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City puts fish on Dubai plate

Calcutta’s love of fish is being matched by Dubai’s demand for fish from Calcutta.

Better air connectivity between the city and the United Arab Emirates has opened a supply chain that puts the catch of the day from the Bengal coastline on the Dubai fish eater’s plate faster, fresher and cheaper.

Large consignments of seafood caught in the Bay of Bengal — prawn, shrimp, Indian salmon (gurjali), snapper and grouper — are being despatched to Dubai regularly along with live tropical fish for aquariums, according to Pradeep Kumar of Emirates, which operates two flights a day five times a week from the city.

“Fish from Bengal has become extremely popular in star hotels as well as retail markets in Dubai,” Kumar, the airline’s senior vice-president for cargo revenue optimisation in Dubai, told Metro.

“In November last year, a sample shipment of two tonne fish had been sent to some Dubai agents. Based on the feedback, five tonnes of shipment were despatched in December. The quantity of fish sent through Emirates this month is around eight tonnes,” Kumar added.

With fish export to Kuwait starting in early 2010, this is the second breakthrough by dealers in a year. The Calcutta-Dubai export link was earlier restricted to leather goods, jute products and embroidered garments.

The bulk of the fish imported by Dubai would come from Oslo, Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo, Ottawa and some South American cities.

“Flying time from Calcutta is much less and infrastructure costs are lower, which enable dealers to retail quality fish at less than the previous rates,” said Amin Khan, the cargo manager for Emirates in east India.

Calcutta to Dubai takes a little over four hours while flights from Sydney, Oslo, Ottawa or Tokyo take anything between eight and 17 hours.

The price of tiger prawn in the UAE varies between $10 and $20 a kilo, depending on size. Indian salmon is sold for $7-8 a kilo, say exporters.

The time factor not only makes the fish sent from Calcutta 30 per cent cheaper than those coming through other cities but also fresher. “Fish sent in the morning are available in Dubai by afternoon. Boxes reaching the desert city by the evening flight are sold in the night markets,” said an airline official.

BRIDGE THE GULF

  • Consignment: Two to eight tonnes
  • Variety: Prawn, shrimp, Indian salmon (gurjali), snapper and grouper
  • Despatch: Up to five days a week
  • Dubai price: $10-20 for a kilo of tiger prawn, $7-8 for Indian salmon (gurjali)
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