KOCHI: Following the Covid-19 pandemic, fish, one of the favourite food items of Malayalis, is slowly disappearing from dining tables. This may be a direct consequence of reduced fishing activity in the state. While the spiralling number of Covid positive cases has led to closure fish markets, fresh and frozen fish supply by Matsyafed has shot up, and hit record sale between April and June—almost up to Rs 25 crore. Matsyafed is now drafting plans to expand its online business, making buying and selling fish a contact-less process.
A senior official at Matsyafed said that the online fish market will go live in two weeks. “We are planning the launch on August 15. The initiative has been long pending. We have roped in a start-up from Technopark for the job. The trial run is progressing,” added the official. Once the initiative is launched, buyers can place the order through the website, mobile application, or by giving a call. Matsyafed is also planning to generate more employment opportunities for fishermen as part of the expansion plan. “We will be roping in people from the community for operating the outlets and home delivery services. Our ultimate aim is to enhance their standard of living and give them better livelihood options,” said the official.
According to monthly estimates, Malayalis consume around 75,000 tonnes of fish and the industry marks a turnover of Rs 15,000 crore per annum. The annual per capita consumption of the state is Rs 25 kg. With the demand mounting, Matsyafed is planning a massive expansion and has decided to open around 140 new outlets in all assembly constituencies by collaborating with cooperative banks.
“The buildings for setting up shop have been identified by the banks and we will give the permission once we are convinced that the spaces meet the conditions we have put forth,” the official added. It is learnt that out of the 7 lakh tonnes of freshwater and marine fish produced in the state, 1.6 lakh tonnes are exported. The actual requirement within the state comes up to nearly 8.75 lakh tonnes.
“For meeting the demand in the state, we are sourcing nearly 3.75 lakh tonnes of fish from neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Because of the pandemic and lockdown, this has been temporarily stalled. Our stock is running out and based on the current sale numbers, we can only meet the demand for another two weeks,” said the official.
Currently, Matsyafed has around 43 fish marts and six mobile outlets. Per annum, Matsyafed deals with around 1,000 tonnes of frozen food and 4,000 tonnes of fresh and marine water fish. "The authorities are also planning to tie up with KSRTC for selling fish. Around 90 depots have been identified for this purpose,” the official added. Though the state government will allow fishing activities from August 5, the raging monsoon and violent waves might make it impossible for men to venture into the sea.
IN A NUTSHELL
Here are major figures related to the fishing industry in Kerala
Consumption per month 75,000 tonnes
Average annual turnover Rs 15,000 cr
Annual per capita consumption 25 kg
Quantity exported per annum 1.6 lakh tonnes
Total fresh and marine water fish production: 7 lakh tonnes
Actual requirement: 8.75 lakh tonnes
Quantity exported from other states 3.75 lakh tonne
Frozen fish sold by Matsyafed per annum 1,000 tonnes
Fresh and marine water fish sold by Matsyafed 4,000 tonnes
Fish on the table
Currently, Matsyafed has around 43 fish marts and six mobile outlets. The spiralling number of Covid positive cases has led to the closure of fish markets, while fresh and frozen fish supply by Matsyafed has shot up, and hit record sale between April and June—almost up to `25 crore