How did a cameraman manage to fish for a new success?
A news photographer has created a social media page to sell pre-cooked Kashmiri fish. He had forgotten about the idea when the orders landed in his inbox. A year in business, he sells more than two tons a month, reports Minhaj Masoodi
The idea of a media professional sell fish disabled may seem weird to many, not to Shuaib Masoodi. Originally from Mader in Bandipora, Shuaib is a photojournalist by profession. He currently lives at HMT in the suburbs of Srinagar. In addition to managing his profession, Shuaib delivers delicious homemade fish Disabled all over Kashmir.
It was last year, during the peak of Covid19, when Shuaib casually created a instagram page Wular fish for all. “The idea struck me out of the blue during Ramzan last year at the height of Covid,” Shuaib said. It could have been the result of his continuous thought process that he wanted to try something different. “The fish came to mind and I chose the name Wular fish for all. After the instagram page, I created one on Facebook also.”
After a while, people started following his page on instagram but he received no orders. “I was completely relaxed. I hadn’t seriously thought about it. »
A memorable Eid
But on that Eid, everything changed. Shuaib went to his hometown in Bandipora to celebrate Eid that year, a day before. “At Arfa, the Eid day before, I went to Bandipora, my hometown,” Shuaib recalls. “I was idling all day, when out of the blue, I received three or four orders from Srinagar. Three orders had been placed on instagram and one on Facebook. And they were to be delivered after Eid.”
It was a sweet surprise that chose its shocking way of revealing itself. Shuaib became anxious. “I was really tense because until then I hadn’t taken it seriously. Now that I had orders to deliver, I became very worried because nothing was in place to prevent a page on social media,” he admitted.
That day, Shuaib’s brother-in-law had also come to Bandipore. She happened to share the idea and her anxiety with him. “I asked him for advice. He liked my idea and encouraged me to pursue it.
So, Shuaib embarked on the journey with complete conviction.
That day, he bought fish at the market and asked his family to cook it. “I told them, I have three-four orders, I have to deliver them anyway.”
“I remember being so anxious,” Shuaib recalled. “I haven’t slept all night.” He said he spent the night thinking, how to pack the orders, how to get them delivered. “Because I had no idea how to proceed.”
The next day, the idea of delivering fish to Disabled came to mind. “The idea appealed to me.” On the same day, Shuaib went in search of potters in the city. After limiting himself to a few, he approached them. “They were very old. I asked them for traps in which I could deliver the fish.
“They took me upstairs to an old dusty room. There were many pots laying there gathering dust. I asked them about it,” Shuaib recalls the times when he first made contact with potters; a profession that many believe was dying out. They said, “We made them ten years ago.”
They had been unsold for ten years; obviously for lack of demand on the market. The potters had now confined themselves to making Kondals for Kangris. “I offered to buy their shares.”
The first delivery
When the orders were ready, Shuaib left for Srinagar with his brother-in-law to deliver the orders. “Our first order was from Sheikhpura, Budgam on Airport Road. Another delivery was to Jawahar Nagar, one to Tengpora. We had three-four orders that day.
“Our first day went like this,” Shuaib recalled. “In the evening, I received very positive comments from them on instagram.” Thereby, Wular fish for all has practically emerged. Delivering three-four-five orders a day has become routine.
Encouraged by the response, Shuaib became fully committed to his business. He hired a few ladies, 2-3 helpers, a car transporter to deliver fish and vegetables. “At Bandipora, we also did real cooking. Currently we have 6-7 people working with us,” Shuaib said.
Shuaib derives its main products from Lake Wular. “We pay them a little extra, sometimes even Rs 50 more, to have the fish cleaned. We get them headless, cut into suitable pieces.
For a Disabled, Shuaib gets two kg of live fish. “In one Disabled, then we put seven pieces of fish, Nadru (lotus stem), radish, tomato which then sells for Rs 1500 per Disabled.” For the spices, Shuaib gets the raw spice from the farmers. “We grind it at home.”
At present, Shuaib is selling 15-20 Disabled per day.
However, managing deliveries across Kashmir in a single day is not easy. For this, Shuaib had tried to partner with a delivery company, but due to logistical problems and the lack of assurance on the delivery time, the agreement fell through.
“As the delivery company couldn’t promise us one-day delivery, we now kept our own boys,” Shuaib said. “It’s a perishable product and it can’t wait long. There were also concerns about delivery as sometimes people have guests at home ordering fish.
Shuaib has designated boys who are now delivering the orders. “We selected a guy for Anantnag. We place the order with a taxi driver in Jahangir Chowk. Our delivery man in Anantnag coordinates with him and receives him. Then he delivers it. We have three-four of these guys. We also have a guy in Jammu. We hand over the cargo to a taxi driver at TRC, it reaches Jammu in the evening,” he said.
Shuaib is overwhelmed by the people’s response. “It’s been fabulous,” he said. It has now diversified its product line. “Now we started honey, homemade pickles under the same brand name.”
Although it is a capital-intensive business, sales have been good. For Shuaib, the best part of his business has been being able to help people living abroad or outside of Jammu and Kashmir deliver gift wraps to their families back home. “The look of surprise and bewilderment on the faces of these people’s family members when they receive the order gives me immense happiness,” Shuaib said.
Shuaib has also registered his business with the government. At the time the story was filed, he said, he was preparing orders for Delhi, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
Thanks to decent sales and positive reviews, Shuaib was also offered a space in the town of Bandipora. “They tell me why work from home.”
“I got offers from friends in Srinagar from Dalgate, Nehru Park, SK Park and other places even Jahangir Chowk. I even got partnership offers but declined,” he said. he said insisting that he politely declined the partnership offers “We are planning to start the office in Srinagar. Then expand it to other districts as well. Hopefully it will go well.” . »
However, Shuaib continues his parental profession, photography. “My photography work continues side by side,” he said. “But I’m more and more inclined to this profession.”
Wullar, Kashmir’s freshwater lake is a Ramsar site and is an important reservoir of fish, mainly Schizothorax. Bashir Ahmad, who has been associated with fishing for most of his life, said the entire population of 18 villages depended on the lake for fish. “My estimate suggests that we catch around 4,000 kg daily in the summer until September,” Ahmad said. “In winter it could be around a quarter or less.”
Overall, Kashmir produces nearly 21,000 tons of fish per year, but the market still has a deficit managed by imported varieties. Even sea fish is now available in Srinagar. Later, even the fisheries department made trout available to consumers.
Lately, health practitioners have been suggesting people to improve their food intake by eating a mixture of poultry, mutton and fish. This gradually increases demand and Shuaib’s initiative creates a model of selling pre-cooked fish to a new consumer, who lacks the time – or even the ability to cook – fish. “Right now we’re consuming over two tons a month and that’s a good start,” Shuaib said.