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Net fishing for customers becomes tricky as purchasing power erodes

HYDERABAD: Khalid Hussain, manager of shop in former fish market in coastal town of Ibrahim Hydri, Karachi, cries out against hardship as community residents have yet to accept price increase Fish.

Vendors sourcing fish from local piers pay a high price due to rising fuel costs. To recoup that cost, they had to raise fish prices. However, it seems difficult to get a good return because the purchasing power of their regular customers has eroded.

Giving an example of the recent rise in the prices of diesel and petroleum products, Hussain said: “This has had a huge impact on the purchasing power of poor fishing families, whose members have either lost their jobs on the boats , or earned very little pay for uncertain work. ”

According to Hussain, a few months ago common fish species were available at Rs300-350/kg, which they were now forced to sell at Rs500-600/kg. “Similarly, the larger prawns are quite expensive, which we sell at Rs 1,200-1,500/kg, while the cost of the smaller prawns is Rs 300-400/kg in retail stores. “

He said they were careful not to set a higher profit margin, keeping in mind the affordability of people in the community.

Majnoo, affectionately known as Maznoo, another trader also offered dried and salted fish and dried shrimps for sale. He receives dried fish from Khadda, Lyari and dried shrimp from Sujawal and Badin districts.

Salted fish is available at Rs400-500/kg, while dried prawns are priced at Rs400/kg, depending on quality. Traders have small packets of dried prawns, which they sell for Rs100/packet.

Very few people buy the little packets of dried shrimp or the pieces of salted fish.

Currently, only a few families from Khadda neighborhoods in Lyari keep the salted fish carefully and supply it to different fish selling points to earn a little extra income. Traders preferably obtain quality dried fish from customers to maintain credibility with customers.

Daily trading activities at the fish market start early in the morning and last until sunset. It is accessible to women in the community who buy the products they need.

Old fishermen believe that marine fish, fresh or dried, have elements to protect them from many diseases. This is why most people in the community consume it fondly.

The stores offer a variety of seafood products, with the exception of freshwater fish.

The place attracts a large number of women and community workers to buy fish and prawns, both fresh and dried, along with the spices and ration needed to cook the seafood. All items are available at tariffs reasonable.

All coastal towns and larger villages have similar fish markets for local communities. But freshwater fish are kept in very few coastal markets.

Noor Muhammad Thahimor, a community activist from Jati town in Sujawal district, said not only locals but a large number of consumers come to buy dried salt fish and dried prawns.

On the activity on the jetties, he said traders have a mechanism to classify the catch at the landing site. Traders prefer to bring the quality products to the premises of the Karachi fishing port, while the lower quality was sold to local traders, accessible to the community. In Thatta district, the towns of Gharo, Keti Bunder and Baghan have attractive fish markets with a variety of species of salted dried fish and prawns.

Vendors said people with various health conditions approached them to buy dried salt fish, which was said to cure their ailments.

Ayoub Shan, a community activist from Ibrahim Hydri, said the market was started by elderly fishermen, who realized they were no longer able to carry on traditional work on boats and pull heavy nets fishing.

Now, this market attracts a large number of customers and sellers, who calmly manage their business.

He said similar markets in Rehri village and Bengali muhalla were also available. But this market has more choices for customers in terms of variety as well as quality food, especially dried fish and prawns.

Giving the background, he said that traditionally the men on the boats remained on the high seas for a week, while the women at home were responsible for managing domestic affairs independently. This market is accessible to all women residing in the largest village, comprising 48 neighborhoods, known by tribal names.

Citing elderly women, Shan said they visited the market frequently and could not understand if the sea had become empty or there was a lack of fish, which drove up the prices as they remembered the happy days of the past. where they easily had a variety of seafood available at their homes, mostly for free.

Shafi Bengali, selling vegetables in his shop, said that all people after buying fish come to buy onion, garlic, chilli, tomato, coriander, etc., which are essential to improve the taste of cooked food.