New Delhi

Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) is set to work with Cochin Port Trust (CPT) to modernise Kerala’s pivotal Cochin Fisheries Harbour with more than a dozen key features that will enhance the unit value of realisation of sea-caught items and minimise post-harvest losses. MPEDA Chairperson K S Srinivas signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with his CPT counterpart Dr M Beena, initiating the Rs 140-crore project that will mobilise resources from various central government schemes. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) is being launched to implement the development plans.

The 1928-founded CPT runs the harbour, built on 27 acres of land, facilitating berthing and landing of more than 500 vessels. Commissioned in 1978, the harbour at Thoppumpady clocks a daily average landing of 250 tonnes of fish. Processors procure a major share for exports. The MPEDA-CPT agreement, noting that infrastructural inadequacies are hampering the quality of the fish, aims the harbour to feature air-conditioned auction halls, besides a packing hall and bays for loading and unloading.

Also to come up are an ice plant, a reverse osmosis plant and a rainwater harvesting system besides automation equipment such as tripods, conveyor belts and pallet jacks for easier and better movement of fish within the harbour. The MoU envisages the construction of electrical substations, an effluent treatment plant, a retail market, fish-dressing unit and net-mending area, besides offices, dormitories, a food court, canteen, a drivers’ waiting area and parking lots for vehicles.

Srinivas, recalling that Kochi-headquartered MPEDA had proposed to the Centre in February this year to renovate 25 select fishing harbours across the country, said the DPR (detailed project report) for Kochi was readied with Ernst and Young as the consultants. MPEDA is going for a similar exercise on the peninsula’s eastern coast: Nizampattinam Fishing Harbour in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. “These 25 major fishing harbours contribute a lion’s share of landings in the country for export,” the MPEDA head said. “At present, India’s value addition of marine products is a mere 5 per cent. We must increase it manifold, given that the figure for South East Asian countries is 50 per cent.”

MPEDA’s pact with CPT comes when India has 50 major and 100 minor fishing harbours, together contributing 65 per cent in quantity and 45 per cent in value of the country’s total seafood exports. Estimates show a loss of nearly one-fourth of the catch during post-harvest operations. Besides poor infrastructure facilities, India’s fishing harbours also face lack of professional management, poor safety measures and unhygienic handling of catch. MPEDA, formed in 1972 under the Union Ministry of Commerce, is a coordinating agency with central and state-level establishments engaged in fishery production and allied activities.

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