Solar dryers installed for dry fish production in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: About 99 ultra modern solar dryers have been installed in Odisha’s Ganjam and Puri districts under the World Bank aided Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) for preparing most hygienic dry fish by women self help groups.

Different varieties of dry fish, popularly known “Sukhua”, in a glossy and standardized food grade non-stinking package would be available soon, said Ajit K Patnaik, Additional PCCF and Project Director of ICZMP.

As per the plan, popular dry fish varieties which are in high demand due to culinary habits of local consumers, would be dried hygienically in these ultra modern solar dryers, processed and packaged by the women fisher groups under the brand name “Seafeast” and would find place on the shelves of the stores at Bhubaneswar, Patnaik said.

This packaging and marketing initiative is part of livelihood activities adopted by ICZM in Odisha to provide a crucial linkage to the marketing system for the marginal fishers in a dignified way, he said.

Currently, pilot testing of these hygienically dried and processed dry fishes is underway and this become available for the first time at the Adivasi Mela in the state capital from today.

The services of a special professional group has been commissioned by the State Project Management Unit of ICZMP to impart training to the fisher groups on uniform packaging process and facilitate the initiative to maximize returns for the fishers, he said.

“Efforts are being made to expand the dry fish market. Through this initiative consumers would get high quality hygienic dry fish products in most healthy form at an affordable price and the women fisher SHGs would get a better price,” Patnaik said.

SHGs were imparted training in distinctive packaging aspects of perishable fish products as per the food safety norms through a high end packaging machines, he said.

Apart from this, a special plan is underway to initiate centralized processing, quality control, branding, packaging, storing and marketing of finished products originating from all ICZMP project areas, he said adding that initially 32 SHGs will carry out this activity in Gopalpur of Ganjam district.

ICZMP is also planning to provide capacity building and handholding to all 99 SHGs who have taken up dry fish production through hybrid solar dryers and eventually establishing a SHG federation.

The federation will comprise all potential SHGs and producers under the ICZMP operational area. ICZMP has also initiated on product awareness and brand building through different activities for hygienic dry fish, the ICZM project director said.

Patnaik said this is the first time that hybrid solar driers are introduced in the state for the fishers who are adversely affected due to ban on fishing owing to the implementation of Odisha Marine Fisheries Regulation (OMFRA) Act and other biodiversity conservation measures.