To put to good use the time during the COVID-19 lockdown and shore up the dwindling incomes, the women and the senior citizens of the traditional fishermen families of the Ganjam district have returned to their traditional practice of repairing nets.
The activity saves them the expenditure on repair and also enhances the longevity of the key tool of their livelihood.
The tradition of carrying out the work at home had gone down as nylon ones replaced cotton nets. The nets used in sea need regular repair and the fishermen families spend considerable amount on it. A net costs around ₹4,000 but during its life time the same amount would be spent on maintenance, said Magata Behera, village committee president of Purunabandh, a fisherman’s village near the Rushikulya rookery.
A few decades ago, they did not spend any money on repairs. The family members did it with home spun cotton yarn. The work involves addition of a band called ‘kaberi’ or ‘kiriti’ at the edges to increase its strength and sewing of torn parts by hand. Both have to be done at regular intervals to increase the longevity of the net.
“We used to spin cotton thread. Now because of the lockdown, we have again started to do so,” said Kamala Behera of Purunabandh.
Actively involved in selling catch
As the women are also actively involved in selling the catch brought by the men, they did not get time to continue the traditional practice.
On June 14, the Ganjam district administration repealed all relaxations of Unlock-1 and ordered the strict imposition of complete lockdown till June 30 with total shutdown on Saturdays and Sundays. This has resulted in many households taking up the traditional practice.
“It proves that traditional practices stand in good stead in times of need. The families have not forgotten the skills of their ancestors and they also have the will power to turn the odds of the lockdown for their benefit,” said Mangaraj Panda, convener of the Odisha Marine Resources Conservation Consortium (OMRCC).