people are now involved in processing hilsa fish, and they are earning profits.