The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation Fish for All Centre signed a memorandum of understanding in June with the Srikakulam District administration to promote the district as a ‘model district’ of the Fisher Friend Mobile Application (FFMA) and post-harvesting technologies.
Srikakulam District is one of the largest coastal districts in Andhra Pradesh state with 100 per cent small-scale fishers. There are approximately 50000 active fishers, and 1.5 lakh fishers depend entirely on marine resources for their livelihood. The fishing community use traditional methods and most of them are below the poverty line. They have to catch fish within 20-km from the coast and this restricts their socio-economic status. The community is also more vulnerable to natural disasters and other climate-related risks.
Women are actively involved in post-harvesting and domestic marketing. Srikakulam District has good scope for fish production and exports; however, there is a lack of infrastructural amenities to expand fishing and marketing. This situation forces several fishers into financial struggles, and they prefer to migrate to Gujarat and Tamil Nadu to earn their living.
Seeking solutions for issues faced by fishers, the department of fisheries invited MSSRF to study ground realities. Led by Velvizhi, head of the Fish for All Centre, the MSSRF team visited several coastal villages in Srikakulam. The team met with more than 500 fishing community members and also conducted need-based assessments with men, women, and youth to gain insight. Based on such assessment, a follow-up discussion was organised and a collective decision was taken to initiate the implementation of MSSRF’s Fisher Friend Mobile Application in Srikakulam by partnership with the district administration and local NGO. The joint action will be a science-based, community-centered and process-oriented to enhance the livelihood of small-scale fishers in the district.
FFMA was developed by MSSRF and Qualcomm in collaboration with Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS),Government of India. Under the MoU, MSSRF will share knowledge, technology and modern techniques in fishing with local fishermen and fisherwomen in Srikakulam District. Twenty master trainers will be selected from major fishing villages of Srikakulam and capacity training provided at the MSSRF Fish for All Research and Training Centre, Poompuhar, on FFMA utility, identifying fishing zones, also new fishing and post harvesting technologies.