Nation Current Affairs 16 Jul 2019 Thoothukudi: Small s ...

Thoothukudi: Small salt makers seek agriculture status at once

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | M. ARULOLI
Published Jul 16, 2019, 2:12 am IST
Updated Jul 16, 2019, 2:12 am IST
Thoothukudi district is one of the major salt manufacturing regions in the country and has had a good harvest so far this year since March due to the delayed southwest monsoon.  (Photo: AP)
 Thoothukudi district is one of the major salt manufacturing regions in the country and has had a good harvest so far this year since March due to the delayed southwest monsoon. (Photo: AP)

THOOTHUKUDI: The highly unstable market price for salt produced by small salt manufacturers, who majorly rely on inland markets, has impelled them to demand according ‘agriculture status’ to salt production.

Thoothukudi district is one of the major salt manufacturing regions in the country and has had a good harvest so far this year since March due to the delayed southwest monsoon. Moreover, the winds since March have been very conducive for salt production that touched around 50 percent of the total annual production of 25 lakh tonnes, according to A R A S Dhanabalan, secretary of the Thoothukudi Small Scale Salt Manufacturers Association.

“In 2018, we had a production shortfall of around 35 per cent due to the non-seasonal rains. This year, we are hopeful of achieving more than 90 per cent of our average annual production before the onset of the Northeast monsoon,” said Dhanabalan. During the first five months till mid-July this year, Thoothukudi district district produced around 12 lakh tonnes.

Though happy with the production, small salt manufacturers are not happy about the market price that fell by Rs 400 when compared to last year’s highest price of Rs 1200 per tonne. The shortfall in manufacturing by around 35 per cent last year created an upward demand in the inland markets of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Odisha. “That too did not last long as traders in these states drastically brought down the price for Thoothukudi salt once Gujarat salt flowed into the market,” rued Dhanabalan.

“We are always at the mercy of traders,” said the salt manufacturers, who feel that according agriculture status to at least the small edible salt manufacturing sector would help the industry. “If we are given agriculture status, the price for our produce can be stabilized by fixing a minimum support price (MSP) as is being done for paddy” small salt makers said and urged cheaper loans too.

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