Kerala to buy fish from Kudumbi community

Kochi, March 23 : The Kerala Fisheries Department has decided to directly procure fish, including the Varapuzha variety of pearl spot, from fish workers of the Konkani-speaking Kudumbi comm ty in the state. The move will be carried out under the commercial ‘MIMI Fish’ initiative that is part of the government’s pro-poor Parivarthanam project to free traditional fish workers from exploitation by intermediaries, an official statement said on Wednesday. The programme foresees lifting the living standards of the traditional workers and reaching out unadulterated fish to consumers. MIMI Fish was launched in August last year as a retail venture with online home-delivery service in association with the Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corp. This was after the government floated Parivarthanam in November 2020 as a pioneering eco-sustainable programme for the development of its fishing comm ties. As for the Kudumbis, the comm ty settled in Kerala three centuries ago, having migrated from Goa and other parts of the Konkan coast during the 1729-58 rule of Travancore king Marthanda Varma. Initially farmers, the Kudumbis slowly lost hold of their fields, forcing to shift from paddy farming to other means of livelihood. Many found refuge in fishing in inland water bodies. In Ernakulam district, the Kudumbis form the second-biggest comm ty in coastal Varapuzha panchayat. The Kudumbis invented que ways of fishing, enabling them to catch the endemic pearl spot (karimeen) on a massive scale. Venturing into the backwaters on small country-boats, the men in groups of three or four would employ special fishing techniques that involve hard labour and high skills. The karimeen also fetches good price in the local market, 25 km north of Kochi. However, much of the remuneration evades the catchers as the Kudumbis fall prey to intermediaries in three tiers. Adding to the exploitation is the customary commission of eight per cent and the cheating involved in weighing the fish. MIMI Fish envisages a permanent end to all such malpractices. For this, MIMI Fish has opened a procurement centre at Blue Bazar in Cheranalloor near Varapuzha. The fishworkers can give their catch straight at this market. In cases where the catch is heavy, authorities are arranging facilities to procure fish at the spot where the boats reach the shore, Parivarthanam Project COO Roy V. Nagendran said. “We are planning to assemble members of the Kudumbi comm ty and brief them about our project,” he added. Currently, MIMI Fish has stores in Kollam district, with two more opening in Perinjanam and Kaipamangalam of Thrissur district. Authorities plan to open more MIMI stores across five districts: Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Idukki and Palakkad. Those interested in running the venture can get more information through www.parivarthanam.org or call at 93834 54647. MIMI Fish app can be installed on mobile phones by using the link https://play.google.com/store/apps/details or from the play store. Installing the app is essential to availing fresh fish and MIMI Fish products. Authorities are making moves to also sell unadulterated vegetables and meat with traceability. MIMI outlets use DC chillers with battery support, ensuring continuous power back-up even during power failures. The chillers have an option to be connected to solar power, which ensures nterrupted power supply up to three days if electricity from the KSEB grid is not available. This helps maintain the quality of fish. Parivarthanam also safeguards the environment and mitigates climate change by promoting clean energy sources through solar power generation and conversion of fossil fuel engines to electric hybrids and other alternatives. DS MR

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