Interpreting Market Systems and Consumer Dynamics in the Fish Sector of Bangladesh

LightCastle Analytics Wing
February 4, 2020
Interpreting Market Systems and Consumer Dynamics in the Fish Sector of Bangladesh

The Opportunity

Annual production of nearly 2 million tonnes of cultured fish makes Bangladesh the world’s fifth-largest producer of inland aquaculture (FAO), and the overall fisheries sector is a key economic driver, contributing 3.69% of the country’s GDP and over 23% of agricultural GDP.

However, the sector is faced with various challenges such as degradation and pollution of natural water bodies, low-value addition and low economic power of stakeholders, a scarcity of good quality spawn, fries, feed, and other inputs in aquaculture, and generally poor infrastructure and unhygienic conditions throughout. Moreover, despite the sector contributing to 11% of the country’s employment, the role of women remains largely understated and limited to small roles in the homestead.

Against this backdrop, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has embarked on the “Aquaculture: increasing income, diversifying diets, and empowering women in Bangladesh and Nigeria” (IDEA) project, implemented by the World Fish, which aims to nurture sustainable growth of the aquaculture sector to help enhance the income of smallholder families, the diets and nutrition of vulnerable women and children and the empowerment of women in Bangladesh.

With a specific focus on the Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions in northwest Bangladesh – a region that is economically backward but has high development potential for aquaculture – WorldFish teamed up with LightCastle to assess the demand for fish in the region. The goal of the study will be to better understand consumer dynamics for strengthening partnerships with private sector businesses, investors, and government to develop profitable value chains; and transforming local government policies to enable increased production, creating an environment for private uptake of fish into nutritional improvement initiatives. 

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Our Approach

LightCastle prepared a detailed study on the fish and fish-based products market in Rajshahi, Rangpur, and some parts of Dhaka. This research project had, in its first two phases (Phase 1 in June 2019 and Phase 2 in September 2019), covered over 1,000 consumer respondents spread over 75 fish markets to better understand market systems and consumer dynamics. More specifically, LCP had undertaken a thorough value chain analysis and market system assessment by engaging groups of key actors and stakeholders in order to provide insights on the following dynamics of the aquaculture market:

  • The volume and value of fish flowing through the Upazila, district, and regional markets, specifically in the Northwest and Dhaka markets.
  • The various customer segments and buying patterns, the competition, and the economic environment in terms of barriers to entry and regulation
  • Fish preferences by species, sizes, and price within markets of the Northwest and Dhaka
  • A market system assessment for fish and fish-based products, access, demand, and embedded technical services
  • The growth potential of the fisheries market, taking into account transboundary import and export dynamics
  • Major fish markets in the Northwest distinguish between major retail and wholesale markets. 

The Future

Based on the study findings, the project has recommended several entry points and identified stakeholders and private sector synergies for the IDEA project. It is expected that the findings of the study will effectively guide and inform World Fish and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the strategic design and intervention planning under the IDEA project, and ultimately help strengthen the sustainability of the fisheries ecosystem in Bangladesh.


WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

At LightCastle, we take a systemic and data-driven approach to create opportunities for growth and impact. We are an international management consulting firm which creates systemic and data-driven opportunities for growth and impact in emerging markets. By collaborating with development partners and leveraging the power of the private sector, we strive to boost economies, inspire businesses, and change lives at scale.

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