Can people used to gorge on mouth watering Avadhi kebabs be made to develop a taste for fish kebabs?
The UP Fisheries department thinks it can. It would be rolling out Mobile Fish Parlous across the state in an attempt
to get Upites hooked into eating fish. These well-equipped, swanky and hygienic parlours would vend Fish Tikka, Fish Kebabas, Fish Biryani, Fish Fingers, Fish Fries and Fish Pakoras. The parlours would also vend fresh cut and dressed raw fish slices that people can take home and cook.
It is not that people in UP do not love fish. They love it a lot, but they are not as adept in handling fish as the fish-eating states like West Bengal or Maharashtra. "Compared to mutton, chicken or pork it is healthier and more nutritious. It promotes synthesis of healthy cholesterol in human body," said S. K. Singh, joint director, Fisheries department of UP government.
The Fisheries department is trying to catch two fishes with one hook -- to make fish dishes popular as also to create a self-employment avenue for the unemployed youth. As a natural corollary, fish farming in the state would get a boost. It would a very good business proposition for the youth, as profit margins are 100 per cent or more, he said.
Envisaged a year ago, the department's plan had gone into cold storage, due to paucity of funds and an argument by finance department that the scheme may not work. But the Fisheries department has made another determined bid targeting to put 114 Mobile Fish Parlours on the roads in the next three years.
To prove its point, it piloted a project at Meerut with the help of an entrepreneur. It went onto become a smashing hit with the people there, in just one month. Jasveer Singh, who operates a small shop under the project, has now applied to the government for permission to start ten more such units, said the Fisheries department official.
As per the mechanics worked out, each Mobile parlour would need an investment of Rs 5.50 lakh. The department would give a subsidy of 30 per cent to anyone wanting to start a Mobile Fish parlour. It would also help the entrepreneur secure bank loans. Training at Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi is part of the deal. They would learn cooking fish, fish dressing and specialised exposure to hygiene aspects at the institute. Help will also be given to get the necessary municipal licenses to operate the Mobile parlours.
A mobile parlour would be mounted on a light commercial vehicle and would be equipped with an overhead water tank, a deep freezer, and oven and fire safety equipment. Raw fish supplies from government leased or private fish farms have also been lined up.
"It would be a very good business proposition for unemployed youth, even educated ones, as there is 100 per cent profit margin. If they get a fish at Rs 60 a kg, and put some more money in value addition, and sell it for Rs 200 a kg, they will earn minimum of Rs 100 per kg," said Singh.
The department had showcased its Mobile Fish Parlour at an animal husbandry and fisheries exhibition in Delhi last year.
Rajasthan picked up the concept.