KOCHI: Non-vegetarians, get ready for some unpalatable facts. Your favourite dishes will become less savoury as the price of fish, chicken and mutton is going through the roof.
With just a week left for the onset of the trawling ban and two more for Ramzan, the cost of fish and other meat varieties is expected to go up further. Knowing the demand will be huge, meat vendors and fishmongers have already hiked the prices.
Hold your breath! While the price of popular fish like pomfret has seen an increase of Rs 200 per kg from last month, chicken has touched the Rs 150 per kg mark from 120 a kg last month. Interestingly, there has been only a slight increase in the price of beef. It now costs Rs 320 a kg compared to Rs 300 per kg last month despite a 95 per cent shortfall in cattle inflow to Kerala from other states for slaughter.
Where have all the fish gone? “The ban on mechanised fishing has already been imposed on the east and the west coasts,” Kerala Boat Owners Association vice-president Paul Rajan told Express. “This has resulted in the sudden fall in the arrival of fish from other states, causing a 30 per cent surge in the price of most varieties. He said exports would not be affected as most of the exporters had already stored sufficient quantities of squid, crab and shrimp.
Meanwhile, Matsyathozhilali Aikya Vedi state president Charles George cited the huge gap in the demand and supply as the major reason for the skyrocketing prices. “Kerala requires around 9 lakh tonnes of fish a year. We don’t have sufficient landing now. The gap in requirement is adjusted with fish imported from other states,” he said.
According to him, there has been a drastic fall in the quantity of fish landing in the state during the last five years. Total landing of fish in 2012 stood at 8.39 lakh tonnes and out of this 3.99 lakh tonnes were sardine. However, it nosedived to 5.23 lakh tonnes in 2016 with sardine constituting just 45,000 tonnes.
“With the trawling ban to begin by the middle of June, the price is likely to go up further. Government intervention is essential to control the price rise,” he said.
The price hike hasn’t spared flesh and fowl either. Since the Ramzan fasting has begun, there is a huge demand for chicken and mutton for iftar. “The demand has seen an increase in the price of chicken standing at Rs 145 per kg while we are purchasing mutton at Rs 650 a kg,” said Habeer Rehman, a cook from Venjaramoodu in Thiruvananthapuram.
“In most of the southern districts, each family under a Juma Masjid capable of hosting iftars will bear the daily expense during the 30-day fasting period. Usually, along with nombu kanji (a gruel), dishes like appam (hopper) /pathiri (flat bread) with chicken curry will be served after Magrib namaz and mutton/beef biriyani will be served after or before the Taraweeh prayer,” he said. Many a believer will feel the pinch given the spiralling price hike.