Fish are an extremely perishable foodstuff. Spoilage occurs as the result of the action of enzymes (autolysis) and bacteria present in the fish, and also chemical oxidation of the fat which causes rancidity. At the high temperatures prevalent in tropical countries, bacterial and enzymic action is enhanced. Fish invariably become putrid within a few hours of capture unless they are preserved or processed in some way to reduce this microbial and autolytic activity and, hence, retard spoilage.
Traditionally, in tropical countries, many fishermen spread fish on the ground, on rocks or on beaches to dry in the sun. Some fish processors use mats or reeds laid on the ground to prevent contamination of the fish by dirt, mud and sand. Drying fish in this manner has many disadvantages and, in recent years, the use of raised sloping drying racks has been introduced as a simple but often effective improvement. Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin has come out with the new technology of solar dried fish to avoid spoilage.
Solar dried fish is extremely good in terms of hygiene, retention of nutrients, aroma and taste, as it eliminates all the disadvantages of conventional open sun drying, and are free from the attack of dust, dirt, rain, insects and microorganisms. A new business model for solar dried fish products, was introduced in Cochin, by a startup firm 'Aabbaa Fish Products' with the support of ICAR - Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin. The dry fish store is the first of its kind in Kerala and expected to revamp the dry fish delicacies which are favoured by majority of the Keralites.
Fish is a food of excellent nutritional value, providing high quality protein and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and iodine in marine fish. Its protein - like that of meat - is easily digestible and favourably complements dietary protein provided by cereals and legumes that are typically consumed in many developing countries.
In general, people in developing countries are much more dependent on fish as part of their daily diets than those living in the developed world. Figures for 1995 show that while fish provide slightly over 7 percent of animal protein in North and Central America and more than 9 percent in Europe, in Africa they provide over 17 percent, in Asia over 26 percent, and in the low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) including China they provide nearly 22 percent.
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The dry fish store was inaugurated at Chambakara St.James Church shopping complex today by Shri.P.T.Thomas, MLA in presence of Shri. V.P.Chandran , Corporation Councillor and Dr. Ravishankar C.N., Director, ICAR-CIFT.
The products available here are scientifically processed using the energy efficient and eco-friendly solar dryers developed by ICAR-CIFT. The quality of the solar dried fish is extremely good in terms of hygiene, retention of nutrients, aroma and taste, as it eliminates all the disadvantages of conventional open sun drying, and are free from the attack of dust, dirt, rain, insects and microorganisms. Lower and uniform levels of moisture can also be achieved for products from solar dryer when compared to the conventionally dried products.
ICAR-CIFT provided all the technical support and guidance to this firm, through the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Centre operating at the Institute.
Krishi Jagran/New Delhi