Department of fisheries organizes national webinar on ‘Dry Fish Technologies and Consumer Market’

Department of fisheries organizes national webinar on ‘Dry Fish Technologies and Consumer Market’
Photo - PIB

Department of fisheries, ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, Government of India organized a national webinar on ‘Dry Fish Technologies and Consumer Market’ on 20th February 2023 as a part of the ongoing celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The event was presided over by Jatindra Nath Swain, secretary, department of fisheries (DoF), Government of India (GOI), and was well-attended by entrepreneurs, fisheries associations, officials of the department of fisheries, GoI, and fisheries officials of different States/UTs, faculties from state agriculture, veterinary and fisheries universities, fisheries research institutes, fisheries cooperative officers, scientists, students and stakeholders from fisheries across the country. The series of webinars conducted has served as a great platform for various stakeholders to come together to share their experiences and knowledge share to bring in multi-faceted perspectives from all fields (research, industry, experts, beneficiaries, and more.) for greater impact. Panelists, were invited to speak on prevalent technologies and consumer trends for the dry fish market segment. While discussing the current market scenario and technologies involved, the panelists also highlighted on-ground challenges.

The webinar started with the keynote address by Jatindra Nath Swain, Secretary, DoF (GOI). He highlighted that as excess milk gave rise to milk products such as milk powder, in a similar way excess fish production is expected to boost the lesser-known market segment of dry fish. Dry fish is a good option for selling fish in places where fish is inaccessible or lacks variety. He added that the dry fish market segment is largely undermined due to the perception and stigma of ‘low value and low quality’ and lacks market linkage for a readymade export market. The webinar thus aimed at understanding the importance of dry fish as a commodity, and technologies available for drying and processing while also deliberating on ways to make dry fish an acceptable commercially viable commodity.

The technical session started with a presentation by Murali, Scientist, engineering division, CIFT, on the topic ‘CIFT Driers and Success Stories’. He explained the traditional fish drying methods, prevalent issues, and technological solutions and innovations designed and sold by CIFT. Information was also shared on different types of dryers, such as solar, infrared, electrical, and biomass dryers resulting from various experiments, costs, profitability, and impaneled manufacturers. Highlights from various training programs and success stories of dry fish stores and entrepreneurs using CIFT dryers were also shared during the session.

C.O Mohan, senior scientist, Food Processing Division, CIFT, presented on the topic ‘Entrepreneurial opportunities in dried fishery products’. He explained the nutritional value available in fish as compared to other sources of protein and a variety of fish species like shrimp, Anchovy, Sardines, Croakers, Mackerel, and Bombay duck popularly available in the dry fish markets for local consumption. As India exports to countries namely Singapore, Sri Lanka, ASEAN, and the Middle East, he explained different packaging materials. Information on the CIFT incubation facility, training, and outreach programs supporting entrepreneurs was presented during the session. The experts from CIFT collectively suggested that the main issue lies with the management and regulation of the fish drying (drying methods, processing standards, and methods ) market, these are sectoral priorities to ensure exports and consumption of ‘safe fish’.

An expert speaker and industrialist, Joseph Cascarino, proprietor, Ichthys Marine Foods, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, presented about the dry fish business and the consumer market. As a second-generation entrepreneur engaged in procuring, processing, and exporting dry fish for the last 35 years, he presented about the drying technologies, storages, and types of packaging. He further highlighted different specifications used in packaging dry fish based on consumer preferences and country specifications for value-added products that are exported. He recommended that steps should be taken to modernize processing methods, technological & scientific support required for value-added products, and increase awareness amongst the masses.

Shine Kumar C S, director, NIFPHATT, informed us about the specific fish species dried for exports and the importing countries. He highlighted that India is ranked low in the dry fish export market however has a tremendous opportunity to grow due to huge demand in the global market. He recommended that awareness should be created to replace incorrect and unhygienic practices, such as drying in unhygienic and open areas with good working standards and hygienic practices.

With the aforesaid insightful discussions, follow-up action points have been derived to further develop sectoral strategies and action plans. The webinar concluded with a vote of thanks proposed by S. K. Dwivedi, assistant commissioner (Fy), DoF, to the chair, delegates, guest speakers, and participants.

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