Dried Fish Matters: Exploring the Social Economy of Dried Fish

Dried Fish Matters:
Exploring the Social economy of Dried Fish

Edited by Eric Thrift, Madu Galappaththi, Ratana Chuenpagdee, Raktima Ghosh, Wae Win Khaing, Mahfuzar Rahman, Aklima Akter, and Derek Johnson

Dried and fermented fish is of vital nutritional, economic, social, and cultural importance throughout South and Southeast Asia. Despite this, the diverse and complex economy that produces and distributes dried fish is nearly invisible in research and policy. The Dried Fish Matters Partnership brings together a network of interdisciplinary research teams in six countries to address this major oversight.

This volume, consisting of essays, recipes, stories, and reflections contributed by members of our research partnership, provides a commentary on why dried fish matters – to us as researchers, to the communities in which dried fish is produced and consumed, and to the gastronomic heritage of humanity. Launched in commemoration of Sustainable Gastronomy Day 2022, this book celebrates the cultural value of dried fish as food, alongside its social and economic value for development and sustainability.

The chapters in this book share the stories and experiences of people who produce and sell dried fish, describe and analyze dried fish products and value chains, and reflect on efforts to find new ways to learn and to communicate knowledge about dried fish.

Mapping the social economy of dried fish in South and Southeast Asia for enhanced wellbeing and nutrition.
For details, see https://driedfishmatters.org/

The goal of this chapter is to explore the processing node and its linkages within two distinct dried fish value chains in Sri Lanka to gain insights into their organization and functioning. The two value chains we present include a coastal marine value chain and an inland freshwater value chain, with a series of photos to enable visual engagement. In doing so, we outline the activities within the processing node, their structural organization, and linkages to adjacent fishing and trading nodes. The accounts we present also encompass resource usage, livelihood aspects, and place-based connections of these value chains, including gendered tasks and responsibilities. We conclude the
chapter with a broad comparison between the two study value chains and brief reflections on areas for further investigation.

Adda, in Bengali, implies colloquial on-site conversations where some people in a community or between communities, group themselves in a friendly manner to discuss various issues at length. More specifically, adda provides a space for open-ended, slow-paced conversations inviting storytelling, anecdotes, and dialogues, such as the kind that takes place between friends and neighbours… By dissolving the frontiers of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ through prolonged exchanges in groups, addas are expected essentially to produce a congenial climate for deepening cultural connections and relationships between the community and participant researchers.

How would we describe the tastes and smells of foods we grew up with, and those that we encountered for the first time as adults? How do our feelings toward fish products, including those that we strongly like or dislike, shape our self-identity and our relations with others in our families and communities? We asked ourselves these questions one day in a Zoom meeting, sharing stories about the taste and smell of dried fish. From this conversation, we report four brief stories below. Following each story, we provide a brief commentary on what it tells us about taste and smell. Their stories remind us that our research is shaped by our own gastronomical experiences; our enthusiasm for certain types of fish – and potentially a repugnance for others – reflects the taste that is acquired from our own cultural milieu.

TBTI Global Book Series

Dried Fish Matters: Exploring the Social Economy of Dried Fish is the ninth book published under TBTI Global Book Series. This publication series aims to highlight why we need to pay close attention to small-scale fisheries. The series will be of use to anyone interested in learning more about small-scale fisheries, especially about their important contribution to livelihoods, well-being, poverty alleviation and food security, as well as to those who are keen to help raise profile of small-scale fisheries in the policy realm.

How to cite

Thrift, E., Galappaththi, M., Chuenpagdee, R., Ghosh, R., Khaing, W.W, Rahman, M., Akter, A., & Johnson, D. (Ed.) 2022. Dried Fish Matters: Exploring the Social Economy of Dried Fish. TBTI Global Publication Series, St. John's, NL,Canada. ISBN: 978-1-7773202-6-3