KOCHI: When it comes to traditional delicacies, nothing beats the good old karimeen. However, despite being the hot favourite, karimeen or pearl spot numbers are dwindling. The demand for the fish variety has prompted the ICAR- Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Ernakulam (KVK) to supply karimeen fishlings to farmers and people interested in rearing them, on the first Saturday of every month. The programme was launched three months ago and is doing well in the district.
On August 3 alone, 200 packets of juvenile pearl spots were sold through the distribution centre at Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute at Kochi. Each pack consists of 50 fishlings. "The cost for one seed is `10. So, when 200 packets (10,000 seeds) are sold, the farmer, who cultivated them, earns around `1 lakh as a steady income. So, this is a win-win situation," said Shinoj Subramannian, senior scientist and head, KVK.
Though KVK has been selling fishlings for the past two years, the organised practice came to existence only in May. With more buyers showing interest, more farmers have started providing fishlings to KVK. One can book fishlings on all working days. The packets will, however, be sold only on the first Saturday of every month.Fifty pearl spot juvenile fish of 4-7 cm length are sold in an oxygen-filled packet at `575.
Satellite production centres
Earlier, the KVK had launched seed production centres in the district. "The demand for pearl spot was always there and it has only increased now owing to the number of restaurants that pop up every year. Since the local production is low, we have started associating with local farmers and cultivating the variety," said Shinoj. Seed production of pearl spot is a difficult process compared to other fish varieties.
It needs parental care when the eggs are laid. "They lay around 3,000 to 4,000 eggs at a time which is very less compared to the lakhs of eggs laid by other varieties. Both male and female fish should provide aeration to the egg before they hatch. So, the whole process is a difficult one, thereby decreasing the production," he said.
When the local supply decreased, Kerala depended more on the fish export from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Since brackish water bodies are most congenial for the breeding of pearl spot and the fish from other states are bred in freshwater, the quality, as well as the taste, differ. "There are high chances of presence of chemicals in the fish we import from other states. It is always better to reduce the import by increasing the production here," he said.
KVK had trained around 74 farmers in juvenile pearl spot production. Out of the 74, the organisation selected 15 farmers to be a part of the production. "The seeds they produce are sold through KVK. Thus, the production of pearl spot has increased now," he said.Marketing has always been tough for farmers, which is why collaboration with KVK helps them.
Fifty pearl spot juvenile fish of 4-7 cm length are sold in an oxygen-filled packet at `575. The cost for one seed is `10. One can book fishlings on all working days. The packets will, however, be sold only on the first Saturday of every month.