Mumbai's fishermen are turning 'Aapada' into 'Aavsar'

The natives of Mumbai, the fisherman community are changing the course of fish business to a more profitable way.

During the lockdown, many traditional businesses suffered huge losses and many even shut shop. But if you are enterprising enough, you can turn even adversities into opportunities. That is also what embodies the very spirit of Mumbai. It is then not surprising that the fishing community, the real natives of Mumbai, has turned a new leaf even while struggling with a pandemic. The city's oldest business is not only thriving but also providing jobs to many.

While the lockdown had closed down the local markets, many fishermen started home deliveries. “During lockdown the business was slow, but demand was still there. As food items are necessary and there will be always demand no matter what. In fact the demand is increased than ever before, as restaurants are closed, customers are ordering fish at home.” said Naveen Gaikwad, owner of Bombay Fresh Fish (fish provider in Mumbai) Though many fishermen suffered due to monsoon ban (It is period of 45 days, in which fisherman are not allowed to fish in the ocean due to heavy rains) and lockdown, they adapted to change and turned it into a more profitable business opportunity.

“As no notice was given about closing of ice factories, we were not able to store fish and nearly 35 tons of fish we had to put back in the ocean." Said Yogesh Konkar, owner of 'Macchiwali' (Fish delivery service in Mumbai.)

While some fish was stored using the existing ice, that was not enough. Rather than waiting for a miracle, some fishermen decided to take matters in their own hands and started reaching out to the customers instead of waiting for them. With home deliveries, not only the fish started to move but it also became an employment opportunity at a time when people were losing jobs everywhere.

"We are in business from 30 years, and all these years we did business offline, but since lockdown, as market were closed, we started to deliver fish online also, We trained our delivery boys to ensure contactless delivery for safety of both, our customers and employees.” Added Yogesh Konkar from ‘Macchiwali’

“Before lockdown, we used to sell our fish directly to traders, who used to pay us in wholesale rate. But with new online business model, we are getting retail prices for same lot of fishes.” Amay Keni 36, Fisherman from Alibag. “Earlier we used to spend 6-7 days in sea for fishing, but now we only do fishing for 2-3 days, and provide fresh fish to our customers.” Said Pranay Bhandari 39, fisherman from Malad- Marvey added.

“We connected fisherman to customers directly. Due to the absence of the middleman, the fisherman can now earn Rs 200 to Rs 300 extra per consignment of fish; we have also employed many local people, who had lost their jobs during the lockdown, as our delivery boys. Besides, we are now selling fish in wholesale, so small retailers, who get fish from us can make money by selling them further” says Swapnil Nigudkar, owner at Fish Basket Mumbai, a whole seller and retailer of fresh fish in Mumbai.

Also, due to COVID-19, there are extra set of precautions in place, especially for home deliveries. While talking to the Free Press Journal, Swapnil Nigudkar from Fish Basket pointed out that they are not only ensuring the quality of the fish but the safety of both, the delivery men and the customers are of utmost importance. One positive case can shut down the entire chain. Hence, cleanliness and safe packaging has become a priority “We pack each fish separately in plastic bags and then in a box as per order. While packing we use gloves and mask. When delivering orders, we make it compulsory for our delivery boys to wear, mask, gloves and face shields. We also keep our equipment and packaging sanitized.”

Mumbai's fishermen are turning 'Aapada' into 'Aavsar'

FSSAI’s guidelines on food hygiene for ordering food online:

According to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, here are some guidelines you should follow to ensure safe food delivery.

· While receiving the order, cover your face with mask or any other face cover.

· Sanitize your hand before and after receiving order.

· Avoid any contact with common touch points like doorknobs and handles, always sanitize them after use.

· Avoid cash during payment, use digital means like UPI, Google Pay, PayTM and other banking apps.

· Cashless transactions help reduce the contact with people, or use gloves to ensure contactless transactions while paying.

· In case of debit or credit card payments, make sure that the card is sanitised before it is used again.

· During delivery, prefer contactless delivery. In this method company will leave package at doorstep and inform customer about it.

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Free Press Journal