Newly built Fish Collection Centre in Mullaitivu to ensure better quality, production and income
The newly established Fish Collection Centre in Kallapadu in the Mullaitivu District, built with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and financial assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency, was ceremoniously opened and handed-over to the Fisheries’ Cooperative Societies Union (FCSU) on May 5, 2013. The Fish Collection Centre will enable the fishermen to sort and grade the fish, to be transported out of the district, in hygienic conditions, thereby ensuring better quality, production and income. The Centre will also serve as space for the FCSU, which currently consists of over 4,000 members, to sell fish and dry fish.
The centre was handed over by Mr. Enrico Gaveglia, Deputy Country Director, UNDP, and Ms. Verena Linneweber, the visiting Programme Specialist of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, who were engaging in a three-day field mission in the district.
With their livelihoods disrupted and economic and social infrastructure damaged due to years of conflict, and having had to cope with multiple displacements, and not least the tsunami, the fish collection centre is part of a larger initiative by UNDP to help uplift the fishing sector and improve the lives of the fishing families in the region. The fishing community also benefits from an ice plant, cooler trucks and other equipment, which had been provided with UNDP’s assistance previously. With UNDP support, over 7,000 fishermen in Mullaitivu were able to increase their bargaining power, minimize financial losses due to spoilage of the fish and improve production and income. In addition, as part of the efforts, 92 women of the Women’s Rural Development Society were trained on dry fish production, thereby providing them with new income-generating activities, while links between the FCSU and the private sector were also strengthened. For example, an agreement was already signed with the Keels Super Market and Mega Co-op in Vavuniya and Mannar to market the dry fish, helping to meet the growing demand for fish.
Delivering the keynote address during the opening of the Centre, Mr. Sivalingam, General Manager of the FCSU, stated that the ice plant, the fish collection centre, and other equipment and training had helped the fishing community to increase their economic opportunities and income. “In 2012, within 12 days of the prawn season, we were able to earn Rs. 850,000, whereas in 2010, it was between Rs. 20,000 – 25,000 per month. Due to the quick spoilage of prawns, we were unable get good prices for our catch, but now, the FCSU transports 10,000kg of catch to other parts of Sri Lanka”, he said.”
Also speaking during the occasion, Mr. Gaveglia stated, “We are indeed happy to work with the FCSU as a business entity. We thank you for your commitment and unyielding efforts in working with us to make this project a success. Moving forward, let us explore how best these activities can be scaled up and we can support in expanding your business networks.”
“UNDP aims to empower people, by providing them with tools such as access to knowledge and other resources, to seize opportunities and lead the lives that they want”, noted the visiting Programme Specialist Ms. Linneweber. “Here, UNDP provided some tools, but it was really your community that took initiative and used them for improving your own lives. UNDP is proud of being your partner.”
During their field mission, Mr. Gaveglia and Ms. Linneweber also met and exchanged views with Ms. R. Ketheeswaran, Government Agent of Kilinochchi, members of the District Women’s Development Federation, which was established with support from UNDP, and youth leaders of Community-Based Organizations of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts, trained by the University of Jaffna, under UNDP’s Community Catalysts’ Programme.