After more than four decades fighting the vagaries of the ocean, Ummar, a 58 year-old fisherman from Edavanakkad, is now realising the significance of technology to his trade.
With the pandemic wrecking havoc on the functioning of harbours and markets too often, youngsters like his son Mujeeb Ummar has turned to the social media to reach out to potential markets.
The largely WhatsApp-based initiative, now four months old, that has turned fish vending into a cultural experience of sorts for buyers is increasingly turning popular.
Rather than restricting his posts to different kinds of fishes and their prices, Mujeeb, instead, broadcasts alerts about impending arrival of boats, followed by videos of their arrival and the separation of catch from the nets through multiple groups. This effectively is an invite for interested buyers to experience the whole affair. They may even try a hand at the art of handling massive fishing nets and return not just with fishes but even selfies, of course, in keeping with social distancing norms. “The response to our initiative has been overwhelming, and one day we sold around 1,000 kg of fish. Catch from a few big canoes operated mostly by our relatives at Edavanakkad-Chathangad beach is being sold this way now, while door delivery is restricted to the immediate neighbourhood, though it may be further widened considering the increasing demand from far-off places,” said Mujeeb who was forced into to fish vending from interlock tile laying work by the pandemic.
It is a win-win situation, as fishermen get to sell their catch without intermediaries, and buyers get fresh fish at much reduced prices.
Since canoes cannot always venture into sea, they also sell river fishes, which are brought to Mujeeb’s home during early mornings. “They also generate jobs for people hit by the pandemic. For instance, two widows are engaged for cleaning fishes, while some youngsters help when canoes returns to the shore,” said Bejoy, a local resident who is also a regular customer.
“We cannot let this pandemic crush us but find ways to ovecome it,” said Mujeeb who is also an active social worker.