VISAKHAPATNAM: Cyclone Nivar has dealt another blow to the already reeling dry fish business in the state, especially in the southern districts of Prakasam, Guntur, Nellore, and Krishna. Owing to heavy rainfall due to the cyclone and a lack of proper storage facilities, tonnes of dry fish stock have been destroyed across the state.
“The four districts of South Andhra jointly produce around 100 tonnes of dry fish every day. Whatever the fishermen had stocked since Saturday has developed fungus owing to the rain,” AP Traditional Fish Workers’ Association general secretary, Naga Anjaneyulu Lakanam, told TOI. Around 10,000 fishermen, mostly women, are involved in the business of dry fish in these four states. There are around 22,000 people involved in this trade across the state.
“Normally we start drying fish while on the boat itself. Once we land, it takes a couple of days to process the dry fish. If processed properly, the fish can last between 15 and 25 days without cold storage facility or refrigeration. But because of the incessant rainfall and a lack of proper storage facilities at the harbours, all our produced got spoilt,” said M Bulaya, a local fisherman.
Under the present scheme of things, dry fish traders are left with no other options but to sell their spoiled stock to poultry farms. “It can be used as cheap quality fodder at poultry farms. Generally, we sell salmon, snapper, variites of prawn and other dry fish at Rs 600 to Rs 1000 per kilo in the wholesale market. No matter which variety you are selling, at the poultry farms, the soiled dry fish won’t fetch more than Rs 30 per kg,” said Arijili Dasu, general secretary of National Fisher Folk Forum.
Normally, AP produces around 5 lakh tonnes of dry fish a year which is mainly exported to the eastern and northeastern states, and to a few tribal pockets of Malkangiri in Odisha and Chattishgarh. Around 10% of the produce is consumed locally, mostly in the tribal areas of the agencies.