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Rotting crops, unsold produce, falling incomes - How India

Peanut Market News October 20, 2020

Rotting crops, unsold produce, falling incomes - How India's hopeful rural economy has crashed

Rural economy was meant to push India in a difficult year, but a number of factors are making that difficult. ThePrint travels across the country to find these out.

India is rejoicing its second straight year of above-normal monsoon, a first in six decades, but in a quiet corner of the Haripar village in Gujarat’s Rajkot, a 75-year-old farmer is finding it hard to cheer.

Laljibhai Bhura’s groundnut farm is rotting away after suffering severe damages due to excess moisture. Bhura fears his entire crop will fail quality checks, ruling out any government procurement.

“The burden of a failed crop now weighs heavy on my shoulders,” he says, pointing out that the lockdown ruled out any additional sources of income that he earned through ferrying people across villages on his tractor.

While Bhura and many in his village deal with a failed groundnut crop, 70-year-old Kanuri Hira from Chaygaon in Assam is struggling to sell her earthen pots. There has hardly been any order since the lockdown was imposed in March to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

As winter approaches, the septuagenarian is worrying about not having warm clothes and enough food.

“We used to live by selling earthenware. During lockdown, we could not fetch the mud we need to make pottery, and even if we make some, where would we sell those? Since the first lockdown, we have been having a tough time. We cannot even afford two meals a day,” says Hira.

The womenfolk of Assam’s native Hira community make earthenware using special ‘Hiramati’ clay and ancient techniques. These traditional women potters of Tari Gaon village, situated 44 km from the state capital Guwahati, have now lost their only source of livelihood.

In Uttar Pradesh’s Sheikhupur village, Basheer Ahmed is facing a similar quandary. Like others around him, he makes elaborate zari lehengas that are sold in Delhi and Hyderabad and remain in high demand during the wedding season.

“Until last year, we used to have night shifts and worked 15-16 hours a day for six days a week. Now it has reduced to four days and hardly six hours of work,” says Ahmed, as four workers sit beside him on a cot, patiently weaving sequins and golden thread on a piece of cloth. 

A zari lehenga takes about three weeks to prepare and sells for around Rs 30,000-40,000. The upcoming wedding season is a ray of hope for Ahmed but business is yet to pick up pace.

Source: https://theprint.in/economy/rotting-crops-unsold-produce-falling-incomes-how-indias-hopeful-rural-economy-has-crashed/523995/

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