IN A BID to help Pattani fishermen and their families, Muhamasukree Masaning teamed up with Pattani’s Fisheries Office to establish a community cooperative that has generated sales of Bt10 million and boosted the livelihoods of more than 86,000 people since operations began in September last year.
“Five years ago it became clear that the fish stocks in Pattani’s bay had become much depleted by a combination of commercial fishing operators and those fishing by nets. This was having a big impact on traditional fishers and their families,” Muhamasukree said in an interview with The Nation recently.
“Then we decided to contact the Pattani Fisheries Office in an effort to manage the way that fishing was carried out in the bay, by keeping it for traditional fishers only. This led to a collaboration between all the fishermen in the community that resulted in the Orang Pantai Community Enterprise Cooperative being in set up in September last year.”
The enterprises now employs 30 workers from the community to process fish, crab, shrimp, and others seafood products. The venture provides reasonable prices for the fishermen for their catch under a partnership between the Pattani Fisheries Office and other authorities in the southern border province aimed at helping the community to find markets and aid in the distribution of their fisheries products, Muhamasukree said.
Muhamasukree said the community bought Kulao fish - a variety from the South renowned for its taste and cost - from fishermen for between Bt230 and Bt250 per kilogram, against just Bt170 a kilogram from before the enterprise was set up. The enterprise also bought other sea products from the local fishermen at prices of more than 30 per cent higher than they used to receive.
The community then learned how to process the seafood products to match the range of demands from customers, including a luxury hotel in Bangkok. This value-adding approach helped generate higher prices for the community.
“This results in more income for the community, helping it employ staff for the enterprise and improving the quality of life of local people,” Muhamasukree said.
Amino, 41, a worker at the Orang Pantai Community Enterprise, told The Nation that her quality of life had had improved since she began work at the venture.
Before joining the enterprise, Amino said she had earned between Bt25 and Bt50 per day from packing fish in a factory. But after learning how to process seafood products in the community operation, she now takes home between Bt250 and Bt350 a day, depending on the number of products for processing.
“I have more money to buy food and candy for my child, while my husband also has more income after selling his catch to the enterprise, which offers the best price for our products,” she said. “This improves life for all our whole family.”
The community has succeeding in attracting fishermen with 2,200 boats to participate in the enterprise, which serves the needs of the 86,300 in the community.
“Our community will be a business model for others communities follow, helping to improve quality of life of people in southern Thailand, which now faces violence, and such initiatives may help create peace in our homeland,” Muhamasukree said.