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Fish for All - Research and Training Centre, Poompuhar

Overview 

After the devastating Tsunami of 26th December 2004, MSSRF had initiated activities related to immediate relief measures, efforts which included restarting livelihoods, agronomic rehabilitation, support for nutrition and education of orphan children, etc., based on the needs expressed by the coastal communities. As a long term solution for sustainable livelihood of the fisher communities, the Fish for All Research and Training Centre has been setup at Kaveripoompattinam (Poompuhar) in Nagapattanam District, Tamil Nadu. This Centre adopts a holistic approach in resource management, sustainable livelihood options and disaster preparedness and management.

The Centre houses a training hall; Village Resource Centre to enhance the training through Information Communication Technology based options; fish pre-processing facility which offers hands-on training of value addition of the low value fish and a dormitory to house the trainees. Provisions have also been made to show case the Low External Input Sustainable Aquaculture (LISA) through components like crab farming, inland fish culture and shrimp farming using Good Aquaculture Practices (GAP). This is a pilot initiative of its kind in India and would provide the necessary training and capacity building and a platform for the convergence of various stakeholders in building partnerships (regional, national and international) for effective management and utilisation of the coastal bio-resources. The interventions include skill and knowledge enhancement, appropriate technologies and widening the options for entrepreneurship for the community.

The Centre has been functioning as a research/ training cum demonstration centre for strengthening and diversifying the existing livelihoods and identifying alternative livelihoods for the fisher families and the coastal communities to add value to the chain from "capture/culture – commercialization - consumption", through a process of learning by doing involving multi-institutional teams and participatory approach of the primary stakeholders - the community and the other stakeholders like the government departments and other organisations like the academic and research institutions, financial and marketing agencies. The programme specifically focuses on women for poverty alleviation and distributional equity under the coastal agro-eco system and with the fisher men/women, fish vendors, fishing labourers and the non-traditional fishermen. The implementation activities are of participatory nature involving the entire gamut of stakeholders, comprising of the community members, elected and traditional Panchayat leaders. It is envisaged that the various interventions would bring in the necessary synergy and scale of operations that would create the desired impact.

 

Aims & Objectives

 

In the aftermath of the Tsunami happened in December 2004, various activities related to relief measures and rehabilitation efforts were initiated by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation along the coasts of the country, and upon the felt need of having an establishment on long term basis along the coast of Nagapattinam District, the worst hit area in the State, the Fish for All Research & Training Centre (FFA Centre) was started in 2007 in a rented building at Poompuhar (the historic village of Kaveripoompattinam).Subsequently the establishment was shifted to its own building constructed with support from Jamsetji Tata Trust and the Tata Education Trust, on 26 th December 2009,the 4th Anniversary of  the Tsunami. The long term strategy of this centre aims at bringing about a collective and holistic approach for the coastal community in the field of natural resource management, training and capacity building, sustainable livelihood options and for disaster preparedness and its management.

 

 Facilities available

A modern Fish Processing Plant built on state of the art technology, standards and facilities (HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) and also has well-qualified/trained staff. The Centre also has an office complex , a conference hall, dormitories to house 100 trainees, two guest houses to accommodate visiting scientists and faculty members and  a kitchen and canteen. The Centre also has a one acre adjacent plot to build up a training and demonstration facility. The Fish Processing Unit has 2 chill rooms and a flake ice production unit. Needed equipments such as pouch sealing machine, bottle sealing machine, electronic balances to weigh fishes are also available helping in the value addition of fishes. A solar radiation unit for dry fish preparation has also been set up in the campus.

 

The Village Knowledge Centre stationed within the premises of the Fish for All Research & Training Centre is an initiative of the Foundation through which dynamic and location-specific information is delivered in local languages, based on a demand-driven approach. This houses an electronic display board giving up to date information on winds, waves, potential fishing zones etc. An automatic Weather Station is also installed which gives complete weather information.

Fish Processing Unit

The Fish Processing Unit set up at the Fish for all Research and Training Centre continues its mandated work with the following specific objectives

  • To educate, train and develop skills among the fishers, the standard practices of hygienic pre-processing of local fish / shell fish, preparation of value added items.
  •  Enhancement of livelihood of fishers.
  •  Assist the fishers in establishing a good market linkage for selling hygienically processed fish and fish products, especially low - value fishes to resource poor consumers through training and empowerment.
  •  To train the fishers and all involved in fish trade to add value to the chain from “capture – culture – consumption” through training

Through personal meeting and house to house visits, baseline information is collected from fishers for need based training on fish value addition and related aspects. Training on various aspects of Hygienic fish handling, and fish processing technology such as preparation of prawn and fish pickles, salted dry fish, masala dry fish, chennakuni shrimp powder are conducted regularly. The various facilities established at the Centre over the years are made available to the stake holders also with necessary guidance, advice, training and demonstration. The Centre also promotes and coordinates small scale enterprises involving fisher women Self Help Groups aspiring for value addition of low-value fish and marketing the products mainly through social marketing network so as to safeguard  the interests of the resource-poor producers and consumers.